How to Sell Online: The Single Best Pieces of Advice From 41 Successful Ecommerce Entrepreneurs

How to Sell Online: The Single Best Pieces of Advice From 41 Successful Ecommerce Entrepreneurs


It’s always a good idea to learn from experts in your field.

That’s why Shopify has put up a page dedicated to featuring ecommerce success stories.

Today we decided to feature a roundup of 41 of our favorite success stories, and the single best piece of advice they offer to new merchants. These stores sell everything from apparel to surfboards to furniture to animal onesies. Four of them got their start by crowdfunding their products. They’re based in nearly a dozen countries around the world. And they’ve all found terrific success selling online.

Check out their advice. And if you’re a good fit for a success feature, submit your story here. We’d love to hear from you.

1. America Party Gear

"Get your site fundamentals down first. Make sure you get SEO right, have a site optimized for all screens, and make sure your design is top notch." – Sean Lee << Click to Tweet

To better understand SEO, check out How to Increase Your Traffic Through Long Tail Keywords. And: Themes to optimize your site design

2. Fit Little Bride

"Define your desired customers by what their interests are, what motivates them to purchase, what they like and who they want to be. If you design your storefront and products to meet all of their needs and stay true to that brand, your company will be the first thing they think of when they are ready to make a purchase." – Caydi and Alex Zerega << Click to Tweet

For more, read about how Beardbrand made 120K in monthly revenues by building its brand.

3. Project Repat

"Find ways to tell the story of your makers. Spend time getting to know your makers, and tell their story when you are telling your story as well. People want to see where their products are made, and it creates a stronger connection with your customer, and builds trust." – Nathan Rothstein << Click to Tweet

Here's what happened when three friends brought manufacturing back to America

4. Raw Generation

"When you are starting out in business, resources are often very limited. This is precisely why it is that much more imperative that you create a goal with a deadline and focus every waking moment on achieving that goal."– Jessica Geier << Click to Tweet

Try to cut down your costs and spend money effectively.

5. Pura Vida Bracelets

"Big social sharing buttons on product pages, clean template design, and post purchase sharing are a must." – Griffin Thrall << Click to Tweet

Here's a way to add big social sharing buttons, and here's how to clean up your template design

6. Catan Boards

"When engaging with customers, do things early on that don't scale. Write little personal notes on packages. Say hi to them on Twitter. Invite local customers to come check out your shop." – Bill Trammel << Click to Tweet

Read more: Six Ways to Surprise and Delight Your Customers

7. Bee’s Wrap

"Once the website was set up, features on different blogs were my best marketing tool. We have done many giveaways and interviews on all kinds of blogs." – Sarah Kaeck << Click to Tweet

Here are some strategies if you're figuring out how to write a compelling blog.

8. Southern Swim

"Find what you love and let it kill you. We had no idea what we were getting into when we first started. Building a brand and launching a store is easy; it’s what you do with it afterwards that’s hard." – Joey Nelson << Click to Tweet

There's a whole book written about how to build a business when there are no easy answers.

9. Hickies

"As a general rule, we only work with nice people. We try to treat our customers the way we want to be treated and make every interaction a positive one." – Mariquel Waingarten << Click to Tweet

Here are some creative ways to improve customer experience that also boost loyalty and sales.

10. Slyde Handboards

"It's not an essential key to a successful business but it does help that you are immersed in the lifestyle of it especially something like the surf industry." – Steve Watts << Click to Tweet

This is what it means to be immersed in a lifestyle.

11. Lookmatic

"Find a way to be genuine. There is so much noise out there and consumers are savvier than ever – you have to really believe in your product and have an honest commitment to your customers to find a message that resonates." – Kishore Hiranand << Click to Tweet

Find a good way to tell your story effectively here.

12. Graceship

"It’s important to us to be able to interact on a personal level with our guests, and social media in its many forms is a beautiful tool for doing so." – Emily Gimmel << Click to Tweet

For more, read: 5 Tips for Connecting with Your Customers and Making More Sales

13. Laura Davidson Direct

"It's important not to let the bad days get you down, and realize that there's an abundant supply of customers and opportunity around the next bend." – Laura Davidson Direct << Click to Tweet

Here are some suggestions for figuring out market demand and the supply of customers for your product.

14. Mindzai

"If you try to make everything as perfect as you can it’s really going to show in your end product." – Chris Tsang << Click to Tweet

Need examples of attention to craft? Tailoring has a fine tradition of that.

15. NFNT

"Do NOT let yourself be talked out of success." – Ryan Chaffin << Click to Tweet

Here's an example of endurance in the face of challenges.

16. Rage On

"Make sure you have something awesome that your friends want. If your friends don’t want it, then somebody else better want it, otherwise, it’s not worth doing." – Mike Krilivsky << Click to Tweet

Here are some other ways to evaluate market demand.

17. IX Style

"My apartment doubles as our office. Keep your costs as low as possible." – Francesca Kennedy << Click to Tweet

Are you an entrepreneur who needs to cut costs? Here are five tips.

18. Tortuga Backpacks

"To build up interest in the new version, we documented the entire process. Along we way, we shared sketches and pictures of early prototypes and gave our followers a glimpse behind the scenes of our product photo shoots." – Fred Perrotta << Click to Tweet

Read more on driving engagement and sales with Instagram.

19. Fleurings

"Always make sure you have plenty of inventory in stock when you have big media coming your way. You don't want to be back ordered if possible." – Samantha Lockwood << Click to Tweet

Having trouble with inventory? Consider dropshipping.

20. Gown and Oars

"Social engagement has been amazing and the flow of traffic to our site is still largely thanks to Instagram and Twitter." – Karim Faisali << Click to Tweet

Here are a dozen strategies that you can use to improve social media marketing.

21. Greats Sneakers

"There are always challenges but if you have a clear idea of what the store should look like it will help define the flow of the site and all the other logistical stuff that is critical for a successful online store." – Ryan Babenzien << Click to Tweet

Here are some great ways to improve the look of your site.

22. Jenn Louise

"Don't underestimate the importance of marketing, especially paid advertising. With our site being online only, this has been essential for us. It kick starts everything." – Jenn Louise << Click to Tweet

Learn more about money effectively on social media ads and on Google Adwords.

23. Modern Workspace

"Never forget that internet sales are directly related to traffic." – Wes O’Donnell << Click to Tweet

Make sure that you launch properly to drive traffic to your new online store.

24. Little Joe Woman

"We have found that an online store is not so different from our physical boutiques and that there is now a blending of service." – Gail Elliott << Click to Tweet

Find out more about how a 107-year-old sneaker company is optimizing omni-channel retail.

25. Kigurumi

"We provide memorable customer service; people love that they can text us with easy questions and get a quick response." – Maria Pham << Click to Tweet

Here are 5 Ways to Take Customer Service to the Next Level.

26. Au Lit Fine Linens

"When organizing our product line for our online store, we quickly realized that we needed to re-organize some aspects of our brick and mortar store." – Peggy Byron << Click to Tweet

Here are some more tips for optimizing both physical and online retail.

27. 3Fish Studios

"Work hard — I think that's always the difference between a lot of opportunities." – Eric Rewitzer << Click to Tweet

All of the following merchants work pretty hard.

28. Biko

"I ended up calling a local PR company, because I wanted to go in with a bang. We actually got some great press and a lot of people visited the site, and the sales came in right away." – Corrine Anestopoulos << Click to Tweet

Check out: The 6 Tactics and 5 Tools you need to land your business in the press.

29. The Fudge House

"By using high-class photography, we are able to evoke the color and texture of our fudge so that we can invite online shoppers into our kitchen, the heart of our business." – Giancarlo Di Sotto << Click to Tweet

Here's the ultimate DIY guide to beautiful product photography, and the 40 tools and resources you need to execute.

30. Prinnnt

"For early success we used an online app called LaunchRock to build a mailing list. It creates a beautiful landing page that you can throw together in seconds to start collecting information from potential customers." – Tucker Schreiber << Click to Tweet

It's true: Email marketing is the key to ecommerce success.

31. Audicus

"Do as much research as possible, but prepare to be unprepared." – Allison Becker << Click to Tweet

By all means plan, but also don't be too afraid to fail.

32. Foundling

"Spend the time and money required to find the right partners and suppliers." – Philippe Soria << Click to Tweet

Need to figure out the best way to figure out inventory and supplies?

33. Active Hound Toys

"Don't reinvent the wheel – just find something someone else is doing and do it better." – Zak Taylor << Click to Tweet

An example of someone "doing it better?" Harry's is disrupting the long-static razor-blade market. Here's how it's doing it.

34. Three Little Birds

"Instagram and Facebook has been huge for us. We can engage with our customers and let them be apart of our 'world' through Instagram." – Jess Brumpton << Click to Tweet

Did you know that Instagram is the social media platform with the second-highest average order value?

35. ACK Surf

"We are a lifestyle brand, so we wanted our website to mimic this lifestyle and go past simply purchasing clothes. We update the site frequently with new photographs that continually drive traffic to the site." – Sam Toole << Click to Tweet

These other 12 stores have also mastered product photography

36. KERO Products

"Once you are confident in your operation, begin experimenting with apps." – Robert Meza << Click to Tweet

Here are some great apps, both free and paid, to help out your store.

37. Triggertrap

"Think like a brick-and-mortar shop: Upselling is important, and if it's possible to recover abandoned carts do so." – Matt Kane << Click to Tweet

This is the way to write a good abandoned cart email. 

38. Vertty

"People hate to wait for their purchases and they want to know where their items are, all the time. Pay a little more for a good shipping partner, because it will pay off in the future." – Diogo Cruz << Click to Tweet

Here are some things to consider to improve your shipping strategy.

39. Beardbrand

"Stick to doing the work that makes you the happiest, and outsource the stuff you don't enjoy doing." – Eric Bandholz << Click to Tweet

Eric elaborates in a longer interview here.

40. Black Milk Clothing

"I would say Black Milk wouldn't be around if it wasn't for Facebook." – Cameron Parker << Click to Tweet

Here are 12 social media strategies for growing your online sales.

41. You Need It

"We recommend to work hard and be nice to people you work with." – Anya Leushina << Click to Tweet

Want to tell us your story of how you've found success selling online? Submit it here.

About The Author

Dan Wang is a Shopify Content Specialist studying economics and philosophy at the University of Rochester. Talk to Dan on Twitter.

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