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EXECUTION Scaling eCommerce Chronicle - updating - own product, online shop, amazon - latest weekly profit: 700+

liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Hi all,

after a lot of reading I decided to participate in this fantastic forum - it might give inspiration and I might get some good help! Can't be asked with a blog, so this might give me nice little motivation and clear historic view of what actually happened when.

Goal - be able to quit the office. That will need at least about 5k profit gross / month (double the current net income, due to pensions, security etc).

How to get there - scale an online shop to the absolute MAX.

July/August - product idea, researched market which showed there are only a hand full of shops that sell a similar product and all of those don't look like they are run by exactly scale-driven, perfectionist individuals.

August - product purchase, directly from China through Alibaba. Nervous first big investment of circa 2k to get a first big(ish) batch of products delivered door to door. Delivery costs were just as much as the product costs but that's what it is when you order the MOQ (minimum order quantity). Then some more smaller investments from national suppliers for printer, paper, labels, envelopes, some other smaller things to assemble the actual product. Overall prob 3k investment.

Delivery - nothing straight forward, first the chinese supplier takes much longer than anticipated to get the packages out, then one of packages is either LOST or probably never been sent, so another 4 weeks on top, also they /forget/ to pay for customs clearance so I end up paying 50 quid to get that last (crucial) package through...

Mid September - launched a little online shop, using shopify which is very easy to set up and easy to make look good/converting.

Mid September Launch Marketing - No one (no one) will get to your shop if you don't buy the traffic. So first channels to launch are:
- PPC google, search and shopping
- Paid Social (as competitors are very active with influencers/paid social)
- Influencer emails/reaching out if they fancy a free product
- Amazon (but nothing approved yet)

Week 1
Desperate for the first sale, watching real time google analytics non stop - who knows that :happy:
THEN BOOM first sale after about 4 hours and obviously much more money spent than that sale would bring in.
In the end spent about 300 pounds that first week on mainly top line, awareness social campaigns. Top line cost per sale way too high - nervous time but early days. From my experience I know about digital marketing and how algorithms can't work if you don't feed them with data, visitors.
- tried snapchat ads without any results (just left me with a stupid visitor explosion in analytics as /preload website/ was activated for EVERY ad impression on snapchat...
-86 P&L

Week 2

- added more apps to the shop, some crucial some probably not.
- optimizing paid social, cutting down on awareness, putting more into modeled custom audiences
- end of week changed an essential thing in the shop and giving customers more CHOICE - conversion rate significantly increased.
- first profitable week (just looking at marketing costs, product unit cost vs revenue) - over the moon
+140 P&L

Week 3

- done a mobile website speed check - SHOCKING results, way too slow, very very bad. Cut down all of the non-crucial shopify APPS, massive difference, speed up again, conversion rate up instantly almost. using Speedboostr.com instead of google page speed tool - massive difference, don't panic about google;s score..
- optimizing paid social further, more ads, more audiences
- scaling down on PPC as it is losing money
- sending loads of products to influencers without proper success (thanks.. I thought boobs sell everything)
- about same performance week on week (for a LOT of work)
+200 P&L

Week 4

- One Influencer post really made a difference! Profitable for itself even with paying about 200 quid for it, also great brand effect (I assume). Very different target group than originally targeted - so this shows, nothing will be as you think.
- adding and testing more creatives on social.
- retargeting on social activated.
- record for direct sales which have a big impact on overall efficiency (0 CPA).
- CPAs amazing! Profit amazing! ROAS amazing.
- Amazon FINALLY approved products and account, sales slowly come in.
+689 P&L

Next: scaling without losing that efficiency... wish me luck :playful:.

Questions in my head at the moment -
- when to start email marketing to existing customers (don't want to burn email adresses too early!). Shall I wait until I got 1k+? (currently about 400).
- when to add a new product line (I have something in mind that would fit well to the category but is a very different product)
- can i get my xmas wrapping idea executed in time

TBC...

28103
 

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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Week 5
testing more creatives, especially the dynamic display in google ads. wrong targeting setting first day, burned 80 quid.
limited by inventory getting low on certain products - scaling campaigns down a LITTLE.
reaching out to suppliers for a product range addition, hopefully ready for xmas
getting xmas wrapping option samples delivered
ordering more fulfillment material, everything gets low - more weekl =y sales than I would have imagined..
getting many direct sales which is surprising and data doesn't really tell me where they come from - can't be a brand effect already?!..
a few negative comments to be dealt with, but overall very low compared to sales, maybe 2% of customers had a complain of some sorts.
a few positive public mentions and comments - love that.
waiting on new supply. probably takes two weeks, might run out of some popular products by then..
161 sales
+784 P&L
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
what a month already!!
A lot of hard work but some incredible days.
Looked closer at margins and profits today - month to date 39% net profit margin (incl product costs, marketing).
weekly update following Sunday.

28286
 

Vadim26

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Nice progress! You make it look so easy.
Definitely following.

Regarding the shopify store, do you have a separate warehouse that you ship your products to from your supplier (from China) to speed up the shipping process?

And another question regarding your marketing launch, did you learn on the go or took specific courses for each channel?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Nice progress! You make it look so easy.
Definitely following.

Regarding the shopify store, do you have a separate warehouse that you ship your products to from your supplier (from China) to speed up the shipping process?

And another question regarding your marketing launch, did you learn on the go or took specific courses for each channel?
Hi

Thanks. No directly door to door and then shipping to customers myself. Also assembling and fulfilling myself. Last few weeks I sit every night until about midnight and prepare the orders. I always knew - if I ever do find something profitable I will work my a$$ off besides working th 9-5 as well as long as I have to.
Marketing - I have about ten years experience in online marketing so this is really my home game
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
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Nervous first big investment of circa 2k to get a first big(ish) batch of products delivered door to door. Delivery costs were just as much as the product costs but that's what it is when you order the MOQ (minimum order quantity).
This is probably too late for you because you have already dived in, but I am posting for the benefit of others new to importing.

I recommend starting off with a small order rather than risk so much first up. A small order enables you to test the supplier, as well as testing the product quality and market acceptance.

Delivery - nothing straight forward, first the chinese supplier takes much longer than anticipated to get the packages out, then one of packages is either LOST or probably never been sent, so another 4 weeks on top, also they /forget/ to pay for customs clearance so I end up paying 50 quid to get that last (crucial) package through...
I am assuming that the supplier would use normal procedures and pack all packages in one larger package, unless that made the one package too large/heavy for the chosen freight method, which would in your case appear to be via air courier. You should know if it had or had not been sent, because it would appear on the waybill. If lost, was it insured?

Your quote from the supplier should have automatically included customs clearance. When using almost any air courier service that is the case. It is vitally important to have a written quote for freight on a door to door basis. If it was included in the quote and they are not willing to deduct that £50 from your next order, you should find another supplier.

Regarding suppliers, are you dealing with a manufacturer, or with a trader? (Don't believe any statement that they are manufacturers. As part of due diligence you should check that.) There can be big differences , not only in price, but also time before shipping. A trader will usually have to place an order with a manufacturer after receiving your order. Not many traders carry inventory, and delays are common.

Walter
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
This is probably too late for you because you have already dived in, but I am posting for the benefit of others new to importing.

I recommend starting off with a small order rather than risk so much first up. A small order enables you to test the supplier, as well as testing the product quality and market acceptance.


I am assuming that the supplier would use normal procedures and pack all packages in one larger package, unless that made the one package too large/heavy for the chosen freight method, which would in your case appear to be via air courier. You should know if it had or had not been sent, because it would appear on the waybill. If lost, was it insured?

Your quote from the supplier should have automatically included customs clearance. When using almost any air courier service that is the case. It is vitally important to have a written quote for freight on a door to door basis. If it was included in the quote and they are not willing to deduct that £50 from your next order, you should find another supplier.

Regarding suppliers, are you dealing with a manufacturer, or with a trader? (Don't believe any statement that they are manufacturers. As part of due diligence you should check that.) There can be big differences , not only in price, but also time before shipping. A trader will usually have to place an order with a manufacturer after receiving your order. Not many traders carry inventory, and delays are common.

Walter
Hi thanks for the comment man - totally agree. It shows I don’t have any experience important whatsoever.

Only thing now is that the customers are used to the specific product and high quality so I wouldn’t want to change. Margin is good too

Yes it looks like a valid manufacturer looking at their address pictures and certificates on alibaba.

Another shipment is on the way at the moment and already thinking about the third one which needs to be much bigger. Do you think it’s worth visiting them in person?! If I Get to about 400 net profit a day this is probably not crazy in terms of cost versus benefit (building trust relationship etc).

Thanks
 

Walter Hay

Legendary Contributor
EPIC CONTRIBUTOR
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I would always recommend personal visits to suppliers. They respect customers who make that effort, and this is a good start to developing Guanxi. That terms basically means relationship, and that can result in far better service, and more cooperativeness in general.

Before going to China, as I explain in Ch. 10.2 of my book, you should do serious preparation. If you have my book, read that chapter again. It will help you avoid blunders and even getting lost in a Chinese city.

Walter
 

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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Week 6
Mid week I had to deactive the most popular product due to being sold out, however that has not hurt performance so far!
added a few more branding elements to the campaign set up - slowly increasing branding vs conversion ratio - important if you do think about establishing a brand over time! If that can come out of a positive cash flow, even better.
Conversion rate up week on week by 9%, visits up by 6% so you can calculate the increased revenue :)
Ordered some product samples for an addition to the overall range, should come this week. Then still waiting on that second batch of products, real mistake here to order actually a little less than with the first batch - really does not make sense now but oh well. Will need to place another order almost straight away and going for the bigger amount - not sure about visiting China just yet but I got some interesting feedback in an earlier post up here.
Customer feedback ever so important - every negative email or comment really hurts and I underestimated the impact on my overall drive and feeling towards the business! Not sure how other people handle this, I really want people to love the product but not everyone can be satisfied. Overall still very low complaint rate, maybe 2%
But then positive comments and posts really make my day! They are about just the same amount as the negative ones.
Tax - putting accountant and tax things on my agenda now, as revenue is pretty high already in the second month.
Other than that - carefully maintaining performance and have to put more products on sold out in the next few days.
Amazon really died down, sales dried up from a few a day to 0, not sure why - thinking about converting to FBA rather than FBM.
Overall over the moon - another record week -
Average 45% net profit margin last week.
+1418 P&L
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Week 7 + 8
Loads going on, not sure if this thread is actually worth anything to someone? So I might stop updating this in public, but let me know if not -

customer feedback on one certain product type has turned into a situation where I needed to change the product fundamentally, so I had to stop selling some of the best sellers - I would have made a similar profit even without changing anything and just have a bad customer service/e.g. not give a shit as many companies do, but really if you think LONGTERM you need to satisfy the customer and get that returning purchase rate (and CLV) up!! So I took a hit and went back to suppliers etc., stopped campaigns. That really only happened last week, so with previous sales from week 7 and the remaining product sales week 8 it still looks really good overall - will be back full speed hopefully within a week or two :)

+2,059 Profit week 7 + 8
 

AceVentures

Bronze Contributor
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Apr 16, 2019
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Yes this is worth gold to some of us, please don't stop. Many thanks for sharing your learnings. It's always stories like yours, seemingly casual, just another fly on the wall, that inspire me most. That's why I believe it adds so much value, to me personally at least, because stories like yours are relatable.

I think it's incredible what you've accomplished in such a short period of time.

If you don't mind me asking, during your product research phase, what kept you from bouncing between ideas? How did you ultimately highgrade what you decided to move forward with? And lastly, and my apologies if I didn't read it right, are you selling multiple products under the same brand, or are you selling just a main product at the moment?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Yes this is worth gold to some of us, please don't stop. Many thanks for sharing your learnings. It's always stories like yours, seemingly casual, just another fly on the wall, that inspire me most. That's why I believe it adds so much value, to me personally at least, because stories like yours are relatable.

I think it's incredible what you've accomplished in such a short period of time.

If you don't mind me asking, during your product research phase, what kept you from bouncing between ideas? How did you ultimately highgrade what you decided to move forward with? And lastly, and my apologies if I didn't read it right, are you selling multiple products under the same brand, or are you selling just a main product at the moment?
Cool thanks!

And yes, really happy. If you think about the initial investment and since then two more investments towards my Chinese supplier, I think I am at about break even already which is amazing (those profit numbers are revenue minus marketing, product and shipping costs).

Product research - well, I knew exactly what category and got a few samples from China and then decided for the highest quality. It is about two main categories at the moment, introduced a second one a few weeks back. All under one umbrella brand though.
 

ManliestManofMen

New Contributor
Oct 13, 2018
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Following.

I've heard SEO from Shopify sites can be pretty bad. Any tips for overcoming that? Do you have a blog or just market/advertise through Google and socials?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Following.

I've heard SEO from Shopify sites can be pretty bad. Any tips for overcoming that? Do you have a blog or just market/advertise through Google and socials?
Don’t think I rank yet. It’s all paid social and ppc. Actually less real ppc and more smart campaigns / video on google. It is incredible hard on generic keywords nowadays.
 

MitchM

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Don’t think I rank yet. It’s all paid social and ppc. Actually less real ppc and more smart campaigns / video on google. It is incredible hard on generic keywords nowadays.
Mind sharing some tactics for paid social/what you follow?

I get all of my sales from keywords and would love to get some insight
 

MichaelCash

Contributor
Apr 7, 2013
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Great job! I like this approach. I would wait with launching a new product. Also, if something works, I would double down on it.
 

MichaelCash

Contributor
Apr 7, 2013
104
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43
New York
Hi all,

after a lot of reading I decided to participate in this fantastic forum - it might give inspiration and I might get some good help! Can't be asked with a blog, so this might give me nice little motivation and clear historic view of what actually happened when.
I have re-read your steps again. Actually very inspirational and a kind of lean approach.
I am curious, why shopify? why don't you use Amazon or Ebay?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
I have re-read your steps again. Actually very inspirational and a kind of lean approach.
I am curious, why shopify? why don't you use Amazon or Ebay?
I am so glad I started on Shopify you wouldn’t believe me.. tried different things in the past and they are lame ducks compared to this. It is easy, quick to test stuff, clever, cheapish, good converting, quick sites, loads apps, excellent support. Absolutely love it. And people do to. And Get this! More than 20% actually use Shopify payments in my shop year to date - shows how popular it is already.

Yea I am on amazon. Sales actually picked up again now. Got a first review which probably helps. Might convert to FBA soon. Also setting up some Black Friday discount deals now on amazon. Launched amazon campaigns as well a few days ago with test budget 15/day. This stuff is scalable too so I hope there are some sweet spots too.
 

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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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102
Oh and if anyone reads this who is Australian - would love to chat. Will be trying to launch in Australia with one friend being there for one or two years for travelling/working (but not being Australian we are not sure how to proceed and would love a partner on the ground who could also take this forward beyond that time potentially )
 

lao

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Oct 1, 2019
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1.
Your thread is inspiring, interesting, and relevant. I just recently ventured i to the world of eCommerce, shopify and dropshipping, and i appreciate all the info i can get.

2.
If you or anyone else doing eCommerce reads this and is interested in starting an online voice chat party on discord or similar, hit me up. I need entrepreneur friends to converse with in other ways than text.
 

business_man

In Love With Marketing
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Nov 25, 2014
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Questions in my head at the moment -
- when to start email marketing to existing customers (don't want to burn email adresses too early!). Shall I wait until I got 1k+? (currently about 400).
Quantity will not change anything. Just schedule your emails according the timeline they joined or took action. For example -2days after sign up, if no respones another email 1 day after etc. So whatever you have 1 or 1 million subs they all will go through similar pipeline. And if you have a special offer, who cares how much you have, more is better but send it anyway :)
 

skintinnate

New Contributor
May 4, 2019
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2
13
Great posts, love seeing the journey so inspiring!

Also, what would you recommend using at the beginning to get that initial traffic?
PPC? Facebook? IG Influencers?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Quantity will not change anything. Just schedule your emails according the timeline they joined or took action. For example -2days after sign up, if no respones another email 1 day after etc. So whatever you have 1 or 1 million subs they all will go through similar pipeline. And if you have a special offer, who cares how much you have, more is better but send it anyway :)
makes sense and I have a similar approach now. Actually the number was more referring to the work to set all this up versus outcome, no sense sending 10 emails when you put a lot of work into them.

But now my list stands at about 1200, and I send weekly emails (well that's the plan, sometimes its bi-weekly). Still have to set up the individual funnel email process (e.g. welcome email, check up email how they get on & review request.) The weekly ones have offers, new launches, other news - going pretty well - and again shopify amazing with mailchimp sync - about 500 revenue from emails so far, with segmented sendings and not all got an email yet - but really this will be VERY important, a regular, up to date email strategy.. Think about the revenue, the cost per sale is 0, so you can hand out good discounts, also it lifts the total CLV and enables you to spend more to get them into the door / e.g. helps you to scale overall.

28626

@skintinnate intial channel set up as described in first post. ppc, shopping, paid social, influencers.

tested some other stuff this week, but more in next weeks update.
 

business_man

In Love With Marketing
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Nov 25, 2014
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32
makes sense and I have a similar approach now. Actually the number was more referring to the work to set all this up versus outcome, no sense sending 10 emails when you put a lot of work into them.

Think about the revenue, the cost per sale is 0, so you can hand out good discounts, also it lifts the total CLV and enables you to spend more to get them into the door / e.g. helps you to scale overall.
Definitely. One interesting thing I heard, but can't remember where (maybe this forum) is segmenting your email list by activities. As a fellow online marketer - we do this constantly with segmenting our traffic - "temperature", "touchpoints", "intents" etc. Then you can approach them with different tactics.
 

bbar97

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Dec 1, 2017
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28
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Extremely helpful and valuable thread. I plan to invent a product and market it through similar avenues to yours here. This stuff gets my blood pumping, I love it and want to learn as much as possible before I have the ability to move forward with one of my product ideas.
 

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