The E-commerce Formula
You will need a computer with wifi to run your online store.STEP 1
WHY? you need a why that's your motivation, the road to financial is not easy but it's achievable if you are consistent. My why was I wanted to get out of the night life I was working a job I hate, I'm sure you probably can relate. I told myself this is my only choice, a online store is my only way out. so I stayed up for hours, imagine staying up even after work, you have to be hungry for it. I put in 1 years of research before I got my break. But don't worry I am about to break it down simple for you. My only rule is be open to learning. Let's dive in.
Finding the right product. Find a product that will improve people's life. My store started with only 3 products but it was one product that took off, your goal should be to find a winning product. Stay away from over saturated markets, like clothing, swimwear, hair extensions, eyelashes, waist trainers etc. Not saying you cannot do it big in each market but you will have to stand out and be original. It's hard to scale oversaturated products. It's just too much people selling the same product. My one product did well because it was different it improve people's skin, their hair plus it was relaxing to use. Think of a product like that. How can this improve people life?
Where to find such a product? Oberlo post new products weekly. When you start your shopify store I suggest using Oberlo, its an app that you download and you discover new items everyday. Guess what? you're going to have to test products. When I first started I was selling swimwear which I still do but I had to close the store in the pandemic, it was not selling plus swimwear is a seasonal product, it doesn't sell in the winter months. This is why after summer 2021 my swimwear store will be shut down permanently. This hurts me because I invested a lot of money in it, buying inventory doing photoshoots etc. But at least it was my stepping stone all the mistake I made I will tell you here so you don't have to make them, and mistake can be very costly. After swimwear I tested home decors, I was dropshipping them from China, selling them on ebay. You can connect your ebay sellers account to shopify. Yes ebay many people think there is no business there I was so surprise orders where coming in from ebay, unfortunately ebay shut me down because they do not support dropship businesses, because dropshipping from China can take up to 45 days to get to the customers, and customers do complain. I couldn't use amazon they are very strict and it was complicated to use the platform, they ask for a lot of credentials and as a new entrepreneur this can be overwhelming. Bare in mind once you get a hang of e-commerce try getting your products on amazon. Amazon is the largest marketplace in the US and there are millions of users daily that means no marketing can still sell your products, but the downfall is no reviews will be hard to get sales.
Think of a product your customer uses all year. Aliexpress is similar to oberlo, they go hand in hand. Dropshipping from China can take up to 45 days and customers get impatient, you must states the shipping time on your website, or let customers know there is a delay for more peace of mind.
In addition try finding a product that your customers would want to buy again, my store sell products that last 2-3 years that means to get a new order I have to find a new customers, and marketing is expensive. A long lasting product is not a bad idea I did well selling mine, it just something to think about when finding your winning product.
Google trends can show what products are trending or in high demands and in what country. This tool didn't help me much, but entrepreneurs do use it, so I think it would be good to mention.
TEST YOUR PRODUCT. You will have to test the product you choose. Before you buy a big inventory, dropship first. When I started I dropship close to 100 products before I realize this is a winner. Then I decided to get my name on my product and buy bulk. You don't want to buy inventory then be stuck with items that don't sell. If after a month the marketing is not working on that product. Try selling something else.
When listing your product be sure to add a title and a description is a must, even though it's optional on shopify. Customers want to know what they are buying, plus you can copy and paste the description from oberlo. You can also import reviews, and add it to your store,with the aliexpress import review app. You can import a few reviews then start collecting your own reviews from your customer using the judge me review app.
HOW TO PRICE YOUR PRODUCT. When thinking of pricing your product. Think about including shipping cost because everyone loves free shipping. Think about your profit plus cost of the product. Think about your competition prices. Then pick your price. My winning product cost $9, when I first started I charge $36.99 plus free shipping, the total including shipping was $15.99 to dropship to my customers. My profit was $21, before marketing. Currently I am selling at $64. Once you find your product and you add branding you sell it at your price. Don't forget to add coupon codes and discounts from time to time.
When you start buying bulk, remember to tell your supplier you want your product barcode, you can purchase barcodes at nationwidebarcode.com these are normally cheap. If you are putting your products in a fulfillment house most warehouse/ fulfillment house requires barcode.
CREATE YOUR WEBSITE.
- Pick a name for your business. Use a name that's board. Example P&J clothing, that name is suitable for a clothing store, if clothes doesn't work and you want to sell phone cases, selling phone cases won't be suitable under the name P&J clothing. Use a name that's versatile since you will be testing products. Don't worry it will work for you have faith and stay patient and hungry for it.
- Buy your domain on godaddy.com use (.com) on your store address.
- Make your website clean and look professional, original content looks better and more engaging. You can use the images from oberlo, but you can create your own images holding your product. People relates more to lifestyle images.
- After buying your domain name you are ready to create your website. This youtube video below, helped me create my own store. Yes its long but you can do it. No masterpiece was ever created by a lazy artiste. Stay the course you can do it.
- Create a dropship store, dropshipping means you list the product on your store, when an order comes in you send the information to the supplier and they ship it to the customer. All this is sync is shopify, once you start you will get the hang of it.
Keep it simple do not overthink it when it comes to creating the website. A clean and simple website that's easy to use is best, people just want to get what they want and leave. Same for the logo keep it simple, these things does not drive sales, marketing does so keep your focus there.STEP 6
Trademark your name. File a trademark with trademarkengine.com. Protect your name at all cost. Your store can blow up and people can come after you. Plus if someone owns your name they can ask you to change it or sue you. When I filed my trademark it got rejected because someone else owns the name. You don't want that to happen to you. You need a trademark to sell on amazon, I have to refile for another trademark since I want to sell on amazon. Don't let that happen to you. I also suggest getting the trademark before you add branding to your products. Imagine having to change the name after you have 1000 units in inventory, thats money down the drain.
Register your business has a LLC on legalzoom.com they do the filing for you. Create an account then do the registration. You will receive an EIN number which is like a social security number for your business. This number is very important you will need it to add to your shopify and paypal account later.
The EIN number also is needed when applying for payment plan providers like afterpay, quadpay or klarna. Adding a payment plan to your website increases sales.STEP 7
MARKETING never ends, you do marketing for the lifetime of your business.
- Create your logo on canva.com (do it yourself, save money at this stage, you will need it for marketing)
- Collect emails, offer a 10% off if you sign up. Popular email apps are omnisend which I use, Klaviyo, mailchimp. When you collect emails, you can send email campaign to your pass customer. Once your customers likes you and trust you, it's easier to get a new order from them. Send 3-4 emails per week, do not overwhelm your subscribers.
- Social media influencers are good for brand awareness and drive sales. when I started I searched out to influencer in my field, the beauty industry. I also did an ad on @theshaderoom they charged $2500. That's a bit must if you are just starting out, you can find influencers that charge $50-$100 per post. Simple send them a DM and ask for their rates. If you are selling work out gears find influencers whose content is base on fitness and workouts. Find influencers in your niche.
- Create social media business accounts, instagram is my favorite, the users are more engaging and they shop, facebook, twitter, tiktok, snapchat and youtube are some popular one. Focus on 2 it can be overwhelming doing content for 6 accounts. You can always hire help and influencers to help with content if you choice to use all social media content.
- Create content on canva.com, use youtube to teach you how to use canva.com its pretty simple, you want to create eye popping professional content for your social media, this drives organic traffic to your social media and website.
- Do Giveaways, encourage your followers to tag their friends, repost your content in exchange for your product, this drives traffic.
- Affiliate Marketing drives organic traffic and sales, there are many apps on shopify that does this. I use upromote app. Ask your followers, subscribers or customers to join your team, give them 10-15% commission for every sales they bring in.
- Facebook ads, this is where I got my big break, facebook is a great platform to reach customers and drive sales. But don't do it yourself, I don't create my own ads either, You can find professional to create your ads on fiverr.com or upwork.com or agencies. I am currently using an agency after using fiverr.com professionals for a year. The agency are more advance but more expensive.
One important thing about facebook and instagram ads are the comments, watch the comment section, people can be rude and not only rude try to convince people who are interested in your product not to buy. I honestly deal with this, I had one person wrote a comment he never receive his order, when I check he didn't even order from me it's another company, a potential customer seeing a comment like that would not want to buy. Also very important deleting comments lower your page score, try to respond and be friendly and laugh at the bad comments, try turn it into something positive, when you lower your page score your ads won't perform that well.
- Other ads platforms, I have used pinterest before but I didn't have any good results, snapchat was just the same. Tiktok is new and can be tested. google ads is another option such has youtube ads. Facebooks ads are the best base off of my experience. But use a professional that are experts in scaling businesses.
- Apps that drives sale, start on the free plans first, once your business grows you can upgrade your plans. Remember to crawl before you walk. Such apps that I use to increase conversions are, in cart upsell, this app up sell products in your customers cart, show recent order also know has sales pop, shows pop up messages of recent orders, this actually increases sales. Bundle app encourages your customers to buy more than one items. Reconvert upsell app, shows products at the checkout page, when customers are in a buying mood take advantage, this actually works and drives sales.
- I started using these conversion apps later down the line and I wish I had known because I felt like I left a lot of money on the table when I wasn't using them, I suggest you install them on your store.
- Another good app that increases conversions is the review app, install it on your store because reviews sell products. I use judge-me
SCALING, this is the stage you dream about when it finally starts to happen, orders are coming in. When I got my ads created I was turning up or turning down the budget. This is not good for scaling, facebook data works steadily and slowly, use the professionals there are affordable ones on fiverr.com. Pj_wycech on fiverr.com created my first ad and it did well. You can reach out to him for help.STEP 9
CUSTOMER SERVICE, create a professional email with google workspace, click the blue (GET STARTED) button to sign up. Your business will look professional. For example, instead of firstname.lastname@example.org, your business will look more professional if its email@example.com.
- Once orders are coming in the email inquires will also come in. Respond to customers with 24-48 hours, also states this on your website.
- Live chat is also a good tool, I use the tidio app on my website.
- If it gets overwhelming you can hire someone on fiverr.com or upwork.com to answer your emails.
- On shopify you can add staff, base on your subscription plan. You can add your customer service agent and give them access to orders so they can help with order inquiries. Don't worry about if you can trust them, give them only access to what you want them to see. Most times they are very professional and they take their job very serious.
CHARGEBACK & FRAUDULENT ORDERS. More money more problems, chargeback happens when the customers tells their bank it was not them who made the purchase and the bank charge you $15 plus takes the money back from you. People do steal and this can happen to your business but you can fight back and send the bank proof of delivery.
Shopify also shows you when an order is high risk for fraud, unfortunately this happens, I suggest reaching out to the customer to send an ID or bill showing proof of address. If they don't respond cancel the order.STEP 11
CREATIVITY If you feel like your creativity is running out, doing your social media content, hire someone on fiverr.com or upwork.com to help keep your content new, fresh and engaging.STEP 12
SHIPPING ORDERS, dropshipping orders can take a long time to get to customers, you can also use USA dropshippers which are available in the shopify app, to cut shipping time in half, however USA dropshippers do not have new innovative products as often as oberlo.
When you pass your dropshipping stage and you start buying your inventory in bulk, you can ship from your home or fulfillment house. When I started I used shipmonk to ship my orders. When you start scaling, orders can go from 2 orders per day to 100 per day, this can be overwhelming to ship. I suggest a fulfillment house.
The truth is businesses has good months and bad months and if your products are not selling you are being charge a storage fee. Also fulfillment houses are not perfect, common mistakes are shipping the wrong products, delays when processing orders, sending products to customers you do not sell, this happens because most fulfillment house also ship other businesses products. The good thing is they will refund you and resend packages.STEP 13
KEEP THE BUSINESS TURNING your key goal is finding new customers and engaging the current customers so they can buy again.
- Set up automation like abandon cart and welcome email.
- post on your social media everyday, consistency is very important I can't stress this enough. People won't take your business serious if you post today then post again in 2 weeks. Post on instagram everyday.
- Remind your affiliates from time to time to promote their link, this brings in sales.
- Use social media influencers.
- You never stop learning, be open to learning everyday.
- Use email marketing to keep your customers in the know, send them discounts codes from time to time.
TEAM WORK MAKES THE DREAM WORK, once you start growing hire a team, marketing team, customer service agents, but you have to train them. I only had one assistant, but I also had different persons for different jobs, example I had a different hire for email marketing, and a different person for social media content, then a customer service agent who was also my assistant, depending on your size you can have as much team players has you like.
People are good at their speciality, hiring one person to cover all your task can result in not having up to par results, and you want the best for your business. Find professionals in their field and hire accordingly. You can find professionals on fiverr.com or upwork.com, fiverr.com experts are usually cheaper.
Tutorials on how to set up these ads are on youtube, if you not confident to build them yourself you can hire an expert on fiverr.com or upwork.com
These steps are your stepping stone. You must test products to see what wins. It's not overnight success its consistency. I want this formula to be short yet informative.
One fact about entrepreneurs is a lot of e-commerce is self taught, trail and errors and you grow in knowledge as your business grows.
Always refer back to your WHY? whenever you feel discouraged. If I did it you can do it too.
If you need help creating your shopify store contact their customer service line, they will be happy to help you.
To contact us email firstname.lastname@example.org
Research, research, research you never stop learning at no stage in your entrepreneurial journey.
Leave me a review, let me what you think :) mwah! xoxo Ameala Kirlew