10 Game-Changing Lean Ecommerce Tips To Cut Costs Now

by Jeremy Tang

This article presents ten essential strategies for minimizing overhead costs in e-commerce. The focus is on a range of tactics, from reassessing shipping and packaging methods to the effective use of AI and organic marketing. Emphasizing a scalable SEO approach, the piece explores how these strategies can be applied to achieve sustainable business growth in the e-commerce sector, with the potential to start showing results in six weeks.

Table Of Contents:

Struggling With Overhead Costs in Your Ecommerce Venture?

Cutting costs is a universal goal for every ecommerce business, yet zeroing in on the right areas often feels like searching for a needle in a haystack. Where do you start when every expense seems crucial? 


This guide, brought to you by the experts at Area Ten, will reveal key strategies to not only trim excess expenses but also to drive sustainable growth. Read along.


The Silent Killer in Ecommerce Businesses


Overhead costs are ever-present, encompassing expenses such as rent, administrative salaries, and your marketing efforts. Yes, they are essential for a smooth operation, but sometimes, they quietly accumulate. If left unchecked, they can dangerously erode profitability.


The Lean Ecommerce Model becomes a beacon in this tricky terrain. This approach focuses on defining value from the customer’s perspective, streamlining processes, and relentlessly pursuing efficiency. The goal is simple: to reduce cost, and do more with less.


However, the real challenge lies in pinpointing the exact strategies and steps that strike the right balance. How do you reduce overhead while maintaining, or even enhancing, your overall sales? 


Strategies for Overhead Reduction

#1: Know Your Overhead Cost

In the quest for ecommerce efficiency and cost management, the first and most critical step is gaining an intimate understanding of your overhead costs. You should first execute an in-depth analysis through thorough categorization of each expense, followed by a detailed examination of your income statement to understand how each factor impacts your overall financial health.


From there, you can identify which costs are indispensable for success, which ones are weighing you down, and which can be eliminated without sacrificing product quality or customer satisfaction.


Understanding your overhead cost and overall ecommerce performance also lays a foundation for the Lean Model. The first aspect of this is Value Identification, which involves understanding what products your customers are willing to pay for and avoiding those that don’t add value from your customer’s perspective. This leads us to our next strategy.

#2: Concentrate on Your Best Sellers

Concentrating on best-selling products allows for a more targeted approach in every aspect of your business. First, honing in on these products can lead to more effective negotiations with suppliers as you can access bulk purchasing discounts.

Beyond that, the marketing benefits are also substantial. These products have already resonated with your customers, so promoting them yields a higher return on investment and a more efficient use of your marketing budget.

#3: Focus on Your VIP Customers

At Area Ten, we believe that value identification is a two-way street. Just as you would want to identify which products provide value to your customers, you want to also determine which customers offer long-term value to your online store.

In our e-book, From Sinking to Sailing, we talked about the importance of customer lifetime value, the total value a customer contributes throughout their relationship with your business, and the 80/20 rule. 

This means that only the top 20% of your customers contribute to 80% of your profit. By prioritizing customer retention for these VIPs, you can streamline your marketing efforts and reduce your acquisition costs.

The next lean ecommerce principle is Value Stream mapping, a method that scrutinizes and optimizes the entire process flow of your ecommerce business from product development to customer delivery. You want to identify and eliminate any steps in the process that add to your overhead without adding tangible value. Here’s how:

#4: Reevaluate Your Shipping Costs

Shipping can be one of the biggest contributors to your overhead. However, this strategy doesn’t mean you need to choose the most affordable courier. To smartly refine your shipping strategies, consider these steps:


  • Negotiate better rates with your current shipping providers.
  • Diversify your shipping options by exploring different couriers. You can tailor your delivery services to specific needs, whether for local, national, or international shipments to unlock more cost-effective and efficient solutions.
  • Regularly review and adjust how often you ship products. Consolidating orders and optimizing shipment schedules can lead to savings on shipping costs.

#5: Reevaluate Your Packaging

You always want to present your products in the best way to your customers, but striking a balance between aesthetic appeal and cost-effectiveness is key. 

You want to assess your packaging materials for economic efficiency. Opting for lighter, more compact packaging can lead to significant cost savings in both materials and shipping. 

However, it’s crucial to remember that cheaper packaging isn’t always the most cost-effective in the long run. Poor packaging can result in product damage, returns, and, ultimately, dissatisfied customers, which can be a significant cost to your business. 

It’s essential to find the perfect balance. Packaging that ensures product safety and customer satisfaction without incurring unnecessary costs.

You can also consider customizing packaging solutions for different product types. For example, smaller electronic items or accessories may benefit from secure, minimalist packaging, which not only saves on materials but can also reduce shipping costs.

#6: Explore Inventory Cost Reduction

In every ecommerce business, especially for large-scale stores, excess inventory can tie up capital and escalate storage costs. On the other hand, insufficient inventory risks stockouts and lost sales. 

The Just-In-Time (JIT) inventory optimization approach becomes an essential strategy in this context. Through this, you can align your inventory levels closely with real-time customer demand, effectively minimizing the costs associated with excess stocks like storage and holding costs.

Moreover, consider identifying slow-moving or “dead” stock. Recognizing these items opens the door to further strategic actions, such as discount utilization. By offering these items at a lower price, you can free up warehouse space, reduce storage costs, and improve cash flow.

Another vital aspect of the Lean Model is Flow Efficiency, which focuses on ensuring that the business process runs smoothly, with minimal waiting or downtime, mainly by automating repetitive tasks. But how do you do it in ecommerce?

#7: Use Tools to Aid in Repetitive Tasks

Automation in areas like order processing and inventory management not only improves efficiency but also allows for the reallocation of resources to higher-value activities. 


The reduced workload on staff means that you can optimize your workforce, redirecting their efforts to areas that require human intervention, further cutting down on operational costs.


Email marketing services with automation features, like triggered emails for cart abandonment or personalized product recommendations, can also help. 


Similarly, inventory management systems that automate stock-level tracking and reordering processes can prevent stockouts and reduce manual oversight. These automated systems reduce the likelihood of over-ordering or under-ordering, helping maintain cost-effective inventory levels and thereby reducing overhead expenses.

#8: Utilize AI

AI technology represents a significant advancement in automation. It offers benefits like predictive data analytics for demand forecasting, optimizing inventory levels, and minimizing waste from unsold stock. Additionally, AI-driven content creation tools can enhance the efficiency of producing content for product pages and marketing materials.


Nonetheless, it’s important to acknowledge that AI is an evolving field, and not all AI applications are equally beneficial for SEO. Using widespread tools like ChatGPT, for example, may increase the risk of content duplication since multiple users may use them for similar purposes, potentially causing SEO problems. 


The key to maintaining a competitive edge is to utilize AI tools and technologies that provide unique advantages that are not widely available to your competitors.

#9: Explore Organic Marketing

Unlike paid advertising, organic marketing leverages SEO-optimized content, social media engagement, and customer reviews to attract and retain customers naturally. This method not only reduces the reliance on costly ad campaigns. It also cultivates a more engaged and loyal customer base, enhancing customer retention and acquisition at a lower cost.

#10: Target Long Tail Keywords

Long tail keywords, being specific and less competitive, empower e-commerce businesses to achieve higher rankings in search results more easily. These keywords not only attract more qualified traffic but do so without the hefty advertising expenses typically associated with head terms.


Moreover, customers using long tail keywords are often further along in their purchase decision process, resulting in higher conversion rates. A noteworthy example of this strategy’s effectiveness is observed in Amazon’s use of long tail SEO. Over 46% of Amazon’s organic performance is driven by long tail pages, which are specifically designed outside their regular site architecture to target particular keywords.


While implementing these strategies can significantly cut costs, achieving success in e-commerce involves more than just expense reduction. A dynamic, integrated marketing ecosystem is essential. Each component of this ecosystem should function in harmony, not only to curtail costs but also to attract and retain the right customer base, thus fostering sustainable growth.


This is where the expertise of a holistic SEO agency becomes invaluable. Going beyond the simple recommendations that a typical SEO consultant will provide, an SEO agency can identify high-impact solutions that propel your business forward, crafting brand-aligned content and implementing strategies at a scale that can significantly boost your visibility and market presence.


Driving Sustainable Ecommerce Growth with Area Ten


We get it at Area Ten. For many ecommerce stores, the overhead costs and ads spend tend to scale Everest-like heights but the ROI plummets alarmingly. That’s why our approach as an ecommerce SEO agency is anything but conventional. 


Our track record speaks volumes: We’ve steered seven startup businesses to success, with six crossing the $1 million revenue milestone in less than 16 months, and five scaling into multimillion-dollar enterprises. Our expertise is not just in identifying cost-effective, high-impact solutions but in driving tangible, robust growth.


Our secret weapon? Our Full Body SEO approach. While most SEO agencies chase the high-competition head terms, we delve into the untapped potential of the long tail, representing 90% of search opportunities.


Now, you may wonder “Wouldn’t targeting these terms and creating content for each just increase my overhead cost?”


Not with programmatic SEO. It leverages AI to churn out thousands of content pieces at scale. But unlike standard programmatic solutions reliant on ChatGPT or templated content, our proprietary technology, CMAX™ stands apart. It’s engineered to generate unique, brand-aligned, legally compliant content pieces, at scale, each optimized to convert.


It also features automated cross-linking logic, enhancing your website’s structure and SEO performance even further. Moreover, it’s self-learning and self-optimizing, constantly evolving to keep pace with search engine algorithm changes. In fact, CMAX has already demonstrated its global efficacy, handling traffic of 60 million visitors a month across various industries since launch.

Case Studies

These SEO case studies exemplify how we were able to transform two ecommerce businesses drowning with their overhead costs.


Transforming a Gardening Supplies Ecommerce Store in Australia

An Australian gardening supplies ecommerce store faced a critical challenge. Despite significant investment in Google Ads, their sales failed to mirror the expenditure. 


We identified the root of this issue: A marketing strategy heavily reliant on high-competition head terms, resulting in excessive costs and overwhelming competition.


We stepped in with a solution that revolutionized their content strategy. Employing our Full Body SEO approach, we integrated both head terms and thousands of long tail keywords. Utilizing CMAX, we churned out thousands of unique, brand-aligned content pieces for each product page, each piece designed to convert.


This strategic overhaul not only diversified its keyword portfolio but also enhanced its visibility across a broader spectrum of search queries.


Within just two and a half months, the store witnessed a 22.7% increase in organic traffic. More importantly, their conversion rate from organic traffic improved by 18.3%.


Here’s what their head of marketing has to say about our collaboration:


Running an ecommerce store ain’t easy, especially with Google Ads burning a hole in your pocket. We were stuck in a rut and didn’t have the option to wait for months to see growth.


But then when we tried Area Ten’s FREE SEO Fast Track, they highlighted quick wins and areas for improvement, giving us a clear roadmap to enhance our online presence. It was eye-opening to see the traffic potential for our toy collections, all thanks to their expert analysis.”


Automating Content Creation for a Biking and Cycling Gear Store in the UK

In the UK, an ecommerce store specializing in biking and cycling gear was grappling with overwhelming inventory and content creation demands. The effort required to produce content for their extensive product range would drain resources and escalate overhead costs.


Our intervention began with our team of writers crafting initial content pieces, ensuring adherence to the client’s brand voice and industry standards. These approved pieces then served as the foundation for CMAX, which automated the generation of thousands of SEO-optimized content pieces at scale.


Further to this, CMAX’s micro-level testing and insights continually refined the performance of each page, enhancing overall SEO impact continuously.


In just one month, the store saw a 20.2% boost in organic traffic, coupled with a 15.1% increase in organic revenue. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What industries can benefit from programmatic SEO?


Programmatic SEO can benefit a wide range of industries, but it will still depend on the very business. At Area Ten, we’ve successfully implemented it across various sectors, from retail to finance, and healthcare to technology. However, we know that each business has unique needs, and so we offer consultations to demonstrate how programmatic SEO can be tailored to different industry requirements. 


Can Area Ten’s programmatic SEO work on Shopify?


Absolutely. Our programmatic SEO solution is CMS agnostic, meaning it works seamlessly with any content management system, including Shopify. We use a unique Div ID and our asynchronous Javascript code to load content onto your site. This approach ensures that the programmatic content integrates visually with your existing website design, with minimal, if any, impact on load times.


Should I abandon paid media if I want to cut down costs?

Not necessarily. Executed effectively, paid media management can yield substantial ROI. It’s about finding the right balance and ensuring that your paid campaigns are optimized for maximum efficiency and effectiveness. Partnering with a digital marketing agency can help you craft an effective campaign and fine-tune strategies to ensure every dollar spent contributes to your business growth.

What You’ve Learned: Key Takeaways from the Article

Reducing overhead costs could be complex, but achievable with the right strategies. Here are the key takeaways from our exploration:


  • In-Depth Understanding of Overhead Costs: Knowing what contributes to your overhead costs and their effectiveness is important for data-driven cost-reduction strategies.
  • The Power of Best Sellers: Focusing on your best-selling products can lead to more efficient use of resources and higher profitability.
  • Valuing VIP Customers: Prioritizing customers with higher lifetime value can streamline marketing efforts and enhance revenue generation.
  • Strategic Shipping and Packaging: Smart refinements in shipping and packaging can lead to significant cost savings without compromising on quality and customer satisfaction.
  • Embracing Automation and AI: Utilizing automation tools and AI technology can improve efficiency in repetitive tasks and reduce overhead costs.
  • Organic Marketing Efficiency: Leveraging organic marketing strategies can be more cost-effective than relying solely on paid advertising.
  • Targeting Long Tail Keywords: Focusing on specific, less competitive long tail keywords can attract more qualified traffic and improve conversion rates.

Actionable Advice

To successfully implement these tactics in your business, here are practical steps you can take:


  • Conduct a Comprehensive Overhead Audit: Start by categorizing and analyzing each overhead expense against your income statement to identify areas for cost reduction.
  • Analyze Sales Data for Best Sellers: Regularly review your sales data to identify your best-selling products and focus your resources on these items.
  • Segment Your Customer Base: Identify your VIP customers and tailor your marketing strategies to retain and expand this segment.
  • Refine Shipping Strategies: Explore different shipping methods and negotiate better rates with multiple providers to find the most cost-effective solutions.
  • Revise Packaging Practices: Evaluate your current packaging materials and methods. Consider switching to more economical, yet still effective, alternatives.
  • Automate Routine Processes: Smartly integrate AI tools for processes like automated inventory management systems to save time and labor costs.
  • Develop an Organic Marketing Strategy: Focus on creating high-quality, SEO-optimized content and engaging social media strategies to build a strong organic presence.
  • Target Long Tail Keywords: Incorporate long tail keywords into your content strategy to attract more qualified traffic and improve conversion rates.

Going Beyond Cost-Efficiency

It’s clear that reducing overhead while maintaining high customer satisfaction is an achievable goal. By understanding your overhead costs, concentrating on your best sellers and VIP customers, reevaluating your shipping and packaging strategies, managing inventory smartly, and leveraging automation and AI, you can significantly enhance your ecommerce efficiency.


But here’s one last piece of advice: While focusing on cost reduction is important, never lose sight of the user experience and customer satisfaction. Remember, a satisfied customer is the cornerstone of a successful ecommerce business. Prioritize their experience, and you’ll not only see cost efficiencies but also long-term loyalty and growth.


Partner with us at Area Ten for bigger ecommerce SEO results, faster. Whether you’re operating on platforms like Shopify, WordPress, or Bigcommerce, our comprehensive SEO strategy is tailored to meet the unique technical and marketplace nuances of each platform.


With our holistic approach to your marketing funnel, you can start seeing results in six weeks, not months. We’re not just another digital marketing agency; we’re technology experts committed to delivering tangible results rapidly. Our team of over 130 seasoned professionals is dedicated to driving your success, making us a trusted partner for ambitious, growth-oriented businesses like yours.


Don’t watch from the sidelines while others revolutionize their online presence. Seize your chance now.


If you run an ecommerce store, get your FREE SEO Fast Track with us.

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