Let's Be Honest. You Do Have Time for E-Commerce. 4 Tips to Optimize Your Schedule
One of the first objections I get from business owners when we talk about e-commerce is lack of time. Several retailers work until 8 or 9 PM and they are terrified of the idea of working extra hours to fulfill orders and deal with customer service. Does this sound familiar?
What you might really be afraid of however is changing your business model. You might be dreading the idea of learning a new software or implementing a new process. Let's be honest, the fear of the unknown is always going to be there. No time will be the perfect time; but with a few tweaks to your schedule (and your mindset) you can implement both learning and taking action in your daily routine
Wake-Up early and do your favorite activity: It's a known fact that by waking up early you gain a couple of hours of uninterrupted focus. The issue is that not everyone has the willpower to avoid the snooze button and get up. However, if you schedule your favorite activity bright and early, you will be motivated to wake up and work on it. I generally wake up at 5:00 AM to do online courses or work on something that I am excited about. When my alarm goes off, I am not lingering in bed because I can't wait to get started with my day. I also have a 9:00 PM electronics curfew to help me fall asleep faster so that I am rested and energized in the morning.
Listen to podcasts or audio books during workouts and commutes: Whether you commute or you live close to work, you probably have some down time. Download an audio book app on your smartphone or a series of podcasts. Commit to playing rich content instead of listening to the same five songs on the radio. If you don't commute, try working out or doing some cardio and replace music or TV with audio books and podcasts. If you add this great habit to your daily routine you will learn anything you want in no time. I personally like to listen to audio books at the gym. An average 300 page book in audio format can take around six to eight hours to finish. If you consistently play it while travelling or working out, you can go through a book a week.
Work with a fulfillment center, 3 PL or public warehouse: Third party logistic companies can help you scale your business and save you time. They let you store your goods at their facility and ship them to your clients once you get the sale. The great thing about this business model is that most of these companies will work with you by tracking your inventory. My favorite fulfillment service at this point is Amazon with their FBA program which allows you to sell products through your own store (i.e. Shopify) and then Amazon takes care of the delivery. Whether you are simply looking for a pick-and-pack solution or you want full fulfillment and customer service, these businesses can save you lots of time and money.
Outsource customer service or use a 24 hour response policy: If you already have a toll free number (or your brick and mortar number) on your site then you are already accustomed to receiving inquiries. When you start getting traction online you may get a few more emails and phone calls. If you don't want to deal with customer service matters, you can hire a virtual assistant (VA) to handle them. This option might cost you a few hundred dollars a month so it only makes sense if you are already making a healthy profit. If you are bootstrapping, set up a toll free line with a message that prompts your clients to leave a voicemail. Let your recording tell them that you will reply within 24 hours and also give them the option to e-mail you. Once they email you, you can set up an automated response confirming that you have received the email and that you will get back to them within one business day.