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

liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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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
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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
 

Walter Hay

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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
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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
 

Walter Hay

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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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lao

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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.
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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102
Thanks for the feedback will keep this going

Quite a few going to launch as well which is fantastic, maybe just drop your experiences here wherever relevant.

Had a few thoughts while commuting - if you are launching, podcasts are a MUST listen! Brilliant shows out there, very educational, I learned so much and I consider myself a digital marketing expert with ten years experience in corporate, agency and own ventures! Listen to all the good eCommerce podcasts.

Then try to learn as much as you need to do the activity professionally. It needs to be spot on, at the same level an agency would do it for you for big bucks but obviously you can't or don't want to pay that and do it yourself. Don't do any activity half hearted or you are just like any other guy out there in your niche who thinks some cool insta posts will nail it. Example , I been diving into email strategies the last days, listened and read a LOT and been building my strategy, next step building all the automated email templates, etc. Same for paid social, you need a full a-z strategy, don't just put ads out there. Same for Google, do PPC but do it smart or you going to burn money quickly. Have customer service nailed, I answer EVERY message and read every comment to be able to react straight away.
 

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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AceVentures

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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
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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?
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.
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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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 )
 
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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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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.
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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102
Week 9

Probably forget some stuff as it was so busy but here we go

first full week with marketing again, sales picked up, but the thing with digital is, that it takes a bit of time and data to be as efficient as before, so CPA is higher to start with and comes down, e.g. same budget will slowly bring in more sales per day.

Digital campaign budget daily at the moment around 120 per day.

Added xmas themed copy to paid social campaigns.
Added some more custom audiences.
Video campaign doing really well, trying to get some more videos done (not cheap).
Loads of customer chats/emails/messages, this can't be forgotten when you think about time you need running an ecommerce business.
Set up automated email crm marketing, an onboarding process for every new customer. Using mailchimp which is pretty great and connects to everything. So a customer will get a welcome email a few days after purchase (not saley!) and a check in email with review question again a few days later. Additionally I have weekly offer emails going out.
Testing some facebook messenger strategies and signed up to manychat - not getting anywhere as of yet but will keep growing that list as well.

Month to date profit margin at 43% which is fantastic. And somehow over the last days I had a pretty constant stream of sales. Not like before where there might have been a crazy evening with loads of sales, now the app goes CASHING pretty much a few times every hour. It feels like slowly all marketing channels work together and benefit each other (attribution).

A crazy busy weekend as well, over a thousand pound revenue from saturday and sunday alone..

This is brings me to a problem I wish I would have - fulfillment! It is crazy busy, every weeknight I sit until 11pm and longer, after a 9 to 5 and family duties. I NEED to find an outsourcing option soon. Maybe even moving away from home business to an office at some point, but that won't work on the side.. So not sure yet what to do. I need assembling and fulfilling outsourcing basically.

Another thing to keep in mind is (mental) health and sleep - but more to that another time zzz..

Biggest order yet from China incoming next week.. Which also means overall still not making the big bucks, as those orders are prepaid and the profit shown here slowly eats away the costs and soon I should be seeing the bank balance creeping up - with at the moment around 200 a day net profit that should happen soon.

28668

Week 9 , +1445 P&L
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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102
Don't know how to change the title of this thread, but it could do with a new weekly click bait figure haha ->

Week 11
- re-designed the abandoned cart email series which lifted return conversion to 9.2% from 6.5%.
- After some consideration I finally went with a black friday and CM offer. Advertised through email and on homepage, nothing on other advertising. I figured if I get the same traffic but then convert them better through the offer it will still be worth it, and it really was!
- Panicked a little the days before BF as traffic cost really went up, just due to higher advertiser activity everywhere, everyone was paying much more to get those impressions.
- maintained usual ad spend through the week.
- Amazon: steady flow of sales, averaging £100 a day revenue. Profit margin is about 40% on it, so about £280 AMZ P&L for the week, maybe more, can't be asked to go through the complicated payout reports at the moment.
- Friday then actually was the record to day to date, almost broke 1k revenue! Then another revenue record on Sunday funny enough, again ALMOST broke 1k. But that is a milestone to be had I guess.
- Healthy profits on those days as I didn't increase spend. Obvs if you want a compelling offer you get less margin as you discount heavily.
- Fulfillment madness, sitting until midnight most nights and local post office actually couldn't process the whole bag of packages and had to resume the next day.
- products arrived, air mail, should last me 4 months. Next order sea freight!! Air is just so expensive but I would have lost more if I waited on a sea shipment.
- cash flow slowly better but really the effect of this profit should be seen soon - balances in different payment providers slowly building up (1k in shopify, 2k in paypal, about 1k in AMZ which takes FOREVER to actually pay out, 30 days!..).
- I expect a slow down now until Christmas but let's see what happens - this journey has just begun!

Week 9 , +1,445 P&L
Week 10, +1,407 P&L online
(+350 AMZ)
Week 11, +2,321 P&L online (+280 AMZ)

Online:
28971

AMZ:
28972
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
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102
Another week in paradise (lol) -

- kept campaigns all running very much the same after one big set up optimization start of the week. That really had a massive impact, ROAS is up across the board, even some awareness audiences now generate a positive ROAS (which, if you think about it, is THE scaling opportunity, IF post-xmas the same kind of shopping behavior will be present). If I can spend 200 a day on campaigns currently, maybe I can double to 400 and maybe double again to 1k a day?!
- the consistent campaign and traffic activity on the shop was amazing to see, very similar daily traffic curves.
- conversion rate healthy, so high traffic led to a good amount of sales
- first day with over 1,000 revenue!
- very healthy profit margin, MTD 49% versus 44% in November
- ended with a freaking record week!
- cash flow getting better, why is AMZ so freaking slow paying out, anyone? my first proper payout now scheduled for 22 December with 1.3k. Also hard to work out the detailed P&L for AMZ. Also need to find a fulfillment software that pulls AMZ orders so I can bulk print shipping labels. Loads to do here.
- now 14k profit in total since launch looking at product unit cost, marketing cost, revenue only. Not bad for three months and looking at that weekly increase it's just crazy:

Week 9 , +1,445 P&L
Week 10, +1,407 P&L online
(+350 AMZ)
Week 11, +2,321 P&L online (+280 AMZ)
Week 12, + 3,125 P&L online (+400 AMZ)

29112
 
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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
 

business_man

In Love With Marketing
FASTLANE INSIDER
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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 :)
 

bbar97

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
I've Read UNSCRIPTED
Dec 1, 2017
25
25
28
22
South Carolina
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.
 

BlackMagician

Bronze Contributor
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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.
Why not learn after you launch your product ideas?
 

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JWM

Bronze Contributor
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Australia
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 )
Nice post, good to see the progress you've made. I am from Australia and would be happy to chat to you about your business and your plans to expand into the Australian market. Feel free to send me a direct message.
 

Icecreamchild

Contributor
Nov 13, 2019
86
58
45
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
Is this an advertisement?
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
What are some of the good podcasts you recommend?

Thanks for doing this thread by the way . Love reading execution threads! As MJ says, ideas are f-ing worthless -- it's all about the execution.

Looking forward to seeing how you do over the holiday gifting season with things pumping at full speed.
Thanks!
just a starter -
The Unofficial Shopify Podcast (gold)
ecommerce uncensored
ecommer influence
shopify masters
messenger mastermind
 
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liero1

Contributor
Oct 17, 2019
39
76
102
Week 9 , +1445 P&L
Week 10
- really just trying to keep BAU running after and before work, plus family duties - so kind of busy, mainly due to the fulfillment as mentioned enough times now.
- Weekly email and the overall onboarding email strategy seems to work well - it also reduced certain customer questions - it's a good way to avoid those emails asking about some basic how stuff works.
- Creatives all now with xmas theme.
- Thinking about black friday - do or not do, maybe only for my email list a secret deal. Main reason to keep it low is low stock levels once again - new delivery takes longer than anticipated.
- despite real nice daily profits (well for me and my little shop anyways) the cash flow doesn't look TOO good but thats mainly because: pre payment of supplies (have a 5 month supply coming in), Amazon's payments take at least 10 days to come through (while other customer payments normally come straight away, at least on paypal).
- except the BF deal and maybe some xmas posts I will just try to keep everything running until I am off for xmas and then go strong into 2020!
- Amazon a bit tricky to track at the moment, but it looks profitable as well and sales picked up since doing paid campaigns (product slowly moves up the bestseller pages and is now on page three which obv. doesn't help anyone but page 2 and 1 are getting closer..

about +348 P&L Amazon Week 10
Week 10, +1407 P&L online
 

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