All across the web, you’ll find eCommerce lessons to learn from.  Many, especially those from the big dogs, can help online business owners!

Oh, online retailing… it definitely has its ups and downs!  There are many eCommerce lessons floating around the web that can help (or reassure) new and experienced eMerchants, before they make the same errors or waste precious time and money. 

In truth, eCommerce business is every bit as unpredictable and risky as it is exciting and fulfilling. Ask online store owners what has kept them going, despite the challenges of the business, and they’d probably answer that they’ve been inspired by the successful eCommerce brands that have come before them, those that flourished and kept on going, despite the odds.  

Here are some eCommerce lessons from the big boys of eSelling, Amazon and eBay.


Why Is Amazon so Successful?

Many years ago, in the 1990s when the Internet was still relatively young, Amazon took an early lead among several hundred eCommerce startups. Fast forward to today, and Amazon has not relinquished that lead. Why? Here are some of the reasons.

  1. Amazon Has Put a Premium on Customer Service

amazon ecommerce lessonsThere are many reasons why Amazon succeeded when so many others failed, but perhaps here is the most important reason: Amazon will go out of its way to make its customers happy. The eCommerce giant is known for its great customer service and consistently stays on top of customer satisfaction lists. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, believes that a company should not focus on its competitors and try to outmaneuver them, but should pour all its efforts into making sure that customers are satisfied. In fact, Bezos feels that if you constantly make customers happy, the hard work will pay off in the end, in the form of word-of-mouth. And in the online world, online store owners should not just pay attention to positive word-of-mouth but on the negative as well. Consider this: if a customer has a negative experience after buying in a brick-and-mortar store, that unhappy client might tell 10 customers, but an unhappy online shopper’s negative comment can easily reach a minimum of 10,000 people.

2. Amazon Was Not Afraid to Diversify

Amazon started out as an online bookstore; they could have just stuck to books and played it safe, but now they sell anything from CDs to grocery items. The company now sells products in categories such as health and beauty, clothing, electronics, and even automotive parts and accessories. Because Amazon was not afraid to diversify, they were able to offer something for everyone. They are no longer just an online bookstore or even an eCommerce giant; they are now the largest online retailer in the world.

  1. Amazon Focused on Growth Instead of Profit

Amazon is so focused on long-term growth that every dollar they make eventually makes its way into the company. While some criticize this strategy by Amazon, pointing out that while the company has grown from nothing to more than one billion dollars a year, its net income has stayed very close to zero. But regardless, there’s a reason why Jeff Bezos is now the third-richest person in the United States. You can’t really argue with success, can you?


Why Is eBay So Successful?

Founded in 1995, eBay is one of the first eCommerce businesses still around today. In 2015, it posted revenues of 8.59 billion US dollars. Not bad for one of the few companies that survived the dreaded Dotcom Bubble in 2001. How has eBay been able to sustain its success all these years? Here are some eCommerce lessons from their history. 

  1. eBay Has Stuck with Being an eCommerce Company Through and Through

There’s this saying that in order to be successful in any endeavor, you need to stick to what you are good at. And eBay has unabashedly stayed the course at trying to be the best eCommerce company it could be. Some analysts even believe that it has survived the Dotcom bubble precisely because it has stayed true to its roots: an eCommerce company that gives consumers easy access to physical products, a strategy that has effectively distanced eBay from the “generic” Dotcom companies that are no longer around today.

2.eBay Made Online Shopping Exciting

ebay ecommerce lessonsA lot of eCommerce companies have made shopping easier for consumers, but with eBay, aside from making buying online easy, it has also made it more exciting! With eBay’s unique business model where every item auctioned has a strict time limit, it has appealed to maverick buyers who are excited to get a good bargain but also enjoy the adrenaline rush of buying from an auction. For some buyers, the ratio of risk to reward forms a great part of the thrill and satisfaction of buying from eBay. In an eBay auction, as the minutes tick away, the bidding pace heats up, making the buying process even more exciting—akin to a fast-paced casino setting. Yes, you can say that buying from auctions is a certain form of gambling: you are competing against other bidders. Did you paid too much or too little? Did you bid too soon or too late? And if you finished an auction with the best bid, it’s not far-fetched to feel like a winner. But what if you lose a bid? You come back for more.

  1. eBay Has Carved a Niche as the Biggest Online Bazaar

eBay has made itself the ultimate bargain-hunter’s paradise and has worked over the years to strengthen its claim to this title. This business model has not only created a large group of loyal eBay users but has also made what analysts call “eBay addicts.” eBay knows how addictive online shopping is, but it has gone even further in that it created a need in shoppers to bid compulsively. Ask anyone who’s ever enjoyed a successful bid on eBay—this unique approach to eCommerce has made buying from auctions irresistible, and the company is reaping the rewards.


Looking to succeed in your own online store? Take inspiration from these eCommerce lessons and you might just find that spark of genius and be able to channel their success into your online store’s own success.

Do you have other favorite examples of eCommerce lessons?  We’d love to hear them in the comment section below!