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5 Ways to Keep Ecommerce Overhead Operating Costs Down




Starting an ecommerce store is a great way to break into sales without having to rent or buy a commercial space, set up display cases or rotate inventory by season. In other words, it already frees entrepreneurs from many of the expenditures (both time and money) of a brick-and-mortar sales strategy. But when you’re running an online store, it’s still important to keep overhead costs low to maximize profit margins over time.


You could be overlooking some of the simplest ways to save money while running a website. Here are five ways to keep ecommerce overhead operating costs down.


Inventory Forecasting

Running a web store is a delicate balancing act. You want to find a comfortable medium where you have enough products on hand to ship in a timely manner, but not so many your inventory backs up, saddling you with the costs of storing and unloading the extra wares. Regularly taking stock of your inventory, combined with sales forecasting based on past patterns, will help you know exactly how much to order ahead of time. If you notice one product needs a little push, offer it at a discount. Likewise, if you see a product selling out the moment you order more, increase your ordering volume on this bestseller.


Live Chat Assistance

Customers often have questions during their shopping journey, and will turn to customer service to clear them up. Luckily, live chat is the wave of the future for ecommerce. This innovative technology actually lowers average interaction costs and allows customer specialists to serve more shoppers at once. It’s wildly efficient, and 62 percent of customers who utilized live chat on a site said they were more likely to purchase from the same site again because of it.


Drop Shipping

One of the costliest aspects of managing an online store is stocking inventory. It’s a gamble to stock up on products without knowing exactly how they’ll sell. Drop shipping alleviates this risk. As Entrepreneur writes, “First, it saves you the cost of building your own inventory… Second, no inventory also means no leftovers.”


While drop shipping sounds complicated at first, it often ends up streamlining the fulfillment process. Customers order and pay through your online store like usual, then you alert the manufacturer to ship the package directly to their doorstep. There are even a number of apps to help you manage your varied shipping needs as they arise, like the Better Shipping plug-in for Shopify. A cloud ecommerce platform comparison can help you find the most flexible way to host your site—complete with numerous shipping options.



Bringing in new customers to your website, while necessary, is expensive. It costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain a current one, but most sellers focus more on driving traffic than they do on maintaining their customer base. It’s important to think of your relationship with customers as a long-term relationship rather than a one-time transaction.


Retargeting is an excellent way to prioritize your marketing efforts by serving advertisements to people who have already visited your store, clicked on specific product pages or even added items to their cart without completing the transaction (and thus have your cookies in their browser). It’s a smart use of your marketing budget because you know these people are already at least interested in what you’re selling. Retargeting can also involve creating a custom email list based on past visitors/subscribers and catering advertisements to them.


Payment Processing

It’s simple and effective to avoid costly chargebacks, the fee you pay if a customer disputes a charge from your store and wins. Misuse of chargebacks is responsible for over 70 percent of fraud losses (compared to just 30 percent from actual payment fraud via hackers). These costs add up, so be sure to implement a secure payment processing procedure complete with multi-factor authentication to keep costs low.


With these five ways to keep ecommerce overhead operating costs down, you’ll be able to optimize profit margins and eliminate waste for your online store.



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