Starting an ecommerce business can seem like a daunting project that requires ample energy and other resources. However, it’s even more challenging to nurture your new venture into a successful, profitable entity.
While each online commerce business is unique regarding its target consumers, products, and more, the pillars of ecommerce and the traits of a successful ecommerce entrepreneur hold steady.
Regardless of your niche in the digital world, you’ll need exceptional business skills, marketing know-how, soft skills, and technical expertise.
True grit and determination can take your business far, but true success requires more than hard work and perseverance. Do you have what it takes to run a successful online store?
A closer look at each of these essential skills will help you to identify the areas that you may need to improve.
An online business isn’t your traditional operation, but it nonetheless requires expertise in traditional business concepts and skills. Regardless of the types of products that you offer and the areas on which you focus your sales efforts, you must develop these business skills.
1. Business law
The law touches all aspects of our lives, and this extends to your online business. From intellectual property rights to tax regulations, product liability and more, your operations will be affected by various aspects of the law from day one.
These laws may be at the federal, state, and local levels. Failing to understand the laws could lead to unnecessary expenses, exposure to liability issues, loss of property rights, and other issues that could contribute to your business’s demise.
Note that you should seek professional legal assistance as needed for your online commerce venture. However, it’s helpful to educate yourself on laws that are relevant to your business as soon as possible.
2. Number crunching
If you aren’t good with numbers, now’s a good time to refine your math skills. You may be able to pull out a calculator to process various calculations throughout the workday, but this isn’t always efficient or practical.
In addition to tracking expenses and inventory, business owners must review and understand various financial documents. These include balance sheets, profit and loss statements, and more.
While you can hire an accountant to prepare the documents for you, this eats into your profits. Until your operation grows and becomes established, running your own numbers is probably the most cost-effective option.
Regardless of who prepares the financial documents, you must have the know-how to analyze them properly. These statements may guide your decisions for your online store.
3. Project management
Launching an online store requires you to focus on website development, ecommerce marketing, and product development. Once your business is established, logistics, inventory management, accounting, and other tasks will consume your attention.
You may find that it’s better for you financially speaking to outsource at least some of these tasks. Nevertheless, you’re ultimately responsible for ensuring that all tasks are completed properly and to your satisfaction.
Project management skills are vital through all stages of the launch and routine operations. This is because you’ll always be juggling numerous tasks simultaneously. They’re all pertinent and require your full attention.
Ecommerce success and digital marketing knowledge go hand in hand when you run an online business. You must reach your target audience, entice them to visit your website, build rapport, establish loyalty, convert traffic to sales, and build an email marketing database.
This is understandably a tall order. Your success will boil down to your skills in five key marketing areas.
If you’re completely new to online marketing, it can take some time to understand all of the online advertising opportunities that you’ll have at your disposal. Ecommerce marketing costs can add up quickly, though, especially if you don’t have a carefully considered plan in place from the start.
Paid advertising may have a place in your marketing strategy, and these solutions include pay-per-click ads, display ads, pop-up ads, mobile ads, video ads, and native ads. Keep in mind that these may appear on search engines, across various social media platforms, and in other areas.
Paid ads will directly impact your bottom line. You must therefore be able to identify the most cost-effective methods for reaching your target market.
5. Content creation
Content creation relates to the development of all text, videos, and images on your website and that are used for marketing purposes off-site. This content cumulatively establishes and develops your brand image.
It should all be cohesive, positive, and thoughtfully created. Hiring a content creator can be an effective alternative to developing this skill. However, you must still have a solid understanding so that you can make savvy decisions.
6. Email marketing
You can purchase an email list, but the most effective list of clients or customers is built over time through an opt-in campaign. You can gather customer information when a shopper makes a purchase.
In addition, you may alternatively include a pop-up form on your site that allows visitors to sign up for your newsletter and promotions.
Assembling a list of customers is only half the battle. You must also develop a winning email marketing campaign that delivers useful content at reasonable intervals. A successful email marketing campaign will reinforce your brand image, foster loyalty, and drive traffic to your website.
7. Marketing automation
Learning how to effectively market your products and brand online is essential. What’s more, marketing is a never-ending activity in ecommerce, and you’ll need to regularly give your marketing strategy the attention that it needs.
Automating your marketing efforts will help you to save time and may deliver messages more consistently. When automation is done properly, it can reduce related expenses and increase sales.
While automating marketing makes sense, analysis and tweaking are still essential. You must pay attention to the return on investment so that you can make strategic adjustments as needed.
8. Search engine optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) is a relatively complicated aspect of marketing that many entrepreneurs have only a basic grasp of. It involves optimizing your text, images, offsite marketing efforts, videos, and more with a focus on strategically selected keywords.
Unfortunately, SEO marketing has grown increasingly complicated as search engine algorithms and features have evolved.
There are numerous online resources that you can rely on to learn the ropes for your store’s SEO. Furthermore, many of these resources are generally available to you at no cost!
Solid soft skills are crucial for entrepreneurial success in both online and offline commerce. These are a combination of personality traits and social skills that effective business owners generally have.
Many soft skills may be innate, but there’s ample room to acquire them through various types of training and self-improvement efforts.
Because you’re working in a digital realm, the majority of your communication will be done online, such as by email, chat and social media messages.
You must feel confident in your abilities to communicate effectively through the written word. There will also be instances when you must speak to customers, suppliers and others, so verbal communication skills are equally important!
10. Continuous learning
With frequent changes to social media platforms, search engine algorithms, and competitor efforts, your ecommerce business will constantly be exposed to evolving parameters. These factors are combined with the need to improve soft skills, marketing knowledge, and more.
The reality is that there will always be new things to learn as an ecommerce entrepreneur. Successful entrepreneurs embrace opportunities to grow and develop.
11. Emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence relates to how well you control your own emotions and to how well you interact with others. From a personal perspective, the emotional capacity to remain calm and collected while dealing with stressful situations is crucial when you operate an ecommerce business.
Likewise, excellent listening and comprehension skills, empathy, and critical thinking all feed into emotional intelligence. While some people are blessed with high emotional intelligence innately, this is a skill that you can improve with proper effort.
Many new ecommerce businesses are solo operations, but the entrepreneur will eventually need to build and lead a team as the business grows. The need for strong leadership skills reaches beyond managing a team internally.
These skills extend to how well you interact with suppliers, distributors, customers, and others. Negotiation and decision-making skills are included in this area as well.
Collaboration and networking are essential for optimized success and profitability. While it’s easy to assume that this involves simply schmoozing clients, it actually extends to building productive, meaningful relationships with others throughout your business circle.
Successful networking is based on your ability to identify the most strategic people to build relationships with. From there, it’s tied to effective communication, strong emotional intelligence, and general socialization skills.
14. Problem solving
Entrepreneurs face numerous challenges and must find effective solutions to those issues to ensure a top-notch customer experience. There are often several solutions available, and a business owner must identify the most reasonable solution given all of the facts.
This may involve identifying and tapping into skills and resources available through others on your team or in the network that you have established.
15. Stress management
With financial difficulties, deadlines, and issues with suppliers, entrepreneurs often function under extreme levels of stress. Your ability to continue thinking clearly and remain calm are essential.
Stress may be managed or mitigated through time management skills, self-care, meditation, and other strategies. Besides managing your own stress, you may need to occasionally focus on conflict resolution or find other ways to alleviate customers’ and employees’ stress.
When you run an online business, you must be technically savvy. Most aspects of your business will be conducted digitally, and technology is constantly evolving. This is one of the areas that will require your ongoing attention as you improve your skills and expertise.
16. Data analysis
One of the perks of running an online business is the ability to gather real-time data on everything from sales to website engagement, pay-per-click ad results, and more.
Technology is available to help you gather and process more extensive amounts of data, and this analysis could support you as you make well-informed decisions. You’ll need to seek new metrics resources so that you always have the most complete facts in front of you.
17. Web fundamentals
Through purchasing your domain, selecting a web host, and developing your website, you may have already strengthened your understanding of web fundamentals.
Learning how to code is not generally necessary in most cases thanks to how user friendly many ecommerce platforms are today. However, you’ll need to understand how to maximize the benefits of all available features so that you can create a positive user experience.
Website fundamentals extend to page layout, page loading speed, meta tags, alt text, and more. Unless you have a background in web design and management, you may have a steep learning curve.
Nevertheless, this is another area that you can progressively learn more about as you get your business moving along a profitable path.
Do you have the well-rounded set of skills that are essential to run a successful ecommerce business and provide a great customer experience? If you’ve identified any weaknesses in your skillset, it’s never too late to start improving in those areas!