Selling More Online: A Conversation All About E-commerce

John Lawson and Jackson Cunningham spoke at the Survive and Thrive Summit and talked all about starting e-commerce. Hosted and produced by Ramon Ray of Smart Hustle Media, the first two Summits were successfully held in 2020. The next one will be in the spring of 2021. Be the first to know when that registration opens up as well as other online events by signing up for our newsletter.

E-commerce is not a new topic, but it's constantly changing. This can be confusing and frustrating for online businesses. As more consumers turn to online to shop, you need to have your e-commerce skills ready. Ramon spoke with two e-commerce experts, so keep reading to get all their tips and tricks.

Our E-commerce Speakers

Jackson has been in the e-commerce world for over 10 years, but he didn’t start out in that field. He was actually working in real estate. Jackson noticed he was better at sourcing and finding leads online than doing the actual real estate work. So he made a shift and started selling a product and focused on marketing.

He now has three companies in different industries but they are all e-commerce focused. One of Jackson’s companies is JJ Suspenders, and it focuses on designing fresh, high-quality suspenders within a not-so-innovative industry.

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John got into e-commerce a little differently — he was going bankrupt about 20 yrs ago and started selling stuff on eBay to make some money. His eBay business took off and he voluntarily left his job in 2004 and never looked back. He started teaching e-commerce and helping others with it in 2009 and has been a staple in the industry. You can learn more about John and all his publications here.

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Starting E-commerce: What To Do

Both John and Jackson shared some tips for anyone who is just getting started in the world of e-commerce. Below are their thoughts on how to best jump into the industry:

  • Take action: Many people will spend time thinking about it and reading about it and trying to learn about it (and this is true of any industry you’re breaking into). But it’s impossible to ever be fully prepared because things are always changing. The idea is to get started and set it up. You’ll learn how to solve problems as they happen, and those real-life scenarios will teach you a lot.
  • Find the audience before you find the product: This idea is one based on research. You need the audience if you want to sell something, so make sure to sell products that are in demand. Check out Amazon, read reviews, scan comments — this will give you a good idea of what people like and don't like. And now you can address those issues and make decisions based on research. This is a marketing strategy that really works.
  • Brainstorm: Think about different issues or problems you have, and how you can find ways to solve them. Chances are, other people have this problem too, and therefore whatever you’re selling has a market and a need. 
  • Keyword research: There are many keyword tools available (many are free) that will help you see how many people are actually searching for your terms and phrases. If something isn’t being searched online, you’ll have a hard time finding online buyers. This is key to being successful in e-commerce.

The World of Social

When we look at social, there are a few different channels:

  • We all know social media: This is where you speak to a broad audience.
  • But there is also social marketing: This is the marketing of a product.
  • And we can't forget social commerce:  This is the actual buying and selling of a product. 

The common denominator in all of those is ‘social’, but if you take the social piece away you get a better understanding of how to specifically use each channel. If you are selling products, your message, and how you interact with your audience will vary slightly since each tool is used differently.

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Get Comfortable with Change

Both Jackson and John recommend getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. The online world is always changing, which makes it impossible to know everything. Plus, situations will always arise that present new issues. This means you have to be willing to learn constantly and shift your mindset about previous knowledge.


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