Tim Ferriss’ 4-hour workweek might sound a little too ambitious for your online store. However, with the right focus, processes, and tools, you can certainly achieve the 4-day work week in eCommerce.
Even better, you can achieve the 4-day workweek without affecting your profits, growth, or customer experience.
The benefits of a 4-day workweek
As a nation, we work more hours than most other countries, and as an industry, eCommerce businesses are expected to be open 24/7.
However, working long weeks isn’t good for you or your business. Studies into the benefits of working a 4-day workweek consistently return the same results:
- Improved productivity
- Reduced stress
- Enhanced motivation
- Better mental wellbeing.
These results also come without any adverse effect on performance. Four-day week workers have more time to spend with family, on leisure activities, or simply relaxing and rejuvenating for the week ahead. It sounds nice, right?
How to achieve the 4-day workweek in eCommerce
Of course, working a 4-day week is relatively simple; you just drop a day. However, simply dropping a day’s work each week in eCommerce can result in disaster.
A 4-day workweek could mean;
- You have less capacity to handle orders, which restricts your growth
- You have less time to respond to customer queries, which results in complaints
- You limit your ability to qualify for fast shipping programs, which reduces your competitiveness
To achieve the 4-day workweek in eCommerce without affecting your growth, profits, or customer experience, it’s necessary to take a strategic approach to reducing your workweek. This can be achieved with the following five steps.
1. Implement the flywheel effect
The saying “you have to speculate to accumulate” is highly relevant here. To build a profitable eCommerce business that runs itself three days out of seven, you must first invest time and money into that business and then grow it to build momentum on its own.
This process is known as the eCommerce flywheel effect. The flywheel effect involves putting in a large amount of initial effort and funds into your business to gain business traction. Once that tracking is established, it begins generating its own effort and funds that allow your business to continue growing with increasingly reduced input on your part.
For example, by investing time and money into an aggressive SEO campaign, more shoppers become aware of your products and start purchasing from you. This results in more clicks, reviews, and recommendations, which itself increases awareness, search ranking, and sales.
Eventually, you no longer need to invest the same amount of time into SEO because it’s generating its own momentum, giving you more time back for your weekend.
2. Increase profits
The number of hours you must work in a week largely comes down to how much money you want to make in a week. In theory, the more hours you put into your business, the more profit you generate out of it. However, this isn’t always the case.
There are numerous ways to increase your profits without increasing your time or prices. These include:
By selling a product on multiple sales channels, you increase your reach and sales potential without drastically increasing your effort. By using multi-channel selling software, it could take the same amount of time to list an item to one channel as it does to several.
It’s good practice to regularly assess your business outgoings to determine whether you can cut costs. For example, branded boxes cost more money to design, produce, and pack. They can also result in slower fulfillment that diminishes ay positive customer experience they hoped to achieve.
Fast and free delivery
This sounds like an unusual profit-generating practice, but bear with us. Fast and free delivery are some of the top purchase drives online, generating more conversions and fewer cart abandonments. When combined with minimum-spends and all-inclusive pricing, they can actually generate larger profits than paid standard shipping.
3. Automate tasks
For an industry centered around the use of technology to make shopping easier, eCommerce business owners use surprisingly little technology to make their workweek easier.
eCommerce automation tools are both available and affordable for a variety of tasks that you currently conduct manually. By using online marketplace and Shopify integrations to automate your eCommerce business, you can eliminate jobs from your to-do list, including:
- Making changes to your Shopify store or marketplace listings
- Updating online and in-store stock levels
- Answering customer queries
- Running social media campaigns
- Sending cart abandonment emails
Automating even a few of these tasks gives you a significant chunk of time to add to your weekend.
4. Outsource tasks
Ask yourself: Of the tasks that cannot be automated, can they be outsourced? While outsourcing is viewed as a business expense, the speed and knowledge of external resources can save you time and money while increasing your ROI.
eCommerce processes that are ripe for outsourcing include;
Using an outsourced fulfillment provider not only task a time-intensive task off of your hands. By partnering with the right provider, you can increase your shipping speeds to 2-day and next-day delivery, even when you aren’t in the office to process orders.
Google Ads, marketplace ads, and social media ads re all time-intensive to run and to master. By using an expert marketing agency or freelancers, you reduce your time involvement while also increasing your ROI.
Admin always falls to the bottom of the to-do list, meaning that it often eats into the weekend. Virtual assistants are a cost-effective way to reduce your admin burden, enabling you to start your 3-day weekend even earlier.
5. Working smarter
Finally, for the tasks that you can’t automate or outsource, you can undoubtedly work smarter on them, minimizing the amount of time they take. Working smart includes:
- Using tools to speed up tasks, such as listing tools, keyword tools, and product sourcing tools
- Ceasing meaningless jobs, for example investing your time only on the social media channels that bring ROI
- Scheduling tasks so that you don’t fall prey to Parkinson’s law (“work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”)
Simple tricks like these can help you stay focused and productive during the week, giving you more time at the end of it.
The only task left to complete is deciding what you’re going to do with your extra day off!