7 Things High-Impact Ecommerce Store Owners Are Good At

When experts analyze what leads to success among ecommerce businesses, a few recurring themes come up. Those include expertise with online marketing, sales, copywriting, and more.
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

When people look at high-growth ecommerce shops like Amazon, Gilt and Wayfair, they have different ideas for the one reason why those businesses have become so successful. Indeed, Amazon got its start after building the world's most comprehensive bookstore. Gilt pioneered flash sales. Wayfair, formerly CSN Stores, created hundreds of niche online stores. Of course, it was a great idea that launched these businesses; but it was a number of distinct skills that turned them into ecommerce titans.

When experts analyze what leads to success among ecommerce businesses, a few recurring themes come up. Those include expertise with online marketing, sales, copywriting, and more. To help you grow your online shop, below are seven things digital store owners must learn to acquire customers, deliver happiness and foster loyalty.

1. Online Marketing

The best stores market themselves. Smart ecommerce companies use email to engage customers. They spend money to place ads in front of highly qualified buyers. Stores also leverage data to understand shoppers' needs and customize their creatives to offer consumers tailored solutions. Three marketing tactics online shops should employ are:

  1. Email engagement -- If you do not regularly contact your customers, they may forget about you. Email is one of the easiest ways to grab their attention and hold it. Send shoppers exclusive coupons and promotions to get them to purchase again. Share updates you recently made to your store or its inventory. For items that need regular replenishment (e.g. snacks, soap or socks), remind them when it is time to stock up again.
  2. Search engine marketing -- On Google, Yahoo and Bing, companies can buy ads targeting specific search terms. The pay-per-click (PPC) model on search engines allows ecommerce brands to bid on queries made by highly qualified consumers. Former Google employee Anton McCarthy recommends AdWords users follow five tips to optimize their paid campaigns:
    • Use ad extensions to improve your clickthrough rate (CTR)
    • Use negative keywords to reduce your costs and increase return-on-investment (ROI)
    • Use impression share data to find ways to increase traffic
    • Optimise your landing pages for better results
    • Track your campaigns persistently
  3. Social media promotion -- Ecommerce site managers should spend more time on Polyvore, Pinterest, Instagram, and Facebook, according to a study by Shopify. These (mostly) image-based social networks drive high average order values and conversion rates. With advanced targeting capabilities, stores are able to promote only the products certain individuals want and need. Using innovative ecommerce technology, companies can also make their social media feeds shoppable.

2. Sales

Among online shops, how you sell is just as important as what you sell. To increase revenue, try adding some upsells and cross sells. Whenever possible, apply these psychological principles to convince customers to buy more products at higher prices.

  1. Compound value -- Pair products that go well together to help customers easily achieve their desired goal.
  2. Convenience -- Simplify shoppers' lives and offer an easy solution for weekly, monthly or quarterly product replenishment.
  3. Incentives -- Give consumers a special offer such as a free gift or free shipping if they spend above a specific order minimum.
  4. Paradox of choice -- In lieu of minimizing buyers' choices, provide an option that allows customers to have it all (or at least sample everything).
  5. Prestige, ego-bait and self-preservation -- Create price tiers. Promote your cheapest products to get customers in the door, but sell your premium-priced goods by stroking their ego.
  6. Reciprocation -- Share a free product with shoppers who may reciprocate with a paid purchase.
  7. Scarcity and urgency -- Call out limits on existing inventory or time-sensitive offers so buyers do not miss out on the opportunity to fulfill their needs now.
  8. Social proof -- Leverage positive customer reviews to instill confidence in your brand and product.

3. Copywriting

To write a product description that sells, KISSmetrics suggests a seven-step process:

  1. Research and craft your buyer persona
  2. List your product's features and benefits
  3. Establish a brand tone of voice
  4. Format your content to be scannable
  5. Draft an initial blurb
  6. Edit copy to maximize engagement and persuasiveness
  7. Make your text search engine friendly

Talk about your products with the same interest and passion you had when you either invented it or hand-selected it from a laundry list of vendors. Using magnetic copy, indie food provider Mouth.com turns the otherwise boring snack-buying process into an experience of the senses. For its green chile & lime caramel corn, Mouth says, "This popcorn really transports us to the height of summer heat: eating super-fresh tacos doused with lime juice, watching condensation trickle down the beer bottle." Capturing both a fond memory and a desirable taste, Mouth sells its product well.

4. Basic coding or technical knowledge

On platforms like Shopify, Squarespace and Wix, ecommerce store owners are finding it easier than ever to build their own websites and sell their products. But there are often small, subtle changes you may want to make that require basic knowledge of HTML. To quickly tweak aspects of your site, here are nine lines of code Practical Commerce recommends will enhance any online store.

1. Embedded images

Mountain Range

2. Border outlines

Mountain Range

3. Linking an image

4. Adding a text link

5. Aligning text to an image

Mountain Range"Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipisicing elit, sed do eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua.

Ut enim ad minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.

6. Including a wide horizontal line break

7. Adding a page jump link

8. Formatting text

Bold or
Italics or
Underline or

    9. Page formatting

    ...Different sized headers....

    Centered text.

    A line break

    5. Customer service

    Practice being polite and courteous when interacting with customers to keep them calm while you aid in resolving issues with their purchase. Often, respectful language and a positive demeanor are contagious, turning simple questions into lively exchanges that help shoppers feel more connected with your brand.

    Once you have sourced several gushing customer reviews and testimonials, use those to better market your business. Also, listen carefully to critical feedback from buyers who can help you improve the way you brainstorm new products and enhance the customer experience.

    With superior customer service, you quickly discover new ways to deliver happiness, increase customer loyalty and lower the costs associated with product exchanges and returns.

    6. Branding

    Every year, iconic eyewear brand Warby Parker publishes its very tongue-and-cheek annual report. But what is most fascinating for ecommerce entrepreneurs is not the content but the extension of the brand through the content.

    In its report, Warby Parker sprinkles in information about its charitable deeds and its future prospects. The report itself has an almost cult-like following with a majority of the top media outlets online writing about it as soon as it is published.

    Another example of branding done right is from retail company Bonobos. A manufacturer of proudly loud pants, Bonobos made its mark among menswear enthusiasts by being brave enough to sell cotton-candy colored pants and lime-green seersucker chinos.

    Both Bonobos and Warby Parker developed a strong brand customers want to associate with. In a crowded market, five ways to build a memorable brand include:

    1. Championing a solid unique selling proposition
    2. Differentiating your products based on quality
    3. Taking a counterintuitive approach to marketing with quirky language
    4. Creating a personalized customer experience
    5. Thanking customers and supporting charities they care deeply about

    7. Shipping & fulfillment

    Once you successfully tackle all of the above, selling products becomes easy.

    Fulfilling orders, on the other hand, is a completely different ball game. High-impact ecommerce entrepreneurs know how to set up a fast and efficient supply chain. They manage logistics in a cost-effective manner. Successful stores are always in stock of their most popular products and keep close track of their inventory to ensure timely replenishment. Most importantly, they are never delayed on a shipment. In most cases, their packages arrive at customers' doorsteps early.

    To minimize the risk of late deliveries, stores should be conservative with their delivery estimate dates. Whenever possible, expedite the order on your end, even if customers opt for standard shipping. Also, constantly communicate with suppliers to learn about any changes impacting their business which may delay the manufacturing and fulfillment processes.

    Final thoughts

    Ecommerce shops require both product vision and business acumen to succeed and thrive in a competitive environment where customers can purchase practically anything they want from a wide array of vendors online. Improve your skills in each of these seven areas to create a competitive advantage that attracts new customers and turns them into loyal, brand evangelists.

    What are some other things ecommerce entrepreneurs should know to grow sales and retain their best customers?

    This post originally appeared on Receiptful's Ecommerce Success Academy and is republished with permission.


    Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He is also a digital marketing consultant and freelance writer. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn.

    Go To Homepage

    Popular in the Community