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A Full List Of The Best Ecommerce Case Studies (63+ Examples!)

One of the best ways to learn how to grow your ecommerce business is to model those who have done it.

However, without the right connections… You may not be able to extract the stories, frameworks and blueprints these successful ecommerce businesses use to explode their sales.

Fret not.

You can now peer into the minds of these ecommerce businesses, right from the comfort of your own home.

How?

Through detailed case studies.

That’s why we have done the hard work of sorting out the BEST case studies there is — and presented them to you here.

Enjoy:

1. How Mellow Made $200,000+ In Preorder Sales In Less Than A Month

mellow case study
Image: About The Chef

Mellow is a company that makes a magical kitchen robot that syncs with your smartphone to cook for you at your convenience. The founder, Ze Pinto Ferreira was interning at Braun when he realized everything he knew (mechanical engineering, food, product designer) could intersect to create impactful work.

He knew the sous-vide he wanted to create should change home cooking dramatically, but he also knew he couldn’t do it alone.

That’s when he set off to find a co-founder, Catarina who was working as a freelance designer. He managed to convince her to use her talents on a potentially groundbreaking company and the two of them built Mellow together.

What They Did To Succeed

Using Trycelery.com as their pre-order platform, Mellow was launched to great success. They collected a total of $64,000 in pre-orders in ONLY 3 days, and eventually made $200,000+ in less than a month.

Key Takeaway

In the case study, Ferreira mentioned how he marketed Mellow by reaching out to 100+ reporters themselves. Given the background of both Ferreira and Catarina, PR seemed to be out of their reach.

However, this is classic Paul Graham. To get your startup off the ground, you have to do things that don’t scale. Don’t know how to do PR? Teach yourself, reach out to reporters, and get coverage in publications like TechCrunch and TheNextWeb.

2. SumoJerky – The Results Of The 24-Hour Business Challenge

Image: AppSumo

Noah Kagan is known for starting multiple companies and growing all of them to 7- and 8-figures in revenue (including the budgeting startup Mint.com).

As part of a 24-Hour Business challenge to prove to anyone that they can start a business today, Noah asked his followers which business he should start so he could show he would make $1,000 a day.

The end result?

A beef jerky subscription company that made more than $1,000 in 24 hours.

What He Did To Succeed

Noah made $3,030 in total revenue in 24 hours.

How?

He:

  1. Made a basic budget so he could work backwards to find out how much he needed to sell to make $1000.
  2. Created a customer avatar so he knew who he should target
  3. Started reaching out to people who he thought fit the customer avatar

Bam!

Not only did he complete the challenge, he exceeded it (not after downing 4 cups of coffee though.)

Key Takeaway

Create a customer avatar. It’s astounding how many businesses do not know who their ideal customer is.

Find out who is already buying your products and then reach out to more people like them.

3. How Two Friends Turned Up The Heat And Sold $170K Worth Of Spicy Honey in 10 Months

Honey? Yes!

Chilli peppers? Yes!

Together? Um.. what?

If you’re confused, don’t be. Spicy honey is the brainchild of MixedMade, a company that makes delicious products by mixing unexpected ingredients together.

Their first ever product – Bee Knees Spicy Honey – combines raw honey with a special blend of chilli peppers to create a balance of sweet mellowness and spicy intensity.

(Yum… Now I want some for myself!)

What They Did To Succeed

Their first $1,000 came from emailing their personal contacts and posting to their own personal Facebook pages.

Then, they made a list of potential press targets and aggressively pursued them.

This worked to great success.

A few modest mentions on smaller sites like Huckberry later then grew into features on Uncrate, The Kitchn, CNBC, the Today Show, Bon Appetite, Esquire and Vanity Fair.

End result?

The press coverage exploded their business.

Key Takeaway

Everyone loves being featured on national media, but press begins from the smaller guys.

In Trust Me, I’m Lying, media genius Ryan Holiday discusses the concept of “trading up the chain”,where larger publications often take content from smaller publications.

Start by getting yourself featured on smaller blogs and publications, and slowly “trade up the chain” to bigger features on national media.

4. How Opena Case Hit 189% Of Their $15,000 Kickstarter Target And Built A Million Dollar Business

Pretty iPhone cases are aplenty. But truly useful and practical iPhone cases..?

That’s rare.

Meet Opena. Opena is an iPhone case with a slide-out bottle opener.

If you’ve ever fumbled at a party looking for a bottle opener, or wondering if your teeth was strong enough to crack that bottle of Heineken…

Opena is the cure.

What They Did To Succeed

Opena launched on Kickstarter in June 2011 and successfully raised $28,303 (surpassing their initial $15,000 target.)

How did they do it?

They built a tribe of early adopters before they even launched the campaign. When they launched the campaign, they rewarded the early backers with early bird rewards, who then gleefully spread the word for them.

Within half an hour, the early bird backers were all sold out.

Key Takeaway

The takeaway I want to highlight here has nothing to do with Opena’s excellent customer acquisition tactics. It has, however to do with the founder Chris Peters.

Just take a look at his bio:

  • Studied Industrial Design right out of high school.
  • Spent 4 years working at a large firm that specialized in medical machines. He was involved in industrial design work, prototyping and graphic interfaces.
  • Then worked at various design consultancies.
  • Took a year off to wakeboard.
  • Worked for a much smaller design consultancy, which helped him get a sense of what it’s like to run a small business.
  • Sold software for a year to learn how to do sales.
  • Ran his own design consultancy for 3 years.

This means that he had at least a decade of experience before even founding the company. This also means that he had deep expertise – both to identify a problem worth solving and developing a solution to fix the problem.

Get this:

Most people make the jump to entrepreneurship without understanding that many successful entrepreneurs had built up deep domain expertise in their fields before starting a company.

5. #TheGreatBuild Project

Image: A Better Lemonade Stand

Richard Lazazzera was part of Shopify’s Growth Team, where he helped the platform grow from 60,000 to 200,000 merchants. A Better Lemonade Stand is his blog, where he shares comprehensive guides on how to build and grow ecommerce businesses.

#TheGreatBuild was a project he undertook to inspire others to build their own ecommerce site. He built an ecommerce company – Finch Goods Co. – and detailed the entire journey on #TheGreatBuild (14 chapters long!)

What He Did To Succeed

Although Richard withheld his sales reports (so we don’t know how much he actually made), the entire case study is an incredibly detailed step-by-step guide on how to start, brand and build your own ecommerce store.

Richard considers these 6 elements crucial to your ecommerce store — and he addressed it by introducing several apps:

  1. Up-Selling at Checkout
  2. Email Capture/Newsletter Signup
  3. Abandon Cart Emails
  4. Referrals
  5. Exit Intent Offer
  6. Retargeting

Key Takeaway

The 6 elements that Richard mentioned in his post are fantastic. There are usually some holes that ecommerce entrepreneurs miss out in their rush to build their store and sell quickly, which Richard has kindly pointed out here.

Fix those areas and you should see your sales soar.

6. Social Media Marketing: How A Small E-Commerce Site Attracted 293,000 Facebook FansDiamond Candles is a company that offers scented, soy-based candles that has a ring at the bottom. This has resulted in their customers spreading word-of-mouth about them due to the excitement of potentially winning the prize.

Instead of purchasing ads online to drive sales to their business, their predominant strategy has been to utilize referrals and social media.

What They Did To Succeed

The key strategy behind their success has been customer-contributed photos.

Without spending a single cent on ads, these photos grew the company’s Facebook Fan Page to 469,661 fans while also boosting their product page conversion rate by 13%.

(Wow!)

Knowing that more customer-contributed photos essentially made them more successful, they then created an environment of encouraging their customers to share more photos.

Here’s what they did:

  • A call-to-action found on the candle urging customers to take a photo with the ring and share it on social media
  • Giveaways that encourage customers to create and share images for a chance to win free products
  • Share all the photos gathered on social media to create an impression that it is normal to share Diamond Candle-related photos

Key Takeaway

Your customers are your greatest ambassadors. Find a way to incentivize them to spread word-of-mouth for you (or use ReferralCandy).

7. How To Create a $4,000 Per Month Muse In 5 Days

Source: Four Hour Blog

It’s Noah again! (Told you he’s famous.)

In this case study, Noah retells how he helped Daniel Bliss, a postal worker, turn his hobby into a real ecommerce business making $4,000 a month. The purpose? Help Daniel quit his day-job.

Daniel started his business by solving his own problem — neck pain while belaying.

Prior to meeting Noah, Daniel had already sourced a manufacturer and set up his own website to sell his shades. He was also off to a good start – having sold 12 pairs of shades to people in his climbing group.

Alright!

But here’s the best part:

After meeting Noah, he HIT his goal.

How?

What He Did To Succeed

Noah taught him the same thing he did for his SumoJerky business (detailed above):

  • Reverse-engineer the amount of sales you need
  • Try different tactics to make it work

The purpose of this was to help Daniel figure out what marketing tactics work… and double down on them. In just 5 days, Daniel and Noah tried at least 10+ tactics, and found his most successful channel.

The result:

Daniel received a message from a large online site, who placed an order of $4,200!

Boom!

Key Takeaway

You will never know what will work for your business. Reverse-engineer the number of sales you need, try different tactics, review them and double down on those that worked for you.

8. How We Built an Ecommerce Business from Scratch and Generated $922.16 in Revenue in 3 Days

Do you need a long time to build an ecommerce business?

Some people believe so. After all, there are lot of logistics to handle – domain, hosting, website content, pricing, supplier sourcing, launching, branding and so on.

But WHAT IF you challenged yourself to set something up in 3 days?

Could it be done?

Apparently so.

Richard Lazazzera took up the challenge and proceeded to do everything (from determining what to sell to making sales)… in only 3 days.

What He Did To Succeed

In total, Richard made $922.16 in total revenue from this little experiment.

How?

He went down every single possible marketing channel one-by-one, tried it and see what results it delivered. In fact, in only 3 days, he tested channels like Reddit, Product Hunt, personal outreach, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest and Twitter.

How’s that for fast?

Key Takeaway

Building an ecommerce store (in fact, any business) is a culmination of multiple small decisions. Make those decisions fast and push forward. You will never discover the results through thinking, only by testing.

9. How To Build A Menswear Brand – An Interview With Owen & Fred

Image: Nomadic Habit

Owen & Fred was a company founded by Mike Arnot after he realised that high-quality yet affordable, American-made men’s accessories were not available in the market.

So, what?

Make your own.

Mike then went on to create a company that curates great products and help others like him do the same.

What They Did To Succeed

Repeat orders make up 35% of Owen & Fred’s revenue. In their industry, that’s incredible. Almost unbelievable.

That’s because Owen & Fred values and prizes their customers. They made their products, their marketing and the entire experience amazing.

They even received a compliment from one of their customers: “never purchased from a company that actually delivered a product that amazing.”

Key Takeaway

Even if you’re an ecommerce company that does drop-shipping or product curation, you still have to ensure that your product(s) is amazing.

An amazing product makes marketing easier.

And also – great marketing can’t save bad products.

10. E-commerce: Moving beyond shopping cart abandonment nets 65% more checkout conversions

If you thought there were only several kinds of envelopes available, you would be wrong.

(Though I wouldn’t fault you, because I didn’t know myself either.)

Envelopes.com is a ecommerce business that sells almost any type of envelope you can imagine. White, brown, and green are common sights at envelopes.com.

What They Did To Succeed

Remember what Richard Lazazzera said above in his marketing foundations?

One of them was Abandonment Cart Emails.

Envelopes.com discovered that a significant number of their visitors visit multiple times before buying. They decided that these group of visitors were the opportunity to help increase their sales.

To do this, they sent emails to encourage these visitors to return, which reduced their abandonment rate and improved their conversions.

Key Takeaway

There are many touch points your customers will have with your business. Optimize these touch points and improve your sales.

11. How a Small Menswear Brand Utilized Word-of-Mouth to Get Over $420,000 On Kickstarter

Image: Really Big Cool

Think space tech is cool?

How about something cooler? How about… integrating your clothes with space tech?

Fascinated now..?

That’s what Ministry of Supply did. Ministry of Supply is a menswear apparel brand that infuses fashion with space tech.

Their first-ever product, the Apollo features Phase-Changing Materials adapted from NASA spacesuits that help regulate your body temperature.

Cool, huh?

What They Did To Succeed

Trading up the chain.

Instead of directly approaching massive tech blogs like TechCrunch, Ministry of Supply started small. They pitched 150+ product-relevant blogs with customized emails, and got themselves featured, raising $30,000 in 5 days for their Kickstarter campaign.

Of course, as the above example of MixedMade shows, trading up the chain means bigger publications will follow the trail of smaller publications.

And naturally… that happened for MoS.

TechCrunch and Forbes later featured them — and that skyrocketed their Kickstarter funding to $400,000.

Key Takeaway

Find a unique angle to your product that everyone can easily remember — which will encourage your customers to “remark” about your product to their friends.

Their first product, Apollo was remarkable because it was clothes infused with space tech.

Their second product, a pressure-mapping sock, was eventually re-positioned to be “coffee socks” because everyone remembered they used coffee beans to remove the odours in the socks.

Make it easy to share, and people will.

12. How I Built an Online T-Shirt Business and Made $1,248.90 in 3 Weeks

Shopify’s core value on their blog is “do something, tell people.” (And of course promote their own platform.)

That’s why it’s in their interest to show how easy it is to set up an ecommerce store in minutes and get sales in as little as 3 days (as seen in example #8.)

(But it’s also to our delight that we get to see firsthand how to build something from scratch.)

This time round, Shopify staff Tucker Schreiber took on the challenge of building a T-shirt business in a month.

In less than a month, ThinkPup, the store they set up generated $1,248.90 in revenue. Not fantastic, but a great start for a new store.

What They Did To Succeed

Tucker tried a variety of online marketing channels to acquire customers, and found that he got the most sales from Reddit and Instagram.

This shows that you don’t have to overthink your marketing channels. Sometimes posting to free places like Reddit (where people already gather) will help you get sales.

Key Takeaway

Always test new marketing channels for your product. While you may think that [insert your niche’s favourite channel] is the way to go because that’s how people have done it, you will actually never know which channel will be profitable for you.

13. How An Ex-Con Turned His Life Around And Built an $80k per Month Ecommerce Business

As Robert himself mentions in this case study, the odds seemed stacked against him.

He was an ex-felon, he didn’t have a lot of experience in sales and marketing and he wasn’t in a great financial position.

However, something about being an ex-felon drove him to want to be different and stand out. And that’s how he eventually created National Parks Depot, an ecommerce business that sells outdoor adventure gears and apparels.

What He Did To Succeed

Facebook Ads.

Starting with a small ad budget of $60, he got a return of nearly $1,000 in sales. He then doubled the ad spend, and got back double his ROI. He eventually scaled up his ad spend, and hit $80,000 in sales.

Key Takeaway

Don’t be afraid to spend money to promote your products. Even without much money, Robert was willing to invest to test if Facebook Ads would work for his business.

It did.

Invest money to get more sales, so test to see if paid advertising can work for your business.

14. How I Imported Gaming Glasses With Alibaba and Made $2,416.51 In 5 Weeks

This is the another Shopify challenge Shopify employees took on. In Example #8, we saw how they started a matcha green tea company from scratch in ONLY 3 days. In Example #13, we saw how they began selling t-shirts online in LESS than a month.

This time round, another Shopify employee Corey Ferreira took on the challenge and decided to set up an online ecommerce store selling blue-light blocking glasses for gamers.

The result this time?

$2,416.51 in 5 weeks.

What He Did To Succeed

Similar to the rest of the guys who took up challenges at Shopify, he ran through multiple marketing channels pretty quickly.

The one that generated the most sales for him was setting up affiliate commissions and getting influencers to help promote his product.

Key Takeaway

Are there people who command massive audiences in your niche? Reach out to them and propose a affiliate deal, and get them to promote your product to their audience.

15. How One Ecommerce Entrepreneur Explored New Sales Channels – And Took Revenues From $8K to $96K per Month

Image: Shopify

Eating healthily is kind of a chore.

Really.

We all know we need to eat healthier, sleep more and work out, but we do none of that. Because we’re too busy.

Enter Raw Generation.

Raw Generation is a company that makes drinking raw, unpasteurized juice from fresh fruits and vegetables more convenient.

What They Did To Succeed

Deal sites.

After initially promoting on social media and getting no traction, Jessica, the founder was introduced to Lifebooker, a deal site.

After promoting on Lifebooker, they hit a homerun.

Majority of Raw Generation’s sales come from deal sites like Groupon, Gilt and Rue La La. (They are no longer using Gilt or Rue La La.)

Key Takeaway

Once you discover a marketing channel that is working for you, don’t go seeking new marketing channels. Double down on it and make it work for you over and over again.

16. 80/20 Validation: The Cheap And Fast Way To Prove A Business

Image: Kettle and Fire

What the bleep is bone broth? Well, It is a broth simmered from bones — and it has been touted as a superfood by the paleo community.

The problem?

It’s not easily accessible online.

Well, at least until Kettle & Fire came onto the scene.

Kettle & Fire became the first ever company to make a unique shelf-stable beef bone broth. This particular bone broth need not be frozen until it is opened.

What They Did To Succeed

By making sure the product was something people wanted.

Yes, bone broth was growing in popularity.

But the bigger entrepreneur question is not about popularity, but “will anyone put money down for this product?”

Justin and Nick made sure of that by throwing up a landing page and driving Bing traffic to it (classic Four Hour Work Week-style.) The end result? A simple experiment like this netted them $500 in sales, which confirmed their entire business model.

Key Takeaway

Never assume your product is something the market will want. Always test to find out (be it through messaging people, sending paid traffic etc.)

Bonus #1: ReferralCandy Case Studies

We (ReferralCandy) have been accumulating case studies from ecommerce entrepreneurs from multiple industries to show you how they have succeeded.

Here’s the list of case studies we’ve done for you:

Bonus #2: BigCommerce Case Studies

Our aim here in this blog post is to create the most comprehensive resource you can refer to when you want to be inspired or simply to understand how successful ecommerce entrepreneurs think.

Caveat: These case studies mostly include promoting BigCommerce’s services… but look past that and you’ll discover gems.

Bonus #3: Reddit Case Studies

Reddit is an under-utilized resource for learning about successful ecommerce case studies.

In fact, hidden in the subreddit r/entrepreneur are countless of “unknown” yet successful entrepreneurs who are more than willing to share their wins and lessons with a larger audience. Here’s some of the most popular posts on Reddit that detailed step-by-step how they succeeded:

As previously said, we aim to make this list the most comprehensive ecommerce case studies list found on the Internet.

That being said…

Did we miss out on any? Which case study do you think we should include?

Let us know in the comments!

Si Quan Ong

Si Quan is ReferralCandy's Content Marketing Manager. He is also the co-founder of breakdancedecoded.com, an online breakdance training company. He loves standup comedy, and has a dream to visit at least 100 countries in his lifetime.

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