Practical Ecommerce

Ten Great Ecommerce Ideas

Practical eCommerce recently asked a number of industry insiders to share a great, innovative idea that could potentially help an ecommerce firm. Here’s what ten of them had to say.

Make A Promise And Keep It

Seth Godin

Founder and Original Squid

“The number one asset you can build is permission. The privilege of delivering anticipated, personal and relevant messages to the people who choose to get them. It’s something that you earn. You do it by making a promise and keeping it. This is Amazon’s secret weapon, by the way.”

Customer Reviews Are Critical

John Bancroft

E-business Manager

VF Imageware, Inc.

“Implement customer reviews in your online store to drive down your returns rate. Often companies believe that a “bad” customer review is not good for the brand; however, sometimes low customer reviews ratings signifies needed merchandise, design, or targeting changes. Responding to real-time customer review input can help your team make important product or service adjustments that can delight the customer and ultimately lower your returns rates.”

United States Still Offers Enormous Opportunity

Robert Grosshandler

Founder and CEO

“Sometimes to be innovative you need to be counterintuitive/countercyclical. For U.S.-based affiliates, lots of folks are suggesting “go overseas” to make more money. Don’t forget, the U.S. is an enormous economy, with lots of opportunity. Heck, California is probably the world’s eighth largest economy.”

Make Sure Customers Can Contact You

Joe Palko


Solid Cactus

“In this day and age, it is very important for a customer to be able to contact your company, no matter how small you are. This means featuring a toll free number in a visible position with clearly marked customer service hours. Shoppers need to believe that you take your business seriously, and not allowing them to contact you with questions or comments does not show a commitment to them, that you take your business seriously.”

A Seamless Ecommerce System Is Key

Baruch Goldwasser

Ecommerce Subject Matter Expert


“Avoid storing information in multiple disparate systems that don’t communicate with each other. Your ecommerce system should work seamlessly with the rest of your business. Without this your employees cannot get the information they need, cannot intelligently answer customer questions and waste time with repetitive data entry.”

Bring Your Store To The Customers

Massimo Arrigoni


Early Impact, LLC

“Acquiring new customers is expensive (e.g. increasing “cost per click”). Try bringing your store to new customers, rather than new customers to your store. How? For example, RSS feeds can help you syndicate content to blogs and other websites (e.g. “specials” or “new arrivals”). Ask your ecommerce provider for assistance.”

Email The Upsell

Troy Janisch

Sales and Marketing Director

Biz Fillings

“It’s tempting to hit consumers with everything you’ve got at the time of sale. Limit the number of add-on items you push at consumers at the time of sale. Then, follow-up every sale with an email message that offers savings on items related to their original purchase. It’s easier to sell accessories to someone who already owns an item.”

Overload: “Less Is Often More”

Brendan Gallagher

Creative Director/Co-Owner

“Overload is an omnipresent factor in people’s lives. Our guests appreciate low pressure, engaging product pages, a touch of fun and great product photos. Avoid cramming product page with excessive offers, blinking sale options and information overload. Less is often more.”

Integrating Video Is Often Overlooked

Rand Fishkin

Founder and CEO

“An extremely underutilized tactic in the world of ecommerce is video integration. With the ease of use that services like YouTube & iFilm provide for creating and uploading videos, there’s no reason not to give your products a spin.”

“ recently implemented videos for many of its software products and noticed a great improvement in visitor retention and conversion rate. While it may not be perfect for every site or product, it’s worth a shot. Make a great video that shows off how your product works and use split testing to determine if it boosts conversion rates. If so, you’ve got a winner, and you can extend the program to more products over time.”

Create Relationships With New Customers

Trynka Shineman

Senior Vice President of North American Marketing


“The first 90 days are the most important to establish a strong relationship with a new customer. If you can get a new customer to make a repeat purchase during that timeframe, their lifetime value is considerably more than those that don’t make a repeat purchase until later.”

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  1. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    Extremely enlightening article. Thank you.

    — *Barbara Langdon*

  2. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    Amazing…same people saying the same thing. Nothing great about any of these "ideas".

    — *The Google Dr.*

  3. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    Invaluable information from people who talk the talk and walk the walk. As an ecommerce business owner I have already implemented several of these items (i.e. customer reviews, auto-emails with upsell products, etc.). I am looking forward to adding even more functionality to our site in the future.
    Great article!
    Thomas Michael

    — *Thomas Michael*

  4. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    Does The Google Dr. have any great "ideas" to share??

    — *eCustomer*

  5. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    Always great to read about ways to treak our ecommerce site and now that we are actively adding video (both ours and ones we find on youtube) to our product info pages we've seen increases in sales of those items. Now we just need to add an 800# (and a thousand other things)
    Lynda Shop Daily. Shop Happy

    — *Lynda*

  6. Legacy User November 19, 2007 Reply

    The 1-800 number is my next step. I've implemented a lot of the other steps. Site's only been up since mid Sept and I've had 7071 visitors. Don't know what the average is for new sites, but I'm pleased!
    Premium Glamour at Girl Next Door Prices

    — *Lori*

  7. Legacy User November 20, 2007 Reply

    Lots of good advice. We're already doing most of this, but it helps to read that we're doing the right things.
    "Cuz life is a trip worth scrappin'"

    — *T Swatek*

  8. Legacy User November 20, 2007 Reply

    Even the old ideas need to be revisited with a fresh spin

    — *Mike*

  9. Legacy User November 20, 2007 Reply

    Missed the "Big One" in my opinion; and yes, its obvious, but so many E-commerce businesses seem to forget it: Run your E-business like…a business. Have a Business Plan, Set Goals and Steps to Achieve Them, Determine the Amount of Investment you will need to Implement These Steps, and last but not least, get Clear Metrics.

    — *Bruce Golub*

  10. Legacy User November 20, 2007 Reply

    Useful ideas. Some have been around forever, but it's still good to take a fresh look at "older" ideas in addition to the newer ideas. You can get a different perspective. And, yes, what "great" ideas does the Google Dr. have?

    — *JoJo*

  11. Legacy User November 27, 2007 Reply

    These ideas are a joke, when will you provide some real ideas that make money!

    — *Peter*

  12. Legacy User November 27, 2007 Reply

    Thanks for the ideas. I am just launching my first website. There is so much to think about and it is great to have the advice of the pros. I plan to implement several of these ideas as we get up and running. Thanks! (Thumbs down to those who criticize without offering some ideas of their own!)

    — *Karen*

  13. Legacy User November 29, 2007 Reply

    Great ideas that I will consider implementing. Several years ago, I added "how-to" bridal craft videos to my store. I demonstrate how to create unique wedding favors and gifts using some of the products I sell in my store. Has resulted in a direct increase in sales and many complements on the video tutorials.

    inspiring. refreshing. unique.

    — *Cheryl*

  14. Legacy User December 4, 2007 Reply

    I am just getting started with an online business and having been a slight technophobe for a few years…it is nice to get some simple and basic information. Any FREE information is rare and greatly appreciated by this stay at home mommy who is daring to dream in an attempt to make a better life for her family. :)

    — *Kim*

  15. Legacy User December 6, 2007 Reply

    The suggestion to integrate product videos is one that we have been thinking about for our site. Hearing a CEO recommend this option reinforces our strategy. Looks like we'll move forward with the idea.

    CD2U Business Development Team

    — *China Direct 2 U*

  16. Legacy User December 13, 2007 Reply

    The KILLERSOCKS.COM site actually seems overloaded to me. Maybe it's targeted to the early 20's market who are used to seeing 900 different things on a page, and it only has 850.

    I like the first one (permission based relevant emarketing) and last one (repeat biz in 90 days) best. What is the best way to get repeat biz? Eo you need to discount to do it?

    — *roboslob*

  17. Legacy User January 22, 2008 Reply

    Interesting tips. I've been on eBay for 2.5 years now, and the fees are killing me! I realize I DO need an 800 #, but I have implemented most of the other ideas, and my business has grown to the point that I just cannot afford to throw money away on eBay fees anymore. I have SEVEN more lines of products I won't list due to the cost. I just need a simple solution that takes less computer time, and allows me to interact with my clients on a one-to-one basis so I can continue to build and cement the relationships I already have, and bring in the new clients that are so important to a small e-commerce site.
    Thanks for the refresher course.

    — *buzzn2goshow*