The Ecommerce Mindset: How To Build A Sustainable Business

Overnight success is a Myth!

You’ve probably decided to build an eCommerce store because it requires the least investment and is the easiest to build.

While an eCommerce business is full of potential, it won’t make you a millionaire overnight.

You will need to factor in a lot of things when building and growing your eCommerce store.

There are things like SEO, email marketing, customer service, a range of tools, and marketing tactics – the list is endless.

And although you may have the working knowledge to deal with these things, juggling these things around with finesse can be daunting.

And soon, you will find yourself asking – “Does it ever end?”

Mindset is important.

That’s what we are going to talk about in this article.

What Sort Of Mindset Do You Need To Start And Run A Successful Ecommerce Business?

Well, the first thing you need to know is in the beginning, no one will care about your brand.

And that’s the reality that every big eCommerce business has had to live with in its initial few months, or even years sometimes.

YOU will pretty much be the only person who cares about your Brand.

So, ask yourself:

  • Are you determined enough to work extremely hard on your brand before making that first sale?
  • Do you have the courage to send emails from a small mailing list or make a Facebook page for your brand that only a few friends have reluctantly liked?
  • Will you do what it takes to work on building your Brand?
  • Can you push through when you’re frustrated or feeling beaten down?
  • Do you have faith in your journey, your tools and techniques, and most importantly, yourself?

If you have answered “Yes” to most of the questions, your battle is half won.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t—you’re right.”

-Henry Ford

The determining factor is always your mindset.

According to Stanford Mind & Body Lab, “Mindset is a mental frame or lens that selectively organizes and encodes information, thereby orienting an individual toward a unique way of understanding an experience and guiding one toward corresponding actions and responses.”

And that’s all there is to it!

And the good news is mindsets aren’t fixed. You can change your mindset in any direction you want.

Let’s see how changing your mindset can help you run a successful eCommerce business.

1. It All Starts With A Plan

Your plan is the foundation upon which you will build your eCommerce empire. So, make it good.

A good Business Plan not only tells you what to do but also acts as your single point of reference whenever you lose your way.

A formal business plan incorporates many components. However, you don’t need to cement all the components on the first go.

Treat the Business Plan as a Live Document. As you adapt going along, so will your Business Plan.

It’s best to not go overboard or feel overwhelmed with drafting a Business Plan.

Just focus on the bare minimum to get you started. And like I said, you can always come back to it later.

  1. Business Description – Briefly explain the nature of your business and what you intend to do, and how. It can be as simple as “Sell products through Shopify Instagram page.
  2. Mission Statement and Value Proposition – This will give a high-level overview of your business and your unique selling proposition.
  • What sets you apart from your competitors?
  • Why do you think your customers will love you?
  • What do you want to be known for?

These are the kind of questions you will need to answer in this section.

  1. Target Customers – This section will compile everything you know about your ‘ideal customer’—their age, gender, location, habits and preferences, education, and buying power. In a nutshell, the more you know about your potential customers, the more targeted your marketing can be.
  2. Products – Here you briefly describe the products you want to sell on your eCommerce site and where you want to source them from. For instance, you might say, “We will sell handmade home décor from local artisans ranging between $100-“$500.
  3. Operational Plan – This section will talk about your day-to-day operational tasks like marketing, inventory, analyzing sales numbers, customer service, etc.
  4. Competitive Analysis – The main focus of this section will be your competitors, their USP, marketing plan, product attributes and price range, shipping policy, deals, offers, etc.
  5. Investment – The amount of investment and its sources will determine the scale of your business. So this section is very critical and needs careful consideration. Few sources of financial investment can be:
  • Bootstrapping or where you use your funds
  • Crowdfunding involves raising capital from larger groups of people on various crowdfunding websites in exchange for incentives.
  • Equity Funding sourced from friends and family, Angel investors, or Private Equity or Venture Capital firms.
  • Bank Loans

2. Adopt a Customer- First Approach

The number of products or the product itself is no longer the main reason customers will do business with you.

Yes, the products will play a very important role and will determine the success of your business in the long run. But to attract, engage, and retain your customers, you will need to deliver an overall valuable experience to your eCommerce customers.

So, what kind of mindset do you need for that?

A customer-first mindset means you put the needs of your customers at the heart of everything.

Is your product something your customers need?

Implement the following four things to prioritize a customer-first mindset:

  1. Measure the satisfaction of your existing products before launching new ones. This will ensure that your products fulfill the needs of your customers.
  2. Make your website simple, intuitive, and easy to understand
  3. Make all your customer interaction channels consistent across platforms.
  4. Build great product Pages, explainer videos, etc.

Remember that the mindset completely needs to shift from “building a brand” to “building a customer-friendly brand.”

You can woo your customers in a number of following ways:

  • Free and Fast Shipping
  • Offers and discounts on special occasions like Birthdays and Anniversaries.
  • Proactive customer service
  • Invite reviews and feedback
  • Keep your customers informed and updated with email marketing
  • Draft customer-friendly policies

To sum it up, a customer-first mindset means prioritizing customer and their needs over short-term profit. Align product and brand messages in a way that every customer walks away happy and engaged.

Let’s look at some signs that make your website untrustworthy to your customers.

  1. Missing Contact Page or Form – An eCommerce store without a contact information page means customers can’t contact you if they need to. This is a complete no-go zone.
  2. Unsecured Website – According to a recent study, 85% of online shoppers avoid unsecured websites. Customers give out payments and other sensitive information on an eCommerce website. Having an SSL certificate gives them the confidence that their information is secure with your website.
  3. No Company information – A well-drafted “About Us” page tells your customers that you are invested in the brand.
  4. No Shipping Information – Lack of shipping information can not only act against establishing trust with your customers but also puts you behind the competition. It makes you seem untrustworthy.
  5. Unknown payment gateway: Always use a payment gateway that is globally recognized, such as PayPal, Stripe, or Square.

3. Develop A Mindset Of Intrinsic Motivation And Drive

Getting this right in your head is key to your approach to your eCommerce business.

After putting in the long hours in generating the product idea, developing the business, and keeping up with the developments, there comes a point where you (and most business owners do) find that there’s a loss of motivation.

You can get tired, and that is human.

A lack of motivation and drive can seep in for anyone when there is a long gap between the idea and results.

And we have already established that eCommerce doesn’t get big overnight.

The real question is how do you keep yourself driven and motivated throughout your journey?

  1. Use Content and Inbound Marketing – Investing all your effort in selling can be very draining. What you’ve got to realize is selling can happen even without you constantly being at it. Leverage social media and other online marketing tools to share your workload. Hire a Content Marketer for the job. Invest in a good copywriter for your product descriptions.
  2. Add Novelty – Maybe it’s time to think about a new product idea and reignite the passion you felt when you launched your eCommerce business. This can be a great way to bring back the excitement and feel meaningful. You can also try out new sales offers or experiment with new ways to wow your customers.
  3. Delegate and Outsource – Sometimes, as business owners, you can take on more than you can handle. And that can tire you out. Daily operational and routine tasks can be delegated to other people or even outsourced to third-party companies. That will free up your time, leaving you to focus on more strategic things or try out new ideas.
  4. Join a Community – Find groups and communities of other eCommerce business owners online and interact. Not only is it a good way to bounce ideas off one another, but also a great way to help bring back that excitement and passion by having those conversations with people who have probably been in the same place you are.

4. Transform Resourcefulness Into A Mindset

As entrepreneurs, it’s at times very easy for you to blame a lack of resources as a reason for your failure.

The biggest resource business owners claim to lack is undoubtedly money.

And money is a valid concern. But it is not the end of the world.

In an ideal world, you will have all the resources you need and have plenty of time and money to run a great online store.

But the fact of the matter is, you will never live in an ideal world.

You have to make do with the available resources. And that’s called Resourcefulness.

Here are some tips that will guide you towards developing a mindset of resourcefulness.

  1. Automate as much as you can – If your strategy is to have an active social media presence, invest in a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or CoSchedule to the job for you instead of spending hours yourself.
  2. Build templates to streamline processes – You can build templates for a lot of your routine tasks – like email marketing, responses to customer queries, etc. It saves you time and also helps keep your brand messaging consistent.
  3. Use online tools – Solutions for your questions are, most of the time just a Google search away. People share their best practices all the time through platforms like LinkedIn, Quora, and Reddit. Engage with the right forums and communities and look for solutions online. Using online keyword research tools to change and make adjustments to existing keywords is another great way to use existing resources.
  4. Use competitors for Inspiration – Studying your competitors closely can inspire and generate ideas for your own eCommerce business. Understanding how they drive traffic, price their products, etc., can help you position your brand to stand out.
  5. Leverage email marketing – Instead of just sticking to promotional emails and newsletters, automate email marketing to send out abandoned cart reminders, welcome emails for new subscribers, etc.

Most Common Ecommerce Challenges Faced By Businesses

Selling The Right Products

Giants like Amazon, eBay, and Ali Express have monopolized eCommerce to a great extent, leaving small and medium businesses struggling. It may seem difficult to find something unique to sell that is not already on these platforms.

What can you do?

Researching trending products, reading customer reviews on existing products and capitalizing on their pain points, and analyzing product opportunities from keyword research are some of the things that will guide you in the right direction.

Attracting Your Target Audience

Although social media is a powerful tool to locate your target audience, it can be overwhelming at times. The way people interact with content and with each other has changed considerably in the last decade. It can be challenging to attract your target audience amidst that noise.

What can you do?

Join forums like Quora and Reddit to understand the pulse of your target audience. Participate in conversations about your product on these platforms. You can also look at your competitor’s social media pages and see where they interact with their customers. Joining relevant Facebook groups can also be a good starting point.

Generating Targeted Traffic

There is a range of different digital marketing channels, and eCommerce businesses cannot rely on just one to generate traffic to their e-store.

What can you do?

Leverage tools like PPC, SEO, email marketing, display ads, retargeting tools, and affiliates to help drive traffic to your online store. You must be visible where your audience is.

Establishing Credibility

One of the most difficult challenges is to establish trust and credibility with your customers when you are starting. With a new eCommerce business, it can sometimes take years for customers to start believing in you and your products.

What can you do?

Consider selling your products on prominent marketplaces like Amazon and eBay. These already have a huge network of loyal customers. So, branding your product becomes somewhat easier.

Shipping And Other Logistical Challenges

Logistical challenges like returns and refunds and shipping can drive away customers as these are two of the most important factors customers will consider when choosing an online store. Customers want to get the products delivered faster and cheaper, and they want the flexibility to return the products if they wanted to.

What can you do?

Have a good Refund and Returns policy and put it on the website where it is easily visible to your customers. Choose a fast shipper. Always offer free shipping to your customers wherever possible.

My Final Word

Remember that even the most successful eCommerce business owners learn new things every day.

All you need to do is toughen yourself against challenges. You will fail and that’s a given.

What is important is that you take every setback as an opportunity to learn to not repeat those mistakes.

Know that your journey won’t be perfect and highly unlikely that you will get everything right the first time. But if you can develop a mindset of persistence and growth, you will eventually build a thriving eCommerce business.

Good luck!

Further Reading on Growing Your Ecommerce Business

Step 2: 7 Stages Of E-Commerce Product Strategy – A Complete Guide

Step 3: Product Launch Strategy For Ecommerce Business (Step By Step)

Step 4: Evergreen Traffic: Drive traffic using these 45+ Free and Paid strategies