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I recently had the opportunity to catch up with public speaker and ecommerce expert Karl Lillrud and chat about ecommerce trends, general life hacks, and his plans for the future. 

With the time difference from Marbella to Vancouver and Karl’s busy schedule, I was surprised that Karl was able to fit in a conversation with me. During our conversation, Karl offered up memorable and helpful advice for ecomm professionals looking to perfect their ecomm best practices but also how to stay motivated.

With over 20 years experience of running businesses online, Karl helped large companies such as H&M and Spotify. Karl is now a full-time speaker, mentor, and author who focuses on fast scaling startups. He has spoken at many ecommerce events including TEDx. 

Check out the highlights of our conversation below:

How did you end up where you are today?

When I was in school I thought I was stupid. I couldn’t memorize details like everyone else could. I wasn’t as smart as the other children. In 7th grade, my teacher understood my challenges and by 8th grade, I was diagnosed with dyslexia. So, I wasn’t stupid. I was different. I noticed that I solved puzzles in a different way to the other children. This is what I think entrepreneurship and creativity is—finding an alternative path to doing things. That’s how I got where I am today. 

What are some of your life hacks?

Never do just one thing—that’s a massive no-no! I tend to focus on various tasks. This keeps my mind busy and engaged. You need variety in your life. You don’t need to do this in just your work environment but also your daily life. For example, you should take a different route home on a Wednesday evening. By taking that different route, you’re exposed to changes and different perspectives.

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What advice would you have for companies starting?

It’s easy to build something. The hard thing is selling it. If you build something and can’t sell it, what’s the point? You want your customers to become brand ambassadors. Understanding your customer and how to sell to them is the first step. So, essentially you’re starting backward. Start selling something that doesn’t exist and then start building.

It depends on your region. Trends are different in China than they are in the EU and the U.S. The EU and U.S. are now shifting their focus to become more sustainable and environmentally friendly. The main challenge at the moment returns. This is the thing that is the most harmful to the environment. If you want to grow exponentially, this is an issue that needs to be addressed. Companies are too afraid to make changes because their competitors aren’t making these changes—they don’t dare to do something different. 

Another thing that might come up in 2020 in 1 click shopping. Amazon’s patent ran out recently for this and I haven’t seen anyone else jump on it which is strange. I’m interested to see if anyone else adopts this strategy in 2020 because there’s huge potential there.

Related Read: The Sustainable Ecommerce Handbook

What do you think are the key components in a solid ecommerce strategy?

Understanding your customer is the main thing. You need to know their needs and desires if you want to succeed. If you market to the wrong group, you’ll lose out on sales. It’s like that online skate shop who marketed to teenagers. But, were the teenagers the one making the purchase? No, it was the parents. You need to analyze who the paying customers are. 

Another thing is knowing where your traffic comes from. Is it valid? Because if it’s not, you’re burning money. If your traffic is relevant to your offer then you’re golden.

What do you think are the challenges in setting up your own ecomm business today?

I think there are no challenges these days. The only set back is knowing who your customer is and how to attract them. You can’t compete if you don’t know where your customers are. You need to find your unique marketing approach to attract customers these days.

Are you a part of any ecomm communities?

I like to connect with people face to face at speaking events. Although, when I lived in Silicon Valley a couple of years ago I connected with people I found remarkable on LinkedIn. I asked if I could buy them lunch and swap ideas. I had the opportunity to swap ideas and get a fresh set of eyes on my plans. It’s important to get outside perspectives on your plans because these people don’t owe you anything. 

What are some mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

I’m unsure if this is a mistake or it’s a flaw but I’m always 7 years too early with my ventures. No one needs the products until 7 years later. I’m not the type of person who waits or puts things on hold so it’s both a strength and a weakness. 

What will you be doing differently in 2020?

I hope to do more mentoring and speaking seasons. With speaking seasons, it’s hard to follow up with an entire audience and see how you’re helping them. Whereas with mentor seasons, you can see how people interpret your message and how they use it. So, I want to move more into the mentoring space, helping entrepreneurs succeed. 

Final Thoughts

After catching up with Karl, I not only gained insight into his knowledge and expertise on ecommerce but I also felt motivated and inspired. Karl's passion and dedication to helping businesses stand out from the crowd and dare to be different are remarkable. You can find more about Karl's work, books, and programs on his website here.

Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor The Ecomm Manager. He's passionate about ecommerce and the positive impact it can have on organizations, people, and the planet.