The objective of this article is to help all newcomers to the eCommerce world and give them the right tips and tools to start their journey.This article was written based on my own experiences with feedback and resources from my colleagues Waqas Pervez, Salik Gadit and Haider Qazi.
The core to successfully running an eCommerce company is both vision and data. This article can't help you much with the vision side of things but our goal is to provide the best tips and tricks to help you start your journey. When I first started as a Product Manager I bought the Product Manager's Desk Reference as a tool to help guide me, but in those early days getting basic insights from google and youtube seemed to help the most.
Explore & measure websites that you like or that are your competitors and use them to set a benchmark for yourself.
There are 3 key measurements you need to do.
I personally like to collect and store data on eCommerce sites in the format below.
This methodology dataset will help you gain an understanding of the features that each eCommerce website offers, and it will give you insights and comparable data as well. I personally go through major international and local websites regularly and note down their key features across major pages; this included their homepage, category page, product page and cart page. You should also run speed tests on each of those major pages.
Once you have a solid understanding of your competition and a basic handle on the feature sets available for eCommerce companies, both locally and globally, then you need to start understanding your target audience. For this you have to look both at data and customer feedback.
While there are multiple ways to talk to customers, think focus groups, surveys, etc; we will primarily be focusing on data needs, Google Analytics will be your best friend here and learning its capabilities is critical.
I personally started in 2009 by making websites for friends and family; installing Google Analytics to see what kind of data points were being measured. This had two big advantages, I learnt how to make websites and the basic in and outs of it all (more on making websites later)
There are a number of blogs regarding Google Analytics that can prove helpful and of course look for videos on YouTube
This is an absolute must! I started making websites with Wordpress and was an early user of WooCommerce when it first came out. I have also made eCommerce websites with Shopify & BigCommerce. All these endeavours have helped further my understanding of the capabilities and technical limitations of the tools at my disposal. During my early days at Daraz, I spent a lot of time reading the documentation for their website and going through all the backend settings in order to maximise their capabilities. This was one of the key reasons I was made the Product Manager at Daraz, whenever anyone had questions about the website they would come to me rather than ask the team based out of Berlin.
How to start making a website:
Challenge yourself as well, try and create a website to fulfill a particular need such as Cupcakery, Gym Membership or even the website for your new awesome app. Make it a weekend project with your friends and take one of your ideas that you have for a new business and make the website a reality at least. I have dont this countless times over the years and it is one of the primary reasons I'm comfortable with tools like Wordpress and understand the issues that small eCommerce businesses face one a daily basis as well.
One has to keep their knowledge up to date as well. With the tech world moving as fast as it is and I also try and read as voraciously as possible. I subscribe to several very high quality newsletters as well and the best one (at least from a tech perspective) are the following:
Stratechery - Deep strategic dives into the largest tech companies
Building Romes - Actionable insights into how to build and think like Apple & Google
Lenny’s Newsletter - How to achieve product growth
Chinook Strategy - Pakistan Focused & very down to earth no bullshit advice
Benedicts Newsletter - Weekly summary of all the major new stories in tech
Basic Website Building Skills
Google Analytics & Google Tag Manager