I delivered a speech last week to a group of ecommerce business owners about the process of developing business strategies. As I was preparing my presentation, I tried to envision what an online shopping experience might be in 10 years — in the year 2022.
Last week, in “Descriptive Product Content Produces Sales,” I wrote about doing extensive research on a coffee maker online and how I finally made my selection. I read content, watched videos, and made a few notes. It was time consuming, and had I not found a site that was simply superior to the others, I probably would have struggled to keep track of the myriad of online stores offering the merchandise I was looking for.
Putting myself in 2022, I wondered what that same shopping experience might be like. What will your business look like in 10 years to be viable?
Creating Your Vision
In a pure visioning exercise, your objective is to foresee your future. What would you like your business to be in terms of size, culture, profitability, operations, and market presence?
As an ecommerce business owner, you must be realistic about many variables that will impact your operating environment in 10 years.
- Market size. What will your target market be in 10 years? Will it be bigger, smaller, older, younger, trendy?
- Product selection. Will you be in new markets? Will you offer the same products with the same margins?
- Competitors. What will your competitors be? Will they be marketplace sellers, or online stores, or mobile apps? Will there by large, global players? Delivering content in multiple languages? Shipping worldwide?
- Suppliers. What will your supply chain look like? Will imports be price competitive? Will your suppliers be here in 10 years?
- Devices. What will technology bring? All mobile all the time? Television shopping? Fully automated by setting preferences and buying at the lowest price?
- Content. What type of content will you need to meet the needs of your customers?
- Economic outlook. What will the world economy be like? Interest rates at 4 percent like they are today or 18 percent like they were in 1980? What will be your cost of capital? How will you fund your operations?
- Personal motivations. What are your goals and wishes? Will you be overseeing your operations or planning strategy? Do you have an exit strategy? Your motivations will impact your business operations.
- Sales and marketing. What channels will be available for sales and marketing? Will there be only a few dominant marketplaces like there are today, or will there be one for every market niche? What about social media platforms? What about advertising?
- Sales taxes. Will you have to collect sales taxes for every state? Local municipalities? Other countries?
The list is long. I challenge you to spend some time thinking about the future environment you will be operating in. Envision a future for your business that is achievable in that context. Then, evaluate goals and strategies to achieve your vision.