23 Best Practices for Running a Successful Ecommerce Store

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Happy people shopping online. Basket, tablet, customer flat vector illustration. E-commerce and digital technology concept for banner, website design or landing web page

Irrespective of what you sell, be it grocery or clothing, you need to be running an eCommerce store to sell it in 2021. Why? For two reasons. First, there is no longer any need to limit yourself to the local market. Second, the pandemic has integrally changed the shopping habits of people. Every business is going online. And so should you. But, do you know what makes an eCommerce store tick?

2021 might be the year that forces you to go online. But that does not mean 2021 makes it easy for you to go online. 

Thousands upon thousands of eCommerce sites are already competing with each other. And of course, the biggies like Amazon and Flipkart are consistently looming large over the scene. Running an eCommerce store successfully is still notoriously difficult.

So, how should you make your mark as a startup? 

This article contains a checklist of sorts that you must tick off to start running an eCommerce store successfully. If you already have a store, you must still check out this list to see if you are doing everything right. 

Here’s a list of the best practices for running an eCommerce store successfully: 

Focus on SEO

There’s a reason why I’m putting SEO at the top of the list. 

Search Engine Optimization is such a buzzword in the eCommerce industry for a very valid reason. How do you think people arrive at your site? 

Using a tool like SimilarWeb will give you the answer. Take a look at this data that SimilarWeb provided me about an eCommerce clothing store called Fully Filmy:

As you can see, 61.38% of the traffic that this site receives comes from Search. This means people don’t directly arrive at Fully Filmy out of nowhere. They first search for whatever they are looking for on Google (or any other search engine). Then when the Fully Filmy product shows up on Google, they click on it and are directed to the site. 

So, what do you have to keep in mind when starting a successful eCommerce store? Your site/products must show up at the top of the SERP. 

For this, you need to focus on boosting your SEO as much as possible. You can do this in multiple ways. Dynamic product descriptions, letting search engines read your product reviews, writing good meta descriptions- choose any path. 

The ultimate goal is to show up on the first page of Google. Preferably at the top. 

Invest in a Good Web Hosting Service

If you’re a startup, you most probably don’t have a huge budget, to begin with. Yeah, I understand why you might be tempted to cut costs if you’ve just begun running an eCommerce store. 

But trust me. Cutting costs while trying to get a good web hosting service is a terrible idea. Why? Because the money that you’re saving now will be pried away from you later. A bad website hosting page is a long-term pain in the neck. 

DreamHost, HostGator, GoDaddy are all good options but none of these are free. Not that these are extremely expensive either. You can get DreamHost at $2.59 a month. There are cheaper options available as well. 

But the important part is that you need to have a clear idea about which qualities to look for in a good web hosting service. 

It must ideally offer you features like unlimited bandwidth and unlimited emails. You must also ensure that your web hosting service can get you an SSL certificate for your checkout page. But besides these flashy features, you must also figure out if their customer support is dependable. 

After all, you are going to need help if your site has glitches and bugs. Also, it’s very important to keep updating your site to keep up with the times. Make sure your hosting service allows for these customizations later. 

Keep your CAC in mind

CAC refers to Customer Acquisition Cost. We all know you must spend money to get money. Similarly, while running an eCommerce store, you have to spend money to get customers who will give you money. CAC refers to the amount you spend on getting a new customer.

Getting new customers is not an easy process. I get it. But some eCommerce startups tend to go crazy with their Customer Acquisition Cost. They spend lakhs on marketing without keeping in mind that their profit percentage will be minimal. 

A huge CAC is the iceberg that sinks even the most promising eCommerce businesses. Therefore you need to calculate your CAC before you start spending recklessly. 

There are various ways to cut down on your CAC without affecting the quality of your eCommerce store. Read this to figure out how. 

Choose Your Marketing Channels Carefully

While running an eCommerce store, marketing it correctly must be one of your top priorities.

Yeah, I know social media marketing is considered super successful nowadays. But did you know that its much less flashy ancestor, email marketing, has a way higher ROI?

This is the kind of information that goes missing because of the hype around Facebook and Instagram marketing. Did you know that the newsletter open rate of emails was 20 times higher than Facebook ads engagement rate?

If you are a startup, you most probably have a limited marketing budget. You might be tempted to opt for Google Ad’s Pay-Per-Click campaign. But I would advise you not to fall for that. The PPC campaign charges you around $2-$3 per click which does not even ensure you guaranteed conversions. 

Instead, maybe try focusing on content marketing or email marketing. These are mostly free. For example, Google offers you a pile of free tools that you can use to create better content. Mailchimp also offers you a free email marketing plan till you reach 2000 subscribers. 

I’m not telling you to stick to any one channel of marketing. Multichannel marketing is after all extremely profitable. But do keep an eye on which marketing channel is generating the best ROI. 

Easy-to-spot CTA button

Did you know 70% of businesses do not HAVE a CTA button? That sounds insane but it’s true. And it also tells you something about your competition. The fact that you can beat them with a well-placed CTA button as your sole weapon. 

What is a CTA button? CTA refers to Call To Action. That is, it is the button that tells the customer what to do. The button that makes your customer take the desired course of action. This is the miraculous button that leads to conversions. Hence, very obviously it is THE MOST important button on your homepage. 

A CTA button can tell the viewers to take a variety of actions. It depends on what kind of conversion you want. “Shop,” “Subscribe,” “Watch Now”- you can ask your viewers to perform any of these actions. Seems like an easy enough message to convey, right? 

Wrong. Otherwise, so many other businesses would not be messing this up. It’s not just your homepage that needs a CTA button. EVERY page needs a CTA button to lead the viewer to another page. But this doesn’t mean that you can spread around a million CTA buttons on one page. 

Follow these rules with regards to the CTA button:

  • Make it easily noticeable– The customer needs to spot the CTA button within 3 seconds of landing. 
  • Place it at the optimal spot– You need to use a heatmap for this. Check out point 7 for further details.
  • Get the message right- People add “Now” to their CTA buttons for a reason. This adds urgency to the call to action. 
  • No more than one CTA button per page– You might be tempted to add three or four CTA buttons to give your customers more options. But this will just end up distracting your customers. Give them ONE thing to do and they will do it. 

Clutter-Free User Interface

This one ties in with the “No more than one CTA button per page” rule. 


Source: jcpenny.com

…is a terrible homepage. And you can see why. 

They display all their information in one go. Every possible discount, free shipping, sale- everything. 

You might think that’ll make the viewers more prone to clicking on one of these sales ads. But that’s not the case. 

They end up on this page where they see no products. Nothing but a jumble of discount offers. It’s bound to confuse them. 

A cluttered homepage is the easiest pitfall to avoid. But that’s not supposed to be your only aim. You must ensure that it’s easy to navigate through your site. Your user must after all be able to understand your user interface. 

Also, declutter your menu. This means no pointless subcategories when you don’t need to have any. But also do have filters that allow your users to narrow down their search.

Regularly Check Your Site Analytics

This one is an essential step that most articles with similar titles won’t tell you about. A lot of startups think delving into site analytics is too complicated for them. 

But this makes absolutely no sense. You are paying for your site to get developed. You are also paying for marketing. Then why shouldn’t you also be in charge of checking your site analytics?

After all, you cannot do development or marketing without this essential data. 

I know a lot of you depend on Google Analytics. But this isn’t really enough. For one, Google Analytics does not have a heatmap feature at all. And heatmaps are essential while trying to understand how customers are behaving on your site. If you don’t know how to use heatmaps already, take a look at this guide. 

Heatmaps will let your know exactly what elements of your site your customers are engaging with. And also what they are ignoring. Based on this information, you might need to make changes to your CTA button or your user interface in general. 

If you want to see how individual customers are behaving on your site, opt for a screen recording tool. You will be able to see, in real-time, where your customers are hesitating or getting confused. To understand how to draw actionable inferences from your screen recordings, read this. 

A/B testing is also just as important as heatmaps and screen recording. Through A/B testing, you can display two versions of your user interface to your viewer. Based on which version is performing better, you can make subsequent changes to your website. Ads can be A/B tested as well. This article will tell you exactly what mistakes you need to avoid while performing an A/B test.

Cancel Delivery Charges

According to a survey conducted by Statista in 2016, 56% of cart abandonments happen due to unexpected costs. 

Delivery charges are weird. They instantly kill your mood to buy something no matter how low the price of the original item is. 

Just a month ago I was trying to buy a secondhand book from BookChor

As you can see, the book is ridiculously cheap. And even with the Rs. 65 delivery charge, it still costs less than a fresh copy from Amazon (Rs. 361). 

But the moment the price surged up to almost Rs. 200, I reasoned- Why should I pay so much for a secondhand book? That is only because I had initially put it in my cart with the expectation that it would cost Rs. 128. Had the price been Rs. 195 to begin with, I would not have second-guessed my purchase even once. 

It’s that simple. If Bookchor just included the Rs. 65 into their original price tags, no one would notice it.  The prices would still be considered pretty low compared to Amazon. 

We don’t have a problem with paying more. We have a problem with the sudden awareness that we are paying more. 

This is exactly why you should include your delivery charges WITHIN your selling price. And then proudly display “ZERO SHIPPING CHARGES.” Follow my advice and see how the customers come flooding in. 

P.S.- I did end up buying the said book from Amazon. Not BookChor. 

Build an Email Subscribers List

Email Marketing is something that ties up with both content marketing and increasing your SEO. 

I will give you a variety of reasons as to why you need to build an email subscribers list. 

The thing is, even the most loyal of your customers are not going to buy from you every week. Chances are, they are going to forget about you unless you sell some sort of a habit-building product. (I have been buying my facewashes from the same brand for the past three years.)

You need to keep reminding your customers that your brand exists. They need to keep coming back to your site even when they have nothing to buy. How do you make this happen?

By giving them timely little reminders through the mail. 

For this, you need to build an email list. And this isn’t easy. Usually, customers will just create accounts when they are making a purchase. This includes giving you their email id and agreeing to receive emails from you. However, not everyone might be ready to sign up. 

You need to provide a simple subscription box on your landing page and promise your users quality content. Take a look at this article to understand exactly what kind of emails you should be sending out to your customers. 

The other reason you need to build an email list is to keep informing your customers about future offers. This has a brilliant ROI. After all, we can all ignore our social media for a while. Can you ignore your email? Nope. And email ads are not a blink-and-you-miss-it affair. They remain in your inbox for a long time. You’re much more likely to see these than other kinds of ads. 

Send Cart Abandonment Emails

According to Sleeknote, the average cart abandonment rate across all industries is 69.7%. As I said in point 8, extra delivery charges are one of the major reasons for cart abandonment. However, they are not the only reason.

Carts are abandoned oftentimes because people simply get distracted. In this case, it is essential that you remind them that they have abandoned their carts.

This is the other important reason why you need to gather the email addresses of your viewers. Even if they don’t subscribe to you for regular offers and discounts, make sure you get their emails for this specific purpose. 

You’d think people abandoned a cart because they lost interest. But that’s not always the case. Sometimes they plan to buy that product later but forget about it. It’s your job to send them reminders. 

Do cart abandonment emails work? Absolutely!

Focus on Customers with High CLTV

CLTV refers to Customer Life-Time Value. This refers to the amount of money you can expect to get from a customer throughout their lifetime as a customer. 

The CLTV value for repeat customers is thus obviously more than that of one-time customers. 

The reason why you need to keep this metric in mind is that your priority should be the high CLTV customers. Spending more money on retaining them is justified because they will give you enough returns. As opposed to this, spending a lot on CAC (getting new customers) makes no sense. 

So, while crafting your marketing strategies, you must keep this loyal segment of customers separate. You need to cater to them specifically. This is also why a lot of businesses pay good money for their Customer Relationship Management programs (CRM).

Have Multiple Payment Methods

I would have straight-up suggested “Have COD.” But I know how uncertain and problematic that is. It’s fine if you cannot offer Cash on Delivery. But do offer multiple payment methods. 

There’s a reason Indians don’t buy from Etsy. It accepts no other form of payment from Indian customers besides PayPal. This is also the reason why most Indians don’t buy or subscribe to foreign businesses. Businesses abroad often limit themselves to credit cards only. 

The thing is, you cannot have these restrictions if you’re running an eCommerce store in India. People often don’t want to pay with their Credit Cards for subscriptions. This is because they keep on getting charged if they forget to opt out after the free trial period. 

Moreover, you cannot assume that everyone has access to all specific cards or net banking. If you are running a business that only targets the metro cities, you can get away with a bit of elitism. But if you’re targeting the Tier 2 and 3 cities, you cannot be that complacent. 

If people discover at the very last step that they cannot pay in their preferred way, they will simply back out. 

Imagine losing a customer at the very END of the decision stage just because you wouldn’t accept their card!

Don’t make this mistake. You might have a perfect site but messing up this last step can cost you a lot. 

Don’t Force People to Create Accounts

Speaking of the last step, don’t make checkouts needlessly complicated. 

A complicated and fussy checkout is one of the most annoying parts of online shopping. 

Imagine having a great shopping trip. But when you turn up at the payment counter you see that it’s taking 15 minutes to process a single customer. What are you going to do? Abandon your cart and walk out, right?

The same is valid when you’re running an eCommerce store.

I know why you want people to create accounts. It’s way easier for you to send them sales offers and notifications later. However, you cannot highlight THIS when you are convincing them to create an account. 

And neither should you make it a mandatory step. 

Here’s what you do instead:

Tell them how creating an account will help THEM. And yes, creating an account DOES help them. 

For one, it saves them time. For example, if you have a Flipkart account, you don’t need to put in your address and payment details separately. This information is already stored. And not just that, your entire shopping history is stored too. 

So in case you need to re-buy a certain product, you can just scroll through your shopping history. Also, if you want to gift people things, you don’t need to keep asking for their addresses. An account will usually let you store multiple addresses and card details at once. 

Highlight THESE, not your own gains. If the customer knows how an account will help them, they will be much more likely to create one. 

Reduce Page Loading Time

Did you know a one-second delay causes a 7% loss in conversion? And that’s just the start. If your page doesn’t load within the first 3 seconds, that’s that. The customer is not at all going to wait for the site to open. 

This is the primary reason why I told you to get a good web hosting service. With a bad web hosting service, the page speed will be the minimum when a bulk of customers try to use the website at once. So you’ll be losing the most amount of money when you can stand to make the most.

Sucks, right? That’s exactly why you need to keep your page loading time in mind while you are designing a site. 

Pagespeed Insights is a great free tool that you can use to understand if your page speed is satisfactory. It doesn’t just give you a “yes” or “no” answer. It gives you a detailed report and suggestions to mend your page loading speed. 

Have High-Quality Product Images

Since we are talking about page loading speed, you’ll know that having an abundance of images slows a page down. 

But how can you not have images on an eCommerce site? You MUST have high-quality images to satisfy the customer, after all. They cannot touch or sense your product through any other means apart from sight. Images are an indispensable component. 

There’s an easy solution to this. A high-quality image does not have to mean images with huge file sizes. There are plenty of sites on the internet that will allow you to reduce the image size without hampering the quality of the image. 

You can do it on Photoshop of course but Simpleimageresizer.com or Online-image-resizer.com works just as well. 

Remember, do not compromise with the QUALITY of your images. Also, make sure there are photographs of your product from multiple angles. 

Using real images of YOUR products is also a must. There’s a reason why people were wary of buying from those Chinese shopping sites. This is the reason:

Source: pinterest.com

Don’t post stock images of your photo. People will after all go to the review section to check out the real product images from other customers. 

Provide Clear Product Descriptions

Product descriptions are not meant to glorify the product. They are supposed to give you clear information regarding the product. 

There are some essential questions that people want to know while they are buying certain things. For example, if you’re buying a piece of clothing- you would want to know what material it is made of. Is it stretchable? Does it come with attachable sleeves? Is it machine-washable? Stuff like that. 

As a seller, it is your job to know which questions your customers will probably have. That’s the only way you can answer them from beforehand. Because if your customer does not find that information, they are simply going to leave. 

Let’s learn from the master of running an eCommerce store: Amazon. Look at this product description for example: 

It provides a very important bit of information that most people look for while buying skincare products: ingredients. 

A lot of sites do not provide you with this info. For this, you need to go and zoom in on the image of the back of the bottle. Which customer is going to go through all that hassle?

If you think a piece of information is essential, just put it in the products description. 

And Amazon does not just give you information from the manufacturer themselves. They allow customers to answer questions too.

This is great because customers tend to trust other customers more than the manufacturer. 

Don’t Clutter With Ads

Some sites will pay you to display their ads on your site. And you might be tempted, especially if you are a startup. After all, you probably aren’t making a lot of sales already. 

But don’t fall into this trap. 

News sites do this a lot. 

CNN is not alone in this. But it provides a great example nonetheless. Does CNN profit from Voile Blanche sales? No. Voile Blanche just pays for the advertising. Is this profitable for CNN? 

The answer is no. Google hates these sorts of ads. And the audience does too. If someone is on the CNN website, they’re here for the news. Not to look at sneakers. 

But CNN can still get away with this because they aren’t really SELLING any of their own products. If you’re running an eCommerce store, you are.

So, why on earth would you take money to turn away your own customers to other brands? Also, customers hate these sites filled with ads for another reason. 

They might trust your site. But if your site is filled with ads from other unreliable sites that might lead them to getting malware, they are just not going to use your site anymore. 

Sensible Product Categories 

Take a look at this menu from Flipkart first:

As you can see, the list isn’t just divided into Men’s Wear and Women’s Wear. Flipkart knows that Kidswear can fit into one category but the two above categories need to be subdivided from the very beginning. Because these are extremely popular in the clothing category in general. 

This is the correct way to categorize. Categorization does not just depend upon what YOU THINK will be comprehensible and logical. It’s what your customer must think is comprehensible and logical. 

This is exactly why you need analytics tools to figure out how your customer is navigating through your site. 

On the other hand, over-categorization is a problem. 

See how “Women’s Tops” is a single category that is not subdivided? That’s because there is a filter in that category that lets you choose exactly what kind of top you want.

Filters are essential not just to sub-categorize based on the kind of products. They also let the audience choose a price limit. 


Retargeting is a prime way of keeping your Customer Acquisition Cost low. It is much easier to tempt someone who has already seen your product than someone who is completely new. 

Retargeting refers to the act of remarketing to customers who have already visited your site. Oftentimes you browse through a site and then see those products everywhere- on Google, on Facebook, etc, right? 

That’s retargeting. 

Retargeting is great for another reason. Remarketing ads on Google are much cheaper than fresh PPC ads. So even if you don’t have the budget for a full-fledged PPC campaign, you can still pay for remarketing. 

Display Reviews Prominently

I have already gone over this before. Customers trust other customers more than they trust you, the business owner. 

Would you buy from a site that has absolutely no reviews? No, right? Running an eCommerce store required social proof and credibility.

There’s a reason why people check Amazon reviews before they check the product descriptions. Very often you see that what has been promised is not at all what you are getting. 

Reviews also give you other essential information. The product might be perfect. But a lot of people often receive broken or damaged products due to terrible packaging. If you are a customer, you’d want to know such information beforehand, right?

Reviews also have another great use. Did you know that you can actually use User Generated Content for marketing?

GoPro, for example, bases its entire marketing campaign on User Generated Content. It cuts down the cost of marketing by more than half of what they would have had to spend otherwise. The more reviews you have, the more credible you are. A few bad reviews here and there don’t matter. That just proves these reviews are genuine and not paid reviews. 

Guarantee Great Customer Service

As I’ve said before, customer retention is the key. To keep high CLTV customers, you need to guarantee great customer service. 

When transactions go through perfectly, you don’t need to worry. But very often, they won’t. Sometimes people see the order has not been placed despite them having paid for it. Other times, they might want to return a product and not know how to make it happen. Or they might just have questions regarding the products.

You must make it easy for them to contact you. Live chat is the best option but you might not be able to pay for 24X7 staff support. That’s fine. Still, try to have a chatbot at the very least. 

Letting people contact you through email is a good enough idea as long as you answer those emails within a day. 

Having ready customer service also helps YOU out. You cannot keep an eye over your site at all moments. Neither can you predict all the glitches. If you let your customers inform you about the bugs and glitches, you can solve them right away. 

Optimize for Mobile Usage

This one should be obvious. Take a look at this blog that my friend sent me the day before:

The moment I took one look at this, I did not want to read further. 

And this is still just a blog. Imagine how frustrated your customers would be if your eCommerce site looked this warped on their phones. 

54% of the total eCommerce sales come from mobile browsing now in 2021. And this percentage is just going to increase. The internet penetration in India has only happened due to the ever-lessening price of smartphones. Most people in Tier 2 or 3 cities do not possess a laptop or a PC. They do however possess a phone. 

This is why you must make sure your eCommerce store is optimized for mobile phones. This means your CTA button should be properly placed according to the website analytics data from mobile users. Every important button should show in the vertical view and the page loading time cannot be very high even with a worse internet connection. 

Reduce Customer Churn Rate

This is the ultimate thing that you have to keep in mind while running an eCommerce store. You cannot let your customers abruptly abandon you before or even after they have made a purchase. 

Customer Churn Rate refers to the percentage of customers who randomly stop engaging in business with you. 

This can happen due to a variety of reasons. But it’s your job to nip this problem in the bud. 

Customer Churn Rate makes your CAC go way up. It won’t matter if you keep getting thousands of customers if you also keep losing thousands at the same time. You have to plug the leak. Otherwise, you will keep spending a fortune on getting new customers every time a bunch of your earlier customers leave. 

To do this, you essentially have to perfect all of the above steps. Reduce your bounce rate, focus more on customer retention, constantly try to engage your customers, etc. 

If your churn rates are low, you can stop worrying so much about the top of the Sales Funnel. As long as long-term customers stay with you, it does not matter if you aren’t getting hoards of new customers every day. Thus, a reduction of the churn rate also reduces your marketing budget. 

In Conclusion

If you are planning on running an eCommerce store successfully, there are tons of things that you need to keep an eye on. And I know that’s difficult. This is why I have provided you with this checklist. 

You don’t need to get everything right in just one day. As long as you keep on fixing the bugs one at a time, you’re going to have a successful eCommerce store. 

Does the process of running an eCommerce store seem a little bit easier now?

If you want more details about any of the points that I mentioned above, do let me know in the comments below.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is retargeting?

Retargeting refers to targeting the customers who have already visited your eCommerce site once. Say you are looking for shoes on Amazon. Even if you don’t buy them, you see ads for those shoes all over Facebook and Google. These are retargeting ads. Retargeting ads save marketers a lot of money because they cost way less than regular PPC ads. Moreover, since these customers are already aware of your product, they are more likely to make a purchase.

What do CAC and CLTV refer to?

CAC refers to Customer Acquisition Cost and CLTV refers to Customer LifeTime Value. CAC is the amount you have to spend to get a new customer. CLTV is the amount that you make from a customer throughout their lifetime of business dealings with you. Both of these metrics are calculated in relation to each other. The ideal CLTV: CAC ratio is 3:1.

What is Churn Rate?

Churn Rate refers to the percentage of your customers who abruptly stop doing business with you. If your churn rate is high your Customer Acquisition Cost will be high as well. This is because if you keep losing customers you have to keep getting new ones. While running an eCommerce store, you must make every attempt to reduce your churn rate.

What are some of the low-cost marketing options?

SEO/Content marketing is the cheapest marketing option. Email marketing is also very cheap. Google offers a host of free tools for SEO/Content marketing. Email marketing software like Mailchimp also allows you to send mails to up to 2000 subscribers for free.

What should I keep in mind while placing my CTA button?

Check your website heatmap data while trying to place your CTA button. Your CTA button should be front and center. If your CTA button is tucked off to the sides or the bottom, they are going to fall inside a cold spot that people don’t frequent often.

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