Business is quickly moving online. Ecommerce sales have increased, year over year, for more than a decade now, by at least 10% per year. Meanwhile, total retail sales have remaining pretty much flat. The result? Around the turn of the century ecommerce made up less than 1% of total sales in the United States. In 2012 that number had already passed 5% and hasn’t slowed down since.
The world is going online, so if you’re an ecommerce entrepreneur you had better do the same thing.
Here are 5 skills that you’ll need to not only survive, but thrive when selling online. There’s quite a few of these that I wish I had when I started my own online business, a monthly wine club called Uncorked Ventures.
Basic IT, Technical Skills:
While an increasing number of websites are being built either on WordPress, or on other platforms that are even easier to publish and update content, having a basic set of technical skills is incredibly important. Smashing Magazine showed that WordPress really does dominate the online landscape these days:
Consumers in 2018 expect a slick looking site and paying hourly rates for basic changes to a site, is a good way to eat up your entire startup budget pretty quickly. At the very least an ecommerce entrepreneur needs to be able to buy a domain, set up hosting, install WordPress, install updates to WordPress and its various plugins while also handling the creation and publishing of new content. It’s not nearly as complicated as you think and most folks can figure this stuff out with a few hours of trial and error.
You’ll find a few things when you begin your ecommerce journey. First, PPC seems like a darn easy way to gain new sales. It is. But, for many industries, it is also really, really expensive. As an example, it would cost me over $10 per click for a customer interested in a wine club subscription.
SEO offers it’s own set of issues, but it’s important to pick up some SEO knowledge and skills of your own along the way, largely because of cost. Even the most basic SEO plan from an agency is going to set you back close to $2,000 a month. Plus, there are no guarantees and the agency is likely to ask for a commitment of at least 6 months.
Doing it yourself may take longer, but it will take the financial pressure off almost immediately.
Social Media Savvy
As the internet has evolved, so has where people spend time online. No longer can a company control the conversation, instead as Web 2.0 has evolved, consumers spend more time on social media networks than they do almost anywhere else.
Sprout Social put together a pretty amazing resource on the social networks that American consumers spend time on, every day:
So here’s the interesting part about the above graph. Look at when those social media networks were founded:
If you have question if social media is here to stay, or if it’s likely to grow….think about the number of social media choices we’ll have in another 10 years and how much time Americans might spend on them in the future. The entire concept is only about a decade old.
Like it or not, a large portion of the work I’ve already talked about involves writing. From creating content, to social media to SEO it’s all a heck of a lot easier if you can write and you can write well.
It’s both a question of speed, after all, if it takes you a complete work day to publish a single blog post, that doesn’t allow time for other activities that grow your business and a question of quality. If you take a week to publish an insightful blog post, you’re a lot likely to gain email signups, new customers and even links to help SEO.
When you’re building a website, one of the main jobs that you’ll be trying to accomplish is to sell stuff, of course! But, when do you know that the new page you created is working or not working? How will you know when you’ve tried enough PPC to know which keywords and which advertisements work together well enough to turn a profit?
A basic understanding of statistics has become more important, perhaps more important for many business owners than any other type of math, including more advanced courses. After all, any insights that you gain from your own statistical analysis lets you spread your resources farther than they would otherwise go.