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eCommerce Advice: Critical thinking can help your eCommerce game

eCommerce Advice: Critical thinking can help your eCommerce game

Question: How can you use critical thinking to improve eCommerce?

Answers below:

This article lays out a fairly generic AI-generated "path to success" that goes like this: 

  1. Identify your goals
  2. Research your market
  3. Develop your strategy
  4. Implement your plan
  5. Communicate your value
  6. Learn from your experience

This is terrible advice that any self-appointed business guru could pull from ChatGPT. 

Think about starting this way instead: 

  1. Don't listen to that LinkedIn article; don't start with your goals. Your goals are irrelevant to the overall success of your business at the beginning stages. You will also find that those goals will radically shift once you start to understand more of your market and customer base. Similarly, don't follow your passions because there's no quicker way to systematically eliminate joy from your life than turning your favorite hobbies into a job. These "common knowledge" self-help guidelines aren't very practical in real life.
  2. Start with analysis of both the competitive business and marketing environments you're about to walk into: TAM, SAM, SOM
  3. Realize that eCommerce is mainly a B2C/DTC exercise and that you will probably need to put more money, time, and effort into your marketing than your product or your website. Do you have a novel way to break into the market with your idea? If not, it will be a hard road. Remember: in eCommerce, your competitors are usually global.
  4. If you struggle to find an opportunity for your idea, modify the idea to see if you can find your opportunity. Duplicate steps 1 - 4 until the opportunities for both your marketing and your product start to gel. Once you're there, move onto step 5.
  5. Start charting the path, including goals, budgets, go-to-market strategy, and the technology stack investments you'll need to turn dreams into reality.

Before you can run you have to take your first step: COMPETITIVE INTELLIGENCE and OPPORTUNITY ANALYSIS.

You should not start with your goals or identifying your strategy. That is putting the cart before the horse.

Find your opportunity. Strategize around that. You can't make a coherent, successful plan unless you are extremely aware of the arena you're about to walk into and any potential opponents or partners you may find once you're there.

Standing up an online business is easy. Sustaining it is brutally hard. Most (more than 80%) fail within the first five years, likely because they started their journey with their goals, hopes, and dreams. That is a sure fire recipe for failure in eCommerce.

This blog post is an excerpt from a LinkedIn knowledge base contribution from Heather Hershey, founder of and Research Director of Worldwide Digital Commerce at IDC. Ms. Hershey has professional experience in business analytics, global supply chain logistics, international manufacturing and product sourcing, PPC performance analytics, growth marketing, and digital content marketing. Prior to her work with IDC, Ms. Hershey also served as the primary content and SEO strategist for the ongoing redesign of on behalf of the GSA.
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