Introduction to Ecommerce

free e-commerce course online

About the Author

Hi there. Many of you will know me already, but for those who do not…I am a father, a husband, a transplanted Texan, a sailor, a hippie more or less, and I listen to way too much bad 80s rock and roll. None of that matters right now. Here’s what does:

In 1988 I exited the Navy with not much more than my freedom. I took a job with a manufacturers’ representative firm in Maryland, and spent the next 9 years driving the wheels off of a series of Hondas in VA, MD, DC and DE.
It was really hard work.

But it got me where I wanted to be. In the fall of 1999 I finalized a deal to buy the company I worked for. There was not much to it: 3 employees, some demo equipment, office furniture – and a really basic website my son put up for us when he was 15.

While I was working my way into a position to buy the company, the world was changing. Being a manufacturers’ rep was becoming problematic because… By the late 1990s factories were closing in Virginia at a frightening pace. The jobs were moving to Mexico, and shortly thereafter to Asia.

Here I finally had my chance to break out on my own, and everything was going down the tubes – except that little website. It was starting to make money, and it only served one niche. I looked through our list of manufacturers, and identified some more that I thought represented opportunities. Not that I could do any research – I hadn’t the slightest idea how.

But I did have a friend with a real website. He introduced me to his webmaster, and I was off and running. More sites went up. We grew like crazy, to the point that I was able to stop traveling and change the company to an internet only sales machine. We branched out into some consumer items and that worked too.

In 2004, I decided to try my own hand at it, and put up the site that is our main earner now. It is UGLY. But it makes sales (more on that later). It’s been a long ride, and I must have made every mistake you can online, along with scoring some surprising successes. I’ve done my best to consolidate the most important information, tips and inside info I’ve learned here in this book.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it, and that it helps you to reach your goals in record time. I’d love it if you’d let me know how you like it. Drop me a line by sending an email to dave at grabapple dot com


Who should read this book?

  • You want to start selling product online, and you don’t want to deal with eBay, or other second hand marketplaces.
  • You want to get a real store up and running without learning how to write code.You have at least a basic understanding of the internet, and enjoy learning.You want to make sure you don’t overextend yourself.
  • You want to avoid becoming a victim of fraud online.
  • You like to help people solve problems, find what they need or figure things out.You already have an E commerce business, and are interested in learning some tips and tricks to run it more efficiently and with greater profitability.
  • You’re ready have an Internet business that generates revenue through advertising or affiliate sales, and want to diversify your income.

​Who should not read this book?

  • You still think there is such a thing as truly passive income, outside of inheritance (be nice to Grandpa)
  • You are by nature solitary, and you don’t enjoy interacting with other people.
  • You have no computer skills at all.
  • You want a guarantee of success.
  • You did not pay for this book.​

Why Ecommerce? Here's Why...

small site statistics

That’s one site. Those are only the sales that came through the shopping cart. That site did $69,862.94 in the last 3 months. E-commerce is the fastest way to push some real numbers through your company

Instead of working hard for traffic and sending your visitor somewhere else to spend their money, sell them what they need yourself and reap the benefits. Would those other companies be buying ads if the traffic wasn’t worth money?

Your websites are by definition mini-authorities in their niches. You have detailed, unique product descriptions, manuals, safety info, .pdf files, a blog…

If you are already making money with affiliate sales and/or AdSense, adding e-commerce to an existing site will give you another revenue stream. If Google makes you nervous and you want to diversify you can set up an e-commerce site and build an income separate from your other sites.

If you don’t have a website yet this is a great place to start. You can do it almost for free and learn to earn with a site that you can be proud to show your friends and family.

Are you into Social Media? Consider this: How would you feel about a Facebook page that took you to a site with nothing to offer but ads to click on? Now how about one that took you somewhere that you could actually buy the product you are interested in… Better, because that is what you actually wanted.

I’m not saying that selling real products, whether physical or digital, is the only way to make money on the internet. You can do a lot of different things to make money online. I’m just saying it’s the best way that I have found.

Finally, the skills you build as the owner of an e-commerce site will serve you well elsewhere – like in your main job. You’ll know how to relate to both customers and suppliers, how to negotiate and make agreements, and how to work with others to your mutual benefit.

What's in the book?

Pretty much everything you need to know to run your own e-commerce business. I’ve tried to distill the most important information that I’ve gleaned from nearly 15 years online and pump it all into this one ebook.

Far more than just a series of quick tutorials, I hope this book will give you the insights you need to make your business profitable from the very start, and help you to avoid the mistakes I made.

What's not in the book?

I haven’t included obvious information that you can usually find online. For instance, there are no tutorials on basic WordPress setup, or how to use FedEx online shipping. Those kinds of subjects are covered in much more depth by the organizations concerned than I could ever have time for.

This also emphatically not an SEO book, or a book outlining a system for generating passive income. Having said that, there is a lot of SEO information throughout the book – it’s unavoidable – and I myself have a six figure (mainly) passive income via E-commerce, so it is doable.

I’ve tried to save the space in this book for information that is not available elsewhere and that will add genuine value to your business.

My assumptions about you...

You know how to run a computer. More than that, you are proficient with e-mail and other basic Internet based software. You have at least basic skills with Microsoft office. You are not afraid to learn. You are not afraid to work. You’re ready to try something new.

How to use this book.

The Grabapple Guide to E-commerce is actually two books:

  • Book One addresses the business of e-commerce and explains how to run an efficient long term internet business selling product. 
  • Book Two is concerned with website creation and promotion.

I have taken care to arrange the book logically, so that each chapter builds on the one before it. Each chapter also stands on its own. You can go cover to cover or dip into those chapters that are of immediate interest. I do recommend that you at least skim through the Table of Contents and make note of what’s included.

Note: Throughout the book, you will see references to other parts of the book. I'm not trying to be difficult, and force you to jump around. It’s just that everything is connected, especially marketing.

For example, information on your competition can be used for marketing, SEO, content creation and website design.

Also I don’t really think in a linear fashion. I tend to see things as interconnected webs (because they are?) so there are nuggets on a variety of subjects scattered throughout the book. Sorry!

And please don’t be shy about sending me feedback. I tried to make this book as good as I could, and I want the next release to be even better.

Icons used in this book

tip indicator

Tips and Tricks

Throughout the guide, you will see the apple tree from time to time. This means that this is a piece of information that I believe will save you time, trouble or money.

best coffee pot

Coffee Break

If you run across this, the material immediately following or the link next to it are just for fun. I flatter myself that some owners of this book will read it cover to cover, and they may need a brief respite from my turgid prose.