Challenges facing online retail businesses: Part 1

Challenges facing online retail businesses: Part 1

Training and Productivity

We know it’s very difficult to get labour at the moment. How can online retail businesses in the South West address this? Here’s Graham’s take …

You’ve got apprenticeships, but that’s more medium to long-term solution. You should seriously look at training and that’s training existing staff as well.

Could they do something better? Have they got skills you could use?

I think you have to look at your staff and look at where the skill sets are and whether you could actually train them up, so they could do more.

You also really do have to look at productivity.

For instance, a simple one, using Xero. Why are you entering things manually? You should be automating it. If you don’t know how, that’s the sort of thing you look at – is there a better way?

The biggest thing at the moment this time. Time is critical so you’ve got to look at how can you reduce your time, your staff time, supply chain time? What options have you got?

Commission on Big Platforms

Online retailers will look at the opportunity to trade on a major online platform or with a large corporate player as a great opportunity. Here’s what Graham says to them.

“Be aware. Be very aware. Online platforms have different percentage commissions.

I know that if you think you’re going to make this margin they may take that [small] cut or that [bigger] cut.

Be very aware, whether it’s 10, 20 or 30% that’s being taken off the sales line”

We have recently published an ebook looking at this topic in detail. It includes a checklist for online retailers. Download it free here.

Supply and Demand

We know that labour shortages are a massive issue right now for everyone, including online retail. Why is that?

Graham says:

“it’s basically simple economics supply and demand so what you’ve got at the moment is you’ve got a massive demand issue, and not enough supply which is causing issues across most industries in the UK but especially in the South West”

Solutions available to business owners may include:

  • automating
  • changing processes to improve productivity
  • training in-house
  • increasing pay and improving benefits

Preparing for Change

Doing things the same way you always have? Graham has changed a lot in his time in business. Here’s his perspective on how to change your outlook.

What’s going to happen in the future?

No one knows. You’ve got to really look at your business yourself and you’ve got to look at where you’ve got wastage.

Can you automate, can you do things better?

Do you need help to deal with some of these things?

Do you need someone to help you with your outlook on life?

I just think you’ve got to be *open* to change.

Change is a constant.

Unreliable supply chains affecting retailers

Most of us have heard about the shortages of items in the supermarket. What if you are an online retail business that depends on the steady supply of resources?

It’s always sensible to have more than one supplier but the problem we have at the moment is that everybody’s got problems with supply chain.

So you’ve got to make sure that you actually manage customer expectations, because whereas before, you might have been able to get that product, that supply in, say, two weeks.

It could take 10 weeks. It could take a year. It’s a problem everywhere.

Looking to improve results in your online retail business?

Here are two easy ways:

  1. Download our free ebook
  2. Book a Business & Xero Review with our team

Or chat with us now about the challenges you’re facing.



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