I have been exploring what it means to adopt a first-principles mindset to design, development, and growth on Shopify.
When working with ecommerce brand leaders, I often push back on “must-have” (or even “nice-to-have”) feature requests—with a gentle but firm reminder that we need to focus on the fundamentals first.
But what are “the fundamentals”?
The fundamentals are the foundational or core principles that should inform every decision—running your business, leading your team, and guiding your vendors and partners. They should be your “North Star”—guiding your priorities as you build a successful, sustainable, profitable business.
It’s easy to get distracted by “shiny things” or “squeaky wheels” and to lose sight of what matters—what will move your business forward.
By focusing on the fundamentals, you can measure needs, wants, desires, and personal opinions against the proverbial yardstick of the underlying principles to help you focus.
Early last year, I came up with a list of what I felt were essential principles of DTC ecommerce growth.
I have continued to iterate on this and have an updated list I am experimenting with in my consulting work.
- Acquisition, Retention & Growth
- Apps & Integrations
- Community & Engagement
- Company Leadership & Culture
- Content, Imagery & Storytelling
- Customer Experience
- Data & Metrics
- Design, Branding & Positioning
- Finances & Profitability
- Merchandising & Inventory Management
- Operations, Supply Chains & Logistics
- Packaging, Labeling & Unboxing Experience
- Product Design & Innovation
- Regulations & Compliance
- Sales Channels Optimization
- Shipping & Fulfillment
- Reliable Partners & Vendors
- Vision & Purpose
If you are not building your business on a foundation of core ecommerce fundamentals, you are wasting time, money, headspace, and resources. You are likely focusing on the minutiae and things that don’t matter now.
Suppose you were to rank your business on a scale of 1–5 for the half a dozen areas of focus that flow into each of these 20 fundamentals. If you are falling below a 3.0 on average across all points, you need to get those 1’s and 2’s up to at least a 3 (or higher!) before you get distracted by the minutiae.
This takes tremendous discipline, leadership, and focus.
If you need an external perspective and would like help assessing where you’re at with your core fundamentals, I would love to work with you.
If you have feedback, questions, or suggestions, please drop them in the comments.