From the outside looking in, it’s easy to assume that ecommerce entrepreneurs have it made. But when you look at some of the issues that ecommerce businesses face on a daily basis, it becomes clear that there are some major hurdles that must be overcome in order to be profitable. How entrepreneurs deal with these issues will determine, to an extent, the success they enjoy.
The 4 Big Challenges Facing Today’s Entrepreneurs
Challenges come and go over time as new solutions emerge and old issues fade. Having said that, here’s a look at four of the biggest challenges today’s entrepreneurs are facing at the present moment.
1. Inventory Management
Inventory management is no longer a straightforward process – especially for businesses with multichannel strategies in place. For companies that sell on multiple websites and in multiple stores, tracking where inventory is, how much is left, and what items have been sitting in stock for too long is a big deal.
The good news is that while the details of inventory management might be challenging, the big picture doesn’t have to be. Robust inventory management software is making it possible to centralize inventory control and enjoy total visibility, regardless of how many sales channels there are. The key for entrepreneurs is to find the right inventory management solution.
2. Customer Data
Businesses face a massive responsibility when it comes to collecting, storing, and using customer data. The latter aspect is particularly challenging for today’s entrepreneurs. The tools exist for efficiently collecting and meticulously archiving data, but utilizing it in a meaningful way can be extremely difficult.
Today’s customers expect marketing messages, website experiences, and products to be tailored to their specific preferences and needs. For entrepreneurs, success is found in identifying these preferences/needs and creating value offerings that align with them.
3. Lead Nurturing
In a world that’s dominated by the internet and ecommerce, the purchase process looks a lot different than it did at the beginning of the 21st century. Businesses have to spend more time nurturing leads and patiently waiting until customers are ready to make a purchase decision. The challenge lies in communicating a consistent message over days, weeks, months, and even years.
4. Supply Chain Transparency
There’s been a huge shift in the consumer marketplace over the years and customers now care a great deal about where products come from. They want to know that they’re doing business with companies that care about things like social justice and sustainability. For businesses, the challenge lies in balancing profits and ethics – and figuring out how transparent they should be about their supply chains.
“Companies don’t need to have their sustainability practices completely figured out,” says Mike Burnette, director of the Global Supply Chain Institute. “In fact, many see it as a work in process. But it is important to establish and stick to a set of ideals and goals on which they communicate progress.”
Determining Ecommerce Success
When you look at entrepreneurs and grade them on their success, what criteria do you study? Is it revenue or sales numbers? Is it the lifestyle they live? Is it the innovation their businesses have produced? All of these certainly play a role in measuring the success of an entrepreneur, but do they really do an adequate job of extrapolating value?
At the end of the day, an entrepreneur’s value is going to be determined by how well he does with the challenges he faces. This might be a subjective way of viewing things, but isn’t success a highly subjective measurement to begin with?
In today’s business world – i.e. 2017 – entrepreneurs will be judged on how they deal with things like inventory management, customer data, lead nurturing, and supply chain ethics.