Launching an ecommerce business may be relatively simple, but making it successful requires a wealth of knowledge.
You may know that leveraging social media platforms can help promote your ecommerce business. But which platforms should you use? What are the differences? And what other growth tactics should you be using?
We’ve compiled a list of books to help answer these and many other questions. Here are 12 must-read books on ecommerce.
1. Poke the Box by Seth Godin
Seth Godin has written almost 20 books about business trends and leadership, and Poke the Box is considered one of his best.
Find out more about how scarcity leads to success in any business. Learn why Godin thinks everyone has a marketable product or service—they only have to dig in and find out more about what makes them unique and special.
If you’ve been hoping to dive into ecommerce but think the market is too volatile, this could be the inspiration you need.
Fans cite Godin’s cheerleader voice within the book, encouraging almost everyone to become an entrepreneur. Others say it’s a quick read that provides plenty of food for thought, while some say the book is a little light on tactical information.
2. Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen by Donald Miller
The words you use when describing your online business can make or break your brand. In Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen, Donald Miller walks beginners through a step-by-step process to dramatically improve how they connect with customers.
Find out about the seven universal story types that relate to all people, including your customers. Find out what makes people buy a product—or not. And determine how to simplify your brand message for more effective websites, brochures, and social media posts.
Fans say this is one of the best branding books available. Entrepreneurs struggling to tell their brand stories in a cohesive way appreciate the tip-based format.
Critics claim that the book contains too many attempts at self-promotion. The author discusses his own work very often, and some find the repetition grating and unnecessary.
3. Launch: How to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams by Jeff Walker
For many ecommerce entrepreneurs, launching a business is the most intimidating aspect of the entire enterprise. Launch: How to Sell Almost Anything Online, Build a Business You Love, and Live the Life of Your Dreams is a bestseller designed to help anyone become successful in online retail.
Companies like Apple have dedicated fans who count the days until they can buy a new product. Walker believes anyone can achieve this level of success, and his step-by-step plan makes it possible.
Walker is honest about how difficult ecommerce success really is. He points out how long it takes to build a successful brand. But fans say the book contains plenty of actionable tips to help you build an email marketing list, learn from customers, and more.
Critics say Walker is too willing to discuss his own success, and some feel like those bits are designed to pad out what could be a much shorter book.
4. Digital Business and Ecommerce Management by Dave Chaffey, Tanya Hemphill, and David Edmundson-Bird
If you’re intimidated by the thought of opening an ecommerce business and want someone to walk you through the steps, Digital Business and Ecommerce Management could be the book for you.
This book is made with students and ecommerce novices in mind. Learn how to plan and implement a business strategy, hone your SEO and online marketing skills, and read case studies to help you understand what leads to success.
Students in MBA programs are fans of this book, as they say it helps them nail the language and understand the concepts. But some say the ecommerce market is changing so fast that books like this go out of date almost as soon as they are published.
5. Breakthrough Startups: Crush the Competition With Your Innovative Startup by Jonathan S. Walker
What happens if you open your ecommerce shop but can’t get enough attention and customers? Breakthrough Startups: Crush the Competition with Your Innovative Startup is made to help you understand how to get traction for your ecommerce website.
Find out how to get your business off the ground with effective marketing campaigns. Determine if Amazon’s Affiliate Marketing Program is right for you. And learn more about social media techniques to help you dominate Facebook and Twitter.
While this book was published in 2018, few people have reviewed it. Those who have say it could be considered an ultimate guide to ecommerce marketing.
6. Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business by Donald Miller and J.J. Peterson
There’s a reason Donald Miller appears on our list twice. This writer provides plenty of actionable advice you could use to succeed in ecommerce. Marketing Made Simple: A Step-by-Step StoryBrand Guide for Any Business is based on the StoryBrand concept introduced in Miller’s earlier book.
Learn more about how to build relationships with your customers, create and implement a winning marketing plan, and develop a sales funnel that converts browsers into fans.
Readers say this is a step-by-step guide to success, almost like a “marketing for dummies.” Clear plans are outlined, along with the reasoning for each step. Some critics say the advice is too basic to be helpful or interesting to people with years of experience in marketing.
7. The Finance Book: Understand the Numbers Even if You’re Not a Finance Professional by Stuart Warner and Si Hussain
Plenty of ecommerce books focus on branding. This one is different. The Finance Book: Understand the Numbers Even If You’re Not a Finance Professional focuses on the economic underpinnings of your business. After reading it, you’ll understand how to talk with your contractors and financial professionals.
Each chapter contains a standalone economic concept, so you’re not required to read it sequentially. The ideal reader knows nothing about finance and metrics, and the language is purposefully simple and easy to understand.
Fans say the authors do an exceptional job of breaking down difficult concepts into easy-to-understand terms. Some say they handled their jobs much better after reading the book, and they kept it on hand for brush-ups as needed.
Critics say the book is dull, and that much of the meat of the content sits in appendices. Flipping between the front of the book and back can be cumbersome, especially on an e-reader like a Kindle.
8. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman
Ecommerce entrepreneurship involves managing not just a product but the people involved in the business too. Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business outlines tips people can use to run their companies with more focus.
The techniques used in this book are proprietary and trademarked, and critics say the author spends too long trying to sell them to readers. But fans say they read the book repeatedly to glean insights they may miss on a quick read. The book is so popular that you may have already heard about it in ecommerce business discussions.
9. Crushing It by Gary Vaynerchuk
Social media plays an important role for any ecommerce company. Crushing It is designed to help anyone find success on major social media platforms.
Find out how the platforms work, how many people are on them, and what types of content work best in each space. Dig into influencer marketing, and read case studies about companies that put these principles to work and became wildly successful.
Vaynerchuk is a widely respected writer with a lively and entertaining style. His books are always actionable, but they’re fun to read too.
Fans say the book is useful in helping people build their personal brands online. Fans also say they appreciate the case studies, as prior Vaynerchuk books were all about the man and his success.
Critics say that the author spends too much time hyping the book and padding it to reach a specific length.
10. Contagious: Why Things Catch On by Jonah Berger
Why do some ecommerce brands grow wildly successful almost overnight, while others never even get off the ground? Contagious: Why Things Catch On is designed to answer that question. The author is a Warton professor drawing on plenty of research in this book made for entrepreneurs of all types, including those selling digital products.
Find out how word-of-mouth promotions are more effective than digital marketing campaigns and how you can get people talking about your brand. Learn how promoting the right product could entice people to talk about your brand as a whole. And read case studies packed with companies that improved their conversion rates.
Fans say the book is well-written and includes plenty of great case studies. They also say it’s fun to read and even hard to put down.
Critics say the lessons don’t apply to all business types, and that some of the stories seem a little like click-bait.
11. Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale Into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days by Joey Coleman
Turning one-time buyers into loyal customers can be hugely beneficial for any ecommerce business. Never Lose a Customer Again: Turn Any Sale Into Lifelong Loyalty in 100 Days is about creating those lasting relationships.
The author suggests that the first 100 days after checkout are critical to keeping customers coming back. Whether you’re selling something simple (like coffee) or big (like an online training course), you have the opportunity to provide a great customer experience that inspires loyalty.
Check out the step-by-step plan laid out in the book, and read plenty of case studies that demonstrate how this works in real life.
Fans say the book has plenty of takeaways, exercises, and wisdom to help them get started. Some say it’s one of the best books available about customer retention. But others say the writing can be a little too sales-focused to be readable.
12. The EXITPreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success by Joe Valley
The EXITPreneur’s Playbook: How to Sell Your Online Business for Top Dollar by Reverse Engineering Your Pathway to Success is a step-by-step guide to selling an online business for the highest profit possible, so you can move on to your next ecommerce success.
Find out how to assess the potential value of your business and ensure you get top dollar when you sell. Follow a step-by-step plan for selling a business, and learn how to scale up to get the most before the sale closes. Insights could also help you to buy a business too.
Fans say this is one of the best books on the market covering ecommerce business sales. They also say the writing is immersive and entertaining. But if you’re not interested in selling your business, this isn’t the right book for you.
Read your way to ecommerce success
The books we’ve listed can help you learn from true experts and thought leaders. Many of the authors we chose have been in business for decades, and they have case studies to prove it. Whether you pick one or read all 12, you’re sure to find actionable insights to help you in your ecommerce business.
FAQs on books for ecommerce
What is the best way to learn about ecommerce?
Some people prefer to learn at their own pace with books, webinars, and podcasts. Others like to take formal classes in community colleges and universities. The choice is really up to you.
Is reading a requirement for ecommerce success?
It never hurts to learn from people who have succeeded in ecommerce. They likely have insights you haven’t considered and perspectives that can be useful for you.
 Ecommerce Statistics: Industry Benchmarks and Growth (Insider Intelligence)