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5 secrets to running a successful e-commerce business

Consider these tips to effectively run and grow your e-commerce business.
By Thomas Smale |



There are many entrepreneurs whose greatest desire is to build a business that allows them to live a lifestyle of their choosing, and have it run more or less on autopilot. E-commerce tends to be fairly complementary to those desires.


However, if you want to turn your e-commerce store into a massive business, the only thing getting in the way is you. The potential is always there, and you have to make a decision to start putting in the time and effort it requires to scale up.



Here are five top secrets to running a successful ecommerce business.


1. Treat your e-commerce business as if it were a thriving offline business.

It might be easy to see your ecommerce business as a hobby or something fun to do in spare time, especially if it isn't earning you millions of dollars yet. However, if you sincerely have the desire to grow it into a massive business, you need to act as if it is already.


Related: Selling online: Art, Science or just hard work? What's your experience?

A lifestyle business is nice to have, but realize that you can create even greater wealth by focusing on the ongoing growth of your business. Don't wait around for your venture to feel like a big business. Think about the decisions you would make if it already was.



2. Find the right software for your business.

As a business owner, you need to have the depth of vision to see potential issues before they even come up. For many ecommerce business owners, software is something that needs to be addressed and evaluated on an ongoing basis, because it's really foundational to the entire operation.



Security concerns, scalability, usability, marketing tools and other factors have to be taken into account when you're looking for the right software to rely on.


"The real growth killer is when an online store owner is not running the right ecommerce software for their business," says Susan Delly of Zippy Cart. "Your ecommerce software should be scalable, secure, user-friendly and have a solid set of conversion and marketing tools."


Shopping cart


3. Figure out where your customers are.

This is business 101. Know who your target audience is, and figure out where they like to hang out. Many business owners don't take this step seriously, and end up wasting a lot of their time and resources on marketing that doesn't convert.


If you can figure out where your marketing dollars are going to produce the greatest return on investment, you'll have an easier time bringing in a steady stream of leads.


Related: 4 signs your site traffic is being hijacked by a new type of Malware


4. Allow your customers to be your brand ambassadors.

There's nothing quite like the glowing testimonial of a satisfied customer to add credibility to your business. By collecting and sharing testimonials and reviews on a regular basis, you can encourage more sales from your Website visitors.


"The most powerful tip we could give in growing your e-commerce business is allowing your customers to be your brand ambassadors," says Michelle Michalak from Slyde Handboards. "Make it easy to compile and share testimonials and reviews from your customers."



You can talk yourself up as much as you want, but it's ultimately what people say about your business that's going to have the biggest impact on buying decisions. Your customers are the greatest assets you have, so learn to leverage them.



5. Remove friction from the checkout process.

If you want to sell more product, you have to ensure that your visitors aren't getting frustrated, abandoning their carts and leaving your site to find another store where they can purchase a competitor product.


Friction is one of the biggest challenges for most retailers, especially as we move into the mobile age. You have to find a way to make checkout so simple and easy that anyone could do it.


"My biggest tip to grow an ecommerce business is practically common sense, but I rarely see websites taking it as seriously as they should: remove friction from the checkout process," says Nick Eubanks of SEO Nick.



Ultimately, you can grow your ecommerce business to whatever level you see fit. It depends entirely on how ambitious you are, and what you want out of it.


Related: 5 tools to help your online business realize its full potential



Copyright 2015 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.
This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editor.


Photos from Flickr (Maria Elena ) and (Renjith Krishnan)

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