5 Things to Watch Out for When Starting an E-Commerce Store

Want to learn in detail how to start an e-commerce store? Join Jun Loayza and myself this Wednesday at 6pm PDT for a free webinar on how to build an online store the right way.  Check out all of the details here.

Over the last few years of doing this whole online thing, I’ve talked to hundreds of people who have considered starting or have started an e-commerce niche site.

It’s so easy to see it as an easy way to make money, build an asset, and really cash in on the power and global reach of the internet.

The reality? It’s not nearly as easy as everyone makes it out to be.  Sure anyone can throw up a site with some stuff for sale, but how do you actually get people to show up on the site?  How do you handle logistics and fulfillment, especially if your supplier is halfway across the world? How do you even know if you have a good market or not?

These are all questions that both myself and many others have faced over the last few years.

I’ve worked on over a dozen different niche and affiliate sites over the last two years, with varying degrees of success.  I’ve worked on sites that are killing it in their niche and bringing in six figures a month.  I’ve worked on affiliate sites that bring in $2500 monthly with little to no maintenance.  I’ve also worked on a fair number of sites that go absolutely nowhere, and simply drain both time and financial resources.

E-commerce stores can be an excellent business to go into, if you do it the right way, and take the time to learn how to do it properly.  If you’re looking for a get rich quick scheme however, you should head elsewhere.

Today we’re going to look at 5 things to really consisder and be careful of while you’re starting out your e-commerce or affiliate site.

1) Take your current idea –>niche down

I’m sure you have a ton of fantastic ideas that you believe are going to kill it the minute you throw up your store.  I’ve got news for you, the chances are there are hundreds of other people that are thinking the same thing and are already doing it.

One of the last e-commerce stores I worked on was selling tablet cases.  Seems like a great market right?  We could sell products for iPads, Kindles, Galaxies etc. While it’s a huge market that’s continually growing and evolving, our approach was too broad.

This market is very competitive, and saturated.  If we wanted to succeed in this market, we should have niched down WAY more.  Rather than focusing on multiple cases for multiple products, we should have focused simply on selling the very best case for, say, the Kindle Fire.

The Fire was about 2 months from release when we were working hard on the site.  If we’d spent all our time marketing that, which didn’t have much competition at the time, rather than going after a very difficult iPad market – we would have seen a lot more success.

If you want to be successful with e-commerce, niche down your current idea. Click to Tweet

2) Test before you invest

Have you ever started a new site or project, threw a bunch of time and money into it and only to find that no one cared? I’m pretty sure most of us have been in some variation of that situation before.

This is an easy problem to solve.  Before you go crazy with your new site, test it to see if:

  1. There’s interest in your product or niche
  2. Your offer converts

So how do you do this?  Start with a blog.

Simon Stock of E-Surfboard racks knew very little about the surfboard rack industry, but he was willing to learn.  He setup a WordPress blog in an afternoon, and spent the next week writing about racks and some of the products on the market.  He then had some Amazon affiliate links he pointed people to in each article and in the sidebar.

Within a few weeks he was starting to see some organic traffic from the search engines, and not long after that he started getting some affiliate sales through Amazon.

He sped up the testing by throwing a little money out for Google ads.

Not only did he learn that there was a market for his products, but he learned a ton about his industry in the process, thus making him an a bit of an expert on surfboard racks.

From there he setup his own site and build relationships with the major manufacturers. He used his test site as a lead funnel to the new site, and has become one of the biggest resellers of surfboard racks on the internet.

We go into a lot more detail about this strategy in the E-Commerce Location Rebel blueprint.

Are you SURE there’s a market for your new product or site? No? Test. Share this.

3) Manufacturing in Asia WILL be a headache

There’s a good chance that as your site grows and you get sick of sharing the proceeds from your sales with the company making your products, that you’ll want to manufacture your own products.

After all, by now you’re the expert and know what your customers want more than anyone else, right?

Sourcing in places like China and Vietnam can be really appealing.  It’s cheap, and there are all sorts of companies setup to help make things as easy as possible for you.

Not to mention, you can get anything made there, as I recently learned at the Canton Fair.  There are a lot of problems with doing business in Asia however:

  1. At some point the language barrier, will be an issue
  2. Quality control is a nightmare
  3. Asians approach business differently than westerners

If you’re serious about doing manufacturing in Asia, you should really consider partnering with someone you trust who speaks the local language and is on the ground and can work with the factories on a regular basis to ensure you’re getting the product you ordered.

In the past, a friend of mine was sourcing Zorb balls from China. You know those giant plastic balls that you roll down hills in.  He had quality control nightmares after receiving multiple requests for refunds or exchanges for faulty balls.

That falls back on you if you don’t have someone in place to work on it.

If you’re serious about going this route, you should get serious about planning a trip to the country you want to do business in. Go to the factory, be prepared to spend some cash on samples, and also ready to make an investment to meet their minimum order quantities.

There are a ton of advantages to sourcing in Asia, but headaches will be a common occurrence. Tweet it.

4) Don’t underestimate the power of SEO (both positive and negative)

One of the most common questions that comes up when helping people start blogs is “How much time should I spend on SEO?“.

The usual answer when it comes to blogs, is not very much.  There are more important things to deal with, and if your blog is good, the rankings will come.

That said, E-commerce is a whole different ball game.

While social sharing and such can certainly be beneficial, there’s a good chance that your SEO strategies are going to make up the bulk of your traffic (and income).

My most successful niche sites usually saw about 85-90% of their traffic from search engines.

That said, there’s a right and a wrong way to do SEO.  Do it right and you’ll be rewarded with thousands of adoring visitors and customers.  Do it wrong? You’ll piss off Google and be deep-sixed into oblivion, never to be heard from again.

You think I’m joking? Just ask the thousands of webmasters who fell of the top pages of Google with the latest Penguin update.  Not that all of them did anything wrong, that’s a whole different post, but you get the idea.

If you’re serious about e-commerce put a high quality SEO program in place.  What does this look like? Ideally:

  • Create Linkable Content.  Got a blog on your site? Write definititve content about your industry or niche.  Write something with broad appeal that will make people who know nothing about stainless steel widgets not only be interested, but interested enough to share the content.
  • Guest Post. Are there other definitive resources out there that discuss your market? Make friends with those people and try and write for them.  This not only will get you relevant link juice, but it will also send some direct traffic, and establish you as an expert in your field.
  • Get Active in Forums. Regardless of what industry you’re in, being active in related forums is not only the best way to build contacts, but it will also keep you up to date on what’s going on within your niche. Not to mention you can get some more links from posts and your profile as well.

All of this seem really basic? That’s because it is.  Not only that, it’s effective.

Low level link spam has seen better days, while Google has far from perfected its defenses against it, and there are still ways to game the system, following the advice above will future proof you and give you much better results over the long term.

5) Put careful thought into your platform

There are all sorts of options for building E-commerce stores – this is part of the appeal.  No longer do you have to have a legion of developers and fat bank accounts to develop a basic e-commerce site.  No, now all you need is a little bit of time and patience with which to learn how your system of choice works.

However, deciding how to go about it can be one of the biggest problems you face.  Magento? Shopify? OSCommerce? Volusion? Hell these days you can even make WordPress work as a perfectly functional e-commerce solution.

That said, once you choose your platform, be willing to stick to it, because migrating will produce 10 times the headaches.

Believe me, I know this from experience. While I was in Bali last year I spent hours and hours at cafes migrating our tablet case site from OSCommerce to Shopify.  That’s when you just pay someone the hundred bucks to do it for you, and call it good.

All of that said, I highly recommend using Shopify for your e-commerce stores if you’re just starting out.  It’s extremely simple to use and is only $30/month for a basic account.

Many of the others are more expensive, more technical, and probably are overkill for what you want anyway.

That said, do your research.  If you’re looking to grow to the point where you’re marketing thousands of products, and you do have some technical experience or a technical partner, some of the other options may hold more appeal.

And if you’re simply doing a basic affiliate site? Do yourself a favor and stick with WordPress.  Even if you want to get into elaborate datafeed marketing and such, there’s plugins for that now, and your life will generally just be easier if you stick with WordPress.

FREE Webinar on How to Start a Successful E-Commerce Store

Want more detailed advice on how to start a successful e-commerce store?  Then join myself and Jun Loayza for our free webinar “Learn How to Start an E-Commerce Store (With No Technical Experience)” this Wednesday May 23rd, at 6pm PDT.

Jun is the Co-Founder of an internet startup that revolutionizes customer loyalty at restaurants and retail stores. In his entrepreneurial experience, Jun has sold 2 internet companies and lead social media technology campaigns for Sephora, Whole Foods Market, Levi’s, LG, and Activision.  His lifestyle business is Minted Republic, an online boutique that he runs with his girlfriend.

i.e. He knows what he’s talking about.

Photo Credit: Fosforix

Terry May 21, 2012 at 8:05 am

Hey Sean –

I just started a podcast interviewing Shopify owners about the operations of their business and we touch on some of the topics you mentioned here. Think you might find it helpful so check it out in the DC forums!

– Terry


Sean May 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

Thanks Terry, I’ll take a look!


Nate May 21, 2012 at 8:08 am

Faulty balls (insert Peter Griffin laugh).

Seriously though, really awesome and helpful post. I’ve been considering starting in e-commerce and this is exactly the type of info I’m looking for.


Sean May 21, 2012 at 8:18 am

Cool man. Let me know if there are other specific things you’d like to see covered. And definitely check out the webinar on Wednesday.


Eddy May 21, 2012 at 2:40 pm

Awesome article, and perfectly timed xD.

Do you think it best to
a) test using an affiliate blog site (like you talked about here)
b) test using a blog that’s part of your e-commerce site

Thanks mate.


Sean May 21, 2012 at 5:34 pm


Personally I think it’s better to go with a separate blog, and then get a dedicated Shopify site for the store. That store can have a blog as well, but it will help your SEO to have high quality rankings from a separate site, and you wont have to worry about paying the $30 shopify fee monthly while you’re testing.

Really, you could go either way, but the people I’ve seen have the most success have gone this route.


Bec May 23, 2012 at 5:00 am

Hi Eddy, I am with Sean on this one. I am still building my muse site, but I have my website which is a Wordpress blog and a store which is hosted with Goodsie. If you click on my name, you can check it out. The site you land on is http://www.digital….. and my store site is http://www.mydigital……. I have designed the two to look nearly identical so unless you noticed the url change, my customers would be unlikely to notice any difference.
Good luck with whatever project you are working on and thank you Sean for the post.


Brad May 21, 2012 at 4:24 pm

Hey Sean,

Great post as always. Just a quick question. Will there be a recording of the webinar available?
I’m in the UK and working my night shift at that time.



Sean May 21, 2012 at 5:32 pm

Brad, thanks for asking.

The webinar is going to be reposted for Location Rebel members only. I’m starting to do webinars on a more regular basis, and that’s generally how it will work. LR members will get access to all of them, but otherwise a recording won’t be available. That said, I’m going to experiment with doing some at earlier times to make it easier for those of you in Europe.


Jun Loayza May 22, 2012 at 9:42 am

Hey Sean, really looking forward to the webinar!

Awesome and insightful post. I’ll make sure the webinar covers topics not highlighted in this post 🙂


Ryan Taxis May 22, 2012 at 2:15 pm

Excellent article, thanks very much. I’ve been working with e-commerce for a very long time, and I still found it to be very insightful. I’m glad you talked about narrowing focus and selling in niches (something that I believe Dan/TMBA blogged about and got into my head) – it backs up what I’ve been thinking and discussing lately with a friend haha.

Same goes for SEO and organic linking. I’m not very schooled in the ways of SEO, especially in relation to e-commerce. We’ve always been 100% organic with traffic, but I’m starting to explore it more with a colleague, especially now that we’re also blogging as location-independent folks.

Your surfboard rack section makes a perfect point about research and learning. Whenever people ask me how to get into what we do (or anything, for that matter), I try to explain to them that if they really want to do it, they need to read as much as they can about everything involving the process. The more you want to learn and the more you read, the more you’ll know. I still regularly read about what we do, and I’m always gaining new insights and approaches to how it can be done. When I first started, I was merely interested. I read and read and read, and researched and researched like crazy, because I was intrigued and wanted to know more. Several months down the road, when I was ready to take action, I realized that I had already learned an unbelievable amount and more than enough to get started. I actually just used this approach with a friend who’s doing niche sites, constantly passing him your posts (along with TMBA and others), like, “If you haven’t read this yet, you’d better do it now,” and preaching the idea of reading, researching, and being interested, which can all foster organic knowledge in your desired field.

Re software, I’d also recommend OpenCart to people with larger stores who need more intricate options. It’s open-source, and it’s free (with the exception of some aftermarket add-ons). We’ve already used it for one of our new stores, and we’re migrating another store to it this summer (it needed a redesign anyway). I do, however, agree that Shopify, Storenvy, and their counterparts are great for people starting out, or people with smaller stores/inventory.

Damn, long-ass comment, sorry. But thanks for the post! Haven’t been here very long, but I always love reading the articles.

Ryan at Jets Like Taxis


Eddy May 22, 2012 at 6:08 pm

That was an awesome comment man. I think your right, a chunk of each day should be devoted to learning.

But I’ve got a question for you: how do you learn without forgetting it all? do you rely on your mind to gather the best information itself? do you write it all out just to help your memory? do you take detailed notes and review them later?

What’s the best way to spend a lot of time learning without simply forgetting most of it?


Ryan Taxis May 23, 2012 at 4:06 am

Thanks, Eddy! I think learning should be intrinsic. There’s nothing wrong with “studying” what you do, but I don’t really see the point in “studying” something that you have no interest in. I’ll use the basic example of required university courses that are outside of your interests…

1) You are forced to take psychology because it’s part of your required classes or whatever. You don’t like it, you have a poor teacher, you could never get your head around it, or you just found that it wasn’t of any interest to you. How much do you think you’ll remember once you’ve scraped by that final exam and moved onto the next?

2) You are forced to take an astronomy course because blah blah blah. But! You find that you really enjoy it. You never thought you’d be so interested in stars or whatever. (I hate astronomy, but this is for example purposes haha.) You love it, you have a great professor, and/or you find that it’s just second nature to you. You can really get into it! And even though you don’t change your major to astronomy, it’s just too fascinating. You ace the final. How much do you think you’ll remember after that A grade, and after you’ve moved on to the next?

I can tell you from personal experience that I remember 1000x more from classes in Example 2 than from Example 1. In my opinion, level of difficulty only plays one part of the equation. If you are interested in something enough, and you obtain the proper tools, there is nothing stopping you from getting where you want to be. And while some people may be more of a natural at things than others, interest and the right tools can break down barriers in almost any field.

If you want to take it a step further, we can talk about Example 3, which is something you love and have great interest in, and is your central focus. But I think it’s a given that it just becomes this much easier than Example 2 when you factor these things into the mix.

Not everyone is a great learner, and people learn in different ways. I now plenty of people who learned how to do ‘X’ by reading books about it. I could never do that. I hate reading books about coding or whatever the topic may be. I’m much more of a kinetic learner; that is, I need to *do* it. But being a different type of learner does not mean that you can’t do it. There isn’t only one way to learn.

What I’m getting at is this: Who cares about your memory? Who cares about what you will and won’t forget? To a point, none of this matters. If you’re excited about learning something, and you have a passionate interest in it, then remembering what you’ve learned can’t be much of a problem. It almost feels automatic in this case.

However, I *do* take notes. Mostly these are resources bookmarked in my favorites, or folders in my Outlook box with saved notes or links. I like to have a database at my disposal of things to access. I don’t consider that learning, though, I consider this to be your brain’s resource rolodex. Your knowledge and interest are in your brain, and the growth and maintenance of those things are organic because you are truly interested in them. You – or I, in this case – only need a resource index that can be referenced.

The “learning” part of it should be second nature, because you’re actually using what you learned. A good example is foreign languages. I am multilingual, and if I use these languages reguarly or often enough, I’m not going to forget vocab or structures. It becomes second nature, the more fluent you get. But right now, I’m focusing on German, and it’s screwing with the other languages I speak. This is normal, but if it’s so engrained in your brain, you’re not going to have too much of a problem with your French after a couple days on the ground in France. Sure, you’ll forget some vocab; but hell, I forget English words all the time, and that’s my native language. I also enjoy learning languages and I’ve been doing it since I was a kid. I cannot describe how much ‘enjoying it’ factors into my success.

So, back to the resource/brain/rolodex, here’s an example of that: I have a Travel folder in my Outlook, and it has subfolders for each country. I keep all of my conversations or resources there. We’ve recently been looking for a flat in Montenegro, so all my emails with owners are in the Travel -> Montenegro folder. The same applies for business. I have folders for one type of suppliers, folders for another. I may have sites bookmarked and organized, but I keep my biz conversations and other lists in each of these Outlook folders. They can be referenced any time, and it’s even easier because there’s a search function in Outlook (or Gmail or whatever). It’s pretty hard to do that with a notebook.

I do in fact keep notes in one of those thin Moleskine notebooks when I’m on the road (the super-thin ones that come in 3-packs). I only have that on-hand when I’m out and about, so I can jot down ideas or things I learned when I wasn’t near my computer. I used to do the same thing with my smartphone, although the notes function wasn’t in my face on the main screen like “YOU HAVE NOTES!” so I ended up just emailing ideas to myself from my phone. With the notebook, I will just break it out in front of the computer and put the notes into emails to myself, which get saved in their proper folders.

When I was in the U.S., I had a white board that I kept ideas on. It was filled up very fast, and I learned to ignore it. The folder system in email works great for me.

I guess the points are this:

1) If you have enough real interest (plus enjoyment) about what you’re working on, then learning as you go and retaining that knowledge should not be a problem. I don’t read these blogs or Twitter feeds or study my business or learn some new e-commerce platform or learn a new language because I have to. That is second to me. I learn it all and read it all because I want to. I wouldn’t even be on this blog if I didn’t enjoy what Sean talks about and how he writes. Who cares if I “need” to learn it; if I don’t “want” to learn it, then I shouldn’t be doing it. And,

2) Everyone does note-taking and note-keeping differently. It will take some time, but it is very possible to find a system that works for you.

I am always changing or evolving what I do and/or how I do it. I might have a system that I think works, but eventually it’s going to change. It could simply be due to outside influences, such as new software or a new idea that I read somewhere. But, the same can and should be true for business. While one of our projects has been around for nearly a decade now, it has evolved and changed significantly since we started it. It’s due to all sorts of factors: Market evolution, personal growth, economic changes, etc. While the basis of what we do is still the same, how we offer what we offer to our clientele is very much different than it used to be. Enjoying what you do, and learning before and throughout doing it, is in my opinion, the best type of business to be in. If you don’t enjoy it, and you don’t enjoy learning it, then you should find another field. (You being anyone, of course.)

Sorry again, I can get crazy long-winded when I write hahaha. Cheers!

Harrison May 30, 2012 at 8:01 pm

Thanks for sharing these 5 wonderful tips Sean! Great reminders and a good kick-in-my-butt to get some product selling going. Cheers!


Naomi June 8, 2012 at 4:50 am

My ecommerce site is a souped-up Wordpress site, which is awesome. It’s worked really well for me so far.

Thank you so much for the insight into ecommerce, SEO, etc. I really got a lot out of this post – especially “niche” down and becoming an expert. The advice out there is sometimes very contradictory, so it’s hard to know who to follow.


Ricardo @ SmartFoxSecurity.Com December 6, 2012 at 1:36 am

One major problem I see with eCommerce site is when you are in another country (say Italy) but your target market is in US, how do you source for products? I heard U have to register a business name, IRS and the likes. How do you get to do all those when you’re not even resident in country of your target market?

Should you simply give it up, stick to your test blog (like the surfing blog exaple) and slap in affiliate link on your blog taking (never-returning) traffic to merchants’ website?


Eddy Azar December 7, 2012 at 10:37 am

Dude, you’re missing the point.

You have a buffer profit margin to register. So, if you’re not making much profit, you don’t have to register.

Don’t worry about registering until you’re making a few thousand a year.


Richard Roy Sutton February 28, 2013 at 6:43 am

Excellent write up! And very much appreciated. My wife has many years experience in the dental field and she is looking for a change. Online supplying may be the answer for her. Again, seems like there are a TON of people involved in ecommerce for this field. But I’m an eternal optimist and feel there is a spot somewhere.


Joseph March 4, 2013 at 10:15 pm

Sean, great article! I found it very useful and I’d like to create an eCommerce site when I move to China to teach (hopefully I can find a decent niche). I’m new to blogging and creating websites and was curious if you would recommend SquareSpace? I like that they have a mobile app feature which can broaden my target market.


James March 5, 2013 at 3:22 am

Actually this is excellent advice. I started one website with multiple book subjects. Overtime I narrowed it down and specialized in one subject. I did see for my sites anyway, better rankings, plus i feel it allows Customers to just browse the one subject easily. I then went on to create a separate store for the 4 subjects i was originally selling on one (niche down), and glad it did. I can slowly see the difference when giving the search engines just one subject to look over per site. For me it is easier to maintain also, keeps each to its own.


Will May 12, 2013 at 12:21 pm

Niche Down…good point. It seems that many (a majority) of ideas that I think have sprung from my own invention, when googled, have been already “thunk” and acted upon. Which I guess is a motivation to not hesitate when you’re onto something original or niched down far enough.


Chris May 24, 2013 at 5:18 am

Nice post Sean. We’ve set ours up on Wordpress and it is going well. Gonna look into Shopify though for future more comprehensive solutions. Thanks


Angie July 12, 2013 at 7:52 pm

I wish I had seen this article before starting my eCommerce business. Although I am making money, I have yet to see a real profit and I’ve been up for 3 months. Some would say that’s not enough time, but for the amount of effort I’ve put into social media platforms (FB, Twitter, Pinterest, Wanelo, Instagram, Weheartit, Tumblr) and the amount of money I’ve spent on advertising both on Adwords, Google Merchant Center, Facebook Ads and Instagram advertising…you would think I’d have made a profit at this point.

Total headache, but I’m not giving up yet.


Sean Hecking July 26, 2013 at 7:29 am

Sean – Good post. Not many startups consider #5 and it’s impact on sales and promotion. Picking the wrong platform can increase management cost and reduce the overall marketing performance of a website. Amazon Web store for instance is NOT a great choice. I recommended MagentoGo or Shopify, but they still decided to use Amazon. I assume because it was easier to get a store connected to Amazon products. Long/short, it took several weeks for their internal team to learn how to use the store and the organic search features are very poor. I recommend avoiding Amazon Web Store if you can.


Tom work on COMMERCE September 2, 2013 at 1:45 am

Thanks, Eddy! I think learning should be intrinsic. There’s nothing wrong with “studying” what you do, but I don’t really see the point in “studying” something that you have no interest in.


Jake November 8, 2013 at 6:27 pm

Thanks for the web tips Sean! I am new to the ecommerce world and I have been wondering when sales will start to pick up, I have gotten sales here and there but definitely nothing crazy. I have a storefront and the website and have been trying to figure out how to direct more traffic and hopefully sales will come. We specialize in all handcrafted products by artists in the USA . You offered a lot of good tips and I thank you for that! I am going to implement some of these ideas and hopefully I will get some great feedback! All of the comments above we’re great too, thanks!


Dev December 12, 2013 at 2:47 am


I am in the verge of creating my own e commerce website, looking to sell medical and healthcare products. My biggest concern is the tax and custom duty part, how do i gage what is the value to charge my customers? Or can i just let them handle that part, meaning i only ship the item, whatever additional cost the end user has to take care?

Kindly advice.



Mark December 31, 2013 at 10:55 am

Hi Sean,
I have been doing business on Amazon and eBay and need to expand my e-commerce with my own site on the niche. I have studied a lot about blogs, SEO etc. Since I have multiple business going on I want to manage but don’t want to become an expert on any of technical aspects of building and growing the site. The idea is to work with the data feed from some of my current suppliers who also have drop ship programs, but I don’t mind starting small. I do need help to get all the steps done such as building, listing, seo, blogging, without breaking the bank.

Can you give me some advice?




Alfred January 9, 2014 at 9:22 pm

Thank you for such a detailed article! I’m sure it’ll help us small business owners to be aware of trends in SEO and what to avoid

I’ve found endless threads with small business owners complaining about Magento and how they need to spend so much money to keep the website up – I’m looking at Shopify and OpenCart, leaning towards OpenCart more because how you can control everything (the control freak I am). Shopify’s subscription fee is quite steep but it does have a nice interface..

choices choices!


Vishnu January 22, 2014 at 8:22 am

I dont know about e commerce so pls tell me how to start or join?


Matthew March 10, 2014 at 8:48 pm

What if you have a universal product? Like cups for example? Everyone uses cups, old people, kids, teenagers etc…How would you “niche” down with an extremely usable product that spans across target demographics? Do you just select one marketing profile and and ride it like a rented mule? Thats kind of the info I gleamed from your tablet case example.


Rupal Sathavara March 26, 2014 at 5:26 am

For businesses breaking into the ecommerce space, the process can be a bit of a whirlwind. People want to feel good about the decisions they make, and feel like they matter through the help they provide to others. As the online marketplace evolves, so must businesses that want to stay a step ahead of the competition.


monty March 26, 2014 at 10:20 am

The classic progression of the little hobby that thought they could be a business.
So many people told you your work was great and that you should sell you stuff online.
Well you receive one too many people saying that so you took the plunge and opened one of those online storefronts.
How exciting it was when you received your first order! Every process in fulfilling the order was a joy.
You found you made a ton of mistakes, but stayed genuinely excited through the whole event. Soon you received other orders and that same excitement seems to have changed into work. The sheer labor and time of packaging those little nick-knacks surprises you because of how long it takes. Plus the Post Office presents such a time consuming obstacle and wow, you have to start charging more for all this time and materials used to ship this stuff.
Emails pile up with questions and missing shipments and delivery dates. Customers turn nasty because you don’t respond quickly. And then you get that first registered complaint.
Wait a minute, I have never worked so hard for so little and incurred so much grief. For you to continue doing this your prices are going to have to really increase. You know something like a real business charges.
How powerful you felt because you could easily under price like-kind products by 25% and now how powerless you feel because your prices are too high.
What is worse it seems all those happy people called customers turned nasty, all those helpful services turned into expensive overhead and you are left with the satisfaction of being self employed. What do you mean quarterly tax returns and what, I should have collected tax? Why do I have to pay Federal tax on my own income where did that come from?
Finally some time to look at the account only to realize you didn’t make more than $5.00 per hour and that didn’t include time for packaging, gas and travel time to and the time at the Post Office.
Soon your online store front is missing from computer searches and customer complaints are going unanswered.
How exciting this is!


Raymond May 8, 2014 at 4:30 am

Thanks Sean, this post is indeed very informative and gives us a good idea on how to approach an Ecommerce business. Thanks for sharing.


kadri May 31, 2014 at 2:41 am

just going though with the detailing on the ecommerce tips – although you covered the best one including the SEO part

Can any one help me on this part

I have a website domain – XYZ.com

and I want to register my company as ABC Products LLC on papers

can I have a different domain name considering the most keywords optimized ?

and can I have different brand name ?

Please help me out with this query

thanks in Advance 🙂


Eaga July 9, 2015 at 3:18 am

very informative article.Thank @Sean.

The business name, the brand name and the domain name are three different things. They could be the same, but it’s important to understand the difference and choose wisely. The business name is normally the name of the company and chosen at the time of incorporation. The brand name is normally the name of the product or the service that you want to offer to the consumers.
The domain name is going to be the name of a website, so it might be the same as the product name or the business name, depending upon the purpose of that particular website. You can choose a different domain name dedicated to each of the products or business line you choose.
It is strongly advisable to keep both business name and brand name different for a new business or a startup as during buying or selling of business or a brand; this can avoid any confusion and conflict. In addition, having one or more different brand names adds to the brand equity of the business or the startup.


Sharan June 2, 2014 at 12:15 am

Geez Louise, Asia is SUCH a headache! Well what did you expect- that the guy in Vietnam who is probably getting paid peanuts needs to know English to work for you? Well, if you really want to pinch pennies by manufacturing in Asia, then you damn well have to be open to trying to communicate with people in a different language, and take a little effort to understand the business culture there. Things will not come easy just because you are a ‘westerner!!’ The fact of the matter is that everything from manufacturing to content is outsourced to Asia, mainly because ‘westerners’ just aren’t very good at producing things on their own. So I think it makes sense that rather than getting things done ‘cheaply,’ you pay a premium to American makers instead of peanuts to the Vietnamese and Chinese who are likely working in sweatshops.


temi June 23, 2014 at 1:28 pm

Does anyone have an opinion on magento enterprise, I intend to run a store that will accommodate large inventory and much traffic. Give a worthy comparison to magento platform pls.

Thanks Temi


Emily Kraft November 8, 2014 at 5:52 pm

An important thing that a lot of businesses miss when creating their e-commerce site is optimising each and every page because remember that each page has its own page rank.

I got a huge traffic boost when I moved from a normal shopping cart system to one that optimises each page automatically. Its pretty tough to rank for “camping” with big players around but not so hard to rank for “tent spike u frame” if you understand what I mean.

The hitch is that any sizable website has hundreds of products and it takes time to optimise each of them.

The system I used is here: http://www.gomakeasplash.com/catalog-maker/catalog-maker-for-your-store.html and let me rank for a large percentage of my pages on a level even better than my root domain ranking.

Try it.


Venkat June 8, 2015 at 12:27 am

Thanks for sharing valuable experiene….


Prabir Saha October 3, 2015 at 7:33 am

Hi, 1st off all, I am very impressed by ur post. Thank u for the post.
Currently I am running a mobile shop. I have some doubt to clear. For example, for the product Micromax MMX377G, the MRP is 1900 and the micromax distributor is giving me 20% discount. But, the online whole-sellers are selling this product by 60% discount.
I would like to run an online store too beside my mobile shop. So, my question is, is it possible to sell that product online as well as offline, if I purchase the product from online wholesellers. Will there be any objection from the local distributor, if I sell that product offline, i.e. in my mobile shop.
Please clarify my doubt.
Thank You


David January 18, 2016 at 1:46 am

Thanks Sean, this post is indeed very informative and gives us a good idea on how to approach an Ecommerce business.


Jose Santos January 25, 2016 at 5:10 am


Great article! Thank you. I do have a question and I hope you or anyone else can help me!
Is there a special service or something when it comes to shipping? Is there something that will make it easier to address? for example I’m in Europe, Portugal, and I want to be able to ship Worldwide! is there some software or arrangement with the post office or whatever shipping company?
Thank you for your attention. Cheers

Ryan Taxis
I agree with you when it comes to learning! Like I tell my kids: when you like/love something learning about it is easier then when you don’t!


Billy Rose February 22, 2016 at 5:44 am

Hi Sean,
I found this article while searching about “Things to Consider Before Ecommerce Website Development” and here you have mentioned all the things that should be focused while ecommerce development and also have explained all the things in a nice way that everyone can easily understand.
I am also looking to start my new ecommerce website first time so, surely your tips will helps me a lot as well as many other people.
Thanks to you Sean for this information and please keep it up.


Brian February 29, 2016 at 9:19 am

Great post on niching down on the surf board racks. Love the story. I’m surprised you mention not to put any thought into blog SEO. I feel like its important to be aware of some keywords in our niche. Not neccessarily to force feed those keywords into posts. But when you have a post going in one direction you can always see if it gels with anything and work a few things into the post. I like to have a list of keywords for hte campaign next to me as I’m writing.


Adam March 31, 2016 at 1:48 am

I’ve noticed that when it comes to e-commerce, people underestimate the value of high quality content. It’s a hugh mistake – in both users and Google contexts. Nowadays it’s an absolute must have to build a profitable online store.


Yoann July 6, 2016 at 12:09 am

Hi Sean – Thanks for your article, there are good tips in it.
Regarding blog writing to challenge market interest for your specific offer, would you recommend to it through a different domain name than the one that will be used for the ecommerce site?
Thanks for your answer


Sean May 23, 2012 at 8:52 am

So that may win the prize for “longest comment ever” on Location 180. There’s a lot I could say in response, but I think your core message of learning being much easier when you want to do it vs. when you have to do it is dead on. Thanks for your thoughts!


Ryan Taxis May 23, 2012 at 9:18 am

Score! I told you I was sorry on Twitter haha. I can clearly go on and on about this shit, and I completely agree that it’s about want to vs. have to. It’s a beautiful thing when that something is the same for both the ‘want’ and the ‘must’.

If we ever meet in whatever country/city we might cross paths, I owe you a beer for letting me blather on in the comments. Cheers,

Ryan at Jets Like Taxis


Eddy May 23, 2012 at 10:46 am

Ahaha woah that’s a lot of value. What I got from that, much condensed, is this: If your really into something, learning it and improving at it will not be a problem.

Man, thank you. You a damn good teacher xD, and I think this is just the first of quite a bit I’ll be learning from your writing.

Cheers man, I’ll talk to you some time in the future 😉


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