The Basic Drivers of E-commerce Growth



I put this list of core e-commerce growth drivers together for a project I am working on and I thought it would be useful for all of you who are building e-commerce companies. Follow this playbook in designing your e-commerce growth strategies and to stay on top of key trends over time.


  • Have a clear understanding of company’s overall growth objectives.
  • Have a clear understanding of company’s branding and marketing objectives.
  • Have a clear understanding of company’s target customers and demographics.
  • Have a clear understanding of company’s products/margins – which product sales move the bottom line needle the most.
  • Have a clear understanding of company’s financial targets (revenues, margins, ROI).


  • You are not building a website in isolation from other customer channels—break down divisional silos.
  • All decisions should be made with a customer-centric mindset.
  • Allow customers to shop where, how and when they choose, anytime and anyplace.
  • This means integrating all website, mobile, store, call center systems, etc.
  • This means tailoring offering and messaging down to the person-by-person basis.


  • Determine the proper marketing plan that works within your budgets.
  • Bias online marketing as most trackable and one-click away from your site.
  • Constantly test and iterate all offers and creative strategies used to maximize engagement.
  • Drive traffic to specific product landing pages, which should be unique and tested.
  • Have a clear understanding of the keywords that matter most for your business and optimize your site for SEO and PPC efforts.
  • Cross-promote e-commerce capabilities across all channels of your business.
  • Cross-promote e-commerce links across within all other channel marketing.
  • Leverage the power of social media—maintain and promote your own profile pages on major social networks (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and allow for social sharing from all product pages and conversational communications/viral marketing therefrom.


  • Continually optimize and fine-tune the product/pricing offering to match demand.
  • Maintain consistent communication with customers via monthly newsletters or other means.
  • Create loyalty programs that reward increased spending with increased rewards.
  • Allow customers to create wishlists that they can send to their friends and family.
  • Tailor product offers to specific customer profile data.
  • Optimize upselling and cross-selling techniques (e.g., promote related items and “people who bought this, also bought that” functionality).
  • Use machine learning techniques to keep a “memory” of user behaviors in session and over time to allow for behavioral targeting.
  • Use targeted pull back ads after a user leaves the site without buying
  • Employ automated repurchase reminders for things that need to be replaced over time
  • Opt customers into company newsletters during the time of e-commerce purchases.


  • It needs a clear and simple way to navigate the site (e.g., think “one click” away).
  • Constantly test page layouts to increase user engagement, using eye pattern heat maps, user mouse tracking or otherwise.
  • Constantly test shopping cart flow to limit abandon rates.
  • Study all abandon rates to figure out why customers end up not buying—and address such concerns.
  • Leverage video where you can, as it is much more effective than static images and text in terms of driving engagement.
  • Leverage the reviews and feedback of other customers who bought same items.


  • Offer two-way free shipping for orders over a certain size (e.g., $50)—don’t give users any reason not to buy.
  • Offer no-hassle customer satisfaction guarantees for a full refund if they are not satisfied for any reason.
  • Provide clear communication on all shipping-related issues (e.g., time to ship, expected arrival dates) with opportunities to get overnight, if needed.
  • Provide the ability to check inventory online for items available in the stores for same day pickup.
  • Simple credit card processing online and the ability to collect payment information via phone.
  • Allow returns either via mail or direct to the stores.
  • Consider kiosk or tablet-based opportunities and services within the stores.


  • Invest in customer CRMs as a central repository to track all client profile, preferences, sales and social media history behavior.
  • Invest in big data analytics technology to make sense of the fire hose of data available.
  • The future of marketing is moving toward person-by-person targeting of products, offers and messaging based on their past behaviors and profile preferences. It is no longer mass-marketing of the same messaging to all.
  • Study cross-channel behaviors to learn how customers prefer to engage with the company (e.g., they researched first online but bought in the store, or vice versa).
  • Test, test and retest all marketing activities and look to sharpen efforts with each iteration.


  • The PC market is actually declining, while the mobile market is exploding—you need to have native mobile apps built for each major platform (e.g., Apple, Android), or a mobile friendly touch site.
  • Take advantage of mobile locations of your customers with targeted offers and services related to their exact location (e.g., “Check out our new store near your location,” “here are local restaurant deals to go with your recent movie tickets purchase,” “here is our mobile mapping app to go with your new car”).

About the author: George Deeb

George Deeb is a managing partner at Red Rocket Ventures, a Chicago-based startup consulting and fundraising firm with expertise in advising Internet-related businesses. More of George’s startup lessons can be read at “101 Startup Lessons — An Entrepreneur’s Handbook.”

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