Think about the last time you talked to someone else about your current, or potential, online store. Was it with a friend or family? Did they have any qualifications to be giving you advice? As with all types of business, running an online store requires knowledge, and this knowledge generally comes from people who are battling it out in the trenches. Luckily, with the internet, you can find a wide range of great ecommerce forums and communities to start chatting with people who are also trying to make a living online.
Whether you're trying to expand your social media presence or learn the best payment processors to connect with your online store, it all comes down to the advice that you receive from people who have played around with tactics and tools in the past.
Think about it. You may be on the verge of signing up for a payment processor, when someone chimes in to let you know that they've had a horrible experience with the company. Whew! Good thing you had a fellow ecommerce professional to speak with.
Since the internet is jam packed with forums and communities for ecommerce store owners, we put together the ultimate list of options for you to choose from. Most of them require you to register with a username, but in general you don't have to pay any money to get started. Therefore, keep reading to learn about these corners of the internet where ecommerce is the main topic. You just might find some friends who are willing to share all of their secrets.
Forums and Communities That Focus on Ecommerce
The Ecommerce Fuel Forum is one of the best places to find information about what other online store owners are doing to scale up their businesses. It's actually designed for established companies that bring in six or seven figures per year, so we recommend this only to the more experienced sellers. You must apply for a membership to ensure that you meet all the guidelines and it's under a paywall of $49 a month, but once you gain access you'll discover that some of the threads are packed with useful details. For example, some of the topics talk about Magento's terrible built-in search, how much you're paying for liability insurance and how to reduce risks when migrating shopping carts.
If you've decided to run your ecommerce shop through Shopify, this is the place to hangout. That said, it's still not a bad idea to bookmark this forum if you're using a different platform. Some of the threads include information for ecommerce marketing, dropshipping, crowdfunding and manufacturing. You'll also locate an area that asks people to review your site if you have any concerns.
Digital Point is one of the biggest forums in the world, and the ecommerce section is filled with threads for chatting with folks on what your next step should be when scaling up your store. For example, a recent thread is from a man who states that they have brought in virtually no sales since switching to WooCommerce. Some of the suggestions state that he may have lost some SEO juice, while others are asking to see his site, because the plugin might not be running properly.
I love this Facebook group setup by the amazing JK, founder of HeyCarson (Shopify experts on demand). The group is really good at staying on top of everything related to ecommerce and members are very helpful with comments and feedback for online shops or business ideas.
Reddit is a little hit or miss, but if you come up with a good question that doesn't sound too spammy you can start to get suggestions from people who are located all over the world. This works by posting your question, then people can vote as to whether or not they like it or not. The more votes you get, the more exposure your question receives. As the voting occurs, users respond to your question and build a dialogue about whatever it is you're talking about. Just about every topic you can think of is on Reddit, but the link above directs you to the Ecommerce subreddit.
Since many online store owners use WordPress with WooCommerce, it's worth mentioning that Reddit also provides a WordPress subreddit filled with suggestions for plugins, techniques on how to keep your WordPress site fast and various other threads to boost the effectiveness of your WordPress store. You can even drop a link to your site to see what people think.
Oberlo company treats its support pretty seriously. For example, a full blog provides information on updates, strategies and inspiration. You can subscribe to the email newsletter for news, or check out information on the social media platforms.
The Small Business Computing website is a place for you to learn about technology in general, but the forum includes a handy ecommerce page with lots of threads dedicated to the general topic. As you scroll down the ecommerce section, you'll see a wide range of topics for things such as how to choose the best opensource ecommerce platform, how to solve problems with your payments and how to build an auction site.
Web Pro World Ecommerce Discussion Forum
The Web Pro World Ecommerce Discussion Forum has an ecommerce section as well, allowing for you to discuss areas like email marketing, payment processors and ecommerce platforms. As with most forums, you'll see that making a profile is fairly simple, and the moderators are pretty good with keeping spam out of the system. As an example, one of the users has recently asked which ecommerce platform is best for boosting SEO. Plenty of responses have come in, which is pretty normal for this popular community.
UK Business Forums
You don't necessarily have to be running a business in the UK for this forum to be helpful, but it certainly doesn't hurt. For example, one of the main threads outlines some of the best UK merchant accounts, so this would obviously not have anything to do with those in the US or elsewhere throughout the world. That said, if you're in the UK, bookmark this page for future use. It's also not a bad idea if you plan on expanding to the UK.
If you have implemented the Ecwid system to run your online store, this is one of the best places to find information about setting up products and managing your payments. People who aren't on the Ecwid platform can also find some useful threads considering they have discussions about general marketing, Facebook, WIX and other topics.
We talked about the Shopify forum above, but this suggestion is more for those who have decided to run their business on a single platform. The Shopify forum has tons of resources for businesses on different systems, but the Bigcommerce forum is primarily for changing around settings in your Bigcommerce dashboard. The main reason we put this up here is because you should generally have access to a forum from the system you decide to sell through. In fact, if the company doesn't have a forum we would typically recommend trying somewhere else to sell online.
Forums and Communities for UX
A huge part of keeping people on your site and buying products is to ensure that your user experience is the best it can be. The internet offers a wide range of UX forums, but the UX Mastery Forum is laid out well for ecommerce developers who are looking to customize the heck out of their website. You can see that there are threads for everything from process to techniques, and even careers. If you don't handle the UX on your website, but you have someone on your team who does, encourage them to visit this site frequently.
Forums and Communities for Online Marketing
Warrior Forums is the top place to go if you're looking for discussions about online marketing. Areas like search engine optimization, email marketing and PPC marketing are all covered through the site, so if you have a question about how to expand the reach of your website, it can be found here. Some other threads you can find cover growth hacking, social media, ecommerce sites in general, website design and link building.
We talked about Digital Point above, but that only outlined the ecommerce section. Next to Warrior Forum, Digital Point is your go-to place for finding relevant, and active, threads about online marketing. Search engine marketing is broken up into separate threads based on the particular search engines, and you can even locate areas for copywriting, PPC ads, affiliate programs, web design and more.
Rise Forums combines information for webmasters, internet marketing, and WordPress, using a beautifully organized homepage with threads that have tons of responses. That's one of the keys to locating good communities because it's not worth hanging around a forum unless people are active. WordPress themes and plugins are covered here, along with design, ecommerce, hosting, social media, and productivity.
The Click Newz Forums are part of a larger site that's all about online business. If you signup for the newsletter you'll receive a tutorial every week. A freelance job board is packed into the forum, and you can also find the main internet marketing forum with threads for topics like buying likes, marketing on a shoestring budget and bringing in traffic for a brand new site.
The Webmaster Sun community has tons of forums, and one of them is all about ecommerce and online business. That said, we recommend going to the other forums as well, where you can locate social media marketing tips, affiliate marketing guides and pay per click advertising suggestions.
Wicked Fire is one of the more reputable forums on this list, because it has active users and moderators, along with various threads covering things like SEO, affiliate marketing and more. You can learn about the art of mailing, and dive in deep with the affiliate marketing gurus. If you're new to affiliate marketing, this is by far the best place to learn.
Forums and Communities for Social Media
Going back to Digital Point, it has a beautiful page reserved just for social media. It basically lets you select the social media network that you're trying to expand on, but they also have a general social media area for you to ask quick questions and browse around.
This isn't a forum, but rather a community and blog where super helpful articles are published everyday. We suggest that you get on their email list and listen to podcasts to find some of the best social media advice online. In addition, they often have events that allow you to meet with other people who are trying to expand their businesses through social media.
Fresh Marketing offers several community modules for talking about marketing in general, but the social page is rather effective, since it has threads for topics like social media engagement, building Facebook follower-ships and an area discussing how many social media accounts you should have for a business.
Similar to Digital Point, Warrior Forum also provides a beautiful social media page, filled with questions about YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. The best part is that almost all threads have quite a few responses, giving you the information you need quickly.
Okay, this technically isn't an online forum, but rather a live forum that you can meetup with when they run their events. As stated in the title, we're looking for communities that allow for interacting with other professionals, so keep an eye on their page to see when the forum is coming to your area in the future.
Over to You…
Now that you've had a chance to learn about the best forums and communities for ecommerce online business, share your thoughts in the comments section. Have you found success by chatting in some of these forums? Are you having doubts about talking with other people online?
Feature image curtsey of Nick Slater