If you’d time-traveled forward from the 1990s when eCommerce took its first baby steps—or even from 2010—you’d be blown away by what the industry looks like now. Things online change remarkably fast and in eCommerce these days they seem to change even faster, which is why it’s crucial for eCommerce business owners to always keep an eye on learning and growing.
But… there’s a lot of eCommerce educational content out there. A search for “eCommerce” in the Amazon Kindle store returns “over 20,000 results.” A Google search for “eCommerce courses” returns a first page featuring seven ads along with links to some of the huge online education sites (and their intimidatingly gigantic course selections). It can be hard to know where to start, and even harder to dig through all of the offerings to find the gems.
We’re here to help in two ways.
First, we are thrilled to introduce you to a brand new resource called Jilt Learn. Our aim is to create for you the most comprehensive email marketing guide ever for eCommerce business owners just starting out and veterans alike. We launched with 18 lessons, thousands of stats, and hundreds of original examples to teach you all things email marketing. From now on, if you ever have a question on how to approach any aspect of email marketing, you need a statistic or an example, or you just want to learn something new, we hope you’ll make Jilt Learn your first stop!
And second, we vetted a ton of eCommerce educational content to put together this list of helpful online resources for eCommerce businesses. Most of these won’t hit the highly competitive (and ad-heavy) first page of Google, but they’re worth your time and should provide you with insights, ideas, and strategies to grow your business.
Here are our recommended YouTube videos, courses, and books to grow your eCommerce education. (If you’re interested in podcasts as well, we’ve covered the top eCommerce podcasts in a previous article.)
YouTube has evolved into a great resource for educational content on any subject—in just the past few months I’ve used YouTube videos to disassemble IKEA furniture, diagnose a car problem, cook a chicken dish, and figure out a color correction technique in Photoshop. eCommerce is no exception. Here is some of the great, free eCommerce educational content for you on YouTube.
Casual eCommerce is the brainchild of Jake Alexander who has a solid seven years of selling products online under his belt. His channel promises “no courses, no BS, just tutorials”—it’s entirely made up of tutorials to help you grow your eCommerce business. The approach is very grassroots and there’s not a massive production budget, but he knows what he’s talking about—and you quickly learn that good information doesn’t require lots of extra flourishes.
Our pick to get you started: this tutorial on setting up Google Ads with Shopify.
Dan Lok: How to start an eCommerce business
Dan Lok is a Canadian entrepreneur who’s started several successful online businesses. His channel features videos on business, finance, and success. While some of his flashier “Bentleys and brashness”-type content won’t resonate with everyone, his eCommerce and overall business advice is insightful and valuable—and comes from a place of experience.
We recommend starting with this five-minute video where he shares his top lessons from building an eCommerce business valued at millions of dollars—so you can avoid the most common pitfalls. (Note: This video, like most of his videos, features uncensored language.)
Oberlo – eCommerce tips and tricks
Dropshipping expert Oberlo has put together an impressive YouTube channel for online entrepreneurs. The channel has everything from tips for beginners to business ideas to entrepreneurship inspiration. Their niche is dropshipping, so the channel is particularly good if you’re in that space—however, there’s plenty of broader eCommerce advice for those who aren’t.
Our pick to get started is the first video of a three-part series offering tips and tricks for eCommerce, including setting goals, budgeting and improving conversions.
Adventures in eCommerce
This YouTube channel looks at a range of online shopping niches, including affiliate marketing, dropshipping, white labeling, and selling online on various platforms. There are dozens of really helpful videos, but one of the most popular is How to sell on Amazon, where you can learn tips that generated $500,000 in sales in one month.
Tim Sharp has been involved in eCommerce for more than 20 years—in other words, he’s been involved in the industry for most of its existence. On this channel, you’ll find a mix of very short videos with quick advice (e.g., “The $20 sweet spot, or why don’t people just buy from Amazon?” is 2:33) and very long videos with thorough, comprehensive advice (e.g., “How to build an eCommerce store with WordPress and WooCommerce” is 3:06:43!). We actually recommend both of those videos, depending on how much time you have to set aside right now.
If you really want to go deep into your eCommerce education (and the free three-hour video above isn’t deep enough), then it’s worth looking into online courses. You’d be hard pressed to find a top online learning site without eCommerce courses—but that also presents a challenge. With so many to choose from, how do you pick? We went through some of the big course sites to find a good jumping off point.
Founded by Harvard and MIT, EdX is an open source, nonprofit education platform. It boasts high-quality courses developed by top learning institutions, and you can take one-off courses, professional certificate courses, and even undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
Only a few courses are labeled as eCommerce, though there are dozens of related courses you can use to learn about other important facets of running an online business. For example, you can learn more about identifying your customer in one of the top-rated marketing fundamentals courses. (There are also highly-recommended free courses on things like business strategy, data analytics, supply chain management, and project management.)
Udemy specializes in online education, but since it’s pretty easy to become a Udemy instructor, you have to do a bit of research to find the courses worth your time (and money). The overall rating score is a decent guide, but I also like to check who’s running the course and their qualifications. The complete eCommerce bootcamp – build a Shopify site is a good bet for people just getting started (and the instructors have demonstrable expertise).
LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com) is a great place to find courses on all aspects of business. While the platform has a subscription fee, from time to time, LinkedIn offers some of the courses for free. One popular course in the eCommerce niche is this one on social media marketing, which teaches you how to find your customers online, how to plan your strategy, and how to target content to them.
Coursera offers accredited university courses as well as professional certifications. Much like EdX, you can take many of the courses for free, or pay to receive a certificate and (in some cases) feedback on your projects.
One of the things we like about Coursera is the information on outcomes after people have taken a course; those are a great indicator of the quality of the information you can learn from that course. Our pick, Digital product management: Modern fundamentals from the University of Virginia, helped 34 percent of people attain “tangible career benefits.” Among other topics, it covers core product management and product development skills.
The eCommerce world changes fast, so books can become outdated pretty quickly. For this section, we tracked down some newer books with great insights—ideas that are relevant right now in the moment, and also have some evergreen staying power.
The Forever Transaction by Robbie Kellman Baxter
Membership-based businesses continue to get more popular. This book dives into the benefits and how-tos of setting up a business with recurring revenue or adding a recurring revenue feature to your existing eCommerce store.
80/20 Sales and Marketing by Perry Marshall
Smart time, effort, and resource management strategies are essential for growing eCommerce businesses—as you need to make sure you’re investing in the aspects of your business that truly pay off. This book covers the 80/20 rule as it specifically applies to a growing business to help you maximize how you apply your time and money.
Be the Go-To by Theresa M. Lina
Every eCommerce business needs to find a way to stand out to succeed. Lina lays out a unique, actionable, step-by-step approach in this book to setting your brand apart, building a loyal customer base, and rapidly growing your business.
There Are No Shortcuts to eCommerce Business. Except These by Chriss Zoe
More of a booklet than a book, this eCommerce guide is just 58 pages. The information comes from the owner of ShopChrissZoe.com, a Shopify store, and focuses on the lessons she learned in the early stages of her business. There’s a lot of wisdom packed into a small number of pages that can help eCommerce entrepreneurs with make-or-break early decisions.
Bezonomics by Brian Dumaine
While you probably won’t create the next Amazon, there are plenty of lessons from Amazon’s ascent that businesses of all sizes can apply to their own eCommerce store. Written by award-winning Fortune writer Brian Dumaine, Bezonomics shows how innovation, customer focus, and artificial intelligence—among other things—are driving growth at Amazon, and how other eCommerce companies are replicating the company’s success.
Billion Dollar B2B eCommerce by Brian Beck
The business-to-business world is moving online and really starting to embrace many of the traditional business-to-consumer eCommerce techniques it long resisted. In Billion Dollar B2B eCommerce: Seize the Opportunity, eCommerce expert Brian Beck looks at the importance of digital transformation in the B2B eCommerce space and teaches B2B owners how to compete. The book includes B2B-focused assessments of eCommerce platforms and channels and more than 30 illustrative case studies.
For more recommendations on great eCommerce educational content, we recommend subscribing to our Jilt email list. Every week we send out links to fresh content aimed at helping eCommerce stores grow and improve their businesses and email marketing strategies.
And bookmark Jilt Learn for whenever you have any question about email marketing. Whether you need an idea of where to put a form on your website to grow your list, a sample three-email cart abandonment recovery series, a step-by-step guide on how to A/B test your subject lines, or a killer stat that proves why email marketing is the most effective form of online marketing there is, you’ll find it at Jilt Learn.