Four insights to ease eCommerce growing pains

On Thursday 25 April we held a breakfast roundtable at Soho House specifically for D2C leaders whose brands are on a £5m trajectory. 

While the pains au chocolats delivered, were the pains of scaling an eCommerce brand solved? 

Contextual recap

The £5 million milestone is littered with hurdles; scaling and managing growth is a complex interplay of traffic, conversions and reporting. The aim of the roundtable was for those at the coalface to meet with their peers, and empower them with actionable insights to navigate growth, investment, and scalable operations.

Here were some of the key takeaways…

1. Balancing brand awareness against performance

Brands who are in this stage of their growth are often starting from a point where nobody knows who they are or are in the throes of building brand awareness. 

One of the challenges discussed was finding ways to balance brand-building activities while simultaneously driving tangible returns on investment – especially when there is an apparent dichotomy between the two.

A strategy proposed during the discussion involved leveraging user-generated content (UGC) on social media. Encouraging customers to create and share brand-related content can help to increase visibility but also foster a sense of community and engagement. This approach was seen as a way to achieve both exposure and direct revenue generation, as UGC carries authenticity and credibility that more direct forms of marketing lack.

Using UGC was also suggested as a potential solution for those whose customers face challenges in justifying an investment, such as with premium brands or those requiring pre-purchase education. A personalised skincare brand was a given example; being able to adequately convey the complexities and benefits of the product was limited in direct response advertising campaigns. 

2. Measurement and attribution is important even in the early stages 

Did the roundtable think the investment in complicated attribution were important at this stage of the eCommerce journey? 

In short, yes. Without it, roundtable members said that understanding incremental growth becomes challenging, and there’s a risk of over relying on what currently works rather than exploring new opportunities. Sophisticated attribution models even in growth’s early stages can provide an understanding of the effectiveness of marketing efforts across different channels, and give valuable insights to adapt in the case of changing market conditions. 

3. Using measurement to inform your strategies

Measurement was also cited as a way to help with where and how to allocate resources for customer acquisition. The advertising guru, Dave Trott’s famous pizza voucher analogy was quoted; you may think you’re incentivising new customers, but in reality those customers were always going to buy from you anyway. 

Proper analytics also allows brands to leverage data beyond eCommerce – for instance further down the line, geographical data of where sales are being made could be useful when negotiating with retailers as to where products might sell well – working with retailers being an important stepping stone in the scaling journey. 

Furthermore data can be used to understand customer lifetime value as a means to expand into new markets. By analysing data on customer behaviour, purchasing patterns, and lifetime value, brands can identify segments with the highest growth potential and tailor their expansion strategies accordingly.

4. Invest in your founder to avoid scaling related burnout

Anyone who runs a business will tell you it’s hard – really hard! But for scaling eCommerce brands it is perhaps even more so. Founders are commonly solo entrepreneurs tasked with wearing many hats and handling various aspects of the business – and needing to be experts in all forms of marketing and advertising. The pressures of delivering growth, ROI, and handling large marketing budgets is immense. 

While brands might not be at the stage of being financially ready to work with a scaling partner, participants said that founder training could be a valuable option that would not only be beneficial to individual entrepreneurs, but also contribute to the business’ long-term success and resilience. 

After quite literally breaking bread together we were really inspired to hear about the respective journeys of our attendees. It’s no mean feat trying to hit the £5 million mark; the challenges and solutions are as wide as they are tall. 

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