It was Jim Rohn who said that “Reading is essential for those who seek to rise above the ordinary.”
And in today’s rapidly evolving ecommerce market, you can’t afford to let a day slip by where you don’t learn something new.
Books are the perfect way to discover new ideas. They allow you to peek into the minds of some of the world’s most successful individuals and absorb nuggets of wisdom.
In some respects, they’re the best value form of mentorship money can buy.
We’ve rounded up the nine best eCommerce books to read in 2021. Think of them as a curriculum to help you become the best entrepreneur you can be.
By reading these books over the next year, you’ll radically enhance your skills, expand your perspective, and equip yourself to take your eCom business to the next level.
Let’s jump right in!
The Ultimate E Commerce Book Collection for 2021
1. Building A Story Brand
As more and more brands flood into the eCommerce space, it’s becoming harder to stand out. Nowadays, most consumers are skeptical of advertising. That’s why having a clear brand story they can buy into is more important than ever before.
Building a Story Brand teaches you how to create and tell a compelling story that resonates with your customers. You’ll learn how to side-step the most common branding pitfalls and deliver an enthralling message no matter who your ideal customer is.
To illustrate the power of storytelling, here’s a clip from Warby Parker that invites customers behind the scenes. By sharing how their products are made, customers feel like they are buying a work of art while also supporting social good.
Pretty powerful stuff, right?
“What stories teach us is that people’s internal desire to resolve a frustration is a greater motivator than their desire to solve an external problem.”Donald Miller, Building a Story Brand
2. The $100 startup
The $100 startup is essential reading for anyone getting started on their entrepreneurial journey. The book revolves around the idea of becoming a ‘solopreneur’ (a business with no other employees) and provides actionable steps to get you there.
It’s not explicitly related to eCommerce, but the principles Chris spells out can be applied to get your eCommerce business off the ground.
From coming up with ideas to quickly testing their viability and generating income, this is the perfect manual for folks who want to start a side-hustle next weekend.
Urban Dwellers is a store Chris featured on his eCommerce podcast ‘Side Hustle School’ (also excellent). While this business cost more than $100 to start, you can apply the same principles to keep things lean and morph your ideas into reality.
“Value means helping people. If you’re trying to build a business and begin your efforts by helping people, you’re on the right track. When you get stuck, ask yourself: How can I give more value? Or more simply: How can I help my customers more?”Chris Guillebeau, $100 Start-up
3. Epic Content Marketing
Content marketing is all about drawing customers towards your brand with blogs, video, and other media. And in 2021, it’s got to be a crucial part of your marketing playbook.
Why? Well, in the past six years, Facebook’s average cost per click increased by 612.5%. That means relying on paid traffic alone is going to harm your profitability.
Epic Content Marketing hammers home the point that modern eCommerce brands can’t continue to barrage their customers with sales messages. People don’t fall for that anymore.
Instead, the book shows you step-by-step how to create gripping content that customers genuinely want to engage with. Plus, it outlines the best practices for distributing it via search and social.
To see the power of content marketing in action, you don’t need to look further than some of today’s most prominent eCom players. Case in point; Beardbrand.
Beardbrand has an excellent blog, a killer youtube channel, and a brilliant social media presence. Customers find their content before they find their products, which builds trust and reciprocity.
“Your customers don’t care about you, your products, or your services. They care about themselves.”Joe Pulizzi, Epic Content Marketing
4. The Thank You Economy
Social media marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck has been talking about the importance of one-to-one communication for years. In The Thank You Economy, Gary shares how this philosophy extends to customer service too.
The book stresses that in the age of social media, delivering average customer experiences won’t cut it. Businesses need to proactively engage with their audience as good friends or risk losing customers to competitors.
Gary’s ideas shed light on what it means to deliver extraordinary customer service and build meaningful relationships with a global audience in the 21st century.
“Social media has made it possible for consumers to interact with businesses in a way that is often similar to how they interact with their friends and family.”Gary Vaynerchuck, The Thank You Economy
👉Suggested Reading: 5 Best Practices for eCommerce Customer Support
5. Influence – The Psychology of Persuasion
Influence by Robert Cialdini has long been essential reading for anyone in sales or marketing. And with good reason too.
The book breaks down the psychology of why people say yes and how to apply these principles ethically in business. The core principles Cialdini outlines are:
- – Scarcity
- – Social proof
- – Reciprocity
- – Liking
- – Commitment
- – Authority
After reading the book, you’ll start to see the principles of persuasion in every piece of marketing you encounter. You’ll be able to identify how brands are leveraging these psychological principles to convince more people to buy.
And the best part? You’ll be able to implement them in your marketing and make more sales too.
“The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.”Robert Cialdini, Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion
6. The Copywriters Handbook
Excellent copywriting is fundamental to building a successful online business. Your website, ads, emails, and more all require a compelling copy that speaks to your audience.
The Copywriters handbook is a treasure-trove of wisdom that contains practical techniques to help you step-up your copy game and seduce more customers.
The updated edition is revised to be relevant in the digital age. You’ll learn everything from how to write an irresistible headline to crafting uber-clickable email subject lines and more.
It’s a timeless book you’ll find yourself continually coming back to whenever you’re lacking inspiration or need help clarifying your marketing messages.
“We are not in the business of being original. We are in the business of reusing things that work.”Robert Bly, The Copywriters Handbook
7. Launch – Jeff Walker
This e commerce book from industry veteran Jeff Walker provides an easy to follow roadmap that’ll help you launch new products with a bang.
Using lots of examples, Jeff breaks down the proven steps you need to take to have your audience eagerly counting down the days until they can buy from you.
You’ll learn what tools you need to create a product launch strategy and how to position your brand and product for maximum results. Plus, there’s a whole heap of insightful tips to help you manage your time and budget better.
“Making the right decisions around that opportunity cost is one of the biggest factors in the success of your business.”Launch, Jeff Walker
8. Deep Work
One of the biggest challenges for entrepreneurs is to manage their time effectively. And in an age of relentless distraction, devoting sufficient attention to what matters most becoming difficult.
The result is that our scattered minds are never fully able to master the skills we require to become successful.
Deep Work offers the antidote to this distraction. Part social critique and part how-to guide, Newport explains how the ability to do ‘deep work’ is a modern-day superpower.
The book lays out several useful techniques that’ll help you end distraction, boost productivity, and do the work that makes the most significant difference to your business.
If you’ve been feeling like your days are a frantic scramble between emails and social media, you need to read this book.
“Clarity about what matters provides clarity about what does not.”Cal Newport, Deep Work
9. The Everything Store
It’s fair to say Jeff Bezos knows a thing or two about eCommerce. He transformed his business Amazon from a small scale garage-operation to the world’s biggest online retailer in a couple of years.
While The Everything Store isn’t a practical e commerce marketing book per se, it is an outstanding resource for learning how to flourish in the eCommerce world from the industry leader.
The author, Brad Stone, spent months interviewing Amazon employees and people close to Bezos to gain a unique insight into his approach to life and business.
You won’t find any how-tos here, but the book provides you with a great perspective and will inspire you to dream big and never give up.
“Some of these investments will pay off, others will not, and we will have learned another valuable lesson in either case.”Brad Stone, The Everything Store
How to Get the Most From eCommerce Books
If you’ve read several books, you’ll know how bad our brains are at retaining the information in them for more than a couple of days.
And this sucks because, in terms of time invested, reading isn’t exactly cheap.
So here are three quick tips that’ll help you massively increase the amount of knowledge you hold on to from each book.
1. Make Your Goal To ‘Read Until Revelation’
Many of us think the more we read, the better. Thus, our goal can be to consume as many books as possible. But what’s the point if at the end of our 100th book we haven’t absorbed the wisdom we wanted in the first place?
This is where the idea of ‘reading until revelation’ comes in. This means that, instead of trying to read a given number of pages per day, you read until you discover an idea that makes you go, ‘Wow, I hadn’t seen things that way before.’
Approaching books with this mentality relieves the pressure of simply ‘getting through it’ and refocuses your mind to appraise each idea contained within. It’s a great way to give ideas additional stickiness in your brain.
2. Create a System For Taking Notes
Making notes about books might be an uncomfortable throwback to your school days, but it’s an incredibly effective way to enhance idea retention. Productivity expert Thomas Frank has an incredible 4-part system you can copy to achieve this:
- – Read: Read in a way that promotes good comprehension.
- – Highlight: Use a pen/book flags to mark interesting ideas, examples, or quotes
- – Record: At the end of each chapter, revise your notes and record them in a tool
- – Synthesize: Connect new information to your existing knowledge and ideas
We won’t go in-depth into his method in this post, but here’s a YouTube video where he shares his approach:
3. Use Association & Repetition to Your Advantage
One of the best ways to retain ideas better is by linking new ideas to stuff you already know. Ideas can be abstract, but they become a lot easier to remember when you put them into context.
So, if there’s an idea you want to remember, stop reading and think back to a time when you could have implemented the principle in question. This associates the new concept with a memory you already have.
In addition, repetition is a great way to hang onto more of what you read. Taking notes and reviewing already helps with this process – but also consider re-reading chapters or paragraphs that stood out (bonus points if you read it aloud the second time)
If that’s not your cup of tea, you can always download an audiobook version and listen to the bok from scratch. This is particularly effective if you do it a month or two after reading the book.
What’s Your Favorite E Commerce Book?
And that’s a wrap!
Before you go, remember that a commitment to learning and personal growth is a core trait of successful entrepreneurs.
And nowadays, books are the perfect antidote to the information overload plaguing the eCommerce space.
Instead of hopping from one Youtuber to the next, good ecommerce marketing books contain the distilled business principles that have worked since time immemorial.
By reading the books above, you’ll be able to skip over many of the mistakes new companies make, accelerate your growth, and build a brand that stands the test of time.
What are your favorite books on e commerce? Do you prefer practical ecommerce textbooks, strategy books, or biographies of successful entrepreneurs? Let us know in the comments below!