Ecommerce Confessions: How 1,000+ Store Owners Spend Their Time

Guest Author

Let’s talk shop.

We surveyed 1000+ store owners about what it takes to keep their ecommerce shops running smoothly. Turns out, it takes a lot of time and various roles to run a successful ecommerce store. 

This is especially true now, when each new day seems to bring new headlines and new challenges for your store. So how are shop owners investing their time? And where do they see the greatest return for that investment? 

Take a look at the insights we discovered in Ecommerce Confessions: How 1,000+ Store Owners Spend Their Time.

Here’s a preview of what we cover.

  • 70% of shop owners take on two or more roles daily, and 53% take on three or more roles. And we discovered which roles are getting in the way and which ones owners see as the biggest key to growth in the upcoming year. 
  • Respondents only spend an average of 7.8 hours per week on marketing—even among those store owners who say it’s their top priority for the upcoming year. And 15% don’t work on marketing at all. 
  • When faced with bandwidth limitations, the most common response is for store owners to roll up their sleeves and do everything themselves (30%) instead of hiring an outside team or utilizing technology. Unfortunately, there are perceived challenges that stop store owners from leaning more heavily on technology that actually have simple solutions. 
  • Only 16% of people believe their time is spent effectively—meaning 84% do not. 
  • Store owners who make more than $1M in revenue are most likely to spend their time with customers or working on operations and finance, while store owners with revenue around $500k and below are more likely to spend their time working on product creation and innovation. 

Get the guide. Revolutionize your store.

What do these findings mean for you in the current economic climate? 

Data is the lifeblood of your business, but when it comes time to actually plan your week, month, or year, you’ll need more than the numbers.

In the guide, you’ll learn not only where people report spending their time, but also where that time proves to have a powerful return on investment. 

Nothing but the numbers.

We had over 1,000 respondents give us responses to the following questions. Some questions required only one response while others allowed for multiple answers to be selected.

If you’re into raw data, here it is. If you want to see how the numbers can make a difference for you, download the guide.

What is your annual revenue?

Less than $50,00015%
$50,000 to $150,00022%
$150,000 to $500,00019%
$500,000 to $1M18%
$1M to $5M17%
More than $5M8%

What is your team size?

Just myself18%

How long has your business been operating?

Less than one year4%
1 year7%
2 years15%
3 to 5 years22%
More than 5 years52%

In a typical week, how many hours do you work?

0-20 hours6%
21-30 hours9%
31-40 hours34%
41-50 hours31%
51-60 hours13%
61-70 hours4%
71-80 hours1%
80+ hours per week2%

What ecommerce platform do you use?


What are the primary roles that you’re responsible for on a daily basis?

Administration and HR50%
Customer support and sales57%
Operations and finance64%
Product creation and innovation40%

How many hours do you spend on each specific task in an average week?

Administration and HR7.6 hrs
Customer support and sales9.2 hrs
IT6.5 hrs
Marketing7.8 hrs
Operations and finance10.5 hrs
Product creation and innovation8.7 hrs
Other8.0 hrs

Do you believe your time is spent effectively?


If you had more time, which field would you most want to spend it on?

Administration and HR6%
Customer support and sales21%
Operations and finance14%
Product creation and innovation16%

What are the hurdles that prevent you from investing more in email automation within your business?

Security concerns24%
Lack of knowledge29%
Privacy concerns22%
Not sure how to find the right tool25%
Not enough time to set up automation25%
Lack of personnel to manage solutions27%

Which of your current duties are getting in the way of your top priority initiatives?

Administration and HR29%
Customer support and sales31%
Operations and finance32%
Product creation and innovation19%

How do you solve bandwidth limitations?

Delegate and/or hire a team in-house21%
Delegate to an outside agency or freelancer(s)20%
I manage everything myself30%
Utilize technology to automate certain processes28%
Other (please specify)1%

Which explanation fits your store’s approach to each of the following areas of business improvement?

Not applicableNot worth time or resourcesWant to improve, but lack skill setWe do this well
Automating and personalizing email campaigns6%8%40%45%
Growing your social media following4%6%42%45%
Incorporating a new technology7%6%42%45%
Leveraging customer reviews across platforms5%6%43%46%
Promoting highly-rated products4%3%43%50%
Gathering UGC for promotional materials6%7%44%42%

What initiatives are your competitors pursuing that you don’t have the bandwidth to match? 

Automating and personalizing email campaigns30%
Growing your social media following36%
Incorporating a new technology24%
Generating and leveraging customer reviews across platforms24%
Promoting your highly-rated products across platforms30%
Gathering user-generated content25%
Blogging, podcasting, and/or creating videos33%
Investing in paid media40%

What one area will be the biggest key to your success in 2020?

Administration and HR6%
Customer support and sales21%
Operations and finance14%
Product creation and innovation16%

What area is taking the most time in 2020?

Administration and HR9%
Customer support and sales23%
Operations and finance20%
Product creation and innovation17%

Do you have technology in place to cut down the time you spend on administrative tasks?


Do you have technology in place to cut down the time you spend on ecommerce tasks?


Do you have technology in place to cut down the time you spend on marketing?


What task provides the most return for your time? Ranked from 1 (best return) to 6 (worst return).

Administration and HR7%11%11%16%20%27%
Customer support and sales24%21%17%12%10%7%
Operations and finance15%14%19%20%17%8%
Product creation and innovation17%17%17%12%13%15%

Just because you can do it all doesn’t mean you should have to.

With all the tools you need to connect your store and grow your brand using automated email marketing, CM Commerce lets you take off your email hat and get back to running your business.

Learn more about how CM Commerce takes care of business for you here, or start your free trial here.