E-Commerce 101: What skills do you need?

Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel

Twiggy, the water-skiing squirrel

The skills required to start an online retail business are the driving forces behind your businesses success. You might not need to be an expert in every areas, but these are the things that you will learn or strengthen while running your online business. All it takes is dedication and commitment!


Similar to any brick and mortar business, the art of selling is pivotal to succeed in your online business. Necessary traits in order to obtain a successful retail business are listed (but not limited to) below:

  • Merchandising – Market research, product manufacturing or sourcing, marketing and advertising.
  • Pricing – Profitable enough for your business at the same time attractive to your customers.
  • Fulfillment – Deliver goods effectively (in terms of shipping time and cost) to your customers.
  • Customer Service – Customers are always your first priority, make them return for more!


How do you bring visitors to your online store? How do you get found by Google or Facebook? How to convert visitors into customers? These skills are crucial in every Internet-based business:

  • Search Engine – Optimize your store for search engine, build links by participating in your community.
  • Social Media – Setup a Facebook page and Twitter account, and engage with your fans and followers.
  • Blog – Write useful content about your industry, this is one of the main channels to pull visitors from search engine.
  • Advertising – With a little budget, you can start to advertise via Google AdWords, Facebook advertising etc.
  • Offline Marketing – Use traditional marketing methods to complement your online efforts.


Due to the fact that customers can’t visit your shop or see your product physically, proper write-up is important to assist them in buying decision. There are basically two areas that require writing skills:

  • Within the Store – Professional write-up about your business, complete description of your products etc.
  • Promotional – Good copywriting skills on blog, social media and advertisement to attract audiences.


In any physical stores, elements such as good ambience, product display / shelving, attentive shop assistant are critical to maximize customer’s shopping experience. You need to do the same with your online store:

  • Graphic Design – Create attractive images to decorate your store, such as product showcase, promotions etc.
  • Web Design – Basic HTML and CSS to customize your online store content, appearance and layout.
  • Usability – Interrelated to the above, design your store to make it easy for your customer to navigate and place order.


Some of the technical skills are already mentioned above especially on graphic and web design. It could be advantageous for your online venture with these tricks up to your sleeve:

  • Shopping Cart – Open source or hosted shopping cart? It’s your choice to decide the best one for your business.
  • Domain / Hosting – If you choose open source, most likely you need to source hosting package for the shopping cart.
  • Payment Gateway – Understand how payment gateway works in general, fees involved and remittance rules.
  • Search Engine Optimization – Identify important keywords for your business and understand meta tags, headings etc.
  • Web Analytics – Analyze your site visitors, monitor campaign and goals conversion.


Of course, not all skills required are listed here but these are the fundamental ones. Again, you don’t need to master all skills from the start as you can pick them up as you go. Don’t let those barriers stopping you from following your dream of becoming a successful etailer.

You also have the option of hiring some one else to help you particularly in the areas of design and technical, so that you can focus on growing your business. We can help you on those areas and feel free to contact us for free consultation.

Image credit: SeaWayBlog

Related posts:

  1. E-Commerce 101: 4 ways to sell online
  2. E-Commerce 101: What products to sell online?
  3. E-Commerce 101: Should you sell online?
  4. E-Commerce 101: Understanding online payment

Also read...

  • http://www.adodis.com/Shopping-Cart-Software.php/ Shopping Cart Software

    We need all the skills which you have put up here, this is very much needed for any start up business. Thanks for sharing, you points over here.

  • http://www.carvermediagroup.com/services/website-development/e-commerce-solutions.html Ecommerce Web Development

    A shopping cart that reassures customers makes all the difference in a transaction. An intimidating shopping cart frightens away customers; they want to know what’s coming next. Pick a shopping cart that keeps customers informed during the purchase.

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