How to Cultivate a Successful E-commerce Business

e-commerce performance

For many people, the idea of running their own business is an extremely enticing one. Millions of workers dream of owning their own businesses every year after spending their time working on a range of meaningless tasks in jobs that didn’t provide inspiration or stretch them intellectually. From sitting through meetings that seemed to stretch on for hours with little meaningful output to responding to a constant flow of emails, many find conventional office jobs deeply unsatisfying. For these folks, running a successful e-Commerce business might be the right move. As you can see below, the performance of e-commerce websites around the world continues to grow every year.

e-commerce business
Image courtesy of Statista

Today, the exponential growth of the internet has led to more people with access and an increased willingness of consumers to buy a wide range of products online. Just today, I heard that the tech behind all those cool augmented reality filters that created bunny ears or glasses on your Snapchat will now provide e-commerce sites with the ability to allow visitors to virtually try on clothing, which, up to now, was a major barrier for online clothing shopping.

You can create a small business without making a huge cash investment or even giving up your full-time job, as you can run your e-commerce site in your spare time. If you build a successful e-commerce operation you can generate a substantial income stream. I once had a student in the early days of the Internet who made all his room and board money by selling items online from his dorm room. If you think you might have a head for business and you’re somewhat knowledgeable about IT and web design, then setting up an e-commerce business is a great option. In today’s world, you can use a good CMS (content management system like WordPress) and a theme (I recommend Theme Forest) so you don’t have to write a single line of code to create an awesome website. Use Amazon advertising to help market your Amazon store without putting up your own website or supplementing it. Put simply, overseeing your own business and watching it grow and become successful is not only possible but something almost anyone can do with enough gumption and a little time. This article explains some of the key ways to ensure that your e-commerce business becomes a successful operation.

How to build a successful e-commerce business

Of course, running an e-commerce business takes a little more than setting up a website. You need to find suppliers (unless you also plan to build your products), find storage space (although a garage will do in the short run), and figure out shipping options that reduce your expenses. You also need some standard business stuff like accounting, a business license, and some attorney services to set up your business entity, create contracts with other businesses, and help ensure you follow all federal, state, and local guidelines related to your business.

Don’t start an e-commerce business or any business without a business plan so you know what you need to launch and where to go in the short run. A business plan helps you make decisions that get you where you want to be. Don’t plan too big in the beginning and know how much time and money you’re willing to spend to start the business. If you start small, you can learn as you go without the high risk of overinvesting when you don’t know all the ins and outs. For instance, eBay started as a trading platform for enthusiasts who collected Pez dispensers. As opportunities grew, the business acquired more assets to manage the growth. Similarly, there’s always the option to invest in online businesses that have already surpassed the “start-up” phase.

Consider drop shipping

If you’re yet to decide on the type of e-commerce business that you want to create, you may find it beneficial to consider a drop shipping model for your business to keep expenses low. Drop shipping is a method of e-commerce that works with you acting as an intermediary for an established company that produces goods. Put simply, you offer products for sale on your website and when a customer orders something, the order is transmitted to the supplier who then arranges for delivery to the customer. In effect, you earn a small portion of each sale that reflects the difference between the sales price on your website and what you pay the supplier for the product and shipping.

Drop shipping may prove the perfect first e-commerce business as it doesn’t require significant levels of cash or investment to set it up. As an intermediary, you won’t need to hold stock of the product or need a warehouse to store the items. The only cost you incur is setting up a professional-looking and well-functioning website to sell the products.

If you have web design skills, creating a user-friendly website is a simple process. Even if you don’t, you can create a great website using tools available for free, such as WordPress, or at a relatively low cost. Here’s all you need:

  • A domain name that’s easy to remember and spell. Try for one related to your product or business
  • Hosting. Don’t get fooled into a website builder such as Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly. These are much harder to set up than advertised and represent a number of problems when it comes to gaining traffic, monitoring performance, and creating a unique market space.
  • A CMS like WordPress or Drupal
  • A template that already looks the way you envision your website
  • A few plugins to add functionality, such as one to display your social profiles. There’s even a plugin that provides the plug-and-play functionality touted by those website builders.
  • Content

However, it’s important to consider the methods you plan to use to gain attention and traffic for your e-commerce website to ensure that potential customers find your company when searching for products related to those you sell. We’ll discuss some of these methods later in this article.

Prioritize SEO

In 2023, it’s vitally important that every website follows the best practices of SEO (search engine optimization). This applies to e-commerce, as search drives more traffic to the average website than any other source, including paid social. SEO encompasses a range of techniques including:

  • valuable content produced on a consistent basis
  • social proof provided by backlinks from high-quality websites and engagement on social platforms
  • easy navigation and a good user experience
  • fast load speed

When these SEO factors are combined, they result in more traffic visiting your website because your content ranks close to the top in related searches.

One of the key ways to increase the SEO of your e-commerce site is to ensure that all content is professionally written and authoritative. Any links to other sites (when proving statistics or facts) should be to other authoritative sites that rank highly. When you display product images on your site, they should be high resolution with accurate and beautifully written descriptions. In addition, your web pages should load quickly and be easily accessible on a range of devices (especially the smaller screens of smartphones as 76 percent of Americans now use a smartphone for online shopping).

There are a wide range of factors that have a direct or indirect influence on SEO, and these can change in importance and implementation when search engines such as Google publish new guidelines on SEO best practices. As such, if you’re not confident with SEO or don’t have the time to dedicate to this, you may find it beneficial to seek the help of an expert in the field of SEO such as SEO specialist firms can work with you to ensure that your content and web design continues to follow best practice in the latest SEO techniques so that you can continue to rank highly in internet searches and gain a growing customer base.

Utilize social media

For any small e-commerce business, there’s a need to promote your company to gain extra custom and ensure that consumers know about the goods or services that you provide. Whilst SEO can help to drive traffic toward your site, it’s also highly beneficial to advertise and promote your company and your products and services on various social media channels. It’s estimated that almost two-thirds of the global population use social media on a regular basis and platforms such as Instagram have over one billion active users. By targeting specific interest groups or channels on these social media channels, you can reach a worldwide audience that has an interest in your product or service. Remember to include a link to your product page when promoting so that interested potential customers can be converted into successful sales quickly and efficiently.

Don’t forget about trade shows

As a final key point for e-commerce, it’s important to understand the value that trade shows can have for your business. In our digital world, it’s easy to forget that trade shows can be an effective way to network with other key players in your chosen industry as well as have a physical presence to display the products that you sell online.

Search out trade shows in your locality that are in the same industry or sector as your e-commerce business. Consider taking some free merchandise to the event that can be handed out to interested parties. This should have your company email and web address on it so that you can gain connections within the trade and improve your local customer base.


Creating and running a successful e-commerce business is a great way to supplement your income, build a sound financial future, and gain a degree of independence. If you want to learn more about how to create your online business, you’ll find lots on other pages of this website by searching by topic or using the category e-commerce.

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