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Progress Thread My first foray into the jungle of Ecommerce.

Discussion in 'Progress/Execution Threads' started by DesignerOne., Apr 11, 2017.

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  1. DesignerOne.
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    DesignerOne. One day... or Day one. You decide. Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    So I've been active on this forum for a bit now and been learning a lot about a lot of things. I have started a business that specializes in helping companies with their brand or products.

    However I feel I need to learn more about branding and marketing at its core, so I've started taking steps towards starting a ecommerce business and learning about it.

    This will allow me to understand my customer's points and their struggles and allow me to help them better improve their methods or product.

    So I've been researching different products and things for some time now and have come up with this pretty cool and fun product idea. I see a very few similar ideas online and a couple of big businesses that have this product on hand but not with the spin I have on it, or the niche market I am targeting it towards. A few people I've discussed it with already love the idea and are ready to test it when it is complete.

    I've already bought most of the items I need, and I'm 3D printing a prototype mold for the product. I have personal networks I will utilize and am planning on giving away my first 30 products for free to a test audience within my personal network. After that I will sell it at 4.99 dollars per unit.

    First I am working on the marketing aspect, and the branding/packaging of the product. I am waiting for all of my materials to arrive and so I can make a physical product to test myself and a few friends. I hope to start selling sometime next week and really work this angle.

    I'm going to set up a facebook page sometime next week to sell it via my personal network and when people begin to invite their friends into the page and more, I'm going to start bumping up the social media presence then set up an ecommerce store online.

    We'll see how it goes and I'll keep this thread updated with the progress.
     
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    Already made marketing material, Logo, Branding, and soon ready to launch the facebook site.

    Made a few 3-D printed prototypes/molds myself and It works perfectly, and looks so cool! The result from the mold/materials smells amazing. That's all i'll say. ;)

    I ordered all the materials to make it. Waiting on packaging and labels which have already been designed.

    I'm going to have 4 friends over this friday and we're going to be making tons of the product. We are planning on giving away the first 30-40 for free to personal network and selling each unit at 5 dollars but if someone buys 4, we give away a 5th for free.

    Here's a great link on how to find a manufacturer and how to go ecommerce. Opened a lot of things to me such as how to get through customs, how to find a manufacturer, and so on.

    https://www.arbing.co.uk/create-sell-physical-product/

    I'm getting excited about this product. I'm ready to kick ass and take names.

    I still need to figure out SKU's, how to patent it or establish the name of the product, anyone have any suggestions?
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
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    All the products I needed arrived, Getting to work on the manufacture now!

    Found this great link regarding SKU's but I'm still unsure of the whole process, just gotta keep working at it.

    How to Get Started Creating SKUs Right Now
     
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    J.Roddy New Contributor Read The Millionaire Fastlane

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    Subscribing to your thread; best of luck!
     
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    Pretty soon, will be launching the Facebook page and I'll look into FB advertising and how it works.

    Found a awesome site that helps with SKU's (Stock keeping units)

    Free Stock Keeping Unit (SKU) Generator - Best Practices and Examples and the same site also provides a free trial to a inventory and order management software. So I'll be looking into that and learning about it.

    I had a conversation with some people and they suggested Etsy, but a lot of others also suggested no way, start a estore online and sell through that.

    So right now I'll focus on personal network and build it via Facebook and Instagram, once it gets bigger, It'll justify building a simple storefront site that I can sell and operate from. A lot of threads here often say that a big way to build up is utilize your personal network so to anyone reading this, I urge you to really analyze what the needs are in your personal network and provide that solution to them!

    Looking forward to where I'll be this time of the week next week. I'll do my best to provide either a few updates in a week or a weekly update of the whole process.
     
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    jpanarra Gold Contributor Read The Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Solid Stuff going on here! Bookmarked because I'm considering going E-Commerce when I have enough room and capital.

    I need to utilize my 3-d printer too, theres so much potential for inhouse manufacturing with that!

    My two cents here are always going woo commerce when you're starting a new store. Esty and Shopify will rob you of your monthly net income. Woocommerce is a bit pricier to start up but once its up, its up and no big additional fees and tons of marketing tools that are free due to opensource. Whenever you need help setting up the woo commerce store give me a shoutout.

    Keep it up little bro!
     
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    So after having some discussions with some people, I'm still figuring out how to sell my product. Since it is a cosmetic product and will need some color to create some appeal to my specific market.

    The FDA guidelines says my product will not need to be approved by them unless there are any color additives. So since I'm still clearly small fish, still sell it anyways? It would be mixed with some color dyes that were approved by the FDA by its own not mixed into this product? (such as liquid watercolors or food coloring)
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
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    Pretty soon I'll have a completed product that I think is effective enough for testing so I'm going to give out 30 products for free to friends and family.

    I also spoke to a couple people, one person brought up a good point and he told me, "Hey, Why not just go into a store, pick a random store nearby, Ask to talk to a manager, (pitch your product) and ask how much for a space on the shelf."

    If they reject me, It's still a good way to get a conversation started or build a network. This is a good example of how it can work.

    How to Persuade a Huge Retailer to Give You Shelf Space

    I'm also figuring out the facebook marketplace and focusing on building it up via personal network and keep pushing it until it's justifiable to get a site for it.

    thanks to @MidwestLandlord's awesome thread on Pricing basics, I've got a few ideas on how to price it and market it, so if you want to be in Ecommerce or even be in sales at all, take a look at his thread.

    My struggles right now still are shipping, the FDA, and if i need a LLC or if it's not justifiable yet since I'm still "small fish"
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2017
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    Other's might disagree with me here, but I would NOT pitch your product in store. Especially if it is a location in a large chain or franchise.

    Honestly, you'd probably get asked to leave for soliciting at worst, and get no where at best.

    I would go into the store with the intent of gathering information on their corporate structure and contacts, learning whatever you can from the manager you talk to (people love to talk about their jobs), and gaining experience having these types of conversations. Hopefully you'll leave with a corporate contact phone number (that's not just their main number) and maybe an idea of who the decision maker is.

    Have a conversation, instead of "selling"

    If it's a mom & pop place with only one location, then I'd pitch the sale, because you are probably talking to the decision maker at that point.

    If it's a mom & pop place with multiple locations, I would be prepared to leave information for them to pass on to the decision maker. Chances are high that the store manager talks to the decision maker frequently, and they MAY pass on your info. (if they thought you were pushy, I promise your stuff goes in the trash though...people are vindictive like that haha)

    I'm a relatively small retailer, and I have specific processes in place to screen out people like yourself and avoid wasting my time. The one's that make it through to me are the one's that don't harass my help with sales pitches (leave a good impression), have products that fit the overall product type of my stores, and leave marketing info that is attention grabbing (or has low risk benefits "first two cases free!")

    I'm very aware of what my competitor's sell, so it helps if I've seen the product in one of their stores too.

    My employee's are NOT allowed to give out contact info beyond our main corporate office number and email, and are not allowed to give out my name to salesman either. Both the location employee's and my office employee's are well trained on stone-walling sales pitches. It's the marketing materials they leave that gets a response from me.

    Hope that helps.
     
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    Just realized I have a personal connection that was a very close mentor of mine in university and she was someone that was in charge of developing a lot of merchandise for a major retailer and was responsible for a lot of the manufacturing process from development to sales, so I just shot her a text and asked if we could meet up and catch up. Let's see where it goes.
     
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    We're meeting this wednesday, So that'll be a big moment for me to learn a lot about the whole process. Also really reading through Biophase's AMA thread on Ecommerce which is PACKED full of gold.

    GOLD - Ask me anything about eCommerce (2015+)

    Also dropping a little motivation today, Great comic.
     

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    Really great meeting today with my colleague. Pointed out a few things I had to do before it gets to market and referred me to a friend of her's who is a lawyer that specializes in product creation.

    So the connection will help me with packaging and labelling, safety information, how to protect myself, how to get it to market and so on. So that's something I look forward to before I can start selling this product.

    USE YOUR PERSONAL NETWORK! IT'LL PUSH YOUR PRODUCT SO MUCH FURTHER THAN YOU REALIZE.
     
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    Ball's rolling, Talking to the lawyer, waiting on packaging, and printing out molds for me to actually manufacture from home, going to let amazon take care of the product for me via FBA, then eventually I'll set up a E-Store when it's justified in cost.

    I've learned recently of the Win/win philosophy.

    All actions you take towards your goal is a win for yourself, if you fail, you still win by learning and adjusting. Therefore, all failures is actually just a tiny little victory for yourself because you're actually trying to make results happen and seeing the process develop. Rather than absolutely nothing happening. So it's a win/win.
     
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    JasonR Maverick Read The Millionaire Fastlane FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    I don't know what you're selling, but this price is likely way too low. You''ll find it very hard to make any money on Amazon at this price point, and the cost per acquisition on a $4.99 product is going to kill any margin you may have.

    The only road for $4.99 products is usually mass market retail distribution.

    I would run all of your numbers (Amazon referral fees, FBA fees, CPA fees, marketing costs, etc.) before I put an ounce more effort into the business.
     
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    Thanks for the feedback! Really appreciate it.

    Will definitely follow through with it and figure it all out. The product itself will be 4.99 but I am selling it as a package with 3-4 of same products into the package so it'll be sold at $20-$25. I've had some conversations with a few people and they thought it was pretty reasonable for the product. I didn't want to give away too much detail.

    I was aiming to sell it as a bundled package. I can't really explain what it is but the cost of production including material and packaging won't cost more than 70-80 cents per product. I have a 3D printer and got PLENTY of filament from friends who work in a 3D print lab, the school year just ended so they had to get rid of a bunch of filament that were opened, this will be for making molds.

    The product itself also is made from cheap household materials and dollar store items but it's top-notch quality when it is completed. The turnaround rate for the product to be made is also very quick. About 40-50 of them can be made in one hour by one person with the molds.

    The product itself people absolutely go nuts for too. I show them, and they test it themselves. They go ballistic over it, both adults and children.

    I also have solid experience in marketing, So I was going to do the marketing myself, I'll definitely look into other avenues other than amazon and perhaps just do it all myself. I did use this site as well.

    Amazon.com: Fulfillment by Amazon Pricing and Fees

    Perhaps just build my own Estore site after selling it through private channels such as facebook-for sale groups and ebay, etc?

    Thoughts?
     
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    What sort of marketing experience do you have, exactly?

    That's great that people seem to love the product, but that doesn't matter if you can't sell it.

    I won't sell anything under $20 on Amazon. It's just not worth the time and hassle to make tiny profits. Same with paid advertising, you need to be able to pay $15-50 (or even more) to acquire even one customer. You should have an idea of that this will cost you so you can price your offer accordingly.

    Bundling and upselling can make a product like yours work, but it is harder then if you had a product in the $50-150 price range.
     
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    Marketing was my minor for my first degree, and I was in charge for marketing for several organizations for a few years for event planning, recruiting, fundraisers and so on. I had successful turnouts with what I did for these events utilizing video ads, social media, posters, word of mouth, personal networking and giveaways.

    I also am currently taking a massive UDEMY course on digital marketing to be applied to this product so I still have a lot to learn but I am working on it.

    I'm probably going to be going the DTC route using personal networks and Facebook Groups for a while until it's justifiable that I can do amazon FBA. Slow and steady.

    It is harder but it is a opportunity that I feel motivated enough to pursue. I'm having a meeting with a lawyer and a business creation coach that works for a specific program here focused solely on entrepreneurship and start ups next week! They've had success with their clients and thanks to a personal network connection, We're just going to meet and have coffee and have a chat.

    Thank you for the constructive criticism and I would love for more feedback from you or anyone else as this progress thread continues.
     
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    Working on final mold right now, The 3D printer has been giving me tons of trouble last couple days because I just moved. I need to do some maintenance on the thing. Got a severe jam in one of the nozzles, bearings need some greasin, and so on.

    Finally set up a desk space and office for me to do work, been craving it and took action on it yesterday because I was feeling well enough from my operation which was about 10 days ago to go get my desk, 3d printer and so on. Exciting days ahead!

    Been utilizing Trello a lot more as well, focusing on 3 actionable goals a day specifically towards my product no matter how long it takes then go on through my day doing errands and so on.
     
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    Had a meeting with a business creation coach, he's comfortably retired,and owns a few companies through entrepreneurship but still acts as a consultant in a nearby university. The meeting and office is in a incubator at the university I will be attending my master's for.

    " A center of entrepreneurship"

    I felt he was the right guy to talk to, and I was right.

    The first question he had was, Does this solve a problem?

    He was blunt however did love the concept and product I developed. We had a brief meeting scheduled and it ran on a bit longer than expected.

    Threw me a few ideas on how to execute, agreed with the path I'm on, and to continue pursuing it.

    I discussed packaging ideas, he recommended I use the resources I have, like how I got this meeting with him was thanks to a personal connection who I mentioned earlier through my colleague and a lawyer.

    He really pulled it out of me, like who do you know that could have gone into packaging science, who do you know that is a lawyer in the family or a friend, and so on. So it was really constructive and got me more motivated towards this product. So now I have names and faces to make this happen.

    He suggested I look into family members for finding a lawyer, and then also getting a LLC to ensure protection because some aspects of this product is a hazard due to the audience it targets can be a risk if it does not have proper supervision. I don't want to give away too much. Soon I'll be changing this thread and starting a new one in the insider thread when I start actively executing.

    He had 2 secretaries from his office come into the conference/meeting room and had me pitch the product to them, which was FANTASTIC practice and gave me a insight. They loved the concept, and had really helpful questions and things. One said " I need this!" So it does solve a problem.

    So now I'm continuing the research/sampling phase where I contact families using my connections and asking them questions, and also giving them free samples of the product and asking what they think about it.
     
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    Just went insider, Shifting things into there for this specific thread since now I will be executing actions :)
     
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