Growing Your eCommerce Brand to $1M a Year

Ambaum is a Shopify Plus Partner that supports Shopify merchants, so we get to see what works and what doesn’t as these companies grow. Without the proper organizational structure, you’re going to find it hard to level up.

Growing Your eCommerce Brand to $1M a Year

We often get approached by DTC founders who are just getting started with their Shopify site. They have a small product catalog and are starting to get traction on one or a handful of products. The typical persona here is one of a hard driving, DIY entrepreneur who came up with an idea, grabbed a 3rd party theme from the Shopify theme store and has found some level of product-market fit. This entrepreneur is doing everything with their company at this stage: merchandising, marketing, branding, updating their theme, creating content, and much more.

This is an exciting time for these startup brands as they are seeing growth come from their idea and their hard work is directly translating into revenue. As the brand bumps over $500,000 a year, they are going to inevitably hit an inflection point that everyone reaches: there is too much work now for one person to manage. 

What we’ve learned here at Ambaum is that there are 3 pillars required for small DTC businesses to scale.

3 Pillars Needed for Growth:

  1. Dedicated E-commerce Manager
  2. Marketing and Sales Team
  3. Development Team

Dedicated E-commerce Manager

Choosing one person in your DTC business to be the sole owner responsible for the success of your website is the number one thing you can do to elevate your brand. Early stage founders will function as their own e-commerce manager as they learn the ropes of Shopify and test different themes, designs, and marketing strategies. However the role of the founder is broad and their time will quickly get eaten up by: shipping, product creation, finding new sales channels, and the strategic decisions critical for success.

At a certain revenue number, solo founders will bump against the wall of having too many things to do and not enough time. Typically, that kicks in between $500,000 and $1M/year in Shopify sales. At this inflection point the entrepreneur has two choices: 

  1. Continue down the superman path
  2. Realize that the only way to scale the business is to make the hire

Think of the dedicated eCommerce Manager as the Project Manager for the website; they are the hub for making sure the ball is moving forward every day.

We have turned away work from founders that didn’t have a dedicated eCommerce Manager because we knew the founder would be too busy to focus on the growth of the site. This role is the most important hire for growing Shopify sites and when they get this right it unlocks the ability to scale from low 7 figures a year to $10M+ in revenue.

Marketing and Sales Team

With most DTC products, there isn’t a need for founders to close every sale as the site does the selling by describing the product for customers. Founders are involved in selling, but the focus should be on setting up awareness of the product by creating a marketing and advertising function. These roles can either be handled by hiring a full time resource or using an outside agency on a contract basis. 

Side Note: Ambaum doesn’t manage marketing or advertising campaigns for merchants. We focus on design, development, and fractional CTO services to ensure our clients get the best specialized support. 

To grow sales, brands need to spend money on advertising to drive customers to the site. The key here is to test out different marketing strategies to find what works best. For some companies, it’s Google Product Listing Ads, for others it’s Facebook or Instagram ads, or for some it’s influencers/KOLs. You need quick feedback so you can pivot and test out different: ad copy, ad platforms, products, bundles, conversions, landing pages and much more. Your Marketing or Sales team needs to set up key performance indicators (KPI’s) and track them on at least a monthly basis.

This eCommerce Manager is the point person that will meet weekly (or as needed) with the marketing and advertising team to evaluate results. This constant feedback loop will drive innovation on your site: building landing pages, integrating product reviews, setting up wholesale orders, creating a robust filter and search function, as just a few examples.

Development Team

The third and final pillar a brand needs to fill is an in-house developer or a development agency. Ambaum, as an example, is a Shopify Plus development agency that also serves as a fractional CTO for eCommerce merchants. Early in the lifecycle of the company, founders are hands on and most make changes to their own site. Eventually, founders will bump up against technical limitations and will need to go in search of more professional programming help. Many founders will hire a freelancer or a Shopify expert to make updates to the site.

Hiring part-time developers will get your site to $500,000/year or even close to $1M, but eventually you will find out that part- time help is unreliable or doesn’t have the skills you need to build what’s required. The next inflection point is deciding to hire a full time programmer in-house or to use an agency like us that can supply fractional development time each month. This is the point where Ambaum adds the most value to an eCommerce brand. We step in as a fractional CTO to help advise your team on best practices for Shopify Plus and the app ecosystem.


For DTC founders at the initial stages of their Shopify journey, achieving growth hinges on transitioning from a solo effort to a structured team approach. As an entrepreneur reaches $500,000 to $1M in revenue, managing all aspects of the business alone becomes untenable. At this point, it’s crucial to establish sustained growth in hiring a dedicated eCommerce Manager to oversee the website’s success, building a Marketing and Sales team to drive traffic and sales, and hiring a Development team for technical support or a solutions agency like Ambaum for support. By focusing on these areas, founders can scale their business effectively, ensuring continued success and expansion beyond the early stages.

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