Ecommerce: Best Practices & Basic Concepts

Ecommerce is the buying and selling of goods and/or services online, simply put it’s electronic commerce. The strategy surrounding ecommerce is quite a big (and broad) topic. In order to understand ecommerce strategy, we need to first know the fundamentals and what makes for a good ecommerce website. This resource will cover the best practices and basic concepts of ecommerce user experience. We’ll dive deeper into conversion funnels and their purpose, as well as what features should be on key ecommerce pages. Once we comprehend the basics, we can move into more advanced concepts.

Listen to the podcast episode here: Ecommerce Strategy: Best Practices & Basic Concepts and download the attachment below.

Skills Development During a Pandemic

Hey everyone – things are a bit uneasy right now. Maybe you or someone you know has been affected by COVID-19 (directly or indirectly). Many Americans are out of work due to businesses and companies shutting down. And there are millions of people out there that are dealing with the fear of uncertainty about what will happen tomorrow or the next day.

In the midst of this ambiguous future, I wanted to share some resources for my upcoming podcast episode about skilling up during a pandemic.

First, now is a great time to ramp up, skill up, or learn something new in the digital space. Depending on what you’re passionate about, you can find many available resources and courses online — many of which are free and I’ll list here.

Second, if you find yourself out of work due to COVID-19, then make sure to check with your state about offering unemployment benefits even if you’re a gig worker or a freelancer or self-employed. Many states are offering pandemic relief insurance and I found a good website at Career One Stop here: – which will drill down to individual state unemployment insurance.

Free Skills Development

While we are all social distancing and locked (sort of) in our homes away from other people, it’s really a good time to start learning more stuff. They say that learning a new skill slows cognitive aging, so go learn something!

Khan Academy: – we’ll start with Khan – this is a great site that is geared toward math, science, and history. It also has free classes on economics and finances (very important during a crisis), and computer science. This site is ideal for general studies and then some.

Coursera: – Coursera has a wide variety of free courses with topics that include arts & humanities, business, data science, information technology, personal development and more. If you’re interested in things like machine learning, human psychology, social media marketing, and more – check out Coursera.

Udemy: – Udemy is another well-known site that offers plenty of learning classes including how to earn money blogging, cloud computing, growth hacking, leadership, copywriting, and other stuff like nutrition, fitness, etc.

If you’re unsure of where to start with your skills development training, I’d recommend checking out the 3 aforementioned websites and look at the free available classes. See what peaks your interest and go from there.

Skilling up in Marketing Tools & SEO

If you are looking to get better at leveraging marketing tools, then I’d suggest trying out these different courses:

If you are looking to get better in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) then check out these following sites that have opened up much of their training right now:

Career Development

If you’re in the tech field and find yourself out of work due to the Coronavirus or just want to explore opportunities in the digital space, there are a few different sites that I use:

There are lots of resources out there that include career advice, professional development, career coaching, networking strategy and more. If you are out of work, then try to use this time wisely. For those of you who are curious about what tech trends are shaping the business world (and may be worth developing skills in to potentially get a job doing), then head over to Future Today Institute and download their 2020 Tech Trends Report.

How to work through skills development?

After you have all your resources and things you want to learn more about, how do you accomplish them? Well, that’s a really good question and one I’m not sure I’ve mastered yet. I have definitely done my share of skipping around from tutorial to class to course to article. 

I try to employ a goal setting technique to developing skills or skills learning. I learned this from Tony Robbins when I listened to his goal setting strategies. They were on cassette tapes in the early 2000’s. Basically, you’re supposed to write down all the goals you want to accomplish. So, in this instance you would write down all the skills you want to ramp up on. For example – maybe you want to become a Google Sheet expert, or learn the basics of content marketing, or maybe you want to learn more about on-page SEO. Write all these things down. I use Trello (you guys know it’s my favorite organizational tool), but you could do this in a Word Doc, Evernote, or even on a piece of paper. 

Then you can start numbering which ones are most important to you and bang them out in that order, that’s probably the simplest way. Or you can write out the details of why learning that particular skill is so important. And then from there you can categorize them into buckets and tell a story with the new learning material. The path that makes for the best story for you in terms of the opportunity or job you may be seeking is the one you’ll want to take. But whatever that story is – it needs to fit you, and the main goal of the overall knowledge gain. Meaning that you are at point A now (which is your current skillset), you want to get to point B (your ideal skillset) – which path will best lead you there? And that’s something that only you can determine. 

Wrapping up with skills development

If you are trying to get a certain role, look up job descriptions from top companies or companies that you are interested in working for. Read up on the skills that job description requires, then work backward from that description and incorporate your learning material.

It’s always good to work on your professional (and personal) development during uncertain times (well…all times, really). But it’s especially important now because we don’t really know how things will land when the dust settles. There’s an old saying “live as if you were to die tomorrow, but learn as if you were to live forever.” I don’t practice the first part of that saying, but I’ve always believed in continual learning. Stay safe, stay healthy, and learn something new!

The Goals Pyramid

The Goals Pyramid creates a structure for marketing a company’s value to its users. Most businesses have primary goals of revenue, value, and awareness. Almost any company you work with will want to make more moeny, create more value for their customers or users, and gain more awareness for their brand.

To help make this as simple as possible, we’ll employ a pyramid (1, 2, 3) technique to gain more awareness around the value we provide to bring in more revenue either for our own company or our clients. The included PDF is intended for strategists working directly with companies and/or business owners looking to amplify their value and brand.

Better Strategic Planning in a Crisis

Pondering the Theory of Strategy Entanglement amidst the novel COVID-19 uproar and the potential of a global economic failure directly below our feet, it’s time to redefine strategic planning for business. What can a business do without clients buying their services or products? What about paying clients that can’t get full support because company workforces have been shaved in half due to cost-cutting?

Virus strain

The general principle of entangled strategies is that there are no strategies that operate independently of themselves. Simply put, nothing can perform well in a silo. But that can change quickly when markets, companies, and consumers start to silo off out of fear, government orders, or social distancing.

Suddenly, companies are no longer bringing in revenue, which has a drastically larger impact than just on employees and customers. It can mean that commerce slows to a halt, maybe quicker than expected, and that ripple effect can and will cripple markets.

Taking Stock in Uncertain Times

It might be too late to mention this, but the best plan for dealing with a crisis is to have that plan already in place well before the crisis hits. For many, this might not be possible, so the first thing you’ll need to consider is taking an inventory of your current situation.

If your company has a cash reserve or funds put aside for rainy days, then you’ll be able to weather this storm much better than others. If your company doesn’t have that, then it’s time to get granular and make some hard decisions.

  1. What is the current financial position? If we were to receive no more revenue from today onward, how long could we sustain?
  2. What expenses do we need and what can we cut? Salaries, technology, tools, equipment, marketing, advertising, etc. – all of this could be on the chopping block depending on how dire the financial position is.
  3. How many customers are still paying us; how many have halted their invoices?
  4. Where can we generate more revenue? Or where can we add more value to revenue generating customers?

As a business owner or leader, you’ll need to reassure your troops. That needs to be backed by real numbers, so take a look at the above questions and get them answered. An honest conversation with your employees about the company’s situation (or plight) may be the only way to get everyone pushing in the same direction.

Surviving Lockdowns

The governor of New York called for a state-wide shutdown of non-essential businesses on Friday. If you don’t run a grocery store or pharmacy, then your business may be in for hardship the likes of which we’ve never seen.

As everyone looks to make the most of their situation and survive, here are some suggestions if your business doesn’t have the reserves it needs to make it through this crisis:

  • You’ll need to triage your finances right away, just like if you lost your job. What are your fixed expenses, non-fixed expenses, what can you do without, what can you not do without?
  • You’ll need to figure out if there’s a way to run the business remotely. Can you send employees home with a laptop and needed software? Agencies, digital product companies, and sales organizations would be the most likely candidates for this.
  • Can you sell your products solely online for the time-being? If you don’t have an online presence (then you’re seriously behind the time), but now would be a great time to start your e-commerce storefront.
  • Are there complimentary services that you can use to keep your “non-essential” business operational? Like delivery services for restaurants.
  • Can your company get assistance from the government or state-funded programs? You’ll have to do some digging on what your state is offering.

If remote work is not an option for your business or employees, then you’ll have to consider temporary lay-offs or more flexibility until the world gets through this pandemic.

Communication with Existing Customers / Clients

If your business is still able to operate, then one of your core strategies should be good communication with your existing clients or customers. Obviously, those customers are facing uncertainty as well, so try to put that uncertainty in front of both parties—the business and the customer—not between the two.

Transparency is key while communicating your situation. We are all human and clients will most likely empathize with your position because they’re going through it too. Give them information on what your business is facing right now in terms of challenges and give them insight into the actions you’re taking to mitigate risk.

These really are unprecedented times, and they call for unprecedented measures:

  • Chat with your longest and most valued clients first
  • Be honest about how many employees you’ve had to let go
  • Let them know if you’ll still be able to perform the same level of service for them
  • Let them know if production will suffer
  • Reassure them that you are doing everything you can to minimize the risk to your business and their business

Strategy in times of crisis

Since the coronavirus doesn’t seem to be slowing down (except for a few countries), you’ll need to start thinking long-term. Depending on what you uncover during your situation inventory (i.e. financial triage, must-haves), you should be looking about six months to a year out before things get back to normal. But let’s start short-term as there are many things that could change (for the worse) in the weeks to come.

Create a short-term internal plan that maps out the following things:

  1. Steps being taken to minimize the spread of coronavirus (this would be good to share with your employees and customers)
  2. Financial forecasting in one to three months time
  3. Opportunities to serve clients/customers through digital mediums including mobile
  4. Worst-case scenario – exit strategy (it may come to this)

If you can make it through the next 3 months and you’re still operational, then focus on six to twelve months.

The sad news is that some businesses will survive and others will not, which may just be out of your control. Don’t put your health at risk just to keep your business afloat. Times will change, and times will get better. There are plenty of resources out their for small businesses right now – just check out your local chamber of commerce. Or the US Chamber.  If you’re interested in starting an online business, check out the Ecommerce Business Blueprint on Shopify.

For a final note—let your human side show—we will all need to hunker down, do our best, show compassion, and keep ourselves, our loved ones, and our communities safe during these next few months.

Client Acclimation Framework

Ramping up on Client Accounts Series:

Part One | Part Two | Part Three

Gathering more information about your client’s business, industry, and markets can be tough. This is the Client Acclimation Framework which should help you process client accounts within a 2 day working period. At the bottom of this post there are 2 resources: 1. Client Acclimation Framework Infographic, and 2. Client Collaboration Questionnaire Google Doc

Client Collaboration Questionnaire Google Doc