Weekly Loop #08: What Makes a Great Independent Ecommerce Shop


Weekly Loop #08

What Makes a Great Independent Ecommerce Shop

As mentioned last week, we’re planning to do a series on great independent ecommerce shops on our blog. It got me to think more about the criteria that makes a shop qualify.

Here’s a quick list of 11 ideas, though it’s still in development. Feedback welcomed.

  • Focused on a well-defined niche. Site could sell only their own brand or act as a reseller of products, as long as it’s focused.
  • Have a strong unique selling proposition. What makes the shop/brand different from others?
  • Clear and focused site. Visitors should know exactly what the shop sells and be intrigued enough not to leave site immediately.
  • Have a good brand story. As opposed to what makes the shop different, this should address why the brand exists. Was it started to solve a problem? Why should a customer care?
  • Demonstrate authority. What makes this brand/shop an expert in their niche?
  • Is customer support easy to contact? Customers want to be sure they can get help in the event something goes wrong.
  • Do they take multiple payment options. It should be as easy as possible to checkout from a new shop, especially considering how easy it is for many shoppers to checkout at Amazon.
  • Upfront shipping/fulfillment expectations. It’s not necessary for many ecommerce shops to compete with the likes of Amazon when it comes to shipping. Still, expectations should be clear to shoppers – and they should be met/exceeded.
  • Impressive photos/graphics. When shopping online, the presentation on the website goes a long way.
  • Support something good beyond the brand. This could be the problem they set out to solve – or could be something to benefit their industry, community, related charity, etc.
  • Social proof. Do they have good customer reviews? Do they look trustworthy.

Feel free to weigh in with your own ideas in the comments.


Recommended Links

Each week, we read and watch articles, blog posts, videos, infographics, books and more related to ecommerce. We share some of our favorites links on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

In our weekly updates, we pare the links down to our favorite seven links from the past week.

Have a suggestion of something to include? Get in touch.

“Here’s what you need to do to design a checkout process that converts.”

How to Design a Checkout Process That Generates High Conversion Rates
Neil Patel Quick Sprout

“If you’re driving lots of traffic to your ecommerce site but those visitors aren’t converting, you need to analyze the design of your checkout process.
Add multiple checkout buttons to different areas of the page.
Customers care about security, so the entire checkout procedure needs to be safe and secure.
Do not charge for shipping. Eliminate unnecessary steps, and reduce the number of form fields required to make a purchase.
Don’t force your site visitors to create customer profiles. Have a guest checkout option.
Optimize your ecommerce site for mobile devices.
Use A/B tests to see which design elements maximize your conversion rates.
And accept as many forms of payment as possible.”1


“Ecommerce business owners all over the world are beginning to turn to blockchain technology…”

How Blockchain Technology is Shaping Ecommerce
Jami DeLoe Ecomdash

“Blockchain technology is becoming the driving force for global financial transactions. With worldwide ecommerce revenue set to hit the $135 billion mark by 2023, the adoption of blockchain technology isn’t just a passing idea anymore.
But, how is blockchain technology shaping ecommerce? Most industry experts believe it will shape ecommerce in many favorable ways. But, before we get in to how it may affect ecommerce, let’s review what it means and the different types out there.”2


“If you are currently using social media to market your small business but not seeing the results you hoped for, I’ll steer you toward the path to success.”

How to Effectively Market Your Small Business on Social Media
Neil Patel Quick Sprout

“Social media marketing is no longer optional for small businesses in 2018.
I see this problem all too often when I’m consulting small business owners. They have this mentality that social media won’t benefit their companies.
“Our customers know who we are, and they know where to find us.”
Does this sound familiar to you? Don’t get me wrong: it’s great that you have established a steady customer base. But using social media to market your small business will help you get more money from your existing customers in addition to acquiring new ones.
Failure to have an effective social media strategy can be detrimental to your small business.
While you may not think your lack of a social media presence is having an impact on you today, it will eventually catch up with you down the road. So don’t wait until it’s too late to get started.
You’ve got to keep up with the latest social media trends and apply them to your small business.”3


“How does ecommerce businesses scale in Amazon’s world?”

Is Vertically Integrated Ecommerce The Future of Online Retail?
ecomdash Ecomdash

“One answer comes in the form of vertically integrated digitally native retail. That’s a mouthful but it refers to companies most of us have heard of: Warby Parker, Dollar Shave Club, Casper, Away, BirchBox, Glossier, and more.
These retailers don’t try to sell everything: they focus on a vertical market with a dominant incumbent – Luxottica in the case of Warby Parker – or industries mired in hidebound legacy markets such as the mattress industry. They design, manufacture, and retail competing products, often at lower prices on channels that provide a direct connection to consumers.”4


“Competition on Amazon U.S. is reaching new heights and it’s only going to get worse from here”

A Survival Guide For Third-Party Amazon Sellers
Bogdan Rancea Ecommerce Platforms

“All this increased competition has resulted in a ‘race to the bottom’ in many categories on Amazon. Chinese sellers, top third-party sellers and manufacturers and brands, however, have more pricing flexibility with lower costs and higher margins. Many third-party sellers are finding that they have to work harder and harder to generate the same top line sales, but are not receiving the same bottom line profit.
When you add it all up, it’s easy to see that the long-term viability of the reseller model is very much in doubt. The situation isn’t hopeless, however. This guide lays out what you can do as a third-party seller to put your business in the most competitive position possible.”5


“There are few better ways to retain and market to existing customers than by offering a newsletter packed with engaging and relevant content”

Don’t Underestimate the Power of a Good Newsletter to Drive Business
Thomas Smale Entrepreneur

“Newsletter design is an art in itself. For many businesses, particularly in the business-to-consumer space, strong visual elements are considered essential. In a comprehensive study on The Science of Email, Hubspot found that, when surveyed, up to 65 percent of respondents preferred emails comprised mostly of images. However, observational data gathered by Hubspot revealed that click-through rates actually declined as the number of images increased.As with virtually all aspects of marketing, knowing your target audience is key. For example, while images may be mandatory in an email newsletter from a fashion retailer, they may be counterproductive in a newsletter from an accounting firm. Regardless of whether your emails are text or image based, certain newsletter design maxims hold true across industries. According to leading email marketing SaaS company MageMail, it’s crucial for the essential parts of an email newsletter appear “above the fold.””6


“these techniques are just four quick wins you can use to convince potential Amazon customers that you’re more worthy of their cash”

Competing with Amazon: 4 Quick Wins for Small eCommerce Brands
Elise Dopson Word-of-Mouth and Referral Marketing Blog

“Referral marketing programs are another tactic you should be using.Why? Because they turn your loyal customers into brand evangelists. By giving your most loyal customers an incentive to recommend your website to their family and friends, you’re in with the chance of reaching an entirely new pool of people.Popular referral marketing incentives include:Providing a $10 gift card for each person they referGiving away free products when previous customers refer a friendOffering upgrades to better rewards once they refer a set number of people”7

“In reality, many of the expenses that sink new ecommerce stores can be reduced or eliminated entirely if you know what to do”

New to Ecommerce? Save Yourself Thousands Yearly With These 5 Frugal Hacks
Nathan Resnick Entrepreneur

“To truly carve out your own niche, you shouldn’t try to be all things to all people — and this means carefully curating your product lineup. Many of the most successful ecommerce stores find it much easier to limit the types of products they sell online.This makes it easier to target a specific niche audience, who will ultimately be more interested in your offerings, and therefore, more likely to buy.”8

  1. https://www.quicksprout.com/2018/08/03/how-to-design-a-checkout-process-that-generates-high-conversion-rates/
  2. https://www.ecomdash.com/blockchain-technology-shaping-ecommerce/
  3. https://www.quicksprout.com/2018/08/08/how-to-effectively-market-your-small-business-on-social-media/
  4. https://www.ecomdash.com/vertically-integrated-ecommerce/
  5. https://ecommerce-platforms.com/articles/third-party-amazon-sellers
  6. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/318409
  7. https://www.referralcandy.com/blog/competing-with-amazon/
  8. https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/316759
  9. Photo by Jason Leung on Unsplash

Andrew @ EcomLoop
Are you looking to start or grow a standalone ecommerce shop? I help independent businesses achieve success on the Shopify and WooCommerce platforms. As the owner of multiple ecommerce businesses, I've had the opportunity to get experience with nearly every aspect of the ecommerce industry. I started EcomLoop to help other quality independent businesses using my knowledge and experience. To stay on top of new ecommerce developments, I publish The EcomLoop Weekly Loop, a blog and email newsletter with original thoughts and curated links to help independent businesses improve their businesses.