I don’t know about you, but I’ve already made my fair share of New Year’s resolutions. For example, just this past week I vowed to work hard in 2014 on becoming more patient; with myself and with others. Now this particular resolution was inspired by the recent birth of my daughter, a child whom I love dearly but tests me in ways I could’ve never imagined.

Patience isn’t the only thing I plan to work on this year. I’ve also decided to further dedicate myself to helping online store owners, like you, successfully grow their businesses.

As the Community Manager at 3dcart, I’m tasked with the responsibility of sharing the latest industry news, advancements, tips, tricks, applications and anything else I can find that will help you and your online store thrive.  I do this through the creation of original ecommerce-related blog posts and videos, comprehensive social media campaigns, newsletters, email marketing, direct customer interaction, forum moderation, guides, tutorials, etc. Speaking truthfully, I commit myself to all of this for two reasons. First, I get paid for it. Second, I genuinely enjoy helping online store owners realize their business dreams.

Now before I began writing this article I thought to myself, what better way to kick off the new year and begin to make good on one of my promises than to create a list of five ecommerce resolutions every online store owner should adopt in 2014. And no matter what type of business you operate, the following offers a little something for everyone to strive for. Please enjoy, and let me know if you have any questions by posting them in the comment section below.

1.)    Quality of life starts with customer service

When I used to manage restaurants, I’d ask my staff during pre-shift meetings if they liked going on vacation, enjoying nice dinners out, attending concerts, etc., and of course they’d all respond with emphatic positivity citing that quality time spent away from work was exactly the reason why they were committed to working so hard in the first place. In this response they were not unique, but what many of them failed to fully appreciate is that just about everyone’s free time (yes, even yours) is paid for by those we serve.

Sticking with restaurants for a minute, consider this.  If waiter “A” offers impeccable five-star service and waiter “B” offers wretched diner-style service laden with mistakes, who do you think will make more money and better enjoy their free time? If you said waiter “B,” go back to the top of this story and try again. If you said waiter “A,” good for you... now you’re starting to get it.

There isn’t a huge line of separation dividing ecommerce from the hospitality industry. At the end of the day, both sell customers a product, and a small portion of each sale goes toward funding our individual lives outside the office.

As an online business owner, you’re not only responsible for your financial freedom, you also fuel the lives of your employees, distributors, investors, suppliers, etc. The list goes on. And given the unmistakable link impeccable service shares with profitability, it makes sense for you to view service as the grease that turns the wheels.

Commit to customers in 2014 and the machine that is your business will hum on all cylinders and your employees will thoroughly enjoy life outside of work. Fail to offer top-notched service and the machine you’ve built will inevitably come grinding to slow and painful halt. It really is that simple.

2.)    Commit to mobile

If this year’s holiday season taught us anything it’s this; mobile is the way of the future. According to recent article published by Bloomberg, mobile holiday traffic increased 45% in 2013 as compared to 2012, and you can expect that trend to continue throughout the year in 2014.

As an online store owner, it literally pays to go mobile. This includes not only the creation of a mobile extension for your ecommerce website, it also includes targeted email marketing campaigns that house exclusive discounts and promotions for your mobile shoppers.

More than 43% of all email is now viewed on mobile devices, and this means you cannot baulk on the opportunity to directly reach those customers if you want your business to thrive in the New Year.

3.)    An optimized website is a profitable website

By now, you probably have a love/hate relationship with search engine optimization. For those that appear on the first few pages of a Google search for your industry’s targeted keywords, you likely find yourself leaning more toward the love side of things. For those who’ve yet to crack Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm, I have no doubt curse words are continually directed at your computer screen.

When it comes to SEO for ecommerce the truth is this. Those that run optimized business perform better than those that do not. At 3dcart, we can offer up a thousand different ways to help you optimize your website, and we can even turn you on to our expert SEM services, but at the end of the day, SEO is achieved through daily maintenance, constant content generation, social media engagement, etc. So this year, rather than fumble through the SEO landscape, we think you should buy a few books, study the best SEO practices and work hard to achieve website optimization. The more daily effort you put into SEO, the better your site will perform. The better your site performs, the more money you'll make.

Optimization is a long and painful road at times but in the end, those that achieve it stand alone atop the ecommerce summit practically begging for a competitor to try and knock them from their perch.

4.)    Make it beautiful

Like the old Head ‘n Shoulders commercial once said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” So if you’ve been contemplating a website redesign, or if you’ve been meaning to hire a professional photographer to make your product pictures pop, now’s the time.

Social media is a land driven by rich multimedia content. Those that excel in social marketing use high-res pictures and videos every chance they get. And in 2014, you should too!

In addition to social advantages, gorgeous product pictures and well-thought marketing videos will help establish you as an authority in your industry while also making your online store easier to look at and more user-friendly. All good things to strive for!

5.)    Revamp your product catalog

It doesn’t matter what you sell. The coming of a New Year means it’s time to ditch some of last-year’s inventory and replace it with what’s new and popular. So if you sell designer sunglasses in your online store, block off time in January to order new shades and accessories. In addition to this making logical sense, stocking new merchandise also makes financial sense as it will keep your store relevant, increase sales and drive increased traffic to your website.

Final thoughts

It’s easy to make New Year’s resolutions but hard to keep them. That said, if you want your business to thrive in 2014, it pays to have a game plan.

The ecommerce resolutions offered above are simply suggestions. At the end of the day, it’s up to you and your team to decide what’s best for your business.

Use our suggestions as a jumping point; a source of inspiration if you will. And no matter what your business goals are for the new year, commit to seeing them through. It won’t always be easy, but I promise that if you define your path and work hard, you will achieve great things in 2014!

Happy New Year everyone! Thanks for taking the time and best of luck.