I was glad to find out about the book Ecommerce No Bullshit (written Bull$#!t) earlier this year. As I said in the previous article, in Romania there was a strong lack of specialized books. In a “post-pandemic” world, the lack of digital promotion guidelines is felt by the way small and medium-sized businesses are presented.
I’m glad that the subject was also approached by someone else, a fact that I found out with surprise from an advertisement on Facebook. I bought the book (so I didn’t get a copy for review) after being assaulted for a few days with the same ad. Eventually I gave in to curiosity and ordered it.
Ecommerce No BullBullshit is a book on how to sell online written by Cosmin Dărăban, the founder of the SilkWeb agency and the creator of GoMag. Although the general theme refers to the digital environment, almost 60 pages are dedicated to the offline status of your business. It covers the entire route from the opening of the company, to the business plan, to the creation of the website and promotion. It refers exclusively to the sale of products. Even if some techniques apply to service providers, only online stores are targeted.
The whole book is written with a nuance of storytelling. Reading Ecommerce No Bullshit, you feel like a grandson sitting on the knees of his business uncle, and listening to the stories and directions he offers. That is, you will find a lot of text around key information. The book has 320 (no, the foreword does not add to the count) of pages that can be structured and outlined in about 100. You may or may not like this depending on your preferences. Personally, I skipped many parts of the text to get to the main idea. I prefer the succinct and to the point texts, especially the specialized ones. That’s why it has collected some angry reviews on the pages of bookstores.
Ecommerce No Bullshit starts by arguing very well the reasons why you need to take the big step towards online. It lists all the options to sell online on the Romanian market and the arguments behind each variant. Then it goes into the philosophy of a business that sells products in general.
It explains what a business plan should look like, what you need to think about when you start on the path, and how to choose your business. It starts with the premise that you want to sell something online, but you don’t know what. And so it guides you or more precisely tells you how to find the business that suits you.
The offline part ends with a list of legal issues that you should consider. It even guides you on the necessary steps in opening the company at the trade office.
This is where Ecommerce No Bullshit actually begins to get into the subject. Because if you already have a business and just want to promote yourself online, you can start directly with page 76. It starts by describing the optimal e-commerce platform and how to choose it.
It discourages free, open-source platforms and personalized development in favor of monthly subscriptions. Which I don’t agree with at all. First of all, your goal is to sell. That’s it. And you will start by selling. Depending on your budget and need, you are moving towards a platform that benefits you. And if the initial budget is small, a free solution is welcome. As you grow and gain experience and define your needs, you can move towards a better solution. Migration is by no means an end of the country as described. Moreover, as technology changes, I do not recommend rooting in a single very long-term platform. The final step being a customized solution. Because you will never be able to develop a mobile application based on a rented platform. And this is just one of the basic arguments.
Ecommerce No Bullshit summarizes extremely important aspects when you have an online business. Respectively the design of the logo and the appearance of the website. These two being at the core of any business of any kind, I was surprised at how thin they were approached. In fact, the book lacks an extremely important chapter: Branding. It is the missing link between the offline and the online section. Instead, inventory management, delivery, packaging, card payment and online support are described in detail. Things that are not necessarily related to online existence.
The “5 essential pages” are listed, ie Home, About, Contact, Product Page and Order Page. Even if they are obvious, the indications offered next to each one are very good. A number of technically important aspects of the website are also listed. Unfortunately without any explanation where necessary. For example: “Scripts are optimization on all pages”, as a non-technical person I have no idea what that means. And if I ask the development team, they’ll tell me they are, without knowing how to verify that.
Online advertising represents half of the content of the book Ecommerce No Bullshit. Things are going very well here. SEO optimization has been described in detail and easy to be understood by all. Marketing methods are well described. Google and Facebook advertising campaigns are explained. A pleasant surprise was the presence of Affiliate Marketing. There is a lot of emphasis on Email Marketing, it even offers email templates for a variety of cases. And of course, content marketing, blog, YouTube, etc., in which content is very good.
As with any existing marketing guide or material, statistics appear. The practice of numerology (ie gathering numbers and studying them) and gathering information about the customer. It explains how to make the client’s profile, what data to collect about him, how to place him in a typology and what stimuli he responds to. That is, in short, everything that falls into subliminal manipulation. Playing with the psyche of the potential client. For example, the fear of losing and manipulating it by putting a countdown in front of the offer is described. Hurry, it’s expiring. A miserable trigger of a human emotion that you don’t want attributed to your brand. Can you imagine the customer’s reaction when he finds out he was lied to? And that offer … is it still valid? Or that he bought something even though he might have wanted to think or research some more.
I personally ordered a shirt on offer from a website that practices countdown. I liked the shirt and the offer was attractive. Even today the offer is valid and the present numbering. It is about the website imbracaminte-traditionala.com where all the products are on offer which expires in 3 hours. Do you think that I will buy from them or that I will leave them a positive review? I don’t think that’s how you want to be seen in the market. The current state of marketing is very sad. It is very much based on asking and convincing and not at all on giving.
Returning to Ecommerce No Bullshit, I agree with the positive emotions listed, and with the concept of digital adventure as long as a moral and ethical line is respected. From this point of the book begins, as I said above, statistics and analysis of numbers. I will not describe it, I leave it to you what information you want to take, some are interesting. The conclusion is nice and hits some key fears of entrepreneurs.
I did not expect to find on the Romanian market an author who would propose such a publication. It is a very good thing, especially since it could encourage other authors, even stimulate readers through education. If we had more publications like this, I would have been more demanding. On Goodreads I oscillated between 3 and 4 stars in my review. However, Cosmin Dărăban has tried to include a lot of information, especially from the offline part of a business, which makes it accessible to beginners who have just graduated from high school. Instead, I was bothered by the presence of terms in cliché forms of corporate marketing: leads, sales funnel / sales funnel, landing page, kpi, etc. But this is strictly a personal preference and a professional defect.
Is Ecommerce No Bullshit really all you need to sell online (as it says on the cover)? Not really. If you want to open an online store, I recommend it as a preliminary reading. It puts you very well in the subject with all the topics to be addressed but you go through your own filter when it comes to your brand and your market approach. The price of 47 lei with shipping included is common sense to say the least.