Ecommerce Lessons From 2017 That Will Make You Money in 2018


A lot of people write year-end wrap-ups this time of year. So, why should you read another one? Because our review of eCommerce lessons from 2017 will help you make more money in 2018.

By the time you finish reading it, you’ll have some food for thought planning your profit-making moves. Let’s have a look back at some of our top eCommerce lessons in 2017. Since you don’t want to read a novel, this won’t cover everything that happened in 2017, but we’ll try to hit the high points. Let’s take a look in the rear-view…

eCommerce lessons from products sold in 2017

What sold? A LOT of product. eCommerce currently has a 23% year-over-year growth rate, and 2017 kept to that trend. In fact, more than 80% of Americans who have internet access say they have purchased online within the past month. The world spends a lot when shopping online. What eCommerce lessons can you learn from what was sold online last year? First, we need to take a look at what was trending.

What did they buy this year?

Fitness Fashion

Health and fitness markets have been growing for years. And, people like to wear the clothes that are associated with their favourite hobby. Whether it’s yoga pants, workout gear, or just super comfortable athleisure, 2017 was the year of wearing gym clothes everywhere but the gym.

Woman doing yoga wearing fitness fashion

Everyday carry

The idea of everyday carry (EDC) brands is becoming more and more popular, especially with those who increasingly care about the function and aesthetics of the objects they use on a daily basis. That has given rise to new opportunities for eCommerce brands to break into the market with quality offerings that don’t break the bank.

  • Packs, bags, and cases
  • Pens
  • Notebooks
  • Watches
  • Knives
  • Multitools
  • Flashlights
  • Cameras
  • Smartphone accessories
  • Wallets

Men’s aesthetics

It might be the rise of “millennials”. It might simply be a greater awareness that being a man doesn’t have to mean ignoring your appearance. Whatever it is, men (and the women who tolerate them) are spending more on the skin and hair care (especially facial hair) products needed to make men look dapper and presentable.

Tea and coffee

Coffee beans in showcased in store

Humans love drinking, and that doesn’t always mean alcohol. Tea and coffee sales grew in 2017 as more consumers began seeking out choices for high-quality, ethically-produced food and drink. That means the market for all things beverage will keep getting bigger.

  • Tea
  • Coffee
  • Brewing equipment
  • Bags/filters/strainers
  • Grinders
  • Storage
  • Cups, mugs, travel containers
  • Branded accessories and apparel

Subscription boxes

Subscription box sales have been rising for a while, and they did very well in 2017. Subscriptions offer a great way for buyers to indulge in an interest without spending lots of time or wasting money. Consumers love that someone else curates the best, most awesome stuff for you, pops it into a box, and mails it to your door.

A top eCommerce lesson is that merchants love the narrow, niched-down marketing, predictable income, and ease of automation.

eCommerce lessons from 2017’s shifting landscape

Products are interesting and all, but entrepreneurs like us know that the good stuff is in the business itself. In a nutshell, things that affect our strategies and implementation.

Here is just a tiny fraction of what has changed the face of eCommerce in the past year. As you read, remember that all of these are part of an ever-shifting business landscape. None of these changes happened in a vacuum, and none are less important just because the date has changed.


There’s no denying that Shopify is one of the biggest names in eComm brand services, and it looks like they didn’t sleep in 2017:

  • Shop Pay makes it easy for customers to make secure payments and adds a simple new option for sellers to accept money.
  • Their UPS partnership allows Shopify stores to ship at discounted rates and easily print UPS shipping labels.
  • Shopify’s virtual assistant Kit is now free and offers a host of new functionality. SEO, Facebook ads, email marketing, and a lot of other plugin features are now on the menu. [2021 update: Shopify is shutting down Shopify Kit and can only be used until August 31, 2021]
  • You can now host your Shopify cart on your own domain rather than the domain modifier, bringing a tighter and more integrated shopping experience to Shopify stores.
  • Store owners can now create wholesale specific stores for B2B, and track sales and stats alongside B2C numbers in one unified dashboard.

Facebook Ads

2017 was the year of Facebook when it comes to advertising. They have a monthly active user base of over 2 billion, and more than half of the US population visits Facebook daily. Branding genius Gary Vaynerchuk said that “The most underpriced product in the world right now is Facebook advertising. You should put your money there.”

While smaller eCommerce brands did make great use of Facebook ads this year, competition for ad placement and attention is heating up. It could be that for small brands, 2017 was the best year to make a killing through Facebook ads.

Big eComm

Amazon purchased Whole Foods and is making moves into other brick and mortar avenues. The Fulfilled By Amazon service has more and more small merchants selling on Amazon in addition to their own sites, and the company is expanding into more product avenues every day.

Meanwhile, after years of not hiring UX designers for their website, Wal-Mart is finally moving more heavily into the eCommerce world by buying existing brands and startups, including Maybe one of them will know how to create a store website that works.


Selling on Instagram with ShopifySource: Shopify

Instagram became a lot more useful for product sales in 2017. Swipeable links in IG stories and push to shop buttons on regular images have changed the game for selling on social media. Apparel, handmade goods, and housewares sellers have hit the ground running with this new ability. You should probably be selling on Instagram, too.

A huge eCommerce lesson this year is just how much social media is dominating the entire eCommerce landscape. And not only that, but top eCommerce platforms are constantly innovating to set new trends.

Now that we’ve looked back on what happened in 2017, next week we’ll take a look at eCommerce predictions for 2018 and learn how you can make it your best year yet!

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