With the growing popularity of online marketplaces, e-commerce has experienced a boom in the industry. Now, many people have begun flocking to online marketplaces to sell a variety of products and services.

This hype is perfectly understandable, as these online marketplaces offer a great deal of flexibility in selling arrangements, and also have a much lower barrier to entry.

After all, you don’t need to pay for a physical storefront, nor do you need to hire staff to man the counters and help customers when you have your entire store online.

However, e-commerce is still no bed of roses. While it does have some amazing benefits over physical stores, this doesn’t mean that running an online store takes any less effort or dedication. In fact, running a store online can mean spending more time on the job!

While you may not have a physical store to tend to, you’ve still got to do many things to set up your store. This can go from listing all your products, writing descriptions for them, and also providing customer support (provided you aren’t hiring someone to do this for you).

In fact, it’s arguable that you actually spend more time running an online store than a physical one!

Wait, don’t I get to relax and lay back once I’ve set it up? Well, yes and no. While you do have less work after everything has been set up, there’s still plenty of work to be done if you want your store to be successful.

In fact, here are 8 time-consuming e-commerce activities:

  1. Creating product photos
  2. Writing product descriptions
  3. Creating a warranty for your products
  4. Checking your order analytics
  5. Providing customer service (via chat)
  6. Performing product research
  7. Researching on where to sell your produ1cts
  8. Adjusting to different marketplaces

Let’s discuss how much time you can expect these activities to take up.


1. Creating Product Photos

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Product Photography

Wait a minute, isn’t this just as simple as snapping a picture of my product? Just how time-consuming can this be?

While it might seem like creating photos for your products seems simple, more effort goes into it than expected on the surface.

Having a good photo for your product really allows you to:

  • accentuate the aesthetic of the product
  • attract buyers visually

After all, one of the most important steps to pulling sales is to attract the attention of would-be customers to your product.

So what goes into a good product photo? Well, your product photos need to be visually appealing, and need to make your product look good. Here, everything from the background, to the colour and saturation of the photos come into play.

With so many things to worry about, its no wonder that creating a good product photo can take a great deal of time. In fact, creating a good photo can take anywhere from 3 – 5 hours of your time when you take into consideration location, filters, and editing.


2. Writing Product Descriptions

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Writing Product Descriptions

Hmm, this one shouldn’t take that long, right?

Maybe, but a poor product description will fail to do a few vital things for you:

  • Tell customers about the key features of your product
  • Tell customers why your product is superior
  • Convince a customer who was interested in buying

Never underestimate the power of a well-written product description. Not only does it serve to tell your customers about the technical specifications or characteristics of a product, but it also conveys a message to them about your offerings.

A well-written product description will not just speak to your customers, it will sing.

The description can convey the meaning underlying your product, contribute to the overall aesthetic of the product, and pull customers closer to the point of purchase.

Not too sure about this? Make the comparison yourself. Imagine you’re shopping for two phones of similar performance going for the same price.

One of them just throws a bunch of technical specifications at you, and the other speaks to you, telling you why this phone is great and why you’ll love using it. Which would you choose?

Considering how important a good product description is, its no wonder that it can take from 2 – 3 hours to really come up with a good product description that sells your product for you.


3. Creating a Warranty for your Products

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Creating Product Warranties

In e-commerce, creating and setting the right warranty for your products is extremely important for you and your customers. Here’s why:

  • Managing expectations
  • Protects you
  • Protects your customers
  • Clarifies the intended use of products
  • Gives you the edge for selling

Setting your warranty inherently involves setting and managing an expectation for your product. Essentially, setting your warranty period clues your customers in about how long your product is expected to function without issue.

Setting this expectation is vital because it lets your customers know what to expect from purchasing and using your product. When these expectations are well managed, then this protects both you and your customers from unexpected outcomes.

Also, when creating your warranty, you will need to explain what is covered by the warranty, and what isn’t. This is also another key part that will clarify the intended use for your product, and to protect yourself from excessive claiming by others.

Having a warranty for your products can also give you the edge over the competition. It can?

Think about it this way, if you’re about to buy an expensive gadget, who would you rather buy from; the seller who gives you a 1-year warranty, or the one that doesn’t offer any?

Of course, your product warranty will need to be well-constructed in order to avoid unforeseen circumstances and to set the right expectations for everyone. This means your products need to be stress-tested, and you need a good understanding of their function.

Getting to this point can take 5 – 10 hours or more depending on how much knowledge you have regarding your product and how it holds up to extensive use. This can take even longer considering just how many types of warranties there are!


4. Checking your Order Analytics

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Checking Analytics & Data

Wait, what are order analytics? Well, order analytics will use the data of your sales to paint a picture of your overall performance in selling products.

Looking at your order analytics is key to your success in e-commerce because it tells you:

  • which products are underperforming
  • which products are selling well

This information is extremely useful for planning your e-commerce activities for many reasons. With this information, you can identify which products to keep selling, and which you may want to stop selling.

Additionally, this information can also guide your decisions on pricing and promotion strategies to boost your sales for certain products. Not to mention, this information could also drive your future business decisions by telling you what type of products are selling well for what segment.

As many have said before, knowledge is power, so it’s extremely important to check your order analytics to know what the next best step for your business is!

Of course, going through a lot of data can be fairly daunting, and can be very difficult at times. So, you can expect this to take anywhere from 4 – 6 hours of your time depending on how proficient you are with this.


5. Providing Customer Service (via chat)

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Customer Service

Much like in a physical store, providing quality customer service is integral to the success of e-commerce businesses.

In fact, it can be argued that it’s even more important for an online store. After all, all the comments and questions regarding your product will always remain visible, and will never leave. This means that poor reviews regarding your customer service will haunt you for a long time.

To avoid such an unfortunate outcome, you need to provide high-quality customer service (typically via chat) to your customers when necessary. This can include answering any queries they may have regarding your products or any other relevant questions.

If you provide good customer service, people will tend to remember you and your products, and this can foster loyalty towards your offerings and your brand. So, it becomes vital to develop good relationships with your customers.

Of course, doing so can eat up a lot of time. Taking the time to deal with each customer’s queries in a professional and timely manner can eat up a great deal of time for you as the owner of the store.

You can expect anywhere between 2 – 3 hours of your time to be used just to deal with customer service on a daily basis when starting out, and expect it to increase as you grow your business.

Time-consuming? Definitely.


6. Performing Product Research

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Product Research

When you want to put out a product to sell to your customers, you’re going to need to go through the process of product research first. This is true even for e-commerce.

Essentially, this is where you’re gathering a bunch of information regarding a potential new product, and the industry you’re putting it into. This means going through many sources of information such as journals, books, or even your competitors.

Product research can be a rather difficult and time-consuming process, since it involves many steps, such as:

  • information gathering (from various sources)
  • product designing
  • product testing
  • surveying and focus groups

Understandably, doing adequate research for a product is no easy feat. This is incredibly time-consuming, and can span periods of at least days, if not weeks or months. Without a doubt, this is one of the most time-consuming activities with how long it needs to take to get right.


7. Researching on Where to Sell your Products

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Marketplace Research

Not only does it matter what products you sell, but it also matters where you sell them.

Imagine selling a diamond-crusted watch at a farmers market. Probably not going to find anyone even remotely interested, right?

The same idea applies to selling your products. You need to sell them on a space or marketplace that allows you to access the segment which you are intending to target. Of course, this means more research is necessary.

Here, it’s vital to find as much information you can about the various marketplaces available for you online, and what segments of the market they target. Ideally, you would list your products for sale on a marketplace that specifically would draw traffic from your target segment.

Considering the various alternatives, gathering information on them, and finally making the choice of where to go to sell can take quite a lot of time. In fact, you can expect this process to take some days or weeks in order to avoid making a costly mistake.


8. Adjusting to Different Marketplaces

Time-consuming E-commerce Activities: Adjusting To The Marketplace

When you’re doing e-commerce, you probably want to sell on a variety of marketplaces. So, you need to be familiar with the ins and outs of each of them, and how to maximize your sales on each one.

Every marketplace operates differently from one another. Some might put restrictions on certain product types, whereas others may put limits on how many listings you can actually make on that marketplace.

Taking all these into consideration is vital for you to fully capitalize on the opportunities the system provides you, as well as to avoid the various pitfalls which can cause you to lose not only a lot of time, but also potentially, a lot of money.

In order to know the various ins and outs of these marketplaces, doing some research is necessary. You will need to know what is allowed, what their guidelines are, and what strategy to take based on these limitations provided.

Finding, reading, and compiling all this information can take quite a fair bit of time. Most likely, you’ll be spending around a few days looking at the ins and outs of each marketplace you’re interested in. Of course, the more you look at, the more time this will take.

So all of this begs the questions…

How Much Time Time Do You Need To Spend When
Running Your Online Business?

Let’s quickly crunch the numbers that were mentioned:

  • Product Photos: 3-5 hours/product
  • Product Descriptions: 2-3 hours/product
  • Product Warranties: 5-10 hours
  • Checking Analytics & Data: 4-6 hours/weekly or bi-weekly
  • Providing Customer Service: 2-3 hours
  • Product Research: Varies, Days to Months
  • Marketplace Research: Days to Weeks
  • Adjusting to a Marketplace: A few days

But wait! Some of these don’t make sense to put together as they are either one-off activities or activities that repeat.

And that is correct! So let’s divide the tasks into their respective groups, which are:

  • One-off tasks
  • Ongoing Tasks
  • Undetermined

One-Off Tasks

For one-off tasks, expect to use this formula to help determine how much time you will be spending

Product photo (X) + description (X) + warranty = Total Hours (X is the number of products you will be uploading)

3-5 hours (X) + 2-3 hours (X) + 5-10 hours = 10-13 hours (assuming X = 1)

Ongoing Tasks

This is tricky, as checking your analytics would be a weekly or biweekly activity, whereas customer support requires to be done daily.

So we suggest using this formula to help plan out your time.

For weekly planning: 

Customer Service (7 days) + weekly analytics checkup = Total Hours Weekly

4-6 hours (7) + 4-6 hours = 32-48 Hours Weekly

For biweekly planning:

Customer Service (14 days) + weekly analytics checkup = Total Hours Bi-Weekly

4-6 hours (14) + 4-6 hours = 60-90 Hours Bi-Weekly 


Wait, why are the final group of tasks called the undetermined group?

Because these tasks vary the most from person to person and don’t have a real timeline. For example, product research.

Product research can be done fairly quickly if you are a veteran in your industry and know most information already, but this can take forever for someone new coming on into the industry, and this will usually require them to constantly update their research as no one usually gets it on the first try.

The same thing can be said for adjusting to a new marketplace.

For all you know, the new marketplace is not too complicated and easy to get used to; but it could also be the opposite and you find yourself spending a lot of time understanding how to navigate through that marketplace.

As such, the expected time of these activities can’t be determined as it depends on how much you know personally, and how fast you can move.


E-commerce isn’t easy. It can become very time-consuming, and running a successful store can take a great deal of effort and commitment.

After all, these 8 activities can eat up a great deal of time when it comes to e-commerce:

  1. Creating product photos
  2. Writing product descriptions
  3. Creating a warranty for your products
  4. Checking your order analytics
  5. Providing customer service (via chat)
  6. Performing product research
  7. Researching on where to sell your products
  8. Adjusting to different marketplaces

So yes, selling online has less time commitment than selling offline, but that does not mean you won’t be spending a lot of time building your online business!

In fact, as you grow your business, expect the time taken for all these activities to increase as well.

So how would you deal with all this? Obviously you don’t want to spend all your time doing all these activities forever.

The answer? Delegation

As your business grows, you eventually will need to start hiring employees to help you deal with tasks like customer support.

On the other hand, time-consuming activities like product photography requires an experts touch in many aspects of it. So if you don’t feel too confident about it, it would be best to outsource this to a third party to help you out (and save you some time).

Sounds like a lot of work? Definitely! But, we can help you with a lot of these.

We at Red Dino help you out with your online business by helping you set up your online store in any marketplace of your choice via our product photography service & through uploading your products for you.

That’s almost all the setup work done already!

Do check out our services here to learn more.

Using your time well is the key to achieving success within e-commerce. As the saying goes: Time is money! So use that time wisely and focus on tasks to grow your business, rather than on tasks that keep you busy.




July 2024


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