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Addressing the Growing Pains of SME E-Commerce Businesses through Operational Efficiency and Automation

The world of e-commerce offers boundless opportunities for small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). With the right strategies, it's possible to transition from a local company into an international force.

However, as with any growth, scaling up presents challenges unique to e-commerce. These are the proverbial 'growing pains' that can make or break a company's journey toward maturation and long-term profitability.

A study by Salesforce in 2023 shows that managing order volumes and customer expectations simultaneously becomes a challenge for approximately 67% of SMEs after the first year of an e-commerce operation.

As you read on, we outline eight prevalent growing pains encountered by most startups on their path to embracing digital transformation initiatives in the business world, along with actionable strategies to mitigate them:

Offering Employee Benefits

One of the compelling facets of employment in a reputable company is the array of benefits offered: comprehensive health insurance, including dental and vision coverage, Paid Time Off in the United States (PTO), 401K plans, sick leave, maternity/paternity leave, and more.

As an accountable business owner, establishing such benefits is essential before recruitment. It's necessary to provide applicants with incentives that transcend the mere privilege of being part of your organization, however prestigious that may be.

However, investing the time and resources to research and set aside funds for employee benefits can be an overwhelming task, and arguably, it falls beyond the typical responsibilities of a business owner.

Moreover, this focus could detract from more pressing concerns, such as maintaining the business's vitality, which is essential for the viability of these benefits.

Once it's clear that your e-commerce business is well-established and positioned for sustainable growth, a logical first step in expansion is to fortify your HR team.

Recruit professionals with the expertise to assist with benefits research and compliance with pertinent laws.

The Pain of Time

A common hurdle that echoes in the hearts of business leaders is the continuous tussle with time. In their versatile roles, juggling multiple responsibilities, they might find themselves putting in the labor equivalent of a conventional 40-hour workweek even before the close of Thursday.

Numerous entrepreneurs regard this as an integral part of the business landscape, willingly shouldering this responsibility to relish the autonomy and opportunities inherent in running their enterprise.

While this commitment is commendable, it can inadvertently trigger adverse consequences for your business. Given the realities of spatial limitations and a 24-hour day, overemphasizing a specific business aspect may inadvertently leave others undernourished.

Therefore, it becomes vitally important for small businesses to explore avenues for enhancing operational efficiency wherever feasible.

The good news is that any prospect to automate labor-intensive tasks can significantly alleviate your time constraints, facilitating improvements in your business in the short and long term.

The Pain of Inventory Management

Many Small and Midsize Businesses (SMBs) grapple with challenges in inventory management, primarily due to reluctance to invest in potentially costly software solutions.

Instead, they often resort to makeshift solutions like spreadsheets and other manual methodologies, which inadvertently impede efficiency and elevate the potential for errors.

Further, limited visibility into inventory can lead to missed business opportunities due to out-of-stock products or financial losses from perishable goods expiring on store shelves or warehouses.

To curb expenses and amplify revenue, business owners must investigate more streamlined and effective systems for inventory management. Using premium software solutions can help you furnish the necessary data, empowering you to formulate more effective strategies and optimize your inventory.

Doing so can more accurately forecast demand, avoid stockouts and overstocks, and improve your business's efficiency and return on investment.

The Pain of Accounting Challenges

Accurate accounting is the foundation for robust cash flow, healthy profit margins, and the necessary foresight for success. However, as businesses expand, owners often encounter new accounting challenges.

This discomfort stemming from growth, combined with excessive dependence on basic accounting solutions like QuickBooks or Xero, can ignite a multitude of accounting issues, such as:

  • Managing Accounts Receivable/Collections

Navigating the follow-up process for unpaid invoices can be troublesome, as can gauging the extent of customer payment delinquency.

  • Managing Paperwork and Reporting

Compiling and analyzing pertinent data to generate accurate reports can be time-consuming.

  • Month-End Reporting

Aggregating and scrutinizing scattered data from various sources to complete month-end reporting can stretch over days or weeks.

  • Managing Payroll

While you may be meeting the deadline for payroll, the bi-weekly task might be consuming an excessive amount of your valuable time.

To navigate these hurdles, upgrading to more comprehensive accounting solutions or employing accounting professionals may be necessary.

An efficient accounting system will resolve the above issues and provide valuable insights to guide strategic business decisions.

Overwhelmed by Rising Order Volumes

As your e-commerce store gains traction, you may be overwhelmed by the rising tide of orders. This increase in demand is a positive sign of growth, but it can also expose cracks in your infrastructure.

You may not have enough staff to handle the influx, or your warehousing and logistics system isn't adequately equipped to cope.

These issues can lead to delays and mistakes in order fulfillment, ultimately affecting your customer experience and brand reputation.

Automation solutions are designed to help your business scale smoothly by streamlining your order fulfillment process. By automating key steps, you can minimize errors, speed up dispatch times, and free up your team to focus on other crucial aspects of your business.

Dealing with Staffing

Managing a growing team can be another significant pain point for growing e-commerce businesses. Issues such as absenteeism, employee turnover, and maintaining productivity become more complex as the team size increases.

Added to this is the burden of managing the holiday rush or the seasonal sales spike when even your most dedicated staff members are stretched thin.

Automated solutions offer an elegant solution to these problems. You can automate various routine tasks, reducing the burden on your team. This increases operational efficiency and empowers staff to work more strategically, enhancing job satisfaction and lowering staff turnover.

The Pain of Manual Data Entry

Data is the lifeblood of an e-commerce business, but managing this data can be time-consuming and fraught with risk. Manual data entry can be slow and error-prone, not to mention the laborious process of ensuring your inventory numbers align with reality.

Connex's automation platform allows seamless integration with your existing systems, helping you eliminate redundant data entry and reduce the risk of mistakes.

It enables real-time inventory updates and data synchronization across platforms, ensuring that your staff and customers always have the most accurate and current information.

The Right Tool Can Save You Dose of Work

If you're pursuing a unified solution that could alleviate the predominant challenges faced by Small and medium businesses and foster your company's future growth, Connex Inventory® is your answer.

Our complete cloud-based inventory and business management software addresses various aspects of your business, including activities in Amazon Marketplace.

Augmented Efficiency

Our software optimizes your productivity by simplifying your operations and processes, helping you to generate reports quickly, save time and increase revenue growth.

Optimized Inventory Management

Connex's inbuilt inventory management module simplifies tracking products, equipping you with the necessary insights to develop effective inventory management strategies.

Advanced, Intelligent Accounting

Connex comprises a comprehensive set of accounting features, empowering you to delve deeper into your financial data and unearth critical insights about your business. With our suite of tools, you can enjoy rapid and straightforward reporting, intuitive dashboards, multi-entity capabilities, and more, giving you greater control over your business.

If your company has outgrown QuickBooks or any other entry-level accounting software, it's time to contemplate switching to Connex. Our solution enables seamless integration of your CRM and financial data.

As a result, your sales, marketing, and accounting teams can easily access the data of your customers, including their contact information, preferred products or services, invoices, orders, and more. This increased accessibility promotes teamwork and operational effectiveness and can improve the overall customer experience.

Additionally, it significantly trims reporting time, making weekly, quarterly, and month-end reports and payroll a matter of mere clicks rather than lengthy, arduous processes. With Connex, you can conquer your most daunting challenges and yield superior outcomes for your small or midsize business.



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