Scalable Ecommerce: Main Challenges That Arise When Scaling Up

Watch out for these common "growing pains" around scaling your business.

By Tom Wintaugh | December 21, 2023 | 3 minute read
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Scaling an online business can come with unpredictable growing pains. Building an audience, offering more products, developing a more sophisticated web shopping experience, and expanding a physical footprint all come with specific challenges that can derail a business’ growth. In this blog, we’ll identify several speed bumps that catch scalable ecommerce businesses by surprise, and what to do about them.

1. Infrastructure strain causes a slow website.

When scaling up, one of the most noticeable knock-on effects is the pressure exerted on your existing infrastructure. As traffic and complexity rise, so does the strain on your website and backend systems. This can result in slow-loading pages, broken features, and a breakdown in the communication of data from one integrated system to another. A slow, unresponsive site can utterly derail the user experience, leading to cart abandonment and lower sales volume.

Solution: Partner with scalable platforms and hosting solutions that are explicitly designed to handle increased load efficiently. Look at proven techniques for improving site speed. Ensure that images and videos are properly compressed. Regularly monitor site speed and run performance checks to keep you ahead of potential pitfalls.

2. Inventory management becomes overwhelming or broken.

Scalable ecommerce often runs into major roadblocks when it comes to handling inventory. An increase in sales volume can break processes which were designed for lower volume and less touch-points, resulting in stock-outs, overstocks, and missing items that get lost in the shuffle.

Solution: Leverage advanced inventory management systems that offer real-time tracking, inventory forecasting, and restocking alerts (for our team and on-site for your customers). Integrating these solutions with your ecommerce platform aids more seamless communication between sales and inventory, preventing errors before they happen.

3. Customer support gets sluggish.

As your customer base grows, so do the expectations for prompt, comprehensive support. Failing to address customer issues in a timely manner can seriously impact customer satisfaction and cost you long-term business.

Solution: Build functionality on your site which directs some customer requests through chatbots and FAQs, while ensuring a human touch is available for more complex issues. Self-service support is a growing trend for all kinds of businesses, and is preferred by many shoppers. Give your customers all of the tools they need to answer their own questions, and reduce strain on CS systems.

4. Logistical complexities can overwhelm availability and fulfillment.

Meeting customer expectations for swift and reliable deliveries while managing an unpredictable supply chain and keeping costs under control can be daunting, especially as your operations expand.

Solution: Explore partnerships with reliable third-party logistics providers who can manage more complicated higher volume fulfillment needs. Implementing “track and trace” technologies and offering flexible delivery options can help manage customer expectations about delivery and keep them informed at all times.

5. Marketing strategies don’t work as well as they used to (and they’re more expensive).

Marketing plans that really connected during your earlier phases of your business might not hold water as you scale. Throwing marketing resources at the wrong channel, for the wrong audience, with a message that was calibrated for a different place and time, can result in losing money and users.

Solution: Adopt a more data-driven approach to marketing, continuously analyzing and optimizing campaigns for your audience as it stands today. Personalization and audience segmentation are key. Most importantly, consider how your brand messaging—including copy, design, and promotional offers—will land for a bigger and more diverse audience.

Developing scalable ecommerce which can be sustained over time is an ongoing process.

By proactively addressing infrastructure strain, inventory management, customer support slowdowns, and marketing missteps, you can reduce the negative impacts of business growth. Most of these issues can be managed via improvements to the ecommerce site. Selecting partners who are explicitly oriented towards growth

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About The Author

Katy Ellquist

Katy Ellquist, Miva’s Digital Marketing Strategist, is an accomplished writer, marketer, and social media analyst who has created sophisticated content campaigns for a broad range of professional clients. She brings to Miva a complex understanding of ecommerce trends and techniques, building upon extensive digital agency experience and a prior role as direct liaison to Miva’s top accounts. Katy is a regular contributor to the Miva blog, covering essential ecommerce topics like design & development strategy, site optimization, and omnichannel selling, with the goal of increasing the actionable knowledgebase of the entire Miva community.

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Author's Bio

Tom Wintaugh

Tom is a Content Marketing Specialist at Miva.

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