Recession advice for e-tailers

As the world gears up for a global recession, etailers are starting to feel the pinch.

Last week, E-consultancy's Editor in Chief Chris Lake suggested 20 ways etailers can delight their customers to remain successful in these tough times.

I too see opportunities for etailers to build their businesses while the economy works itself out and decided to provide several that I see as being important to etailers today.

* Upsell, upsell, upsell. Upselling is a powerful tool in the etailer's arsenal. A lot of etailers don't make enough use of it. From listing "Suggested Products" on product pages to engaging in targeted, segmented email marketing campaigns, there are plenty of ways to get more from your existing customers and the cost of doing this is much lower than acquiring new customers.

* Slim down inventories. If you have items in inventory that aren't selling and you don't plan on restocking them, now's the time to look at getting rid of them. Think about offering them at clearance prices or bundling them at discount with better-selling items.

* Renegotiate with suppliers. Given the economic circumstances, you'll probably find out that some of your suppliers are willing to renegotiate to keep your business.

While some people have a hard time pushing for better arrangements when they know their suppliers are worried about their businesses, making sure you're getting the best deal possible is extremely important when the success of your business could be at stake.

* Look for deals. There are going to be a lot of deals on excess inventories and liquidations. Be on the look-out for them since there may be opportunities to get existing products you sell (and new ones) at significantly lower prices.

* Pay attention to the competition. I'm usually a believer that many companies pay too much attention to the competition but as consumers tighten their belts, it's really important to know what your competitors are doing to attract and retain customers.

Are they offering free shipping? Are they investing in strategic initiatives that give them a competitive advantage? Knowing these things intimately can be extremely important when everyone is competing for a piece of a smaller pie.

The economy will eventually rebound but in the meantime, etailers should be looking to hunker down where appropriate and find opportunities that can help the bottom line.

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