Your Ecommerce Business Is Dead Unless You Apply This Long Term Strategy

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Recently, I attended 2 back to back online selling conferences and spoke with hundreds of ecommerce entrepreneurs about their main strategies for growth in the coming year.

And the one key takeaway from all of my conversations was this…

If you aren’t adding value to your ecommerce business, then you probably aren’t going to be around in the next few years.

I’ve alluded to this already in my post on The Dangers Of Selling On Amazon And Horror Stories From Real Amazon Sellers and here’s what I’m seeing.

Your Ecommerce Business Is Doomed Unless You Take This Long Term Approach

Right now Amazon is getting flooded with a bunch of me too products.

People are simply going on Alibaba, finding a generic product, slapping their brand on it without any improvements and listing them online. And truth be told, right now this strategy is working. But it won’t last forever.

When I spoke with hundreds of different Amazon sellers a few weeks ago, EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM has had at least one of their listings hijacked and lost money as a result.

There is no loyalty on Amazon! And unless your products have a reputation or a strong brand, you will eventually get undercut in price and die a losing battle of price erosion.

So the million dollar question becomes how do you combat these trends even if you have your own branded website?

How do you fight the copycats? Here’s what you need to do.

You Need To Become A Media Company And Not Just A Shop

Steve On Stage

If you look at all of my businesses today, I run a pretty random assortment of sites. What does selling hankies have to do with MyWifeQuitHerJob.com? What do linens have to do with running a podcast or a course?

While on the surface they seem like totally disparate entities with completely different business models, they all have one thing in common.

I treat all of my businesses as their own little miniature media companies.

Think about that for a moment…

A media company is a business that puts out content to gather a crowd of followers first in order to sell their goods instead of the other way around.

Why is being a media company important?

It’s because if you can gather an audience of loyal followers for your brand, it’s much harder to hijack your goods with a generic product.

It’s much harder to undercut you on price and completely erode your sales.

Why I Model All Of My Businesses After Disney

Disneyland

Disney is probably the most successful media company I know that kills it using this business model.

The other day I took my son toy shopping and when we came to the toy car aisle, I casually tried to steer him towards the cheap Matchbox cars which were on sale at an amazingly low price of 10 cars for 5 dollars.

“Look son! I will buy you either 10 super awesome Matchbox cars or 1 poorly made and cheap looking Lightning McQueen car”

And when my son started gravitating towards Lightning McQueen, I yelled out

“Wait!!! You can have 10 cars instead of 1!!! Wouldn’t you rather have 10 cars?!?!”

To which he replied…

“Daddy, I can’t play along with the Cars movie unless I have a real Lightning McQueen!”

How could I argue with that logic? So I ended up paying almost 10 bucks for a SINGLE car instead of buying 20 better made die cast metal Matchbox cars!

Disney owns my entire family and I simply can not get by purchasing a cheaper, knockoff product for my kids!

Emulating Disney For My Online Store

Bumblebee Linens Blog

Now we all can’t be as far reaching as Disney but we can try to emulate them. Take a moment right now and look at your online store.

  • Is your store just a listing of products or are you providing additional value?
  • Is there any reason for someone to shop here as opposed to a competitor?
  • Is there a sense of brand on any of your products?
  • Are you trying to make a connection with your customer?

If the answer is “no” to all these questions, then your business probably won’t last the test of time.

In order to succeed in the long run, you have to gather a following.

That’s why my wife continues to put out great content on our online store blog.

That’s why we continue to put out fun arts and crafts projects using our products.

That’s why we gather email addresses and contact our customers on a regular basis.

In the long run, we are trying to establish subliminal mind share with our customers.

They may not be ready to buy at this very second. But when they do, I want them to shop at our online store.

Doing My Best Disney Impression For MyWifeQuitHerJob.com

MyWifeQuitHerJob Podcast

If you take a look at my blog and my podcast, I’ve put out tons of free content on a consistent schedule for the past 6 years!

Every week, I write a blog post that is directly relevant to starting an ecommerce business. I also put out a free podcast episode where I interview other successful entrepreneurs to extract out their exact strategies for success.

Here’s what great about content.

When you give away something valuable on a regular basis, you can’t help but gather a following. And once you have that following, you can easily sell them whatever you have to offer.

For example when I launched my first webinar not long ago, do you think that I would have been able to make $60,000 in 1.5 hours if I didn’t have a following?

Let’s say I wanted to sell something random like a home repair course.

Even though I know absolutely nothing about home repair, a die hard MyWifeQuitHerJob.com fan might be inclined to take a chance on me because we’ve already established a connection through my content.

When you own the mindshare of your people, they will be more likely to buy from you.

When you own the mindshare of your people, your peeps will be more forgiving of your shortcomings.

Here’s another great example.

Over the years, we’ve attracted many loyal customers for our online wedding linens store who buy from us on a regular basis. One time we accidentally sold a bad quality product to one of our repeats.

But instead of getting angry about it and making a huge fuss, this customer ended up contacting us and politely gave us constructive feedback on how to improve the product.

And get this. They refused to take a refund because we’d been so good to them in the past.

Establish a connection with your customers!

How To Become A Media Company

The world of ecommerce is evolving at a very rapid pace. And if you simply have a website with a random listing of products, you aren’t going to succeed in the long run.

Here’s what you need to be doing.

  • You need to be building a loyal audience.
  • You need to be “dating” your customers before going in for the sale.
  • You need to get into the mind of your customer so they are loyal to your brand.

So how do you do that?

Sometimes all it takes is a very unique and innovative product that naturally spreads via word of mouth.

But more likely than not, you will have to put in some legwork in the form of producing great content. Get out there and blog, podcast, write emails, make videos, post on Instagram, pin on Pinterest….whatever.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter which medium you choose as long as you do it well.

But whatever you do, don’t just sit there and wait for customers to come to your listing of products.

Don’t just sit there and be satisfied pocketing your short term Amazon money.

Because at some point, someone is going to hijack you and undercut you in price unless you have your own customer base.

photo credit: Magic Kingdom

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13 thoughts on “Your Ecommerce Business Is Dead Unless You Apply This Long Term Strategy”

  1. Lars says:

    THIS SOUNDS TOO HARD.

    I SUGGEST YOU MAKE A NEW WEB SITE — MY WIFE WENT BACK TO WORK.

    THAT’S WHAT I PLAN TO DO.

    AT LEAST WHEN I GO TO WORK FOR THE MAN, I CAN SCREW AROUND ALL DAY AND STILL GET A PAYCHECK.

    LET SOMEONE ELSE BE WALT DISNEY, BECAUSE IT AIN’T GOING TO BE ME.

    ADDING “VALUE” IS FOR SUCKERS.

    1. I have a great idea for you Lars. Why don’t you open a bed and breakfast? It’s the perfect business to run:P

  2. Shem Watson says:

    Hilarious

  3. Larry Marcey says:

    I have had to many employees just like Lars, that is why we switched to the internet to reduce our employee needs. I must admit it has been wonderful not having to continue to deal with the nonsense.

    Larry

    1. Hey Larry,

      Lars is actually a good friend of mine. He left that comment to make fun of me:)

  4. Sharon says:

    Hi Steve. I saw your webinar and read this article, and now I’m starting to believe that this media concept needs to be added to the product idea filtering process. Why? Because according to what you’re teaching here, it’s not going to be enough to find a profitable product according to strictly the numbers – one has to choose a profitable product that can be readily transformed into education content (e.g. blog posts, videos, etc.) For example, a type of office product like garbage cans or mops might look great according to the numbers and sell well on Amazon, but chances are that such office products are boring and will pose a hard time coming up with content unlike wedding supplies which have a defined audience with lots of information needs. That said, maybe I assumed incorrectly and this filtering step is described in your paid course but not in the free webinar. Your thoughts?

    1. Hi Sharon,
      There are always content opportunities no matter what you sell if you sit down and think about it. Let’s take your 2 examples. I actually have a friend who makes 7 figures selling mops:) You can easily start a spring cleaning blog or put out lifestyle content. Or you can put out “infomercial” like videos.

      The most important part is having a strong value proposition for your products. If you are just selling regular garbage cans or regular mops, you’re just going to blend in. But if you have a good value proposition, then everything will fall into place with your content.

  5. I recently started a food blog and plan to eventually sell kitchen type products from my blog. This is exactly my strategy. Recipe content is evergreen and lots of people love recipes. I am also building relationships with other food bloggers who can help promote my products when the time comes.

    1. Awesome Sandra. Going to check it out now!

  6. James says:

    I see how creating media content for the long term makes sense in building a lasting online business, but are there any ways to go about doing it without having to show my face and be “all out there” in the online world? I do see many online e-commerce “gurus” that show their face and market themselves to sell their digital information content (such as how to start a dropship website/online store) or online marketing, but for me I rather not put my self out there like that such as creating video blogs, podcasts, live webinars, etc. The main objective for me of doing e-commerce is for the anonymity and freedom. If the only way to be profitable and have a long-lasting online business is to put yourself out there in the online/virtual world (where you may or may not have less privacy–people googling your name, talking about you on forums/blogs, etc…stuff I personally rather not be linked to) then having an online store is probably not the ideal path for me.

    1. Hey James,
      Our face is not attached to our ecommerce store at all. And there’s no reason that you have you use your own face either:) You can hire people to product the content for you.

  7. Nice post Steve!

    Adding value to your (potential) customers lives before you even make a sale is hard. But I feel that because it is hard and requires patience, the amount of people that are willing to do this will also be a lot lower.

    Which means more opportunity for the ones that are willing to get their media company off the ground :)

  8. Liz says:

    Thanks for giving clarity to what I have in mind,you have great insights here as always

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