How to be SMART about your 2017 e-commerce goals

  • Samantha Graves -
  • Advice
How to be SMART about your 2017 e-commerce goals

As an e-commerce superstar, visibility and profitability online are your primary concern. However, in the spectrum of sales, the internet is a relatively new marketplace. There are many traditional tools and practices that modern businesses can utilise to achieve success online. If you’re looking to grow your e-commerce operation, it will help to have goals to focus on, and now’s the ideal time to set your goals for next year.

The SMART goal system can be really useful to your business.  The origins can be traced back to the heady era of the 1980’s.  George T. Doran, a consultant and former Director of Corporate Planning for Washington Water Power Company published a paper titled "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives".  

Probably more importantly, it’s still being used today, in small and big business alike, online and offline.  Whenever you are looking to set goals, whether for e-commerce or any other part of your business, it makes sense to be SMART, which means you should plan your 2017 e-commerce strategy following these guidelines:

  • Specific: target a specific area for improvement.

  • Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.

  • Assignable: specify who will do it.

  • Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given resources.

  • Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.

The breakdown: In order to know if you’ve achieved a goal or not, it needs to be clear what that goal is.  You need to be able to set a benchmark, from where you were in 2016 to what you want in 2017, and make these goals quantifiable for future analysis.  Setting deadlines and review points can mean you can tweak your goals to accommodate a changing marketplace, however, the end goal should stay intact.

Applying the SMART template to your 2017 e-commerce goals will help you clarify what you want to achieve next year. Areas to consider when setting e-commerce goals include:

  • Increasing sales

  • Improving your market share

  • Improving profits

  • Reducing abandoned shopping carts

  • Improving social media following

In order to ensure that your goals adhere to the SMART template, add a percentage figure or physical number, set a deadline and be sure that you can measure the outcome accurately.   For example, if you wanted to improve your social media following, your goal could be to gain 1,000 followers on Twitter by the end of 2017. This is a specific goal that can easily be measured, should be achievable (it equates to less than 100 new followers per month), is relevant to your business, and has a deadline.


When setting goals, look at where you are now and what you want to achieve in your business. Spend a short amount of time researching your competitors and industry movers and shakers, but remember in the end these are your own business objectives, and they should be tailored to your business.

If one of your goals is to increase social engagement, look how your customers already engage online.  What language do they use, who do they follow, what topics do they mainly tweet about? By just looking at a cross-section will give you some ideas about tone, content and influencers. 

If you want to decrease checkout abandonment, invest some time into research, split testing or look at the Shopify Plus post about reducing your checkout abandonment.  Make sure you are allowing enough time and utilising the best tools to complete your 2017 goal.

Any business looking to set e-commerce goals needs to assess its current situation and identify and blockers or opportunities. This is why autumn is the ideal time to start thinking about your plans for next year. By beginning the process now, you give yourself time to review where you are, what’s working for you and what isn’t. Building on your strengths and minimising your weaknesses will provide you with guidelines for the goals your business should set.


If you are serious about achieving your business goals, you need to put a strategy in place, then adopt tactics that will enable you to execute that strategy. Your strategy is your overall plan of action, while the tactics you adopt will focus on particular elements of your business.  Think about breaking down one aspect into smaller achievable chunks, of which they become easier achievable goals to set through the course of the year.  By breaking it down, it no longer seems insurmountable and you have identified key stepping stones.

If for example, one of your goals for 2017 is to increase sales by 25%, you need a strategy in place and tactics to hand that will help you achieve that. Your strategy could be to provide a better standard of service to your customers, while your tactics for delivering a better standard of service could be to:

  • Respond to social media questions within a set period of time

  • Improve the speed of your website

  • Improve the quality of the images and product descriptions on your website

These tactics will hopefully have a positive impact and contribute to the overall success of your strategy by improving your customer service.  For further advice look to our blog on how to use Twitter to build sales.

If you want to be a success in 2017, now is the time to set your e-commerce goals, and the secret to setting the right goals is to follow the SMART plan, make an honest, accurate assessment of your current situation and identify what you ultimately want your business to achieve.

About the author

Sam is an e-commerce expert and brings her know-how to the We Make Websites blog on a regular basis. Focused on providing quality Shopify and e-commerce advice, some favourite topics include CRO, SEO and best practice content marketing techniques.

For all comments, questions and content enquiries, please email

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