Best Ecommerce Tips from 10 of the Most Valuable Articles Last Year

Best Ecommerce Tips from 10 of the Most Valuable Articles Last Year

What a it was, a year of record sales, merchant triumphs, and a Black Friday Cyber Monday ecommerce explosion the likes of which we’ve never seen before. 

It all seemed to come so fast. So, a moment of reflection and learning shall we?

To do that, we dug into the stories you liked best: the articles that made us laugh, made us cry, and taught us the kind of lessons that make ecommerce a better place for everyone.

To determine the winners, we excluded any re-published posts, combined stats on traffic, social shares, and comments, and then normalized for publication date (that way, the oldest posts didn’t necessarily dominate the list).

You’re welcome to re-read them all. But don’t worry …

We’ve taken each of this year’s top stories and pulled out the best ecommerce tip from each.

1. The Dark Side of Entrepreneurship That Nobody Talks About

Entrepreneurship is a struggle, but it should never mean your personal life should be pushed to the edge.

At its most idealistic, entrepreneurship is about success, be it through revenue, personal growth, or making a difference in this world. But getting there is not always so clean.

Michelle Nickolaisen offers a candid, often gut-wrenching, look at the real side of entrepreneurship – the struggle before (and after) the triumph, the heartache of coming up short. “Loneliness, darkness, hopelessness,” says Ben Huh, Ernst & Young’s 2011 Entrepreneur of the Year. “Those words don’t capture the feeling of the profound self-doubt that sets in after a failure.”

Best Ecommerce Tip

“There’s a very real stigma around talking about mental health in general, along with talking about your struggles in entrepreneurial circles, but if you’re dealing with depression, you need to talk to someone.

“Running a business can be the best thing in the world — if you can enjoy it. If you’re running yourself into the ground — sacrificing family, life, things you love, and your own health — it’s not worth it.”

2. Why Gymshark Migrated From Magento for Black Friday Peace of Mind

GymShark is proof that, no matter how large you grow, customer service and personal touches always make a good company great.

The story of Gymshark is a wild one – web darlings that overcame site-crashing panic to become monster players in the athletic apparel space. But its best insight from Nick Winkler’s case study comes in the form of accountability.

When its pre-Shopify Plus site couldn’t handle Gymshark’s growth, company founder Ben Francis personally sent 2,500 handwritten apologies to customers that he wanted to win back. “It didn’t matter that it was Magento’s fault (that our site kept crashing),” he said. “It’s our brand and customers blamed us, which really hurt.”

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Best Ecommerce Tip

“We have the same morals and values as we did when we were a small company,” Francis says proudly of the cramp-causing handwritten notes.

“Each of these customers is a human being and deserves to be treated the way I’d wanted to be treated if a brand let me down.”

3. B2B Ecommerce: How the Best in B2B Sales Succeed Online

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

B2C ecommerce is what shoppers know best. We check out on Amazon. We buy through eBay. But for all its seeming popularity, B2C ecommerce is but a fraction of the total big-money transactions happening through B2B online sales.

Aaron Orendorff takes us through how B2C ecommerce ($2.4 trillion per year) cowers in the shadow of its B2B counterpart ($7.7 trillion per year), though with an ironic twist. Fate would have it that the way merchants can succeed best with their B2B sales is to adopt many of the same B2C strategies that work so well with everyday shoppers.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“What matters is connecting with, listening to, and serving the faces behind B2B’s $7.7 trillion ecommerce market.

“At the heart of each and every trend lies a single principle that borders on cliche: put your customer first.

“Cliches, however, are cliche for a reason. They’re true.”

4. How Death Wish Coffee Made $2,083 a Minute (and an Awkward Moment With Mom) by Winning the Super Bowl

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

Death Wish Coffee, maker of the world’s strongest brew, rocketed into the international consciousness in 2016, when it won a QuickBooks contest that awarded the company a 30-second commercial during Super Bowl 50.

It was a massive PR bump, but Death Wish was also no slouch before its big ad. In that, Nick Winkler reported, lied a company ethos: use its Super Bowl spot to elevate Death Wish’s business.

And elevate it did: more than $2,000 in sales poured in per minute over the two hours after its commercial aired. However, what the company did with its newfound fame reinforced the core principles that shaped this brand’s rise from the beginning.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“We don’t want the Super Bowl to define us,” says Kane Grogan, Death Wish’s customer service manager. “The Super Bowl commercial was a great spotlight, but we were doubling sales every year prior to it.

The Super Bowl didn’t change us. It just accelerated the growth we were already experiencing.

5. Omni-Channel vs Multi-Channel: What is the Difference and Why Does It Matter?

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

Talk yourself in circles about omni-channel vs. multi-channel ecommerce all you like. But, instead, why not take a tour through this comprehensive breakdown of the differences between the two strategies, and how they might work best for your business enterprise?

Aaron Orendorff dives down the rabbit hole of these ecommerce buzzwords, parsing them, illustrating their distinctions, and all with easy-to-follow, real-world examples that show just how some of the web’s top retailers are using omni-channel and multi-channel to reach their customers everywhere they buy.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“There’s nothing sacred about how many channels you sell on.

“The point is simply to offer customers the choice to buy from you on whatever channel they prefer … and then double down on the channels that prove most lucrative.”

6. An Inside Look at a Multimillion-Dollar Empire’s Nine Ecommerce Tools

Pura Vida Bracelets harmonizes nine apps to elevate its business to global jewellery powerhouse.

A business can sink or swim through any number of means, but the best ecommerce companies are masters of the technology available to them.

Pura Vida Bracelets is a jewelry behemoth co-founded by Griffin Thall and Paul Goodman, two friends that stumbled upon a pair of artisans during a grad trip to Costa Rica. Thall opened his company’s vault to Nick Winkler, who details how Pura Vida used nine specific ecommerce apps to build its ecommerce empire. Each app on its own works well, but when deployed in unison the results have been outstanding.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“It’s a lot like the ingredients to a great recipe,” says Thall.

“Each of the ingredients might taste great on their own, but when you blend them together they combine to create a much more delicious dish, and ultimately a better experience for everyone.”

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7. Instagram Influencer Marketing: Three Steps to Unleash the Power of Social Celebrities in Ecommerce

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

From Kylie to Yoga Girl, influencers are claiming a very real stake in modern ecommerce. Few catalysts can boost an online brand faster, or spark long-term growth that lasts, than a partnership with a social media celeb.

Yet as all companies are not built the same, neither are all social influencers. Jonathan Chan takes us into the world of Instagram idols to navigate how to identify which influencer might make sense for your brand, and why.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“The one thing you absolutely must know about influencer marketing is that the numbers don’t always tell the whole story,” says brand strategist Joel Contartese.

After spending millions on ‘celebrities,’ I’ve seen better results from influencers with a smaller, but much more niched, following than from the widely popular ones.

8. Global Ecommerce Statistics [Infographic] and 10 International Growth Trends You Need to Know

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

Ecommerce is truly global, though optimizing your retail arm on an international scale is no easy feat. Distribution, global warehousing, fulfillment … without the right kind of expertise, these challenges can be enough to sink your plans for worldwide domination.

But following ten international growth trends, utilizing the guidance of a suitable global ecommerce software partner, and targeting your business where it makes most sense, can make international expansion far less painful.

“You wouldn’t believe the demand for Piper in countries like Australia, Japan, and Canada,” says Tommy Gibbons, the company’s director of marketing. “Shopify Plus allows us to easily see the location of our sales so we can quickly begin to advertise in parts of the world where we see the best product-market fit.”

Best Ecommerce Tip

“More vital than market size is understanding market fit.

“Thankfully, Nielsen’s Global Connected Commerce report provides a detailed breakdown of the most lucrative industries by country.

“Aligning those verticals with your own — as well as taking into consideration the geography of your current customers and traffic sources — provides strong evidence to your global ecommerce decisions.”

9. Wholesale Ecommerce Websites: Myths and Musts from 50 Merchants, Marketers & Influencers in Online B2B

Best Ecommerce Tips From The Top 10 Ecommerce Articles In 2017

A tour de force piece from Aaron Orendorff, who exhaustively sourced more than 50 experts in wholesale ecommerce to either prop up, or tear down, every myth in the space that you might have heard.

From wholesale conversion rate optimization to how to leverage content marketing for wholesale clients ... it’s all here. And what’s the most prevalent theme? That familiar refrain: in principal, to be at its best, B2B ecommerce still needs that B2C personal touch.

Best Ecommerce Tips

“You can’t publish prices on the website?” wonders Peep Laja, principal at CXL Institute. “That’s nonsense. B2B people are still people — talk to them like normal human beings.”

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that B2B is fundamentally different than B2C,” says Bryan Eisenberg, co-author of Be Like Amazon: Even a Lemonade Stand Can Do It. “There are nuances depending on your customer’s level of technical proficiency. But at the end of the day, we are still selling to people.”

10. How Customizable Is Shopify, Really? Standing Out at Scale without Giving Up Control

You’ve heard about Shopify Plus’ customization capabilities, or at least wondered about them. Nowhere are you likely to find a more comprehensive rundown of what this platform can do, and how it might be right for your business.

One point to consider: be wary of the seduction of code. Rather than go crazy with templates, themes, and designs, consider the beauty in simplicity. Often, familiarity is an online retailer’s friend. A user experience that is first and foremost familiar is most likely a company’s best approach on the web.

Best Ecommerce Tip

“One size fits all” can be death in ecommerce. But that doesn’t mean you have to trade responsiveness and speed for customization and control.

Moving fast with new projects, products, and campaigns while at the same time creating rich, unique, and personalized customer experiences are both possible.

Whether you want to customize your theme, products, discounts, checkouts, payments, or more … standing out at scale and staying in control aren’t mutually exclusive.

What Ecommerce Tips Could Come Next?

If you found your head spinning, we’re with you. And if you’re wondering how we could ever top the year that was … you’re not alone there, either.

But the new year is coming, and the best part is that all the things we learned this year – how to turn your business into a wholesale rocket ship, how to leverage influencers to give your brand star power, how you can customize Shopify Plus to make your ecommerce company the best it can be – get to be put to use as the calendar flips.

Wondering what’s next? Stay tuned.

About the author

Jason Buckland

Jason Buckland is a content marketing manager at Shopify Plus. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Playboy, Time, the Toronto Star, and elsewhere.