How to Build a Profitable eCommerce Business In The Post-IOS World

Dmitry Fesenko
17 June, 2022

The world of eCommerce has changed dramatically over the last year.

We went through a huge increase in demand during the pandemic and the highest ROAS in the history of eCommerce thanks to IOS 14 updates and a decline in marketing performance.

Gone are the times when you could build successful dropshipping store shipping products directly from Aliexpress and just buying traffic on Facebook for cheap.

In short, it is much harder to make money in eCommerce now.

Does it mean that you have to give up trying to build eCommerce business?

Of course not.

COVID lockdowns and the post-vaccine re-opening of consumer and retail mobility have triggered ups and downs in the eCommerce industry, but the assumption that this instability signals “the end of eCommerce” is far from the truth.


I still believe there is plenty of fish in the sea for everyone. Numbers don’t lie, eCommerce revenue grows year after year and should reach $7.3 trillion in 2025 🤯


You just have to learn how to play this new game.

And I think the most important thing before rushing into paid traffic is to get fundamentals right.

But, you ask, I see so many brands out there running ads, how do they able to sustain during these times?

They focus on fundamentals first before jumping into running any sort of traffic.

Here is what I think you have to get right before you start spending dollars on paid traffic.

  • Brand
  • Website
  • Social media
  • Packaging
  • Customer service
  • Customer retention


If you want to build a sustainable eCommerce business that people love (and I believe you do), you have to start with your brand.

You might have an amazing product, and a big vision, but without a focus on the branding strategy from the beginning, it’s going to fall flat.

Why so? Because your brand is what allows you to develop a personality that makes prospects attracted to you and stand out from competitors. It also allows you to maximize customer retention, which is crucial for long-term success.

If you look around and think about the brands that are well-known and generate massive profits (such as Starbucks, Gucci, and Nike) you’ll realize that they all have something in common: a distinct personality that attracts a certain group of people.

Moreover, drinking coffee from Starbucks and wearing Nike shoes make people feel something. We can all go to the gym wearing shoes from any sports-clothing store, but wearing Nike triggers some sort of motivation and a good feeling that other shoes don’t.

Why? Because these brands are backed by a branding strategy specifically tailored to make people feel something.

Brand is the gut feeling people have about your product or company. When people buy they ask themselves “what does this make me”

Zag by Marty Neumeir

So, how do you develop a strategic brand?

This is obviously the job of a branding expert and we cannot cover everything in this article, but let’s discuss some of the essentials.

The basics

The first step of a strategic brand is the documentation of aspects such as values and mission. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Why does your brand exist?
  • What are you striving for in the future?
  • Which values do you hold?
  • What’s the story that you want to communicate?
Competitive advantage

Every brand out there exists to either solve a problem or fulfill a desire. Identifying how you do that is crucial, but it’s not enough. You need to find out what makes you different from competitors.

To do this, it’s crucial to spend enough time developing your value proposition.

Take a look at how Hyphensleep clarifies its competitive advantages on its website:

Resonating with your audience

If your target audience includes teenagers, would they feel attracted to a brand that sounds and feels serious and corporate? No.

To effectively catch your audience’s attention and make them enjoy engaging with you and your products, you need to resonate with them.

To do this, you need to choose a brand tone that speaks their language. If you’re selling to teenagers, it could be casual and playful. If you’re selling suits to business executives, a professional tone would be more appropriate.

Take a look at how Missguided resonates with younger generations by using a cheeky and casual tone:

Another important aspect of resonance lies in your visual aspects. The choice of colors, graphics, and pictures should all contribute to what you want your customers to feel. If you’re selling food, red may be a good choice since it stimulates hunger (that’s why KFC uses it).

If you’re selling health supplements, you may want to use green (which is associated with health) and include graphics related to wellness.


When you know what your brand stands for and you’ve developed a personality for it, it’s time to tell that story on your website.

Apart from incorporating the visual and textual elements of your brand on your website, there are other elements that you should consider to make your eCommerce website profitable. Let’s go over these elements.

Design and user-friendliness

Have you ever landed on a business website and immediately felt concerned over its credibility?

If so, you likely felt that due to low-quality web design. A website’s design elements determine the first impression users have of your business. If your website is cluttered, inconsistent, and hard to navigate, users will have the same negative impression of your brand.

If so, you likely felt that due to low-quality web design. A website’s design elements determine the first impression users have of your business. If your website is cluttered, inconsistent, and hard to navigate, users will have the same negative impression of your brand.

Needless to say, a well-designed website is absolutely crucial for success in eCommerce.

What is considered “good” web design? Here are some factors:

  • All its elements are aligned with specific branding guidelines
  • The branding guidelines provide fonts and colors that are consistent, go well together, and resonate with your audience
  • It feels “clean”, having significant white space and being easy on the user’s eyes (as opposed to being cluttered with too much copy and visuals)

Let’s take a look at an example of a website that abides by these guidelines:

This website feels clean, consistent, and easy to navigate. It is also based on branding guidelines, as shown by the choice of yellow and fonts.

When it comes to user-friendliness, intuitive navigation and clarity are important aspects. If people are confused about what is it that you offer exactly and where they should click to find specific information, they’re likely to bounce off.

You should also be attentive to site speed. According to Portent, each additional second of loading time decreases your conversion rate by 0.3%.



We’ve covered the importance of brand tone, but there’s an even more important textual aspect of successful eCommerce brands: they invest heavily in the copy of their website.

The ultimate aim of copy is to convince the user that your product can fulfill their desires or solve their problems. If you don’t communicate the reasons why they should spend their money on you, they simply won’t.

Characteristics of high-quality copy include a strong introduction that catches attention and encourages further reading, a clear explanation of the benefits of your products, and overall simplicity (people hate reading so you need to get the point across as quickly as possible).

Take a look at how Decibulz persuades the reader to invest in their custom hearing protection and headphone products:

Product detail pages (PDP)

Your PDPs should clearly communicate what your product is, why it’s different, how it compares to others, what makes it special, how can people get it, and any other information about why someone should use it. I recommend that you hire a product copywriter to write these in the most persuasive way possible.

The example below successfully emphasizes the benefit of the product (“let them tear it up on the decks, as opposed to your new sofa”) while also adding humor.

Moreover, high-quality product pictures are crucial since they contribute to your website’s design and allow users to get a proper feel of the product they’re considering.

Additional best practices for PDPs include FAQs, easy-to-find reviews, and a feature to allow previous customers to share pictures and videos of the product they received.

Social proof

You have a great brand, great design, great copy, and great products. There’s one thing missing in this mix – trust.

If you expect people to give you their credit card details and their hard-earned money, you need to show them that you’re trustworthy.

You can establish trust with social proof elements such as reviews, earned media quotes, partnerships, and awards.

This may be hard to do if you’re just starting out because you still haven’t gained traction in terms of popularity, and you need the first few customers to leave positive reviews. A good practice here is to give people you know 100% discount and ask them to buy something from you and leave a positive review.

You can also include links to your social media accounts as a form of social proof.

Take a look at how Skoutshonor highlights social proof on its website by adding before and after pictures, as well as press mentions:


If you need some inspiration, take a look at brands like Immi, Olipop, Kettle&Fire, Ritual, Jones Road. Their websites have nailed it in every aspect.

Organic Social Media

If over 50% of your business comes from Facebook ads, then you took a massive hit after the release of IOS 14.

We have seen businesses making over $200k in revenue per month during the pandemic that went almost to zero because 99% of their business came from Facebook ads. A lot of them didn’t even have basic email flows in place.

In short, the more your business depends on a single marketing channel, the more fragile it becomes to the ever-changing marketing landscape. Ideal case scenario, your business should be getting 50% of traffic organically (SMM, email, SMS, branded search, etc).

Another benefit of focusing on organic growth first is you will have a lot of content that can be leveraged into paid traffic. When you start running paid ads on Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Pinterest, and Snapchat, the main lever that specialists or agencies can use these days is testing as many pieces of content as possible to find the winner.

Moreover, nurturing a social media presence will allow you to form relationships with your current and future customers through content marketing.

Now that we’ve covered the importance of social media, let’s discuss some tips on how to use it to boost your success.

Develop a content strategy

The content on your social media accounts should be created according to a content strategy.

A successful content strategy entails content that your audience finds helpful, can relate to, and feel compelled to engage with. This allows you to attract loyal followers that appreciate your content, and you can promote your products to these people.

Another great practice is to incorporate user-generated content (UGC). For example, you can ask your followers to submit videos and pictures of them using your products. UGCs are a great method of not only engaging your followers but also providing social proof for future customers.

Stay native

In general, you can’t re-use the same content across all the media channels.

If you are pushing TikTok, you have to leverage all the tools the platform gives you to produce short, engaging videos like Obvi does.

Instagram used to be primarily picture-based, but short videos (reels) have been trending lately, so make sure to balance pictures with videos for maximum engagement.

On Pinterest, focus on vertical, professionally made content to inspire people. Mejuri Jewelry is a great example.


Finally, make sure to have a content calendar in place and abide by it strictly. If you only post every now and then, it will be hard to attract followers and create a relationship with them.


If you think about it, your packaging can be a great marketing channel.

Creating a memorable unboxing experience pays off in multiple ways. It allows you to make customers feel special, makes you stand out from competitors, and makes it more likely that they’ll purchase from you again.

An additional benefit is that customers are more likely to share a unique unboxing experience on social media. This basically gives you free exposure and traffic, and you can share their post or story to your profile for social proof to your followers.

To reap these benefits, take note of these packaging best practices:

Brand the package

Incorporating elements of your brand such as your logo and brand colors into your packaging is a simple yet effective way to improve the unboxing experience. Opening a carefully designed box is much more pleasing than a basic cardboard box.

Send a personalized note

Personalization is known to be one of the best ways to boost online conversions, but the power of personalized messages is not limited to the digital world.

Merely referring to someone by their first name immediately triggers brain activation and makes them feel special. If you can send a message that feels personalized, that’s even better.

Take a look at how Journ sends their customers handwritten notes:

Considering offering extras

Giving your customers something for free – such as a sample of another product or a complementary product – makes them feel special and triggers the feeling of indebtedness (making them more likely to purchase again in the future).

Customer Service

This one is pretty obvious, but so many brands neglect this. Thinking “as soon as I reach X in profit, I will start investing in better customer service” is wrong to the core. It doesn’t have to be fancy at the beginning, you might even do it by yourself.

If you have a good customer service in place, you will achieve:

  • Better conversion rate. A lot of website visitors will have questions before buying the product. If those questions stay unanswered, you lost your sale.
  • Higher retention. If you provide exceptional customer service people are more likely to become loyal customers.
  • More profit. Since acquiring new customers costs significantly more than retaining existing ones, the higher retention you’ll experience from a reliable customer service system will pay off in terms of profit.

As for the tech stack, Gorgias seems like an obvious choice.

Gorgias not only has all the bells & whistles you’d expect out of a great customer service platform: live chat, a mobile app, integrations with your entire tech stack, social media comment moderation, ad comment moderation, analytics, etc.

They also help you whiz through all your open tickets by using macros that dynamically insert information based on the ticket.


Even if your website converts at a decent level, most of the traffic you are driving to your website doesn’t convert at first interaction. Even if people express interest by placing items in their carts, cart abandonment rates for eCommerce are 80.68%.

To squeeze extra dollars into your pocket you need to have email flows running on the backend. Here is the minimum setup that your store should have:

  1. Welcome flow
  2. Browse abandonment flow
  3. Cart abandonment flow
  4. Post-purchase flow

For details, you can refer to our Email Marketing Guide.

Email marketing as a channel could be very complex. If you are not sure where to even start, feel free to reach out to us here.

Another important benefit of using email marketing is that you own the relationships with your audience.

Since IOS 14 was released, and businesses lost the ability to track half of the users due to privacy policy, it’s becoming much more important to focus on collecting first or zero-party data.

Without getting into details, the main difference between first-party data and zero-party data is the amount of data you collect from users.


Even though the eCommerce space is becoming more challenging, we strongly believe that it is possible to have an amazing and profitable business. You just have to adjust and work on building a strong foundation first.

We hope this blog post didn’t discourage you from starting your own eCommerce business and making this world a better place 😉

Sounds like a lot to process? Say hello and connect with our AdTribe team here.

Share with

Ready to hit your goals?