17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

Ecommerce businesses are more popular than ever. Why? Because of the ease of setting up an online store and the fact that you can reach a global audience from anywhere, for starters! But just because it’s easy to set up a store does not mean that every store will be successful. There are specific ecommerce skills that you need to learn if you want to make it big.

In this article, we’ll discuss the top 17 essential ecommerce skills you need to build a successful online store.

Let’s get started!

List of ecommerce skills you need to build a successful online business

Whether you’re just starting out or you’ve been running your online store for a while, it’s important to understand that there are many different elements that have to come together to make an ecommerce store successful. 

The good news is that the skills you need can be learned. And as an ecommerce entrepreneur, you can actually learn a new skill and put it to work for your business the very same day! How great is that?

Without further ado, here are the 17 skills you’ll need to build a successful ecommerce business… 

1. Copywriting

Copywriting is the art of writing persuasive, compelling, interesting text that will convince people to buy your products!

Good copy will make your store stand out from the crowd, while bad copy will make it blend into the crowd (or even worse, get you laughed at).

social proof good vs bad - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

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To be a successful copywriter, you need to understand your audience and what they’re looking for.

Tips on how to improve:

2. Design 

Did you know that it takes no more than 50 milliseconds for your website visitor to form an impression of you? That’s just 0.05 seconds!

Good design can make all the difference, keeping visitors on your site and driving sales. An attractive, well-designed website makes your brand seem more trustworthy and credible, which goes a long way toward convincing customers to purchase something over the internet.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Practice with tools like Canva, which comes with many templates and an easy-to-use editor.
  • Create a test website with website providers like Shopify, and learn how to make a good-looking website.
  • Look at other websites and see what you like and don’t like.
  • Create a Pinterest board with designs that inspire you.

You can also consider hiring a professional to help you with web design. This is a great idea if you’re not confident in your abilities or don’t have the time to dedicate to this critical task.

3. Social media marketing

The average person spends over 2 hours a day on social media, and over 58% of the world’s population are active social media users. That’s a lot of potential customers that you could be reaching!

time spent on social media - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

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It should come as no surprise that social media marketing is one of the most important skills for any ecommerce site owner today.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Explore different platforms and do the research necessary to discover which platforms your target audience uses most. 
  • Experiment with different strategies to see what works best for you.
  • Follow other brands who do a great job at social media marketing and get inspired by their posts.
  • Hire a social media marketing expert to help you to get started.

In the end, the best way to learn is to start doing it yourself.

Start small by posting once a day on multiple social media platforms, which will help get organic traffic to your site. Provide value to your followers by sharing interesting content and useful information.

As you get more comfortable with social media marketing, you can start running ads. Begin with a low budget, and try different things to learn what works and what doesn’t. You can adjust your strategy based on the results you get.

4. Understanding and creating a sales funnel

Understanding what a sales funnel is (and how to make the most of every step of it) is critical for any ecommerce business owner.

Most likely, your customers will not make a purchase the first time they discover your brand or visit your site.

On average, your potential customer has to see your brand 7 times before they decide to make a purchase. This is why having an effective sales funnel is so vital.

Tips on how to improve:

In order to get better with sales funnels, you have to first understand what they are.

A sales funnel is the process that you use to take a customer from awareness through interest, evaluation, engagement, and finally to purchase.

salesfunnelstages - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

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For example, in the awareness stage, you might introduce your potential customers to your brand with a blog post or social media ad. In the interest stage, you could offer them a free e-book or access to a webinar in exchange for their email address.

As you go down the sales funnel, your goal is to make your customers feel more and more engaged with your brand until finally they decide to make a purchase.

You’ll need to understand what actions are appropriate at each stage of the sales funnel so you can apply the right strategies and move the customers forward towards the purchase goal. If you understand how sales funnels work and create a personalized sales funnel for your customers, you’ll be well on your way to success!

5. Relationship building

“Great things in business are never done by one person. They’re done by a team of people.” – Steve Jobs

Building relationships is one of the most important skills for ecommerce business owners and ecommerce managers.

Basically, you’ll need to build relationships with companies, suppliers, customers, potential future employees, and anyone else involved with your business.

Good relationships will lead to repeat business, referrals, and a good reputation. All of these things are essential for growing a successful ecommerce store.

The best way to get started at relationship building is by networking.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Go to ecommerce events, meetups, and conferences. Make sure to have business cards with you, so you can exchange information with the people you meet.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn groups and Facebook groups, and participate in discussions. Connect with other ecommerce business owners on social media.
  • Reach out to people online. Connect with potential customers and suppliers on social media, or through email.

The key is to be proactive and reach out first. Be genuine, and stay interested in what others are doing. Don’t simply try to sell them your ideas from the beginning.

6. Critical thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to think clearly and rationally, and to make decisions based on logic.

As an ecommerce business owner, you’ll need to make a lot of decisions, both big and small, every single day. These decisions will shape the future of your business.

It’s important to learn how to think critically so you can make the best possible decisions.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Learn to say no when necessary.
  • Break problems down into smaller, more manageable pieces.
  • Be open minded and consider all options and perspectives.
  • Take your time when you need to make a big decision.
  • Don’t be afraid to change your mind.

If you can learn to think critically, you’ll be able to make better decisions for your business and solve problems more effectively.

7. Resilience 

There will be times when things don’t go as planned, and you’ll need to be resilient in the face of setbacks.

Your ecommerce journey will be full of ups and downs. This is completely normal… so be prepared!

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Accept that setbacks are inevitable in the ecommerce world, and remember that they don’t represent personal failure.

Successful people have the same amount of problems, they’ve simply learned to solve them more effectively!

Tips on how to improve:

  • When you face setbacks, take a step back and analyze what went wrong and how you can prevent it from happening again.
  • Take responsibility for your actions, learn from your mistakes, and move on.

Resilience allows you to bounce back from difficult situations and keep going even when things are tough.

8. Ability to work under pressure

There will be times when you feel like you’re under a lot of pressure, whether it’s coming from deadlines, supply line issues, or difficult customers.

At those moments it’s easy to let your emotions get the better of you. But if you do, you won’t be able to make decisions effectively.  

It’s important to learn how to handle pressure so that you can do the best thing for your business at all times.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Think about what you need to do to solve the problem, and take action steps.
  • Use breathing exercises to deactivate the “fight or flight” response and keep stress at a manageable level.
  • Make sure to take breaks, and don’t try to do everything at once.

Pressure is something that you can learn to handle over time. The more you experience, the better you’ll get at it.

9. “Customer first” mindset

Having a “customer first” mindset means putting yourself in your customers’ shoes and trying to understand what they want and need.

Over 80% of consumers say a positive customer service experience increases the chances of them making another purchase.

benefits of putting customer first - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

Tips on how to improve:

Think of how you can make every step of your customer’s journey better. This could mean:

  • improving your shipping times, 
  • using better packaging, 
  • making higher quality products,
  • introducing new products,
  • improving customer support, and so on.

10. Time management

Ecommerce businesses come with a lot of moving parts. If you’re not managing your time well, it can easily get overwhelming.

Good time management will help your business run more smoothly, and you’ll be able to complete tasks when they need to be done without constantly playing catch up.

Tips on how to improve:

The Eisenhower Matrix is a great tool to help you manage your time better.

Eisenhower Matrix - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

Start by creating a list of all the tasks that you need to do, and prioritize them. Don’t jump from task to task. Set aside specific times for specific tasks, and stick to your schedule! You can also try:

  • Taking breaks, and making sure to schedule time for yourself.
  • Using a time-tracking tool, like RescueTime, to see where you’re spending your time.

When you start to track your time, you’ll see how much time is spent on unnecessary tasks. This will help you to focus your time on the tasks that are more important for your business.

Extra tip: When your business starts to grow, it makes sense to outsource some of the tasks that are taking up your time. This will give you more time to focus on the tasks that will actually grow your business. Good outsourcing is one of the most important ecommerce manager skills you can learn, as it will help you to run your business more effectively.

11. Editing and visual skills

Basic editing and visual skills will allow you to create better product photos, social media posts, and other marketing materials.

Think about it: like most people, you probably judge brands based on the quality of their visuals without even realizing it. Something as simple as poor lighting or a chaotic background can instantly make a brand look amateur. 

Here’s an example of a bad and good visual. As you can see, small differences in lighting and editing make a huge difference.

bad and good visual - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

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Tips on how to improve:

  • Test out different editing tools and play around with them.
  • Consider taking a class or watching tutorials on YouTube.
  • Hire a professional to teach or mentor you.

There are many free online resources that can help you to improve your visual skills and touch up your photos before posting. For more involved editing, you’ll probably want to use a tool like Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator.

12. Ability to understand metrics

Metrics are important for any business, especially ecommerce businesses, because they help you understand:

  • Your customers (and what they want)
  • Whether your efforts are working
  • Where you should focus on improving

For example, metrics can tell you how many people visited your website, which ad has the best click-through rate, and how many sales you made in a day.

Important website metrics:

  • Conversion Rate
  • Average Order Value (AOV)
  • Customer Lifetime Value (CLV)
  • Bounce Rate

Important advertising metrics:

  • Return On Ad Spend (ROAS)
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR)
  • Cost Per Click (CPC)
  • Cost Per Purchase (CPP)

Check out our article about conversion metrics & business KPIs to learn more.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Learn about the different metrics and how they affect your business.
  • Monitor your metrics regularly and adjust your business strategy accordingly.

Remember, you should never make decisions based on one metric alone. Always look at multiple metrics, and how they work together.

Important note:

Understanding the different metrics isn’t enough… you also have to know how to collect data effectively.

When you’re advertising on multiple platforms, there’s a lot of data coming in, which can be overwhelming. By creating a good data management plan, you’ll be able to use those metrics in your favor.

Use what you learn from the metrics to make decisions on where to allocate your resources. Bad data management can waste a lot of money and time, as you may not be spending your money on the right things.

13. Technical knowledge

An ecommerce business runs on technology. You don’t have to be an expert, but basic technical knowledge will definitely help you run your business more efficiently.

Some things that you should know how to do are:

  • Upload products to your ecommerce website.
  • Install plugins and themes.
  • Optimize your website’s speed.
  • Ensure your website is secure.
  • Draft effective terms & conditions.
  • Integrate Google Analytics.

Focus on one ecommerce platform and learn how it works. Some of the best ecommerce platforms for online stores are BigCommerce, Shopify, Squarespace, and Wix.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Find someone who’s already good at the technical side and learn from them.
  • Look for online courses about the technical side of an ecommerce business.
  • Learn from YouTube, blogs, and books.

Finally, don’t be afraid to experiment and practice as much as possible!

14. Search engine optimization (SEO)

Optimizing your ecommerce website for search engines will both drive more traffic to your site and raise your brand’s credibility in customers’ eyes. This is a must-do activity, so it’s worth learning how to do it right!

Tips on how to improve:

15. Ability to read trends and cycles

Understanding how trends and cycles work will allow you to stay a step ahead of your competition. 

By staying on top of trends, you’ll also be able to make important decisions and plan more strategically.

Google Trends is the best way to improve your understanding of trends.

google trends - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

A high spike means high search volume in Google (higher demand for the product).

The “related queries” tool on Google Trends is also a good way to discover what’s trending.

google trends 02 - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

Tips on how to improve:

  • Follow industry news outlets and read articles about trends.
  • Use forums like Reddit, Quora, and Hive to see what people are talking about.
  • Try tools like Exploding Topics to learn about what’s trending.

Taking advantage of trends and cycles is one of the best ways to stand out from your competition.

16. Understanding buying behavior

According to a study, 95% of purchase decisions are made based on emotions. Humans don’t buy products, they buy solutions to their problems, (solutions that solve their emotional pain points).

Many ecommerce entrepreneurs make the mistake of focusing on a product’s features rather than the benefits it will bring to their customers. This simple perspective shift can make a world of difference! 

Tips on how to improve:

Map out your ideal customer’s pain points. Think about how you can solve those pain points with your products.

After you have a more clear understanding, focus your advertising materials on solving those pain points.

Other things you can do:

  • Read books on the topic, like The Psychology of Selling, Start With Why, and Inbound Selling.
  • Organize focus groups, send questionnaires to your email subscribers, or try a quiz funnel on your website to get a better understanding of what your customers want.

17. Negotiation 

Negotiation is a process where two parties try to reach an agreement on a certain issue.

Negotiation Skills Training - 17 Ecommerce Skills You Need to Build a Successful Ecommerce Business

In business, negotiation skills are key. This is especially true in ecommerce, where you’ll be negotiating with suppliers, manufacturers, and even customers.

Good negotiation and interpersonal skills will help you to get the best possible deals and improve your company’s bottom line.

Negotiation is a skill that can be learned, and there are many resources available to help you improve your negotiation skills.

Tips on how to improve:

  • Read books on negotiation, like Getting to Yes by Roger Fisher and William Ury.
  • Practice negotiating with friends and family.

In order to be a good negotiator, you have to be patient and open to understanding the other party’s point of view. You also need to be assertive and know when to walk away from a deal.

Final thoughts

Ecommerce is booming, and there are tons of opportunities for people with the right skills.

There are a wide variety of new ecommerce solutions coming up all the time, including automated sales cycles, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, new email marketing solutions, and many more.

If you’re thinking about starting an online store or have already launched one, make sure you’re set up for success by brushing up on your skills in the 17 areas listed above. Having these ecommerce skills will help you to build a successful online store and reach your goals faster!

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Written by

Elmeri Palokangas

Elmeri Palokangas is the founder of elmerpal.com, where he teaches on topics like advertising, ecommerce, and making money online. With rich experience in the ecommerce space (he started at 15 and failed literally a million times before finding success) as well as SEO and content marketing, he strives to share his knowledge with other entrepreneurs to help them maximize their sales.

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