What Makes a Successful Ecommerce Store?

A lot of questions flood my mind as I watch the rampant growth and success of technology enabling electronic commerce (eCommerce to most of us) to be successful.  

The explosion of mobile and tablet device adoption amongst consumers has caused major shifts in the industry. Personalization, design, and communication strategies that eCommerce giants like Amazon.com use to create profitable user experiences based on previous purchase history are now being implemented by every online store with reasonably priced software. 

Google Glasses may receive wide consumer adoption changing the way merchants should think about their eCommerce strategies. Previously unknown social media sites can become massive successes in months; attracting many consumers while forcing smart eCommerce marketers to implement new strategies to stay successful (think Pinterest and Vine).  

There is a lot happening in the world of technology that will change the future of eCommerce, and you better bet that there is a whole lot more to come.

With all of this change, how can an online wholesaler possibly put together a coherent strategy to plan for the future growth of their online store?

The Deep Roots of Successful eCommerce Stores

What makes a successful eCommerce website successful? What are the qualities in an eCommerce website that generate higher site traffic, conversion rates, social media fans and notoriety than other websites? Are there similarities that successful stores possess to help them keep up with the changes and stay relevant in a constantly changing environment?  

The answer I’ve found is in roots. Deep roots.

You see, websites are like trees. Some trees are small, some skinny, some tall, some wide, some fruit-bearing, and some trees are so massive you can drive a car through them. Websites are the same. Some websites are small blogs, some B2B company pages, some eCommerce stores, some social media sites, and some sites are so massive that nearly all internet users use them.  

The similarity that exists in successful trees is the same that exists in successful websites — deep root systems. Even the smallest tree will not stand without the roots system to support it. All trees — even giant sequoia trees — start as a seedling that grows roots downwards before growing the visible tree upwards. All websites start here too — like a seed planted into the internet.

A seedling planted in the soil will begin its growth with germination, growing its roots into the ground. These roots will provide the tree with nutrients and stability to grow upwards. The deeper and more well-nourished roots system a tree has, the healthier and larger the tree becomes.   

Think of websites in the same manner.  

When you purchase a domain name, you are reserving a space on the internet to plant your tree. By building and publishing a homepage to the domain you are essentially planting a seedling in the ground of the internet. If the domain does not grow any site pages (roots) will never grow and will simply stay a seed in the ground of the internet until it does.

It is your job as a website owner or marketer to grow and maintain the root system of your website for it to grow and become successful. And like trees, websites have complex roots systems.  

Remember, even giant websites – like giant trees – started with a single root that expanded.

Establishing the Roots

For a website to be successful, a healthy roots system must be built, grown, and maintained. The roots will be your website pages and online assets. The more pages and assets, the stronger and more powerful the website becomes.  

Successful ecommerce store

(Website structure visualization is remarkably similar to a roots system)

The above image is a visualization of the website structure for a popular eCommerce website that creates and shares great content on a consistent basis: Moosejaw.com

Moosejaw has an extensive website structure that supports its strong internet presence. In addition to its product catalog, Moosejaw creates many types of website pages that generate strong roots like product videos, unique descriptions, reward pages, fun blogs, user-generated content, and much more. These website properties help to give 

Moosejaw the strong website root structure they need to become the leading competitor they are in their field of eCommerce. Moosejaw has created a strong base to grow its site naturally and organically – giving them the complex page root structure visualized above.

But it’s not enough for website managers to just go create lots of pages on their website for a complex root system. This will not work for creating strong roots. For a root to grow strong, it must display interesting and remarkable content that buyer personas are attracted to. For example, Moosejaw appeals to the 18-35 year old demographic that thrives on an outdoor adventure. These demographics for Moosejaw become buyer personas when Moosejaw recognizes that they’re also hip on the internet, well educated, and even a bit snarky. Recognizing this, Moosejaw creates all of its website properties to this buyer persona group – enabling the greatest probability of the properties establishing strong roots.

Using Inbound Marketing to Create Strong Roots

The content of the website pages you publish will have a large impact on the types of roots that you create. Like tree roots, some pages will grow and grow while creating deeper roots and sustainability for the website and some will stay relatively small. Every page, like every root, is important to the growth of websites and trees.

The better the content of a website page, the more likely that page is to extend and grow – creating deeper roots for the website.  

Inbound Marketing and the process of creating attractive content aligned with your buyer personas is the way to create strong root systems. Think of your homepage as the taproot (the primary root of the tree) that all other roots grow from. Your homepage should have many healthy roots stemming from it – roots that are created through great content hosted on your website. The greater the content, the larger the root grows out.  

Popular website pages become highly trafficked and grow in size as their roots (website pages) get shared in social media and picked up in search engines. The more popular the page in social and search, the more traffic it gains. Every time that page is shared on social media or found in search engines, that root grows a little and extends deeper into the ground.  

Your goal should be to create a diverse and well-connected root system like the tree above. The greater your root system, the greater your store will become.

Creating an Inbound Environment to Drive Growth

The creation of a giant root system does not happen overnight. Every root system starts with just one small seed and grows over extended periods. Creating website roots for a successful eCommerce store will not happen overnight either. However, strong roots can be sown by any store on the internet through the development of an inbound marketing environment.  

Creating a plan to nourish and grow website roots through the building and sharing great content built for specific buyer personas is the first step to success. Once a plan is established, the execution of the plan becomes the key to the success of the root-growing strategy. Ecommerce websites will have to create many roots that will, over time, take hold in the soil of the internet.    

However, as we all know, roots will grow differently depending on the nourishment of the soil it is planted in. The right amounts of nutrients, sunlight, and water will enable trees to grow faster, stronger, and last longer.

Website pages are similar in that they will grow stronger depending on the environment that they are in. A website that has a rich social media and community presence, will grow faster than a site with poor social media presence and community. A website with a high traffic rank will be found in search engines more often and will likely grow their roots faster.  

Create an inbound environment to foster rich internet soil for your eCommerce store to thrive in.

The Takeaway

How do you expect your eCommerce store to be a cash-producing tree without strong roots? 

You can’t!

Grow your website one root at a time with inbound marketing strategies designed to bring your website optimal traffic and customers. Create nourishing environments by getting active on social media and sharing great content. Engage with relevant users and get in on the discussions happening with your consumers.

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