E-Commerce in 2017

By Jamie McSloy / May 18, 2017
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I’ve been looking into e-commerce recently, because it seems to be where everything is headed. Whether you’re a freelancer (in which case you’ll be working for e-commerce guys) a start-up entrepreneur (in which case you’ll be the e-commerce guy) or even just a customer (in which case,you’re buying from the e-commerce guy.)

Here’s my general summary:

We’re all really small fishes in a really big pond.

“E-Commerce is Over-Saturated”

I spent the day trying to research an ecommerce opportunity. I’d booked myself onto a webinar with a guy who started an incubator after building a handful of successful projects out of Guangzhou. I figured I should at least try and know what I was talking about before listening to an hours’ talk on the subject.

(Side note and disclaimer: I signed up originally because I figured I’d sneak up on start-up guys who might need direct marketing services. That didn’t work out so well. Never mind.)

I’ll talk more about the webinar in a moment because there’s an interesting lesson.

This section of the article is about one thing though; the idea that “e-commerce is dead” or “played out” or “too competitive.”

(Time Out: If you’re enjoying this article, then you should probably sign up to my mailing list, where I give out ideas and business tricks that I don’t share publicly. Click here, fill out your details and get yourself on the list! You won’t leave this page.

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Go on some online forum and you’ll find various iterations of that sentiment over and over again. The sky is always falling in on forums, and e-commerce is no different. You’d think by reading those threads that people were scraping by and making margins of 0.001 percent on anything sold.

They might be… except unless I’m really rubbish at Google searching, I couldn’t find any information related to a) the product I was thinking of exploring, b) the process of getting it designed and built and c) the best places to have this done. Add in all of the other more specific aspects of the business and you’re talking about an untapped market.

Trust me, if there’s one thing I’m good at, it’s spending hours searching for useless and obscure information on Google. What this means is that this is an untapped market. Except… it’s not. We’re talking about a multi-billion dollar industry.

But there’s no information on that, despite the forums filled with “E-Commerce is dead.

Small Fish, Massive Pond

Most guys who talk about e-commerce online tend to do exactly the same thing as all the other guys before them. If you go on Kickstarter right now, I bet the front page has fifty-six different board games and twenty-eight different “luxury watch” manufacturers.

Then there’s the T-shirt business thing. Everyone jumps on Teespring to simultaneously create enough witty-slogan T-shirts to clothe all seven billion of us for the next fifty years.

Those ideas are tapped out. But what do you expect when there’s a front-page “Step-by-step method with no money down” guide on every entrepreneur website on the internet?

Good news is here though; outside of that, there’s a ton of money to be made. And the surface is barely showing signs of being scratched.

This extends to really obvious stuff. Check out these images:


Now, if you’re into blogging, SEO and the like, then you’ll know that those figures aren’t exactly competitive. Some of you already travel around the world and you could easily be tapping into people who are looking for the information.

In fact, check this out:

There are six books in the Kindle store that come up when you search for that basic term. Six.

This is easy stuff as well; there are about six trillion businesses in China and even more that want to be in China, and yet the information isn’t freely available – nor is it non-freely available.

Now imagine you’re trying something really niche like building dehumidifiers. Do you really think that that niche will be too competitive?

Point made, let’s move on to the second lesson of the day.

How To Get A Seven Figure Mentor

So I attended the webinar I talked about earlier. Now, webinars can be mixed quality. Sometimes, they’re just a PowerPoint pitch for some overpriced e-product. This one was good. The guy running it was trying to get people to sign up for his angel investing service. He himself started multiple businesses and (at least claimed) to have made eight figures before starting the angel investing thing.

In other words, he knew what he was talking about and the webinar was very good. I took a ton of notes. That’s not the point I want to bring up though.

After the webinar (about product sourcing) he opened the floor for everyone to ask questions. According to the little ticker thing, there were between twenty and thirty people attending at a time.

Two people asked questions. One of those people said, “Hey, I missed the beginning of this webinar! Can I get a replay?”

The other one was me. I asked a handful of questions and then asked for the guy’s private email. He sent me an email a couple of hours after the webinar finished.

I know you’re thinking, “Cool story, bro!” but there’s a point to all of this.

People are always asking for mentors. Even more people don’t ask for mentors and slip and skim around going from project to project with no guidance.

It isn’t hard to find people who know what they’re talking about. If someone knows what they’re talking about and is freely giving information, then you’ve got nothing to lose by emailing them and saying, “Hey… thanks for writing about X. Can I ask a few questions?”

Providing you have basic social skills and don’t write “HEY GIVE ME MONEY AND KNOWLEDGE WHAT ARE YOUR NICHES?” (Some people do this) you probably won’t get turned down.

When you move away from the digital nomad hustle blogger crowd, people give their information away freely. To use an example from earlier, a guy who runs a dehumidifier business probably isn’t going to upsell you to a $200 make money online course if you email him. Why? Because that isn’t his business and it’s not like the dehumidifier niche is getting destroyed by wantrepreneurs with Facebook Ads and dropship spam methods.

Final Thoughts

To summarise, here are my thoughts on e-commerce in 2017:

  • There are tons of opportunities out there
  • Aside from some low-hanging fruit which are overplayed business ideas, there’s no competition
  • There’s also a distinct lack of information out there for the savvy information seller
  • If you want to learn about areas or markets, then just email people in the field asking for information
  • Other than that – regular principles apply; find problem, create solution, market effectively

Exploring opportunities is fun and e-commerce is clearly only going to trend upwards in the coming years as it becomes more accessible. In terms of international stuff, the opportunities are even more prevalent, fruitful and act as a hedge against other global shenanigans automatically. More on this another time.

As always, let me know how you get on.

  • Ari says:

    Hi Jamie,

    Thanks for the positive articles – I’m still in the process of making money from my first niche sites and haven’t found success yet. But my sites are getting indexed and I’m receiving the first visitors – so I’m happy.

    I have two niche sites now (1-2 months old with each around 5-10 articles/reviews of 1000+ words) and I’m unsure how to continue. What do you recommend:
    – Start more niche sites and check in a couple of months how my first ones are doing
    – Or focus on these two until they start making money



  • Peter says:

    Product development is actually getting significantly easier with the newer advancd manufacturing techniques (CNC + 3D printers). But there are some start up costs involved. A good CAD program will set you back $4-20k. But companies like xometry and protolabs are make rapid prototyping available without sinking tons of time into a home based 3D printer and/or CNC mill. Finding manufactures is a little bit more tricky, but typically you can find one in your area by searching manufacturing technique + area. I am trying to figure the ecommerce thing myself (starting with a niche). To me the manufacturing seems straight forward (but work intensive), the finding customers seems like the toughest part.

    If you plan on going into product development, I suggest buying a book on manufacturing techniques and skimming through it (so you can see what can be done easily and cheaply).

  • […] Reader Ari asked a great question the other day: […]

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