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EXECUTION Shopify store and first 10 sales

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omar

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So I've been dilly dallying a lot and very indecisive about making entrepreneurial decisions, because of this indecision I've decided that:
  • I will be a little more playful in fulfilling goals
  • not make assumptions that everything has to be some passion or life long mission,
  • and simply lower my expectations of perfection.

I wanted to make this progress thread to help motivate others but also hold myself accountable.

So here goes.

Action:
I'm going to start a shopify store and see if I can make my first 10 sales utilizing a budget of $500. It won't matter right now if I make a profit. My aim is to see if I can get 10 sales. This budget will be for setting up shop, getting the product and advertising.

Purpose:
Because of me deciding that this doesn't have to be based around passion or a mission, I've chosen to make the purpose behind this to learn how to drive sales to an e-commerce store using instagram and facebook ads. If I can get better at that it will be a great skill either way.

Budget:
$500

Arbitrary Goal:
10 sales of my product.
So if I get 10 sales. $500 will have earned me probably around $50.

Reasoning behind a arbitrary goal:
Everything I’m doing here is simply an experiment and Stage 1. Since I’m new to the market I don’t have all the answers so I cannot expect to make $x amount monthly yet. I don’t know how much it will cost to acquire this customer so I’ve decided that this money is an investment in learning. And if I make 0 sales that’s not great, but if I can at least make 10 sales using my own advertising it’s a win on two levels.
  1. the money loss is an investment in learning something that gave me a return that has potential to grow.
  2. it validates the product/market fit and I can figure things out from there going to a next phase.

I will not reveal the market and product so I can keep the progress thread as scientific as possible.

I’ve heard that to make a product work you need to split the budget it in three:
  • ⅓ cost of product
  • ⅓ advertising
  • ⅓ profit

I’m not following this to a tee, but I’ve decided that whatever the cost of the product is I definitely want to be able to spend equal amounts on advertising as profit earned. So if I want to earn $10 in profit, I want to find a way to leave $10 in advertising to get one customer right now because I don’t know what it will cost yet to get that customer. When I do then I can fine tune.

Generally I will test selling this product anywhere between $18-$35.

$500 Loose Budget breakdown:

  • $50 for Shopify and apps
  • $100 for product
  • $150 instagram advertising
  • $200 facebook advertising

I’m leaving this a little loose because I don't know exactly how much the product will cost. There’s a wide variety and I haven’t narrowed down what I’ll choose.

What I’ve done so far:

  1. ✔ Loosely came up with an idea based on something I thought would be interesting. Started google searching and based on what I’ve seen I’ve refined the idea a bit so it’s more marketable to what people are already buying.
  2. ✔ Checked some of the related keywords on google trends to ensure some stability.
  3. ✔ Used free trial on ahrefs.com to explore the competitors and the competitiveness around the keywords in google. Interestingly, ahrefs says there’s low competition but a good amount of searches. Since I’ve decided to try and sell this through paid ads and not depend on organic search, this isn’t super important, but it’s good to know for the next stage if this is successful.
  4. ✔ Bought domain name. $20.
  5. ✔ Found the product on Aliexpress.
  6. ✔ I will test selling at $18-$35 with trying to always leave $10 for profit and $10 in advertising cpa on each sale.

Progress to come... (Below is fluid since I don’t have every detail but I will keep adding/adjusting here as much as possible)

  1. ✘ Decide on the amount of styles to start with and how many of each to purchase to figure out how much to spend on product.
  2. ✘ Setup core Shopify Store
  3. ✘ Install apps
  4. ✘ Install Analytics, remarketing and FB Pixels.
  5. ✘ Setup photos and copy on Shopify store
  6. ✘ Run first campaign.


---
Miscellaneous:
  1. I’ve thought a lot about branding and wanting to avoid the slap on Alibaba product look. I have ideas to implement that can add some more value to the branding. I’m stuck in between these two places. So I’m going to be fluid about this and feel it out as I go. I don’t want to obsess over branding and stunt the growth and momentum. But I also don’t want the slap on Alibaba to be something to count on since it doesn’t add a lot of value. I’ve decided that to keep the momentum I will make the store itself look nice and if I have a nice photo of the product that seems good enough to sell it then I will use it. If not, I will see if I can take some photos with a photographer and brand it a little better.
 

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LateStarter

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Where does market need and value to customers come into this? Frankly, I think you're doing this backwards. Start with a solid product idea then learn marketing and sales. Otherwise you're just going to become another BRO marketer.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
 
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omar

omar

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Where does market need and value to customers come into this? Frankly, I think you're doing this backwards.
Hey man, thanks for the question. I would love to hear your method of validating market need on e-commerce. I'm always learning!
 

LateStarter

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Maybe a stupid question, but have you read the book? What about Gold progress threads? Start there. Figure out how you can add value to something and produce it. If there's value, sales come much easier. Don't try stuffing a shit product down people's throats through marketing.

Sent from my ONEPLUS A3000 using Tapatalk
 

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Hey man, thanks for the question. I would love to hear your method of validating market need on e-commerce. I'm always learning!
1. Go to Amazon.
2. Choose a random product that interests you and click as far as you can get.
3. Check reviews and see what can easily be improved.
4. Check sales with 999 items in your basket-method (for at least one week).
Do this with several products.
5. Steady sales? Go source the product, check if it's profitable, import, sell, seek more products in the same business, import, sell.
6. If one answer is "no": repeat process.

Avoid stuff like products that everybody is selling, commodities, cool stuff, trends, electronics, grey zone stuff,...
 

Scuur

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1. Go to Amazon.
2. Choose a random product that interests you and click as far as you can get.
3. Check reviews and see what can easily be improved.
4. Check sales with 999 items in your basket-method (for at least one week).
Do this with several products.
5. Steady sales? Go source the product, check if it's profitable, import, sell, seek more products in the same business, import, sell.
6. If one answer is "no": repeat process.

Avoid stuff like products that everybody is selling, commodities, cool stuff, trends, electronics, grey zone stuff,...

Could you elaborate on step 4. I have never seen that method before.
 

Longinus

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Could you elaborate on step 4. I have never seen that method before.
From this site: How To Find Out How Much Inventory Your Competition Has in Stock - Full-Time FBA

1. Go to the Amazon sales page for the item in question.
2. Click on the link that shows all of the current product offers (new, used, collectible, etc).

3. Choose one of the current sellers and add their item to your cart.
4. Click on the “edit your cart” link.

5. Click on the quantity and change it to 10+.
6. Type in 999 (the highest number allowed) and click update.
7. If that seller has under 999 items, then it will state, “This seller only has XX of these available.”
 

Walter Hay

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@omar, A few comments, but first, don't confuse Alibaba and Aliexpress.

Alibaba, a B2B site, is for people serious about starting an importing business that they can grow and sustain.

The B2C site, Aliexpress, is for people who either want to:
  1. Buy retail in order to test market a product that they will later try to buy for inventory at a real ex-factory price, or
  2. Who want to follow the flock and dropship from Aliexpress.
I have a problem with 1. It is only suitable for very run-of-the-mill generic products, for which you will find it extremely difficult to locate the actual manufacturer when you go to Alibaba.

I have an even greater problem with 2. That dropship system is one of the most seriously flawed business models around, and has led to a multitude of failures.

You can always operate your own eCommerce site. but that doesn't stop you from using the vast free traffic provided by selling on Amazon. True, if you are in a competitive field, you will probably want to spend some money on Amazon PPC advertising. I suggest that you would get a lot more bang for your buck that way.

The problem I see with your plan is that you are effectively paying a potentially high price for some learning. For less than your $500 spend you could get a very thorough education that will get you started on a proven business model: Source - import- sell on Amazon preferably via FBA so that it can be as hands-off as possible.

Walter
 
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omar

omar

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4. Check sales with 999 items in your basket-method (for at least one week).
Do this with several products.
5. Steady sales? Go source the product, check if it's profitable, import, sell, seek more products in the same business, import, sell....
Excellent info. With #4 when you enter 999 and see they have X amount, what are you looking for here? Do you mean see if it keeps selling throughout the week? If so wouldn't sales rank give that info.
 
OP
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omar

omar

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@omar, A few comments, but first, don't confuse Alibaba and Aliexpress.

Alibaba, a B2B site, is for people serious about starting an importing business that they can grow and sustain.

The B2C site, Aliexpress, is for people who either want to:
  1. Buy retail in order to test market a product that they will later try to buy for inventory at a real ex-factory price, or
  2. Who want to follow the flock and dropship from Aliexpress.
I have a problem with 1. It is only suitable for very run-of-the-mill generic products, for which you will find it extremely difficult to locate the actual manufacturer when you go to Alibaba.

I have an even greater problem with 2. That dropship system is one of the most seriously flawed business models around, and has led to a multitude of failures.

You can always operate your own eCommerce site. but that doesn't stop you from using the vast free traffic provided by selling on Amazon. True, if you are in a competitive field, you will probably want to spend some money on Amazon PPC advertising. I suggest that you would get a lot more bang for your buck that way.

The problem I see with your plan is that you are effectively paying a potentially high price for some learning. For less than your $500 spend you could get a very thorough education that will get you started on a proven business model: Source - import- sell on Amazon preferably via FBA so that it can be as hands-off as possible.

Walter
Hey Walter this is great information! I definitely see your point. The reason I've shyed away from right now is two reasons:
  1. I think it needs more than $500 to source and improve upon a product. It's possible to find a good product and get a decent amount for say $500, but once you try to make changes manufacturers want a much higher moq.
  2. I also find the competition on Amazon crazy and always a race to the bottom. Seems like you have to focus more on ranking not so much If it's not a race to the bottom then it's because someone is selling something well branded. But then why not advertise and get your own audience directly your product if you have something well branded and unique?
Surely, I'm just a baby in all this and always trying to learn from members like you for sure. Amazon is clearly and amazing opportunity. During learning I wonder if it's advantageous to avoid having to compete on simply pricing against a hundred other sellers and focus more on getting the right customer in front of the right product and also learn more about how to actually reach the customer. That's one thing I think selling on Amazon may not help with...but surely I am NOT ruling it out!
 

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omar

omar

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For anyone following I also discovered something pretty cool during research.

You can find and research the top Shopify stores to see what products are being sold, prices etc.
  1. If you go here: 23.227.38.56 Shopify, Inc Whois | Myip.ms
  2. And then click on "Other Sites on IP"
You get a list of the highest ranking stores on Shopify and can sort. Pretty interesting.

This link actually takes you directly to that list:
 

Longinus

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Excellent info. With #4 when you enter 999 and see they have X amount, what are you looking for here? Do you mean see if it keeps selling throughout the week? If so wouldn't sales rank give that info.
The result you have with this method is more reliable. Jungle Scout calculates the sales based by rank, but that can sometimes be far off.
 

sparechange

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cant really add to your thread, im a total noob to this stuff aswell, although id highly suggest you check out Lori Greniers book

work hard!

Invent It, Sell It, Bank It!
 

MiguelHammond10

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From this site: How To Find Out How Much Inventory Your Competition Has in Stock - Full-Time FBA

1. Go to the Amazon sales page for the item in question.
2. Click on the link that shows all of the current product offers (new, used, collectible, etc).

3. Choose one of the current sellers and add their item to your cart.
4. Click on the “edit your cart” link.

5. Click on the quantity and change it to 10+.
6. Type in 999 (the highest number allowed) and click update.
7. If that seller has under 999 items, then it will state, “This seller only has XX of these available.”
Thanks for the Elaboration on this point.
 
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omar

omar

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What I’ve done so far:
  1. ✔ Loosely came up with an idea based on something I thought would be interesting. Started google searching and based on what I’ve seen I’ve refined the idea a bit so it’s more marketable to what people are already buying.
  2. ✔ Checked some of the related keywords on google trends to ensure some stability.
  3. ✔ Used free trial on ahrefs.com to explore the competitors and the competitiveness around the keywords in google. Interestingly, ahrefs says there’s low competition but a good amount of searches. Since I’ve decided to try and sell this through paid ads and not depend on organic search, this isn’t super important, but it’s good to know for the next stage if this is successful.
  4. ✔ Bought domain name. $20.
  5. ✔ Found the product on Aliexpress.
  6. ✔ I will test selling at $18-$35 with trying to always leave $10 for profit and $10 in advertising cpa on each sale.
  7. ✔ Setup Shopify store skeleton. Needs more work.
  8. ✔ Installed Analytics, and FB codes.
  9. ✔ Installed some free default Apps.
  10. ✔ Chose top 13 products from supplier.
  11. ✔ Speaking with copywriters to create some compelling descriptions.
  12. ✘ Finalize niche product
  13. ✘ Get copy for each product done.
  14. ✘ Crop photos properly and input photos and descriptions on Shopify Store.

Thinking about:
The long shipping times China suppliers have from China to US and how customers will tolerate this. wondering if I should order a small shipment to avoid these long shipping times. Perhaps I will test first and see how it goes. If there is some promise then I can order in bulk.
 
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omar

omar

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✔Scrapped Shopify theme and started over with one that had a better product page
✔Wrote all copy on homepage describing the product.
✔Researched and created an audience on Facebook around the niche.
✔Created a Facebook page
✔Collected some photos for an instagram page.
✔Hired copywriter for product description

To Do
✘Finalize copy for descriptions.
✘Post all product photos and copy on website.
✘Create an instagram page and fill with 10 good photos.
✘Create 1 good content piece around the product for Facebook.
 

Merging Left

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Listened to a podcast interview the other day where the guest brought up an interesting point that I hadn't thought of before:

You can't compete with Amazon or eBay on price and the variety of products offered, but you can compete on content. For a product that requires any sort of set-up or compatibility, Amazon is not a very good source of information. His example was crutchfield.com. They sell stereo equipment for cars, but also provide detailed installation guides, car compatibility checks, and other things that Amazon can't do effectively.

I'm not sure if you've narrowed in on your niche yet, but I'd suggest trying to find an area where you can add value through content creation (guides, reviews, etc.), since the products you find on AliExpress are available to the other 100M people on AliExpress as well.
 
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omar

omar

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Wanted to post an update of some progress. 0 sales yet but I'm learning some interesting things along the way, especially about the hidden games of influencer marketing.

What I've done:

✔ Purchased a few samples of the products.
✔ Started filling up my instagram account with nice photos and engaging with users.
✔ Contacted several influencers for promoted posts. Ran 3 promotions.​

In stage 1 my plan was to get influencer traffic to drive some initial traffic and get a few sales.

So I've learned that contacting influencers and running promotions is an entire game in and of itself no one talks about. All these Shopify videos say nothing about this and make it sound simple. It's not straightforward.

What I've learned (so far about Instagram Shoutouts):
  1. Hard to find good influencers and affordable ones. Firstly, it is still very hard to find relevant real influencers who actually have a real engaged audience. You have to continue searching every day.
  2. Large accounts that inflate numbers: These curating accounts that have hundreds of thousands of followers are not always what they're cracked up to be. A lot of these people use bots and are in kahoots with each other to inflate their numbers.
  3. Scam China influencers: There are big accounts run from China that are also scammy. They use bots to inflate their numbers to the hundreds of thousands. They lure you in by charging you extremely cheaply. Then continue to harass you to upgrade and try more.
  4. TIL: If they come after you be careful. If you go after them they may be worth it, but not necessarily. Always negotiate. Don't pay what they first tell you. Test first. Instagram has started changing their algorithm like facebook. The organic reach your hashtags have now are not what it was last year.
I ran 3 shout out promotions with people with huge audiences. All three brought hardly any traffic or followers. One gave me a refund which was cool. The ones from China kept saying there posts were good and try to influence me to continue posting with them.

My next plan is to:

✘ Create a steady stream of posts in my niche using Buffer. See if that creates more engagement and followers.
✘ Continue testing large accounts to see if I can find ones that have engaged followers.
✘ Testing the quality of famebit.com and other influencer marketing places I've found.
✘ Contact small influencers with just a couple of thousand followers. Give free samples in exchange for a selfie. Test the return.
✘ Do 1 minute promo video of product and see how it does on instagram over a photo.
✘ After this, consider fb ads.​
 
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