E-commerce is enormous, and it is growing fast. E-commerce sales surpassed $1.9 trillion dollars in 2016. Yes, with a T. It's no wonder 130,000+ new Shopify stores were started last year alone.

Everyone seems to be starting an e-commerce business these days. And while it's easier than ever to launch your own store, thanks to software and services that help with everything from payment processing to fulfillment, growing an online store is a different story.

That's why I decided to interview a group of the world's most successful e-commerce entrepreneurs and executives to find out the answer to a simple question: what should you be doing to run a better online store today?

While there is no such thing as instant success, if you concentrate your mental energy on these problems and challenges for just five minutes, you will already be ahead of the competition.

1. Pick your niche.

"Find a very specific niche," says Ethan Song, founder of Frank and Oak, a popular design-centric clothing company. "Find something that no one is quite doing or doing in the way you want to do it."

If you have a stellar product, it's very tempting to try to cater your marketing and resources to everyone. Just because every man can wear your suit doesn't mean you should try to market to all men.

And if you're worried your niche is too small - don't. Frank and Oak started with a subset of creative men and grew from there "Find that space and grow from that niche, Song advises.

2. Pick your platform.

"The first step is picking the right platform for your store," says Ashley Scorpio, a partnerships exec at WPromote. According to Scorpio, making the choice between Shopify, Magento, Demandware, BigCommerce, etc. boils down to a few key questions:

  • What are your technical capabilities?
  • How customized do you need your platform to be?
  • Do you need to support multiple currencies and tax rates?
  • How quickly do you need to get your store up?

"Ultimately if you're building a brand, particularly an e-commerce brand, it takes time to build," says Rob Royer, founder of custom furniture company Interior Define. "I think that there's nothing fast, or cheap about that process. I think it really takes a lot of time, and a lot of conviction to get it right."

3. Decide if you're going for scale or profitability.

There's a big difference between running a growth-focused business and focusing on sustainably profitable store, according to Northweek Sunglasses CEO Carles Guerrero Santiago. "Try to find the balance between scale and profitability," he advises. "What do you want? Do you want to make money and that's it, or do you want to make big money?"

If you can answer this question definitively, you will be immediately make more informed decisions around your marketing, fundraising, and hiring.

4. Don't get lost in the hype.

"There is so much excitement in being an entrepreneur and what that means," begins Brika founder Jen Lee Koss. "It's important to put your head down and just go after it and not get lost in the hype."

If you follow the advice of these e-commerce masters, your store will be on the right direction for success.