There was a time when e-commerce was just selling things online. Those were simpler times.
Today, searching #ecommerce on Twitter or Instagram will submerge you into a world of posts about drop shipping, flipping, and social selling. Social media has evolved retail beyond shop keeping. It’s now an aspirational route to financial freedom, and social media it teeming with e-commerce gurus, shouting about how to find the next hot trend and win big.
We’ve all been targeted by the Instagram posts promising a four hour work week or six figure salary selling private label products on Amazon. We have all seen the glamorous lifestyle shots; the cars and exotic locations that social media e-commerce gurus say come from their successful selling. Every one of them saying that anyone can be successful in e-commerce if they just keep working hard. They talk about five am start and late night finishes, giving up social commitments and working hard until the hard work pays off.
Undeniably, e-commerce can be hard. Especially when your running the show on your own. There are times when the hours are long, and you have to wear every hat you can fit. You need to be resourceful and creative. The hustle is indeed very real.
But is hustle enough to guarantee success?
The e-commerce gurus of social media certainly seems to think so. Every self-made success story is tweeting about how they came into incredible riches by getting up early, doubling down on their work when others were relaxing, and refusing sleep – because when you sleep, you sleep on your dreams.
It’s easy to parody the hyper motivational tone of entrepreneurial Twitter, but there’s a massive dose of hard truth here. Working harder will get you to success faster – but only if you were heading there anyway. Pouring your time and effort into a saturated market or an uninspiring product will never bring success.
Anyone who is successful in e-commerce will tell you that choosing a good product and building a strong brand story around it is essential and this takes not just persistence, but intuition, direction and constant learning. Sometimes it takes patience. Brands don’t all explode overnight. Some take time to build their audience, but this is OK. Building loyalty takes time.
As with anything, the biggest lessons e-commerce gurus can teach us are learned between the lines. Why are constant motivation and relentless drive so central to entrepreneurial twitter?
The trend chasing and drop shipping that entrepreneurial Twitter promotes can be profitable. This is absolutely true. But trends are shooting stars in the e-commerce solar system, burning brief and bright. If you base your business around Google trends and drop shipping, you will be changing your product, your brand and your store every few months. This business model traps you in the hamster wheel of the hustle. I keep you in the grind of wearing every hat and fighting for every new customer.
Long term success in e-commerce can only come from building a strong brand, unique and independent from competition.
Creating a brand that can build a loyal customer following means building a base of recurring sales that trickle in and increase as time goes on. With brand building, the work is hard and often the rewards are low in the beginning, but it’s scalable. The work you put into building your e-commerce brand will build you a real asset. An online business that requires less of your time as it grows. A valuable business with longevity.