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EXECUTION $5000 to $30,000 per month - eCommerce Progress

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by SparksCW, Jan 4, 2016.

  1. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'm from England and I have a part time e-commerce business which has grown from a bedroom operation to what it is now in a short space of time.

    I also have another monthly subscription business start up and I work full time for the family businesses (for now) I do okay. But the family business isn't my dream so I'm working on the fast lane businesses.

    What Happened In 2015?

    In 2015 my business went from just me in my spare bedroom to a commercial unit and a part time employee dealing with all orders, enquiries, fulfilment etc. As it stands now I deal with the website, new products etc etc. All the orders, product adding, fulfilment is handled by my employee and a lot of our products are sent by distributors so we can scale quite large before needing more staff.

    We went from $5000 per month to $30,000 per month (turnover) mostly organically, with a bit of help from eBay and Amazon.

    This happened between October and December 2015, and only because I stepped outside of my comfort zone.

    2016 Targets

    To pay for my current lifestyle (without my slow lane job) we need to maintain (or improve) our margins and turn over approximately $45,000 per month. So our target is currently $75,000 per month (turnover).

    What I'm Doing?

    I'll keep it simple here, and post in more detail as I get them done.

    Add value - guides, blog, pictures, reviews, advice, knowledge centre, e-book (already written)

    Add interaction - more social, instagram, ability for customers to add their own pictures, generate more reviews, case studies, get more content on the website

    Be More Proactive - this year we're going to be going out looking for customers... trade, installers, home builders, etc etc. Maybe do some exhibitions again (tried before with no luck)

    Site Improvements - a few extra features, fix duplicate content issues, improve SEO, write bespoke product descriptions for all important products, improve speed and continue to improve search rankings.

    PPC - I really struggle with PPC, I read stories that people can put an add up and make sales in minutes, I seem to drink money. Need to learn more on PPC and keep trying to make it work.

    That's it for now. I'll post as and when things get done and let you know what affect they have on the business.

    Any advice welcome.
     
    JoannaGl, The_Saphir, RobD88 and 39 others like this.
  2. marklov
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    marklov It is a Tiger That Devours Me but I am The Tiger Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Subd
     
  3. prof
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    prof Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Congrats on your success so far!

    I don't know what actual profit margin you're working to but your listed figures seem pretty tasty considering what you've said about it being pretty much all organic traffic to your own site rather than pushing through the likes of Amazon and eBay.

    Without giving away any specifics I'm interested in how people are finding you? Is it the products they're searching for or are you funnelling through to the products after indoctrinating them to the guides, and other items you mentioned on your site?

    Either way - following this one! :) Good luck!
     
  4. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    About $8000-$10,000 of the sales are down to a very niche USA product that we have the UK domain for, we're top 3 results for every product in Google and we have a trade following so that helps. It's not a very mainstream product but we will be trying to increase sales throughout this year, I doubt monthly sales will get much higher for this particular range, but who knows.. there's always Europe to sell to!

    We are currently selling quite a bit on eBay/Amazon so that does make up a good part of the figures, however we only have a small amount of items listed so we will be exploiting eBay further soon. I have nothing against eBay, I just don't want to rely on it.

    Our other niche site is starting to do quite well but it's no where near it's limits, the products are quite specific so we're racing up the search engine results. It's a slow game, but I'm sure someday soon sales will go through the roof when we hit page 1 for the key searches. Most of my focus will be on this website throughout this thread, but at the minute this particular site on it's own isn't generating the majority of the sales.

    We are doing some PPC and am getting some sales from it, but I'm not very good at it, they're costing a bit much and I need to really work on it.

    I'm netting about 20% after paying all bills, staff etc however we're focusing on certain products now that have a higher gross margin so I'm hoping to increase that net margin. All money so far is tied up in stock and then I have loads of website updates to pay for so I'm not going to be buying an R8 any time soon, however I don't need to buy this much stock normally, I just got a good deal on something.

    Todays Updates

    I managed to get an appointment with the MD of one of my big suppliers ($22 million t/o year) and have a meeting booked for 2 weeks time to see how we can do more with them. Could lead to increased sales!

    Found some more features for the site which will prove useful.

    Last night I worked till late improving category layout, category descriptions, editing some titles and improving some product descriptions etc.
     
    Bruh, Mikkel, Fox and 10 others like this.
  5. Kingsta
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    Kingsta Bronze Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Hi,

    Thanks for the post. I'm interested in your methods of driving traffic to your site? Would you be so kind as to share a few? For example did you use facebook ads? Word of mouth? Etc.

    I noticed you said that you're now ranked top 3 in google for certain niches but how did you get there?
     
  6. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hi, the well ranked site was my second foray into e-commerce, I'm not professing to be an expert at SEO, quite the opposite as I know my site has some key SEO issues that need fixing, but the particular product that we rank top 3 for is very niche, we managed to secure a really good deal with the distributor at the time, and now we're working very closely with them and have OEM'd the product to our own name. We have an exact match domain which I'm sure helps, although everyone says that exact match domains don't add any weight any more.

    The low competition is a big help, but essentially the site is well structured, features the brand/product on every page/product page, all the usual SEO titles, well written unique product descriptions, good pictures etc. We have all the technical manuals in PDF format on the site/products, various help and support pages, a blog etc etc.

    I do think we can increase sales by increasing exposure, more blog articles, more help, more content, more value. And by good old fashioned going out and finding customers.

    The main site I am working on now, which is the focus of this thread, I'm finding a LOT harder! It's a broader niche with more competition, some of which are very well established, and more potential customers. I'm still on page 2/3 for most products, but I'm competing with someone who's been doing it 10+ years and is very, very good at SEO. Our best selling items are on page 1 for the product term but this is an area where people will be searching by need, not product, which I'm finding a bit harder to get my head around.

    For example my usual SEO is based around...

    Customer: Hi Google UK, I want to buy a Samsung XYZ123 TV please.

    now I'm going for this.

    Customer: Hey Google, I fancy a new TV, what you got?

    TV is just an example, I'm not crazy enough to try and compete in that market!

    We're catching up slowly, this is from well written descriptions, SEO titles etc, well structured categories with decent descriptions with information on how the products used etc. Even so there are still more products to write unique descriptions for etc.

    Now I am trying to get up to page 1 for the main products and for much more competitive terms it's getting harder which is why this years focus will be on content - I have lots planned, it's just going to cost a fair bit of money in Magento modules.

    I don't want to post links to any of my sites on here so my apologies as the thread would be better if I could show you the physical changes, but I will definitely keep up to date on what we've added, how it's worked and how that monthly t/o figure is affected!

    I'm a bit worried that this month will be quiet compared to the others, we've already done $4000 this week but I just have a bad feeling, not sure why!
     
    Bruh, prof and Ross Morgan like this.
  7. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Oh yeah, I remembered I have the .com for my domain and my top products aren't sold in the USA. Interesting....

    To be honest at the minute my site is probably much more geared to the US anyway, the UK market is only just catching on!

    Watch This Space. (might be a while, I have no idea how to set up and sell to the USA!)
     
    Ross Morgan likes this.
  8. nomeus
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    nomeus Contributor Speedway Pass

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    Why would you use Magento? Do you see any specific advantages? I use opencart right now for my site, its free, with lots of resources and easy to create custom modules for it.

    I started with magento, but even the basic install on (poorly configured) VPS was quite slow, so I looked for something else.
     
  9. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Good question.

    My top ranked store is actually on Opencart. The other sites were originally on Opencart as well.

    The new sites are on Magento hosted by a specialist Magento company.

    Why Did I Move To Magento?

    I wanted certain features and capabilities, mostly revolving around multi-store as my admin backend actually feeds three stores, I know full well that Opencart can do anything, but the multi store is a bit rubbish in my opinion.

    The problem is, I'm doing it all myself. I've learnt a lot and my sites do look good (honest) but I hit problems if a module isn't available, and with Opencarts multi store I'd have needed custom themes installed for each shop to look different as the themes I had (Oxy) had a control panel and as such you can't change settings between stores. I know if they were custom templates I could have a different look to everyone, but that means a developer.

    I played with Magento loads before I moved and gave up a few times, but when I sussed how it works it just seems to be really good, I think the interface and multi store is 100 times better, there's a lot more features and almost everything I need/want is available as a module, in fact my theme and 90% of my modules I have/want are all from one company which makes me a bit more confident with compatibility etc. There are some features I don't like as well though, you can't mark an order as "processed" it's just "processing" then "shipped".. not ideal (but I'm sure fixable)

    I have nothing against Opencart, but for me to move back I'd need a 100% custom template made and multiple features developed to give me everything I want. No doubt an easy task for a developer, but until I'm doing £50k + a month with money to spare it's not really been high on my list.

    That Said

    Magento is a pain in the backside. I've had numerous speed issues which resulted in moving to a specialist, if it breaks or crashed I'm lost, whereas Opencart I stand a slightly better chance with. I could edit some basic code in Opencart and add/move things on templates (easy stuff) whereas with Magento I don't even know where the template files are.

    I will soon need to get a Magento developer onboard to make the changes I want that I can't do and just simply to maintain it, especially when we start seeing more sales.

    Opencart is a lot faster and less resources required.

    Magento I find easier to navigate and use, it's a lot more intuitive with attributes etc.

    All in all I quite like Magento, if I get to the stage where we can design and make a site from the ground up I would certainly be getting quotes on Opencart as well.

    If You're Reading This & Thinking Of Starting In e-Commerce

    Opencart or Magento?

    NEITHER - choose a hosted one like Shopify, get the site running, get the products on, content on etc, focus on selling. Mess around with sites when you know your site sells.

    Honestly, if I could go back, I'd have stopped messing around with sites trying to save £30 a month from Shopify and focused on selling things first - then made an all singing all dancing move to a better site when there was money in the bank.
     
  10. Michał Kóska
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    Michał Kóska Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    You can use Amazon FBA and sell in the US using this platform. Very convenient.
     
    SparksCW likes this.
  11. relentlessaction
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    Sounds like a good idea. These are all things that everyone should focus on running a business.

    Can't wait to see your success!

    Facebook Ads and Instagram Ads I plan on conquering this year.
     
  12. jasoncuellar123
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    jasoncuellar123 I’m probably awake. Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    How long were you working on your product/business before it took off in October?

    How did you find your product?

    Is it something you have experience in?
     
  13. nomeus
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    Couple more questions.

    Did you had a phone number for customer service when you started?
    Did you had a registered company when you started in ecommerce?

    And last, have You had any success finding dropshippers and supliers at esources.co.uk? All I seem to find is different ecommerce websites, that are just there and does not dropship.
     
  14. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    My company was a sole trader for 1 year, then a ltd company (LLC) for 3 years till this date, so 4 years in total. It was always a passive sideline with little effort, it's only been since about June 2015 that I started trying to increase it with a different niche. So it's not an over night success, it's not even a full success yet in my opinion but I now definitely see it as a viable business.

    The original niche product I found at a trade show relating to my primary job. I saw that it wasn't really advertised well but had really good uses for a niche audience.

    The product does relate to my trade so I knew and understood what it did and what it can be used for, despite it being slightly outside of what my trade background is. The newer niche I'm focusing on, again it's not my primary trade but it's closely related and I know a lot about it and enjoy it so writing content, blogs etc should be a bit easier. Plus it means I can answer almost any question relating to the products and/or installation!
     
    TheCj, memelia and jasoncuellar123 like this.
  15. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    1. Not when I first started, I barely even showed an address. The original site I started didn't do very well, when I created the niche site I listed my office address for my day job (funny when people used to turn up asking for my product!) I started showing full phone numbers and addresses about 1.5 years ago and to be perfectly honest I don't think you should run an e-commerce site without a very visible address and phone number as it instills a lot more trust than not having one. Plus we get phone orders which is always good, it's even more important for technical products which may mean people want to ask questions before buying.

    2. No I started as a sole trader, however as it started doing okay I realised that I was better off in a ltd for tax purposes. Now I wouldn't trade any other way.

    3. I don't do drop shipping in that sense, all of my products are either bought, stocked and sent or are sent direct from my distributors because we've worked with them for so long and spend so much money with them. You'll be surprised how many distributors will send items direct to customers with your paperwork for you.

    The problem with drop ship companies is they provide products to you and anyone else who asks them, so it usually means low margins and high competition, and no control!

    Find a good product that isn't widely "drop shipped" then get on the phone and make deals or buy small amounts of stock, or back to back orders if you can get away with it.
     
    Bryce R and memelia like this.
  16. nomeus
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    Thank you for your answers.

    The problem is, Im not in the UK, but in the Eastern Europe, but I see the UK market as a huge opportunity (2 mil people vs 64 mil, 3x the GDP). In my case, dropshipping would be perfect in the beginning, but it seems that all of the UK stores have valid addresses and phone numbers, so that kind of sets me back a little.

    I guess I'll just have to get back to drawing board and think of some ways to make it work.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2016
  17. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Don't give up, find work arounds.

    You can get a UK address for £10-£30 a month that will forward mail. Google them, plenty available throughout the UK, just choose a location, avoid London as it's a bit too obvious.

    You can get a UK local phone number that diverts to any number (VOIP) or a free 0843 number. We do have a landline local number (VOIP) but we use a £9.99 per month 0843 number that re-directs to any number we choose (landline, then forwards to mobiles)

    If you buy physical stock you can put it in a UK fulfilment centre or FBA for not a lot of money. Just make sure you pay your taxes ;)

    Problem solved :)
     
    Bryce R and nomeus like this.
  18. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'm going to add little "completed" lists and notes, even if just for my own purposes of remembering when I did things.

    Thursday 7th Jan 2016


    Wrote buying guide for primary product range no. 1
    Wrote buying guide for primary product range no. 2
    Built "info center" page with some guides and links to the buying guides
    Added more info pages to site footer including FAQ's, Technical Glossary etc and also compiled all links in the "info center" page.
    Added compiled videos page to footer (shows all product videos from product page, on one page)
    Added link to blog

    Notes

    Sold a high value product that we've not sold before today, relating to niche, more work required on those pages now that we got our first sale. Needs a few more products, better descriptions, category pages, etc.

    Sales this week $6500 so far with another $1200 pending awaiting payment (phone orders)
     
    Bruh, GSF, Martin Tale and 1 other person like this.
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    I was curious in your blogs. Are you going to mention your website?

    Sent from my A0001 using Tapatalk
     
  20. mws87
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    mws87 talk less, listen more. Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    I'm going to be the 8-ball here and say "signs point to no"
     
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    Havox New Contributor

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    I'd like to hear the horses mouth though

    Sent from my A0001 using Tapatalk
     
  22. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Hi, no not at the minute, my blog is rubbish so you're not missing out there. It's the website I'm working on.

    However I will PM a mod with the site details so they can verify it :)
     
  23. happybhoy
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    happybhoy Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    What have you done to protect yourself from competition? $45k/mth just to live seems pretty bloated and it looks like someone could come and undercut you.
    Could you lower costs to increase your margin?
     
  24. SparksCW
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    SparksCW Silver Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Competition is always fierce. At the minute I'm the jack Russell biting at the top dogs feet for my main site so at the minute I am the competition. I do get annoyed with my main products being sold on eBay cheaper by random people who aren't even properly in this market. My main competitors stick to a mutually agreed price so we don't compete on pricing, purely on value. Which is why it's harder to catch up.

    The single range site has some really bad competition last year and lots of price undercutting. Thankfully in December we got all the bad sellers removed and secured an OEM deal to ensure we can always get product.

    Truthfully my bills are quite low even with the car. We only need to turn over about $22,000 a month (at the target margin) to continue my existing lifestyle. (That's to cover all my business costs, staff member and my personal home bills etc.) I've just set higher goals to motivate more. I still think $45k month is a reasonable goal to aim for. High, but achievable.

    If you set a low goal you work towards it.

    If you set a much higher goal you have to sit down and really work out what products/services will get you that amount each month, how many sales do I need per day, per week? How will I get those sales? Which products will get me there quickest? Is there a big enough market to get me there? What link ups and partnerships can I do to assist this target and to keep some continuity in sales month on month. Etc...
     
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2016
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  25. happybhoy
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    happybhoy Bronze Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    Great man. Competing on value can't be a bad thing in the long run.
     
    Arun Siva likes this.

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