What Success Looks Like for an Online Store

When it comes to running an Online Store, the Internet gives you a misconceived idea of what success is and how it looks like. Those people who advertise overnight success and that one “special” tactic that will get you there must be kidding with their affirmations.

The truth is that, like most other business owners, you have to work smart to reach success. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to achieve, though. But you should not get discouraged if you don’t make money while you’re sleeping in the first month after you’ve opened your Shopify Store.

This article is meant to keep you motivated (in a pragmatic way).

Thus, it will focus on:

  • The myths about what success really is
  • The real path to achieving your goals
  • The first steps you need to take
  • Insight from people who have met success with their businesses

The Common Myths of Online Store Success

I want to start by addressing these topics so that you get in the right mindset. This is not meant to discourage you in any way but rather to allow you to have a more critical idea when looking over the information you find online.

It’s about understanding the real business behind the PR talk. Keeping that in mind, let’s dive right in!

Myth #1: Overnight Success is How the Best Made It in the Industry

Nobody achieves success overnight, and if you don’t believe me, maybe you’ll believe what Forbes has to say on the topic. All the examples you may have encountered in other articles you read present just part of the story. If a brand manages to get a lot of customers, growth or fans after a launch, it’s usually based on months or even years of work.

Even if it’s a new brand, they probably had email lists of people interested in their offer before the actual launch event. From a magazine’s standpoint, the story is more interesting presented from an angle that showcases the impressive numbers a brand managed to get in a short amount of time.

But, more often than not, that is only half of the story. Nurturing contacts and leads before you launch your store can be a task that requires extended efforts over an extended period.

If you want to enjoy the benefit of having a large number of potential customers visit your online store on the day of the launch, you can. This “overnight success” appearance can be achieved if you focus on:

  • Staying in touch with everyone you’ve met over time who shares a similar passion for what products will be sold.
  • Creating a pre-launch form where people can subscribe if they want to be notified when the products will be available. You can do this while you finish up marketing materials for the site or while you’re discussing details with suppliers.

  • Growing your Social Media following before you sell. You can do this by sharing content and images similar to what you’ll sell on your store. Combined with a targeted follow-unfollow campaign, you’ll have an audience interested in your products before they are ready for shipment.
  • Spreading the buzz on all your channels before launching your online store or products. That way, people will be on the lookout and eager to find out about the actual event.
  • Providing a launch-day discount. The suggestions mentioned above will help you get traffic to your store from day one, but this is more focused on converting them to paying customers. The discount will be worth it because you’ll get your initial reviews, social proof, and sales.

Myth #2: You Need to Know Everything to Be Successful

Let’s get this one clear: Everybody has problems. Everyone encounters failures. It’s because we can’t know everything. And the people who get to the top or achieve success aren’t the ones who know everything but rather the ones who know enough to try.

This myth has to do with those sources that discourage you from actually starting an Online Store. You’ve undoubtedly stumbled upon or heard something along the lines of:

You need to know all the regulations, and if you miss one small detail, you will never achieve Success. You’ll fail and never recover.

Maybe I’ve exaggerated a tad, but now you understand why it is so far from the truth.

You need to be prepared, though. That means you should read the regulations that apply to your industry or talk to a specialist. But do understand that there might be aspects you don’t know about, or that you haven’t considered.

And you need to be mentally prepared for those bumps on the road, because they will most likely involve more time or more money you’ll have to spend. Plan for the things that you are not completely sure of, leaving yourself some room to fail.

It’s important not to allow these aspects to bring you down. Learn from your mistakes and understand there will always be another one down the road.

Some people get stuck on the stage of learning about the process but never actually get their hands dirty because there is always some aspect they don’t know about. You can have success with your Shopify store even if you are not a know-it-all.

Myth #3: Owning Your Own Online Store Means You Won’t Have to Make Compromises or Sacrifice Anything

This one has more to do with your time and success than the performance of your store, but I feel it comes with the territory. Many people start their Shopify store as a hobby or side hustle. Most have dreams to turn it into a full-time job, and that’s an awesome commitment.

Problem is; many of them want to focus on going to the gym regularly, spend more time with their children and family and other aspects of their life while running a successful business. If you want to focus on your Online Store and turn it into a success story, there will be compromises and sacrifices to be made.

Especially regarding your time.

Even if you already have a dedicated team working for your store, there will still be negotiations with suppliers, calls with delivery companies or budget allocation; tasks that only you can take care of.

We all have limited resources. I’m thinking mostly about time and money here. You need to understand that when you are saying yes to one thing, you are, at the same time, saying no to something else.

So, when you decide to work on your Pinterest Campaign today, you won’t be able to focus on SEO, ads or shipment tasks. The same thing can be said about your company’s money. When you determine your ad budget campaign, it might not leave you any room for an SEO consultant, for instance.

But even so, there are a few things that you should never compromise when it comes to an Online Store:

  • The quality of your products
  • Your clients’ experiences (from site navigation to delivery and support)
  • Your brand’s identity
  • Your health

Understand that achieving real results and ultimately success will take up a lot of work. But never give in when someone is cutting into any of these four essential aspects.

How the Path to Success Really Looks Like

The short answer is this:

But there is an even more critical part to tackle here. The question that generated this article in the first place:

How Does Success Look Like for an Online Store?

We need to understand our destination to be certain we’ve reached it. This mentality will also help guide you when you lose your way.

The problem is that success is a very loose term. I think most Shopify store owners will define their success based on:

  • revenue
  • number of clients
  • profit margin
  • order value
  • number of orders
  • repeat clients
  • or a combination of these.

This already seems like a long list when you want to boil it down to one simple answer. But more variables can arise.

Do you consider your revenue per month, quarter or year? The profit margin is better when you can order multiple products at a lower price. But at the same time, you get your money stuck until they all sell.

These are also details that depend on your particular online store. For example, if you sell Holiday merchandise, you should probably track your revenue yearly (and monthly only for the holiday season). That one sale you had in April is of no particular interest when looking at the big picture.

However, I feel two universal elements define achieving success:

1. A constant flow of orders

2. A minimum revenue

In a nutshell, this is how Success looks like for an Online store.

Orders are flowing in every month. That means you never have long periods with no purchases. Also, the total amount of these purchases per month covers all expenses and taxes and leaves you the minimum profit you desire.

Here’s an example:

Let’s say you sell one product. Your product acquisition price is $5. You pay transport, storage, the Shopify package, ads, fees and everything else you spend to actually sell this product. Let’s say that all these expenses add up to $2 per unit.

You sell the product for $12. That leaves you with $5 profit per unit.

Now, let’s say you sell on average 25 products per day. That means 750 units per month, and a total revenue of $9.000. That leaves you with $3.750 in profit.

In this example, you can say you are successful when you have 3 months in which you sold at least 750 units each month to have at least $3.750 profit/month.

You can call this successful because you gain a constant income out of it. You need to define your own minimum number of units sold and minimum profit that would qualify your online store as a success.

Of course, you can grow from there. Sell more units, get a better profit.

But as long as you consistently manage to make at least this amount each month, you are on the profit side.

How to Get There?

Now we know the destination of our journey. But the path there is still a mystery. There isn’t one formula that fits all stores. You’ll have to experiment and find the best option for your Online Store.

But there are a few practices that have been proven to work time and time again:

1. Have Great Product Photos

We all know that image sells. Making the products appealing is part of why product photos are essential, but there is another reason.

When shopping online, you never really interact with the product. You don’t get to touch it; you aren’t trying it on. The return process is something neither you nor the client enjoys.

That’s why the images need to have excellent quality. You can even consider an image zoom option for your Shopify Store.

Here’s what Paul Cunningham from Leather Head Sports has to say on this topic:

“There are a lot of elements that contribute to a successful online store. When I set about designing the Leather Head Sports Shopify website, I started with great photography. Big, high quality pictures are at the heart of our web-site.

Customers want to see what they’re buying. If you have visually compelling products, it is critical that you showcase them with great photography.”

* Quote source

2. Update Your SEO

Making sure your site is set up correctly when it comes to SEO is crucial. Especially the content on all your collections and product pages will result in higher rankings on Google. That will translate into more traffic that you don’t have to pay for.

Luckily, you don’t have to learn everything about how to implement your SEO from scratch. 

The Squirrly app can help you:

  • Research keywords people are searching for online,
  • Write optimized product descriptions,
  • Update collection pages and optimize them for a secondary keyword.

We’re not the only ones who think SEO is a must for all Shopify Stores. Here’s what Viviane Goodwin from Goodwin & Goodwin had to say:

“Keep evolving your ecommerce store, don’t just stop after your new site has gone live.

We are constantly developing our store and typically spend 1-2 days a week improving the SEO, updating the homepage, refreshing the copy and images and always looking at new ways our customers can find our products quicker and faster through navigation.”

* Quote source

3. Test and Measure All Your Efforts

There’s no clear way of knowing if some strategy will work for your site unless you try it. At the same time, you need to measure its results to decide if it’s useful or not. Having a precise metric system that measures those aspects you are actively trying to influence will tell you if your tactics bring in results.

online store

When focusing on the whole journey, have metrics for each stage. In the case of an email marketing strategy that drives traffic to a product page, you have:

  • total sent emails,
  • open rate,
  • click rate,
  • time-on-page
  • and conversions.

This is how Jordan Schau and his team from Pure Cycles managed to build a top-performing site. Here’s what he said:

“Test EverythingI come from a background where I want to test and measure everything. If you can measure your results, the decision process becomes much easier.

Testing everything from page layout, navigation, marketing efforts (by channel, messaging, imagery, landing page, etc.) allowed us to optimize our site and content to help boost sales!”

* Quote source

To Tie It All Together

Now you have a realistic way of looking at what success is, and how you can achieve it with your online store. Never forget that e-commerce will take time and work to reach the level you’re hoping for.

If you ever get discouraged or encounter problems that seem unsolvable, share your thoughts down in the comment section. We want to encourage our community members to help each other. We will also provide our insight on how you can approach a problem.

Your main takeaways from this piece are:

  • Success is not an overnight miracle that only the wise can achieve. It’s something anybody who puts in the work can enjoy.
  • There will always be new issues and problems, but there will also be solutions for all of them as well.
  • Don’t wait until you’ve read every piece of information out there. Start taking steps in the right direction based on what you learn from your own mistakes.
  • Draw inspiration from the people who managed to achieve success and learn from their experience.

Hope your online store sales are growing! I’ll be waiting for you in the comment section.

I am anEditor
Editor at ChiefContent.com and eCommerce content expert.

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