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Entrepreneur Ben Leonard’s journey into e-commerce began when he discovered the lack of quality jump ropes in his workouts, leading him to create his own product, the Beast Rope. This venture evolved into Beast Gear, an online fitness gear store that he later sold to Thrasio in 2019. Leonard’s success in building a brand from scratch inspired him to write a book and establish an e-commerce consultancy and brokerage.

With the rise of e-commerce during the pandemic, many aspiring entrepreneurs are looking to enter the industry. U.S. e-commerce sales reached a record high in the first quarter of 2024, accounting for a significant portion of total sales. However, competition is fierce, especially with giants like Amazon dominating the market. Leonard emphasizes that successful e-commerce ventures require a focus on building a strong brand rather than just selling products online.

To build a strong e-commerce brand with a small team or as a one-person business, Leonard offers several key strategies. The first step is to understand what a brand truly is—a group of products or services that solve specific problems for a particular group of people. Brands should strive to create positive feelings and emotions in their customers through intentional marketing efforts.

When developing a product or service, Leonard suggests putting people first by identifying target customers and their needs. By building a brand around something the entrepreneur is passionate about, they can better understand their audience and create offerings that resonate with them. It’s essential to highlight the unique value proposition of the product and effectively communicate this to potential customers.

Instead of treating an e-commerce venture as a side hustle, Leonard advises entrepreneurs to approach it as a serious business venture focused on brand-building. By reframing their mindset and committing to their idea, individuals can create a brand that stands out in the competitive e-commerce landscape. Building connections with customers through various channels, such as podcasts, videos, and social media, can help solidify the brand’s identity.

Being the face of the brand can also have a significant impact on the business’s success. Leonard’s own experience as the face of Beast Gear helped him connect with customers on a personal level, leading to long-lasting relationships. By sharing his passion and expertise with customers, he was able to establish a strong brand identity that resonated with his target audience. Ultimately, building a successful e-commerce brand requires a combination of passion, understanding of the target market, and effective branding strategies.

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