E-Commerce Academy offers hands-on approach to building online sales

RIVER FALLS – Small business owners who want a proven path to building sales online can enroll in the Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network’s virtual E-Commerce Academy.

Available at no cost, the E-Commerce Academy: Premier Pathway to Revenue Producing Websites is scheduled four times in 2021:

  • Feb. 25 to April 1
  • April 7 to May 12
  • June 1 to July 6
  • July 20 to Aug. 24

Each group of 15 will receive 3 hours of instruction each week, plus consulting time with a web designer and the instructor.

“What makes this successful is walking through the process step by step with your peers and experts,” said Katherine Fossler, associate director of the SBDC at UW-River Falls, which is running the E-commerce Academy statewide. “The secret ingredient is accountability.”

The course follows a logical path: identifying the target audience, building an easy-to-navigate website, creating a sales funnel and crafting a 12-month digital marketing plan to drive sales growth.

Ten business owners participated in a pilot version of the academy at the end of 2020, with the goal of making a first online sale within three weeks. 

Nan’s Naughty and Nice, which sells bottles of their family’s classic Bloody Mary mix, made a sale within five hours of setting up shop.

“I was shocked and amazed,” said owner Peggy Hansen of Hudson. “The customer had been a longtime fan of Nan’s and was excited to find a ‘Buy Online’ button on our website. I’m so happy I asked for help. Don’t let perfection get in the way of progress. You can publish your store and evolve it as you go.”

The Wisconsin SBDC Network offers no-cost, confidential consulting and business education to new and existing businesses. In 2020, the SBDC served 4,371 clients, resulting in $106 million in capital investment, 260 new businesses and 19,731 jobs supported, accordingly to preliminary results.

“The E-Commerce Academy meets a real need as customers drastically accelerated the shift to online shopping during the pandemic,” said Bon Wikenheiser, Wisconsin SBDC state director. “This is just one way we are helping Wisconsin businesses recover and reimagine for a stronger future.”

This initiative concluded in 2021 and is no longer accepting applications.

All of the Wisconsin SBDC’s classes can be found on the Events page. Business owners can also find their nearest center to connect with a consultant.

About the Wisconsin SBDC

The Wisconsin Small Business Development Center (SBDC) is a nationally accredited statewide network supporting entrepreneurs and business owners through no-cost, confidential consulting and business education. Regional SBDC experts facilitate improvement and growth for small and emerging mid-size companies and help launch successful new enterprises. The Wisconsin SBDC is hosted by the University of Wisconsin System Administration under the Institute for Business & Entrepreneurship. It is funded in part through a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Small Business Administration.  


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