What is the key to a successful e-commerce website?

There are many ground-breaking e-commerce businesses out there that we can learn from, and all of them have their “secret path to success”. For Zappos it’s customer services, for Etsy it’s a unique hand-made product offering,  for Amazon – good prices… That was until Amazon released their membership option – Amazon Prime. And you thought Amazon couldn’t get any better?

I don’t often shop on Amazon, as I (for the nature of my profession) try to support smaller brands with a more grassroots feel and approach to their marketing and branding. Alas, this time Amazon won my heart.

And these are some e-commerce lessons we can learn from Amazon. 

Storing Customer Information

We all know that data is the most valuable asset in marketing. Naturally, when you build an e-commerce website, you want to make sure that you give an option to your customers to create an account, and make it easy for them to do that. See if the e-commerce platform you are going with offers an option to save credit cards, billing and shipping addresses, so your customers can re-order your product on the fly next time they need you.


Mobile Experience is Everything

Sadly, mobile e-commerce still has a long way to go – especially in Canada. Naturally, it’s hard to compete with Amazon and the resources they have, but having a smooth mobile experience for your online shop is a necessity rather than an option these days. That goes beyond e-commerce of course. Even if you don’t sell online, your mobile (responsive) website should be modified for an experience on the go. And even though, we marketers have been talking about the importance of mobile for a few years now, this aspect still has some room for improvement for many businesses. 


Taking Customer Service to The Next Level

And for Amazon, it was their new membership option – Amazon Prime. When you run an e-commerce business in the era of expected instant gratification, the speed of shipping goods is critical. Just like in my last shopping experience with Amazon – 2 day-free-shipping. What’s interesting – they give you this irresistible 2-day shipping option in the shopping cart, without first explaining what it is. Once you select the option they tell you that, hey, thanks for signing up for this amazing Amazon Prime. It was a natural, clever way of sucking me into it, with an option of canceling before my free trial expires, of course.

Make it easy

Make it easy for people to do everything on your website. Make it easy to sign up for the membership, and make it easy to cancel it so people don’t feel trapped. And even though I cancelled Prime right away, I do appreciate the simplicity of the whole process.

Have a conversation with your customer

The coolest part of the whole experience (from my geeky marketing perspective) was the timing of this reminder/check-in email from Amazon, to see if I changed my mind about canceling Prime. I got it the next day… after receiving my purchase.


Needless to say – I was a happy customer at the time, and I was incredibly tempted to stay enrolled in this magical membership option. I will have to sleep on it, but for now, one thing remains on my (marketing) mind – how does a smaller guy compete with this amazing service…? Stay tuned for my next blog, where I will explore exactly that!

Got burning e-commerce questions of your own? Give us a shout or stop by our marketing agency in Vancouver – we always have chocolate!