Whether you’re just starting out in the e-commerce game, or you’ve got a few years of experience under the belt – there’s always more to learn. And who better to look to for guidance than the top e-commerce companies in the world?
First off, let’s clarify what we mean by a top e-commerce company; businesses that dominate across various metrics on a global level – including revenue, website traffic and market cap.
Step into our (virtual) office as we highlight the five key lessons that the world’s top e-commerce companies can teach us.
Lesson #1: Obsess over your customers, not your rivals
Love him or hate him, Jeff Bezos has built one of the biggest e-commerce companies in the world, and he attributes much of Amazon’s success to what feels like a painfully simple philosophy: forget the competitors around you and focus on the customers in front of you.
“I can tell you that we’ve been doing this from the very beginning, and it’s the only reason that Amazon exists today in any form. We’ve always put customers first. When given the choice between obsessing over competitors and obsessing over customers, we always obsess over customers.” – Jeff Bezos
Of course, this laser focus is easier to talk about than to actually practise. Can you really afford to forget about your competitors? Perhaps not. But if you want your e-commerce business to make $469 billion in revenue per year, like Amazon did in 2021, it’s worth putting your customers first.
Lesson #2: Speak human
Rakuten is Japan’s largest e-commerce marketplace, but it doesn’t identify with its superstore competitors. Co-founder and CEO, Hiroshi Mikitani, insists that no matter how big your business gets, it should remain human to the core.
“I believe that human beings need communication and connection, and that shopping should be a rich experience. The personalized approach is really in my blood.” – Hiroshi Mikitani
Human connection is particularly important when it comes to customer service. According to a PWC study, 75% of consumers want more human interaction in the future, not less – even as automated tech in customer service improves. Something to keep in mind when you’re building your empire!
75% of consumers want more human interaction in the future.
Lesson #3: Hire people who are smarter than you
Jack Ma is one of the wealthiest people in the world, with an estimated personal net worth of $24 billion. A former English teacher, he co-founded Alibaba in 1999, which has grown into China’s biggest e-commerce platform. Despite his success, he’s quick to admit that much of it is attributed to his team.
“I know nothing about technology, I know nothing about marketing, I know nothing about (the legal) stuff. I only know about people.” – Jack Ma
Whether you’re building an online store for the first time, or you already run a successful e-commerce business – the fact is, if you want to scale, you can’t do it alone. Don’t be shy about the aspects of the business you don’t understand, either. Hiring people who are smarter than you is always a smart idea.
Lesson #4: Love what you do, and success will (hopefully) follow
eBay was founded by Pierre Omidyar in 1995 as a hobby. A tech whiz by nature, he wanted to find a way to help his girlfriend trade her Pez collectibles. Almost three decades later, eBay averages about 109 million visitors a month, and is one of the few e-commerce companies to have survived the burst of the dot-com bubble.
“I never had it in mind that I would start a company one day and it would really be successful. I have just been motivated by working on interesting technology.” – Pierre Omidyar
Now, let’s not over-simplify this. Of course Pierre had the vision, talent and grit to help eBay survive and thrive. But he’s also the first to admit that making money was never his initial goal – his passion for technology was. The lesson? If you don’t love what you do, you’ll be less creative, innovative and resilient, and you need all three of those to succeed in e-commerce.
Lesson #5: Don’t forget about logistics
JD.com, Alibaba’s key competitor, reported revenue of $149 billionin 2021. Refreshingly, much of the company’s success is attributed to its systems.
“A successful e-commerce company can thrive only if every aspect of the supply chain is taken care of.” – Richard Liu
Let’s be honest: personalisation, people and passion can only get you so far. Without a solid logistics strategy, you won’t be able to sustainably grow your e-commerce business. The good news? E-commerce start-ups are shaping the future of logistics, which means you get to be a part of the revolution.
Although there’s no “secret sauce” to success, every e-commerce business – no matter the size – can learn from the top players in the industry. Start (or refine!) your own e-commerce journey here. We’re with you all the way.