It's November, which means your e-commerce store just wrapped up Halloween promotions and your Black Friday plans should be ready to go--holiday sales are inevitably about to be in hyperdrive. Before you know it, Christmas sales will be over, and we'll be starting 2019. It's time to start getting your annual growth strategy ready.

E-commerce itself used to be enough of a competitive edge for your business to thrive. But with shopping online and business 'going digital' has become the norm, the competition can grow as quickly as your sales numbers can.

If you want to stand out among the thousands of e-commerce shops advertising to your target customers, these are the strategies and trends to look at for 2019:

Reach customers on multiple platforms

If it already feels like a struggle to drive traffic now, don't expect it to get any easier. Social media algorithms are encouraging brands to keep users on site and drive engagement there, as opposed to linking out to your content or products. Search algorithms can make it hard to compete with behemoths like Amazon with more SEO resources than you.

Instead of trying to fight against these concerning trends, embrace the new opportunities they offer. For example, social commerce makes it possible to drive sales from social media without linking out to your website.

And listing your own inventory on Amazon lets you tap into its audience and search reputation instead of trying to compete with it. BigCommerce, for example, can help you to simplify the process of managing omni-channel listings with features like easy cross-listing to third-party sales platforms with a much larger reach than your own site. In this sense, merchants can use BigCommerceas a central business hub that has many spokes--or, as they call it, 'commerce-as-a-service' (CaaS, I guess?).

Embrace automation to lighten workloads

Let's also address the common misconception that e-commerce businesses can run 24/7. While your website may be always open, your office isn't. How much business you can do is legitimately limited by your team resources.

Embracing automation, however, brings you closer to a streamlined, always open digital storefront.

Aim for creating processes and workflows that can save your team's time and energy for their most difficult work. Workflow and process automation, for example, can replace a lot of tasks involving project management and order fulfillment. You can also take advantage of marketing automation to increase your brand's reach and convert more shoppers.

Join movements to drive word-of-mouth

Finally, to drive growth, consider the larger culture--both online and off--that your online store and customers are a part of. Both are increasingly demanding brands become more transparent in general, especially brand values.

Customers, particularly those in younger demographics, also want you to take a stand and get involved in activism. Aligning your company with a movement a cause is not a small decision to make, but truly committing to embracing its values can pay off.

Brands that publicly align and position themselves within movements can generate strong word-of-mouth. For example, Rihanna's Fenty Beauty line of makeup and lingerie products have been widely praised and purchased online thanks to the brand's inclusivity around race and body positivity. When it first launched, the beauty line sold out within days and reportedly earned $100 million in sales in its first 40 days.

You need to start now.

We may be heading into one of the busiest times of the year, but don't let your strategy go stale during this important season. Start learning and adopting the trends that are relevant to your business, now.

Published on: Nov 5, 2018