Scale-up an e-commerce business: strategic model.

Many successful e-commerce businesses have been launched by entrepreneurs passionate about a product or market place, or who have spotted an opportunity and exploited it successfully.

But e-commerce businesses can become bogged down as they grow. They can stop feeling successful, profitability can dip, and they become bogged down with operational, systems and process issues undermining performance.

We see five main causes of this:

  1. Disconnected systems and processes create wasted time and errors.
  2. Product and data errors result in returns and unhappy customers.
  3. Complexity and more staff create cost and drain your energy.
  4. Simple marketing ideas become bogged down in data and system issues.
  5. Technology is expensive, time consuming and not what you’re interested in.

All of these issues are consequences of growth, and the need to move to the next level of maturity. We use a model for four levels of maturity for growing e-commerce businesses:


  • Offline customer service
  • Shared hosting
  • First generation website
  • Payment systems work
  • Credit control and finance are offline
  • Multiple points of failure


  • Struggling to hire the right people
  • Frequently changing plans
  • Many projects haf complete or shelved
  • Business and IT aren’t aligned
  • Performance Issues
  • Back office is growing too fast
  • Customer service is very busy
  • Finance is hand to mouth
  • No real management reporting

High Performance

  • IT works and is reliable
  • Most processes talk to each other
  • Multiple channels to market
  • Repeatable and modular IT
  • Methodical strategic approach
  • Back office stabilised
  • Management reporting is statistics driven
  • Customer service is under control

Enterprise Grade

  • Fast and reliable customer service
  • Fully integrated across all business processes
  • Flexible and reliable IT systems
  • Optimised across all channels
  • Dynamic, configurable executive dashboards
  • Compliant, low-risk, dependable IT
  • Back office is minimal

The infographic in the link below shows the seven key streams that are involved in progressing through this maturity model. For each stream, there are three objectives. In other words there are a total of 21 objectives.

To achieve each objective requires a series of projects that can be progresses as the company grows and succeeds, this way the growth is managed and the costs are controlled in line with increasing revenues.

Download our infographic here: Optimise your online business in 7 steps