There has never been a better time to get into ecommerce. The global pandemic has resulted in increased ecommerce transactions to unprecedented numbers, and according to the Covid-19 and ecommerce survey, those who are shopping online say they will continue to do so even after the pandemic.
According to Statista, in 2021, retail ecommerce sales worldwide amounted to 4.9 trillion US dollars, and e-retail revenues are projected to grow to 5.5 trillion US dollars in 2022 and 7.3 trillion US dollars in 2025!
Running a successful ecommerce store is a challenge for a lot of entrepreneurs. It’s a 24/7 business that requires you to be completely present and focused on sales and conversions.
Not to mention the wide range of ecommerce skills you need to possess if you want to run your store smoothly.
But what skills do you need?
In this article, I’ll share 15 ecommerce skills (soft skills and business skills) that you need to successfully run your ecommerce store.
5 Soft skills that you need for ecommerce
Soft skills are the character traits and interpersonal skills that characterize a person’s relationships with other people, a vital complement to the hard business and technical skills needed to succeed as an ecommerce entrepreneur.
As ecommerce entrepreneurs, we need to deliver excellent customer service, and thus, clear communication and strong interpersonal skills are critical.
Let’s look into the required soft skills in more detail.
Strategies and tools will only take you so far. To build a sustainable, profitable, long-term business online, we need to nurture the right mindset.
With a great mindset, we need to take responsibility for every action we take daily. It will have a massive impact on your long-term success. We need to stop making excuses, avoid tricks and gimmicks, and stay focused on what we do.
A book that strongly influenced my mindset is Relentless by Tim S. Grover: From good to great to unstoppable. Tim was the mindset coach for Kobe Bryant.
I highly recommend that you read it. It helped me push past the fear and discomfort to get the life that I want.
Plus, to get the right mindset for dropshipping, you can check out our other article here.
2. Ongoing learning
Because ecommerce is in ongoing flux, it is a challenge to stay abreast of new technologies, algorithms, and practices. Therefore, we need to be constantly learning new ecommerce skills and adapting to new environments.
Learning from what others do is a great place to start. Study your competition and set some time aside to read and watch relevant training.
If you are dropshipping, reading our blog, Do Dropshipping is a great start, and you could also consider signing up for Shopify Learn.
‘Learning’ but not ‘doing’ can, however, also be a trap. We can spend hours listening to the gurus or reading the right books but need to put our knowledge into action to see results.
The most successful entrepreneurs are expert self-learners. Read on!
Ecommerce store owners can be discouraged by learning about the overnight successes of others. But, in reality, this kind of success is generally not applicable to real-life business.
As tempting as it may be to imagine this, it is unlikely that you will get rich quickly and it is advisable not to quit your day job right away!
While I certainly wouldn’t want to discourage anyone from pursuing their dreams, it is important to emphasize setting realistic goals to achieve success gradually.
4. Time management
In ecommerce, focused work is better than scattered work. Get rid of all notifications and distractions. You’ll get more done in a block of 2 hours of focused time rather than you will if you are multi-tasking on many things at the same time.
Plan! When you don’t want to do the things you need to do to become successful, that is when you need to push the hardest and religiously follow your plan.
Use social media with caution. Use it for your advertising research but don’t get caught up in scrolling!
Avoid focusing on things that don’t have a determining influence on your business. Unfortunately, we are all inclined to get caught up in design, images, and systems rather than focusing on the essential elements of product research and ad management.
5. Stress management
Some of us were in for a big shock when we realized that owning an ecommerce store is not a nine to five job.
Instead, it takes hours and hours of work to set up your store and apps correctly, do effective product research, build product pages, and master advertising.
The desire to succeed coupled with the amount of work it takes, not to mention the cash you need to invest in advertising, creates a great deal of stress.
What helps is to work at building a life that you want but enjoy every moment of it. Then, if you are doing your best with 100% focus, be satisfied with what you are accomplishing.
We all manage stress differently, and whether it is meditation or exercise that helps you achieve balance, stress management is one of the vital ecommerce skills.
10 Business skills that you need for ecommerce
There are a lot of moving parts to an ecommerce business. And we need to juggle and monitor them all to ensure that we are profitable.
Spending too much on apps or unprofitable ads can easily derail your profitability.
It is essential to use critical thinking to manage marketing and sales, supplier relationships, shipping, and customer service, constantly analyzing your results.
Here’s a quick overview of the skills that I’m going to cover below:
Ready to begin?
If so, let’s go!
1. Content generation
Probably the most important lesson that I’ve learned regarding content generation is understanding my customer ‘avatar’ – understanding my customer’s profile and speaking their language when creating content.
From writing blogs to product descriptions and even ad captions, the type of language you use and your tone need to target your dream customer.
A successful marketer creates a relationship with their customer and strives to build a brand in a natural, conversational manner.
If writing is not a talent or English is not your home language, this is one of the ecommerce skills that many store owners outsource successfully.
Good keyword-rich content also plays a major role in positive SEO for brands. And who doesn’t want organic sales! More about this later.
2. Marketing & advertising
Mmm, this is still a business skill that I am striving to master!
As ecommerce store owners, we need to simultaneously build a brand and a customer list, reaching our targeted audience with an attractive, professional sales message.
And we need to use data to make our decisions rather than relying on our own personal preference or creative flair. Instead, we need to learn from what works.
Probably the best advice for marketing and advertising your ecommerce store is to focus on mastering one advertising channel at a time. We have so many choices!
If you start with Facebook ads, for example, master this before moving on to Google Ads.
Other digital marketing strategies include social media management, influencer marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, SEO, TikTok, YouTube Ads, and a whole lot more.
Here’s an infographic to get you started:
The concept of ‘saturated products‘ is interesting in this regard. I bet you have also seen brilliant ads for products that you thought were saturated.
Successful marketing is about developing a targeted message to the right audience – it doesn’t matter about being the first to launch, just doing it better.
This product, for example, is so saturated, but this ad is just amazing! Check it out below:
3. Testing & data collection
Your ecommerce website should be carefully tested and validated before it reaches the world.
Try to test every small detail on different devices. For example, a design element that looks fantastic on a desktop might not leave the same impression on a tablet.
Ecommerce visitors leave us valuable data from each visit. Efficient data collection tells us so much:
- Which web page was viewed
- How long the web page was viewed
- Which web page gets the most views
- What the top-selling products are
- What the website loading time is
- The errors faced by users on the website (like 404, 301)?
If we analyze this data, we can improve our websites and ultimately improve sales.
4. Data analytics
Making sense of the data generated from your website can be overwhelming, even if you have a website with only a few pages.
Complex features, dropdowns, and filters make analyzing traffic and site metrics challenging, especially for beginners.
Sure, there are beginner guides on ecommerce Analytics, but most are either too technical in nature or too lengthy.
So instead, you can quickly scan ‘The Beginners Definitive Guide to Google Analytics’ from Semrush to learn about the most critical reports from store sales and performance points of view.
5. Business law
Both startups and big brands are governed by some kind of copyright, consumer protection, and corporate law.
There’s no rush to get a law degree, but it is advisable to stay informed about the legal issues your ecommerce website may face.
Try to keep abreast of laws relating to:
- Payment gateways
- Trademarks, patents and copyrights
- Shipping restrictions
- Age restrictions
- Business insurance
- Customer privacy
For more information on how not to get sued, check out these great tips here!
The ecommerce skills referred to here involve creating an aesthetically appealing website.
This is a crucial skill for ecommerce as it plays an important part in customer decision-making.
The design segment of the brand should go hand in hand with what the brand stands for. It should speak to the core message of the brand.
A great design speaks volumes, and a poor design can negatively affect your brand and positioning.
Here’s a great example of a simple but effective homepage design from HERoines Inc:
7. Technology skills
There are a wide array of must-have technical ecommerce skills. Unfortunately, it is a struggle to find a team or agency that has expertise in all areas.
You do not personally need to be a technical guru, and this is an area many outsource, but it helps to engage in ongoing learning in this area to have a basic grasp of these ecommerce skills.
SEO or search engine optimization is the pillar that drives ecommerce success. This is proven.
Due to strong SEO, your website will appear higher in the search engine rankings, and this is how people get to know about your brand, offerings, products, and services.
SEO is essential not only to get sales but to put your brand on the map. So do as much as you can to help the search engine crawlers better understand what you have to offer.
This article here will be a great start!
By the broadest definition, ecommerce automation is the use of technology to help ecommerce businesses grow sales and increase staff productivity.
In addition, this helps businesses cut costs and deliver personalized customer experiences.
Activities surrounding order processing, customer support, order tracking, and inventory are great ones to automate.
Increase customer loyalty and confidence in your online business by adding an order tracking page and automatic delivery notification.
A great Shopify order tracking app to investigate is AfterShip.
Customer support systems should work like clockwork for a quick response to customer queries.
Zendesk is a software suite that provides sophisticated, seamless sales and service support that flows across channels. They have a free trial and are worth checking out.
10. Web development
One thing is for sure, and that is that it’s not necessary to be a world-class programmer to build a successful business.
Platforms like Shopify make getting an online store up and running nearly as simple as setting up a Gmail account.
That said, to be really successful online, particularly in ecommerce, working knowledge of fundamental web technologies is important.
We’ve outlined a host of skills your ecommerce business needs in order to prosper. So how does your business fare? Think about where your business may be falling short.
If you need additional employees, what roles do they need to fulfill, and what skill sets are required? For example:
- Is it a copywriter to help you with your product pages and website content?
- Is it a customer service agent who could be a game-changer?
There are many skills that you need for ecommerce, and both soft and business skills are vital. Master these 15, and your chances of building a successful, profitable business online will skyrocket.
Did I miss any must-have skills for the ecommerce entrepreneur? Let me know in the comments section below!