101 Must-Read Growth Hacking Guides for Ecommerce Startups

03. June 2015

When VC notable Marc Andreessen speaks, people pay attention, and since his 2013 claim that consumers “are not going to have a choice” but to buy online when traditional retail go bust by the end of the decade, physical stores have hurried to join the global Ecommerce 2.0 wave.

Meanwhile, the data has reaffirmed Andreessen’s bricks-and-mortar death knell, with Goldman Sachs expecting mobile-based shopping alone to hit $173B in the U.S. by the end of 2018, while ecommerce fairytales like Nasty Gal serve as case studies for hungry startups.

In this context, growth hacking strategies for e-tailers have risen to the top of founders’ toolkits—especially now that growth hacking has evolved into something more scientific.

With this in mind, we wanted to create a one stop resource profiling the best guides focused on growth hacking ecommerce – assembling a list of must-reads that we think will help you quickly establish successful ecommerce business.

Inventory, Shipping & Fulfillment

The Beginner’s Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment
Given that shipping can make or break your ecommerce business, sellers have no choice but to dive into the confusing and complex world of shipping and fulfillment. Luckily, Shopify is here to help.

Definitive Guide to Ecommerce Shipping and Fulfillment
Now that you have read Shopify’s Beginner’s Guide, Shopify Nation’s Definitive Guide allows you to step up to the next level, introducing you to the 5 Stages, as well as details of the pros and cons.

How to Run Efficient, Highly Automated Warehouses
Learn how to enhance the technical aspects of running a warehouse, like automated systems and metrics, from the team at Ecommerce Fuel.

Inventory Labeling Basics: SKUs, UPCs, EANs
Practical Ecommerce can help to make sure that you don’t get your UPCs and SKUs mixed up, because it really does matter.

The Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping
Shopify’s “Ultimate Guide to Dropshipping” lives up to its name, as two of its experts cover everything from working with suppliers, to evaluating sales channels, to a glossary of the key terms.

Choosing an eCommerce Order Fulfillment Service: The Guide
Shipwire is in the business of international enterprise logistics, so they are well-qualified to produce this comprehensive guide for ecommerce businesses seeking to outsource order fulfillment. In particular, they share unbiased advice on what to look for in a logistics partner.


How to Increase Your Ecommerce Revenue: 10 Ecommerce Experts Share Their Insights
The only thing that the team at Receiptful think about is increasing revenue, and they think that you should do the same.

Top ten tweaks to increase ecommerce conversions
These tweaks and tips from Econsultancy will help you to increase ecommerce conversions, and they are quick and affordable to implement.

Data-Backed Proof for Why Product Video Drives High Ecommerce Conversions
As Bigcommerce explains, each new generation of internet user is increasingly preferring video content, so their article on the power of ecommerce product video is compulsory reading.

How to Set Up Conversion Funnels in Google Analytics (The Video)
Kissmetrics explains that if you set up your conversion funnel in Google Analytics, then you will be able to see where customers are abandoning, which enables you to find a solution.

Ecommerce Checkout Funnel Review: How Vintage King Audio Can Improve
If you are new to website reviews by optimization and conversion experts, then this ConversionXL piece is a good place to start. IRL examples are usually the best.

10 Ways to Increase Ecommerce Site Speed
Practical Ecommerce explains that even a 1-second delay can be the difference between conversion and abandonment. One second can make all the difference for ecommerce startups.

Boost ecommerce conversion rate: 30 Best Practices and Tips
According to Conversioner’s founder, “most ecommerce checkout processes are extremely hard to navigate through and have very high abandonment rate.” Read on to avoid the frequent mistakes.

Psychology of Ecommerce Sales: Consumers and the Ecommerce Checkout [Infographic]
Hubspot is super-successful and paying attention to the psychology of ecommerce helped them to achieve massive growth, so their insight on the subject is worth reading.

Reducing Abandoned Shopping Carts In E-Commerce
Sealing the deal in ecommerce means that you must work with designers and developers. There is no way out of it and Smashing Magazine explains why.

8 ways we increased ecommerce sales by 10,000%
Paul Boag provides a detailed explanation of how you can make a 10,000% sales boost appear on your ecommerce spreadsheet.

Fundamental Guidelines Of E-Commerce Checkout Design
Abandoning shopping carts doesn’t just happen at your local supermarket, and Smashing Magazine’s checkout-design hack can help to solve your conversion-rate lag.

E-Commerce is a Bear
By joining Bobobos clothing e-tailer in their “search for the Sphinx,” you can find out whether you’re on the right track to profitability.

6 Step Checkout Pages Cheat Sheet Guide #1
Infinite Conversions’ cheat-sheet guide provides further defense against user-bailout after the Add To Cart button has been clicked.

How To Optimize Your Checkout Page For Conversions
A/B testing also applies to your checkout page and LemonStand’s in-depth growth hack offers worthwhile guidance.

Quick Checklist for your eCommerce Checkout
From progress bars to cart saving, the details of the checkout process matter, and we recommend Userlike’s checklist for ecommerce growth.

How A 4-Step-Amazon-Hack Helped Me Convert Visitors Into Paying Customers Insanely Fast
Entrepreneurial inventor Karim tells the story of a growth hack that continues to convert on his TractionVC growth-tactic site.

6 Emotional Steps that Increased Ecommerce Revenues in 30 days
Use Conversioner’s 6 emotional steps to growth hack your way to conversions over a 30-day period.

Digital Wallets: End of the Beginning or Beginning of the End?
With a digital-wallet future on the horizon, ecommerce sellers will need to be prepared for consumers armed with Apple Pay or SoftCard at their checkouts. Max Wolff, of Manhattan Venture Partners, delivers a timely update.

Social Media

Oh Snap! How To Use Snapchat To Growth Hack Your Store
If you’ve wondered what all the Snapchat fuss is about, LemonStand shows ecommerce businesses how they can use the explosive app to hack their way into the buying habits of the profitable Millennial segment.

An Introduction to Instagram Marketing for Ecommerce
In addition to Snapchat, you will need to become aware of “Instagram marketing.” The Ecommerce Training Academy says to do it now while the competition is still mellow.

How to Motivate Customers to Share Your Products
After you master mobile, SEO, and design, social sharing is an area of ecommerce that is emerging as equally important. This Woo Themes article is a reminder that more shares = more publicity, and more publicity = more new customers.

The Definitive Guide To Pinterest For E-Commerce
This Marketing Land columnist believes that “marketing fad” and “Pinterest” do not belong in the same sentence, and that Pinterest drives traffic and leads to conversions.


eCommerce Marketplaces: 21 Places to Sell Online
Ecommerce marketplaces mean that anyone can list a product on a few websites and instantly reach an audience of millions. This Pixc list is especially handy for newer e-tailers.

10 of the Best Hosted Ecommerce Platforms
We especially like that this SitePoint list of the best online carts is framed as something that anyone can do—even nine-to-fivers looking for supplementary income.


10 Best Shopify Apps to Grow Your eCommerce Business
With over 500 Shopify apps to choose from, ecommerce sellers can use ZapStitch’s helpful top-10 to hack their way to success on the popular platform.

15 Ecommerce Infographics We Love
The power of the infographic is still strong and this collection from Friendbuy will add to your ecommerce growth strategy.

7 Innovative Analytics Tools For Ecommerce Sites
Raw data are just numbers on a page without context—which is why ecommerce businesses need analytics tools. Here are 7 of the best from Mobilized.

5 Customer Retention Tools for Long Term Ecommerce Success
Ecommerce growth hacking is about fast and major expansion, while customer retention ensures sustainable success. Both are crucial, so we are sharing this Hubspot toolkit.

5 Cheap (or Free!) Digital Tools You Could Be Using for Your Ecommerce Site
As more startups are choosing the bootstrapping road in their ecommerce mission, we will be recommending more valuable lists like this one from Hubspot.

51 of the Best eCommerce Tools for Your Website
From PR to shipping to A/B testing, this Pixc list of 51 ecommerce tools is an excellent resource.

What are the most used tools in Ecommerce Marketing?
The awesome thing about the Quora platform is that reputable professionals from within the industry respond to queries. Read on for answers from actual founders and growth hackers.

Everything you wanted to know about creating a $100k online course
Paul Jarvis doesn’t have the magic bullet for designing an online course, but he is “very cheap” by his own words, so the bootstrapping-minded should pay attention.

20 Best E-commerce WordPress Plugins of 2014
The massive growth of WordPress includes the ecommerce sector, as online retailers can now use the platform—best known for its blogging tools—to build an all-in-one digital shop. A web developer, who is also the founder of Vistamedia, Inc., saves you time with this best-of list.

15 Fabulous Options for Selling Digital Downloads
Vandelay Design uses its experience of selling digital files to remind ecommerce businesses that there are a number of important considerations as well as many choices in the download market, and includes an explanation of why it chose its own partner.

UI, UX & Design

15 Ways to Improve an eCommerce Store
Lazy and distracted—Inspirational Pixels believes that these are the two traits that are common among all ecommerce customers. Find out how web design can help you work with this situation.

Designing a Great e-Commerce Product Details Page
Given that the product page is where customers decide what to Add To Cart and is the page that generates SERP results, Moumita’s design tips are a useful resource.

User Experience Impacts on eCommerce
Ecommerce UX demands cutting-edge and Neoteric innovation. If you don’t quite understand, then you need to read this article from LetsAlign, “a design driven development company.”

50 Inspirational ECommerce Website Designs
This is an important piece from Vandelay, as the design site reminds ecommerce businesses to balance aesthetic quality with usability.

24 of the Best Ecommerce Website Designs to Inspire You
ReferralCandy reminds ecommerce sellers that they have 2 seconds to create a first impression, and that visuals are the top influential factor affecting purchase decisions.

30 Beautiful and Creative Ecommerce Website Designs
According to the experienced Shopify team, attractive web design raises the perceived value of your products and your business appears more trustworthy. Here are 30 of their favorites.

What I Learned the Hard Way Building an eCommerce Site
First Round Capital explains why engineering plays an enormous role in ecommerce, and why you should respect that customers simply want to “find what they want, buy it, and leave.”

The Current State Of E-Commerce Search
Search is fast, convenient, and efficient for ecommerce buyers, so Smashing Magazine shows you how to make sure that you are doing this competitive advantage right.

The Current State Of E-Commerce Filtering
According to the Baymard’s 2015 research, only 16% of major ecommerce sites offer a decent filtering experience. Smashing Magazine helps you to avoid the common pitfalls.

Improving Magento Speed/Performance Guide
Larry Page is emphatic about page-loading times and ecommerce businesses should be too. This guide comes straight from Paul Rogers and a team of developers.

10 Great Magento Extensions To Try Out
If you are an ecommerce business that is still working out Magento, then Trellis’ extension recommendations are a time-saver.

The Ultimate DIY Guide to Beautiful Product Photography
Just because you are on a smaller budget, it doesn’t mean that you can’t create a high-quality product showcase on your ecommerce store. Say hello to The Window Light Technique with Shopify.

40 Tools and Resources For Creating Beautiful DIY Product Photography
This Shopify list places the power of good photography in your hands.

The Simple Guide to Shooting a Perfectly Lit Product Photo
Most ecommerce sites use flat lighting for their photos, so Tuts demonstrates how you can use fishing string, a coat hangar, and duct tape for a perfectly lit product photo.


How To Build a $120K per Month Ecommerce Brand in Less Than A Year
120K per month in a year? Shopify shows that it is possible when you actually eat, drink, sleep, and live your ecommerce brand.


The Ultimate Guide to E-Commerce Mobile App Development
Our generation is now comfortable with both paying online and with mobile, so Jackrabbit’s Anthony Blatner shows you how to develop an ecommerce mobile app.

Mobile Commerce In 2015
If you are not yet convinced of the significance of mobile, then here’s some data that makes this Techcrunch piece worth diving into: “Digi-Capital estimates that VCs invested $4.2 billion in m-commerce from Q3 2013 to Q3 2014.”

State of Mobile Commerce Q1 2015
If you’ve ever owned a garden, you will know how fast weeds grow. Well, the mobile ecommerce segment is now being compared to weeds, so these Criteo slides are the future.


The Replenishment Email: An E-Commerce Hack Guaranteed to Drive Sales
While it seems like a no-brainer, “replenishment emails” are still not common practice. Get familiar with behavioral email marketing with Vero to drive recurring revenue.

eCommerce Growth Hack Of The Week: Unboxing Videos
You’ve probably heard about the “unboxing video” phenomenon, but LemonStand explains the benefits for ecommerce sellers. This growth hack shows you why investing in great packaging matters.

Reciprocity (social psychology)
Wikipedia has grown to become a foremost resource, and ecommerce businesses can use this piece on “reciprocity” to grow their customer base by rewarding kind actions.

3 simple PR tips to increase buzz about your ecommerce store
Bigcommerce is well-placed to offer ecommerce growth tips, and they enlist their Social Media Specialist for these simple but useful tips.

How should ecommerce brands be using content?
Don’t settle for box-ticking when it comes to your ecommerce content marketing. The Econsultancy blog takes out the heavy lifting by giving you the takeaways from two key content reports.

Blog Best Practices for Ecommerce Inbound Marketing
Bigcommerce shows how to take the time suck out of blogging; or to at least make it worthwhile by focusing on the right things.

6 Psychological Triggers that Win Sales and Influence Customers
Shopify says that “reciprocity,” “social proof,” and “scarcity” are three of the key ecommerce psychology terms that you need to be familiar with. Read on for the others.

5 Ways Ecommerce Sites Are Killing it With Content Marketing
Grasshopper is now part of Citrix, so when one of their experts guest posts on ecommerce content marketing we think it pays to read on. Plus, content marketing is also the future.

10 Best Marketing Strategies from Million Dollar Shopify Stores
It makes sense to learn from the best, right? That is why we included this ZapStitch insight into the key growth hacks of top-sellers like Black Milk Clothing and BeardBrand.

7 Ecommerce Email Campaigns You Should Steal Today
Shopify’s Mark Macdonald reminds e-tailers that email continues to deliver a personal, distraction-free marketing tool that remains powerful alongside social media, and uses 7 outstanding creative and conversion-focused email campaigns to demonstrate this point.

Metrics, Analytics & Testing

7 A/B Testing Ideas to Steal for Your Next E-commerce Conversion Experiment
A great Experiment Engine article on how to use A/B testing to create improved ecommerce experiences that drive customers through the conversion funnel.

The Five Indicators of Breakout Ecommerce Growth
RJ Metrics uses its “2015 Ecommerce Growth Benchmark Report” to reveal the secrets of top-performing ecommerce companies.

How To Optimize Your Checkout Page For Conversions
A/B testing also applies to your checkout page and LemonStand’s in-depth growth hack offers worthwhile guidance.

The 3 most important e-commerce benchmarks and how you can crush them
We love how this Bigcommerce article not only presents the 3 top ecommerce benchmarks, but also shows how you can “crush them.” Never underestimate the value of “nerding out” on the data.

8 eCommerce Metrics You Need to Be Tracking
Ecommerce Fuel shows how you can avoid missing out on money and the customers with a solid metric-measurement game. In both audio and transcript forms.

A/B Testing for Ecommerce: 5 Things You Need to Know
Receiptful is here to remind you that a new website, the best web design, and premium web copy are actually not enough. Really.

Testing ideas for E-commerce and retail sites
If you are overwhelmed by the mentions of “A/B testing,” then you are doing something right, because the process is crucial for ecommerce businesses. These ideas from Optimizely will help.

5 Ecommerce Stats That Will Make You Change Your Entire Marketing Approach
Ecommerce influencer Neil Patel tells sellers to split test, work hard, learn stuff, and, most of all, be open to change. And because it’s Neil Patel, we’re listening.


Ecommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any Content
Backlinko explains why you shouldn’t believe people who tell you that ecommerce SEO is simply about publishing great content on a blog.

17 Essential SEO Strategies for E-Commerce Sites
AudienceBloom’s Jayson Demers explains that, while ecommerce sites are different from other websites, SEO doesn’t need to be difficult for them.

The Definitive Guide To Magento SEO
If you are among the many who continue to struggle with Magento SEO, then Magento pro Paul Rogers is the go-to when it comes to the technical side of this ecommerce platform.

How to Do Bigcommerce SEO Optimization
SEO is certainly not dead and this Omnistar how-to is essential reading for sellers on the Bigcommerce platform.

7 Critical SEO Errors of E-commerce Websites
Now that you know what ecommerce SEO is all about, Kissmetrics shows you the common pitfalls you need to avoid.

7 Actionable Link-Building SEO Tips for eCommerce
Just like general SEO, link building is also a key ecommerce strategy and because Growth Talk’s sovellis draws on personal experience, he is able to go into significant depth about the tactics that worked for him.

Trends & Predictions

The Top 5 Ecommerce Trends You Should Look Out For
After the worldwide ecommerce sales high of $1.3 trillion in 2014, V2 Cigs’ Jan Verleur is telling ecommerce entrepreneurs that the best is yet to come.

20 ecommerce trends and predictions for 2015
The beauty of this Econsultancy piece is that it brings together an expert panel to share a number of perspectives. If the names Lovehoney or Digital Juggler are special to you, then you don’t want to miss this.

The Future of Small Business eCommerce
The Internet has championed small-business ecommerce so far, but this may be about to change if The Busy Marketer BJ Smith’s concerns are valid.


From Zero to 10,000 Clients in Two Years Using Channel Partners
Google was once a no-name entity, but First Round Capital explains that its use of channel partners is now a growth hacking example for the ecommerce sector.

Expanding the Horizons of eCommerce Content Strategy
To build a shopping website that is truly great, you need an “ecommerce content strategy,” and Inflow shows you what goes into building one.

The Amazon Experience
If there is one ecommerce experience worth analyzing, it is Jeff Bezos’s Amazon phenomenon, and that is precisely what Vero do.

Lessons From Amazon Prime’s Referral Program
ReferralCandy’s cofounder uses the Amazon Prime experience to show how e-tailers can learn from Jeff Bezos’s secret weapon.

Interview with Greg Bettinelli, Former CMO of HauteLook
Retention Science delivers the power of the mentor experience with its great video series, which looks specifically at growth and scale of ecommerce businesses in this interview. We especially like their time-saving Table of Contents feature that allows you to watch particular segments.

The 7 Mistakes Entrepreneurs Make When Launching an Ecommerce Startup
Catch up on 8 years of ecommerce experience from UGallery’s Stephen Tanenbaum in just one article to find out what you shouldn’t do.

What Adults Can Learn From Teenage Ecommerce Entrepreneurs
Millennials aren’t just a target market—they’re also ecommerce trailblazers. Save time with Kissmetrics’ top picks.

12 E-Commerce Strategies To Grow Your Business This Year
The 2014 ecommerce strategies from Newport Board Group partners Jennifer Knight and Michael Evans are still relevant to small businesses in 2015, as they were created with the rapidly flourishing online marketplace in mind.

The Open-Book Sale of My $600K Store (With Complete Financials)
If you are ever in the position of selling an ecommerce store, then you can’t go past Andrew’s experience on Ecommerce Fuel, as not only did he demonstrate full financial transparency, but he also tried a radically different approach. You will also find the link to the outcome of the auction.

5 eCommerce Startups You Can Learn From
Even though web developer Alex Ivanovs reminds readers that search is still the #1 source of organic traffic, leads, and sales, his investigation into what it takes to run an ecommerce startup includes those founders who did things differently.


5 Ways Easier Checkout And Billing Increases Customer Lifetime Value
LemonStand explains that every step of the sales process influences customer retention, including checkout and billing.

The Opportunities and Challenges of Building A Lasting Ecommerce Brand
Staying power is an important concern for growth hacking ecommerce brands. We like how Danny Rimer looks at both the opportunities and challenges.


Email communication for ecommerce business owners
Bigcommerce explains that excellent email etiquette is still important, and that ecommerce is no exception.