Seven tips to help grow your online business

Selling online has never been easier, faster, or more scalable.

BizLaunch brought together a panel of entrepreneurs and business service providers to share their experiences and advice on growing an online business.  The following are some of their top tips. For more detailed advice, check out the Global Growth webinar.

Magnet Export Business Portal was developed to respond to challenges faced by SMEs trying to access trade opportunities, funding opportunities, information about inbound and outbound trade missions to connect to other businesses and general growth resources. The free online resource contains content and program information from several different business growth, trade and government partners including the Ontario Government, Global Affairs Canada, BDC, and Export Development Canada (EDC) — to make sure there is a pipeline of information available.

Project Manager at Magnet, Devon Franklin explains how businesses that sign up can benefit from using the free resource, “we are able to push customized communications to businesses about the type of trade programs that they are eligible for based on their company profile and growth goals that they identify when they initially sign up and build a profile. We ask the right amount of the company’s information to create a profile and we make sure that they are receiving information about potential financing, business resources, trade events and more than they are specifically eligible for and we do not share your information. It is private and confidential.”

The web-based platform helps businesses maximize international market potential by helping connect exporters with the tools and relevant export resources, funding and information they need to grow their business. Franklin says, “time is money and scouring the Internet for the right kind of information to meet your trade needs can take up valuable resources. It only takes a few minutes to register – and it’s free. Even if you aren’t exporting yet, signing up can help you tap into resources to get you to the next level of partners and information to get you ready to expand your markets.”

Another important resource and partner for online businesses that can save time and money is a shipping and logistics partner. eShipper’s Imtiaz Kermali, vice president sales and marketing and Stephen Ruhland, senior national account manager and shipping partner, share their knowledge and tips about the benefits of using a knowledgeable shipping partner.

eShipper’s Ruhland and Kermali offer tips about considerations that should be made by eCommerce businesses when finding the right shipping resource:

1. Find the right partner to automate the shipping process through your eCommerce website, use carrier integrations and offer you shipping bulk discounts.

“Ideally, you want to utilize an online platform for technology and various shipping services.” Shopify is very good and your shipping can go hand in hand with your shopping technology partner and your website. A Shopify app automates everything. It shows shipping rates to your customers and allows for various possibilities.”

“Utilizing an online shipping platform for technology and bulk discounts is an incredible service for a business. If you have 100 or 200 shipping orders to fulfill daily, a partnership with eShipper or other similar platforms allow you to automate as much of that by using technology. You can also get cheaper shipping rates and are able to create scenarios that stagger your international shipping rather than doing each ship one by one across the border.”

2. Dimensions play a role in shipping. Consider how your package design and size will impact the cost of shipping.

“Dimensions plays a role in shipping as much as the actual weight. Try and get packaging that fits your product nice and snug so that way you are not paying more than what you should be. However, certain carries only work on actual weight and don’t care about the sizing.”

3. Make sure you have the right certification before shipping food or dangerous goods.

“You want to steer away from shipping dangerous goods, medicines or food until you have the right certification as countries are quite strict about what enters their country and will require you to follow certain regulations and certification.”

4. Full tracking? Origin-based tracking? No tracking?

“Tracking is a huge thing for clients. Customers expect to track as a norm. There are options in the marketplace which allows for full tracking or origin-based tracking (the tracking number may stop once it enters the destination country). Some offer a hybrid of express plus postal. Look for the right partners who can give you a hybrid solution. Some of the product sets that are available may be low in margin but you sell a lot of volumes. You don’t want to spend $30 or $40  on shipping if you only have $15 of profitability, for example.”

5. Flat rate or free shipping?

When do you offer customers a flat rate, free shipping or free shipping after a spending threshold? eShipper experts suggest giving multiple options on cost and time of shipping. “Give options, give the standard, give a faster than standard shipping time or overnight express for those who want it ASAP. Giving free shipping after a certain threshold of spending is a win-win for both the customer and the seller”

“Customers can also get a shipping discount if your goods qualify under NAFTA or CETA trade agreements. Your customers will not have to pay duty, so the shipping fees are comparable to their domestic fees.”

6. Value of shipping consultancy and strategy development.

“eShipper works with start-ups or small or medium-sized business. The first service offered is a free consultancy to help businesses understand what is available in the marketplace. We offer a service which is exclusive to eShipper called Smarteposte which is a hybrid service of DHL express service which delivers packages to a country and then the final delivery is done by the postal system. This cost difference can save you up to 90 percent in shipping costs. We have 18,000 customers using our services which allows for phenomenal discounts which we pass on to our customers.”

7. Do you need a full-service fulfillment service for storing packing and shipping?

All of this led to an increase in revenue because I was able to concentrate on growing my business. Most important was the trust I had from start to finish of the shipping process. If my customers are happy, I am happy. “

Want more?

  1. For more information and advice from other panelists, check out the Global Growth webinar.
  2. Considering taking your company global? Here are more tips.
  3. Click here to join the Magnet Export Business Portal
  4. Read more on Global Growth