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EXECUTION Starting my first E-commerce venture.

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Strm

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Awesome thread, really inspiring!!

Did you grab an already existing product and made it better or was did you start something from the ground?
I really like your approach to finding products that trigger people's emotions, never thought about it that way.

I'll keep following this thread! :)


Thanks for the support! :smile2:

I took an existing product and added a unique twist to it.

I also put a small thank-you note in the box and a couple of candies in a beautiful velvet bag. Just the other day I got an email from a customer who said that it was so nice and the candies brought a smile to her face after a long day at work. She said that they will definitely recommend my product to their friends. So it helps if you can surprise people. Makes them feel that it is well worth the money because they get more than they paid for. And it only takes me some seconds to add it to the box.
 

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Strm

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I want to make everything about this business better. Starting from the product photos, I'm looking for a photographer now. Hopefully I will get new better photos done next week. Then I'd like to get some help with SM ads and overall marketing. I'm getting pretty good results myself, but I feel it could be a lot better. So this is the plan for the coming weeks. Other then that, I'm just shipping packages daily (takes around 1-3 hours each day) and try to post quality content on social media.

Sales from October so far are bit over 6K.
 

Strm

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So what next?
My idea was to set up another online store to sell abroad, but now I'm thinking maybe I should also start with Amazon..? Maybe before the online store? If I'd use FBA, that would save time and maybe I could get some first customers and extra funds.. EU first and then US too?
 

Strm

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There's also another idea in the back of my mind - to sell the Estonian store and all that's included. There are some factors why I can't sell the same product here and in other countries. So the local market is very small. Things to think about! To be honest I would love to concentrate only on selling abroad in the future. Or I could just find someone who would run things locally.
 

Strm

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I have found a photographer for my products, right now he's writing down some ideas for the shooting. I believe we can get great photos and that means better ads and content on my website and social media accounts as well.

I get decent traffic to my website but the conversion rate is rather low. For example, today I've had 290 unique visitors but only 3 sales. So there's interest but maybe the product is a bit too expensive?
I think the sweet spot is 25-30€. If I start paying VAT, I wouldn't want to sell for less than 29€. But we will see, I will figure it out. The website could also maybe be a bit better, I will work on everything once we get the photos done. So far I have done everything myself. It's normal that I don't get max results in everything I do. :thumbsup:
 

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Great thread!

I'm quite curious about your earlier adventures, what type of things did you do before you started selling this product?

Regarding your conversion rate, this is a thing you want to test. It's not always just a price thing. Do you measure statistics? With for example Google Analytics, or Hotjar.

It can help to see where visitors leave your site, maybe there's something unclear about the product or the shipment?

Further, you can maybe learn some more about copywriting, to apply on your product page? If you solve a certain problem, it can help to describe the issue people are having instead of only the solution. With this method, you make clear you understand the problems the visitors are having and people tend to take action faster when you bring up the problem first and then how your problem fixes it.

Maybe you can look into this, the next time you're waiting for new stock;-) For example, read about Robert Cialdini (principles of influence) or the book Cashvertising.

I have some samples of a product coming in next month, so will definitely follow your thread, good luck on your journey!
 

Kasimir

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Just had an amazing read through your whole thread. What a story! I was a part of an eCommerce so it was even more interesting to read.

So, below my opinion on your current situation: (Please note that's just my opinion and another path could obviously be better)
  • So your current sales are good so around 12k for October if my math is any good? But they could be much higher I believe. You have to expand, it's lovely that you started in your own country but you have to get the whole of Europe. You get 12k from just your country can you imagine what you can get from the EU? You can raise prices easily if your customer base is bigger. (for example, companies which ship to Switzerland usually ask for 25-50% more on their products compared to other countries in the EU)
  • Don't really know a lot about your product but it seems pretty interesting. But from my point of view, your progress is pretty great. I'd focus on getting it all in a Shopify store asap (if you didn't do already) it's much easier.
  • Are you happy with the product atm? I read that you maybe want to sell the shop and want to try something new? I would put your product on Amazon just to get more customers, but would still try to get a lot of traffic on your own website.
  • How is your traffic for your website generated if I may ask? Organic or through ads? That could have something to do with your conversion rate. Think about why that's the case. Usually have to do with the website or in some cases it's just normal for that kind of product.

Just some things I'd do. I personally couldn't run my now sold eCommerce store without my friends/business partners. I just find it much easier if you have somebody to discuss everything with and have a second opinion. Also, I find when building an online store and putting in the 100 hours workweek it's easier to motivate when you're not on your own. But I'm not you and maybe that's not the best thing for you.

I wish you the best and will definitely look into this thread more often. If you need anything feel free to pm me.
 

Strm

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Great thread!

I'm quite curious about your earlier adventures, what type of things did you do before you started selling this product?

Regarding your conversion rate, this is a thing you want to test. It's not always just a price thing. Do you measure statistics? With for example Google Analytics, or Hotjar.

It can help to see where visitors leave your site, maybe there's something unclear about the product or the shipment?

Further, you can maybe learn some more about copywriting, to apply on your product page? If you solve a certain problem, it can help to describe the issue people are having instead of only the solution. With this method, you make clear you understand the problems the visitors are having and people tend to take action faster when you bring up the problem first and then how your problem fixes it.

Maybe you can look into this, the next time you're waiting for new stock;-) For example, read about Robert Cialdini (principles of influence) or the book Cashvertising.

I have some samples of a product coming in next month, so will definitely follow your thread, good luck on your journey!

Thanks, @Gerrald !

I haven't really had any earlier adventures regarding entrepreneurship, only one small project (I used artists from Fiverr to draw portraits and sold them here locally). I did this just to start something finally. I finished with this in March. I was working as a carpenter/builder before this e-com thing, but I've always had different view in life and finances and I see things differently than most people. I was always learning new stuff too while I was working so it was a logical step to start a business.

I am not sure if I can use google analytics on the platform I am using, but I already contacted their support and hopefully I can do it. Thanks for pointing that out! My website is pretty easily navigable, I've made it as clear and easy as possible to shop. My sales have improved in the last few days, but I definitely need to analyze a bit more.

It's more of a "want" product, and I've learned some copywriting as well. It's a product where bullet points and features don't work. :D

I really appreciate your reply and thanks for the help!
 

Strm

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Just had an amazing read through your whole thread. What a story! I was a part of an eCommerce so it was even more interesting to read.

So, below my opinion on your current situation: (Please note that's just my opinion and another path could obviously be better)
  • So your current sales are good so around 12k for October if my math is any good? But they could be much higher I believe. You have to expand, it's lovely that you started in your own country but you have to get the whole of Europe. You get 12k from just your country can you imagine what you can get from the EU? You can raise prices easily if your customer base is bigger. (for example, companies which ship to Switzerland usually ask for 25-50% more on their products compared to other countries in the EU)
  • Don't really know a lot about your product but it seems pretty interesting. But from my point of view, your progress is pretty great. I'd focus on getting it all in a Shopify store asap (if you didn't do already) it's much easier.
  • Are you happy with the product atm? I read that you maybe want to sell the shop and want to try something new? I would put your product on Amazon just to get more customers, but would still try to get a lot of traffic on your own website.
  • How is your traffic for your website generated if I may ask? Organic or through ads? That could have something to do with your conversion rate. Think about why that's the case. Usually have to do with the website or in some cases it's just normal for that kind of product.

Just some things I'd do. I personally couldn't run my now sold eCommerce store without my friends/business partners. I just find it much easier if you have somebody to discuss everything with and have a second opinion. Also, I find when building an online store and putting in the 100 hours workweek it's easier to motivate when you're not on your own. But I'm not you and maybe that's not the best thing for you.

I wish you the best and will definitely look into this thread more often. If you need anything feel free to pm me.

Hey, @Kasimir !

I think it will be around 10-11K in October.

I definitely need to expand indeed, and sell across EU for start. The thing is, I can't really sell the exact same products that I sell in Estonia. There's a feature why it's popular here and I have to change it a bit to sell in other countries. So I was only planning to sell the Estonian shop because thats a super small market here. I will definitely continue with it but that's just one option to sell the Estonian shop and get some extra funds to start selling on Amazon and on my own website.

Most of the traffic comes from FB/IG, from ads but some of it also organically.

Thank you so much for the reply and help!
 

Kasimir

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Hey, @Kasimir !

I think it will be around 10-11K in October.

I definitely need to expand indeed, and sell across EU for start. The thing is, I can't really sell the exact same products that I sell in Estonia. There's a feature why it's popular here and I have to change it a bit to sell in other countries. So I was only planning to sell the Estonian shop because thats a super small market here. I will definitely continue with it but that's just one option to sell the Estonian shop and get some extra funds to start selling on Amazon and on my own website.

Most of the traffic comes from FB/IG, from ads but some of it also organically.

Thank you so much for the reply and help!
10-11k will be profits yeah? Because all your ads will be expensive, aren’t they?

What I don’t completely get you sell this one product. And you want to sell your shop. So if you’d do that you would sell another product or the same?
 

Strm

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What I don’t completely get you sell this one product. And you want to sell your shop. So if you’d do that you would sell another product or the same?

Let's say I'm selling mugs with Estonian flag - that's why they sell well here because Estonians can relate to that. I have social media and website built only for local audience. It's going well and this doesn't require a lot of time and effort right now. I want to sell abroad as well so I need to get new products in that have to be different and without Estonian flag, let's say. I am thinking if the market is so small, maybe it would be wise to sell the local shop, get new products in that would appeal people from other countries. The product would be the same - with different features.
 

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Kasimir

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Let's say I'm selling mugs with Estonian flag - that's why they sell well here because Estonians can relate to that. I have social media and website built only for local audience. It's going well and this doesn't require a lot of time and effort right now. I want to sell abroad as well so I need to get new products in that have to be different and without Estonian flag, let's say. I am thinking if the market is so small, maybe it would be wise to sell the local shop, get new products in that would appeal people from other countries. The product would be the same - with different features.
Ah sorry, now I get it. And I also get it why you want to sell. Don't know if you find a great offer but if you find one I'd go for it. Because then I'd rather focus on building a brand than a normal eCommerce store. If I'm not wrong the shipping costs from Estonia to the rest of Europe are quite alright, aren't they?
If so I'd try to find a niche you like and where it's possible to generate an income from it. If you want to make it really big I'd make customized products. Like shirts with your logo on it, bags, mugs ;) just branded. That usually works out quite well, maybe not the mugs but the rest.
Then get them from a local shirt producer, which there is quite a view in your area I think. And then you only have to mail them to everybody in the EU for example or maybe if it's not too expensive even the US.
What I personally see that works really well is that you put in 100% so if you focus for example on climate change that you maybe even have a blog about it. And if you want to take it even further that you look that your shirts are quite CO2 neutral made.
To distance yourself from your competition it's important to put in 110% in a store, brand, etc.
 

Strm

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Ah sorry, now I get it. And I also get it why you want to sell. Don't know if you find a great offer but if you find one I'd go for it. Because then I'd rather focus on building a brand than a normal eCommerce store. If I'm not wrong the shipping costs from Estonia to the rest of Europe are quite alright, aren't they?
If so I'd try to find a niche you like and where it's possible to generate an income from it. If you want to make it really big I'd make customized products. Like shirts with your logo on it, bags, mugs ;) just branded. That usually works out quite well, maybe not the mugs but the rest.
Then get them from a local shirt producer, which there is quite a view in your area I think. And then you only have to mail them to everybody in the EU for example or maybe if it's not too expensive even the US.
What I personally see that works really well is that you put in 100% so if you focus for example on climate change that you maybe even have a blog about it. And if you want to take it even further that you look that your shirts are quite CO2 neutral made.
To distance yourself from your competition it's important to put in 110% in a store, brand, etc.

That's right!
I think the shipping costs are alright, yes. Not super expensive. I would still sell the same product (obviously not mugs). Maybe I would need to use a logistics/warehouse partner, they usually have even better rates. That would help me automate it a bit if the sales go well.

I will start working on the products for EU soon, it takes time so I won't get them before 2021. And after Christmas I can see if there's someone who would want to buy the local store. Because it's still very profitable and some people don't want to do it too big. I could have paid myself a decent salary every month since the start with only couple of hours of work a day.

But I won't rush with this, thats not the priority.
 

Kasimir

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That's right!
I think the shipping costs are alright, yes. Not super expensive. I would still sell the same product (obviously not mugs). Maybe I would need to use a logistics/warehouse partner, they usually have even better rates. That would help me automate it a bit if the sales go well.

I will start working on the products for EU soon, it takes time so I won't get them before 2021. And after Christmas I can see if there's someone who would want to buy the local store. Because it's still very profitable and some people don't want to do it too big. I could have paid myself a decent salary every month since the start with only couple of hours of work a day.

But I won't rush with this, thats not the priority.
Ah okay. But why sell the same product. (or a similar one)
Or why put everything on that product. You say that you only put in a couple of hours every day. Then you have a lot of time left to build a second shop. With two shops the risk is even smaller and if you get competitors in one market and your sales go down you still have one shop which will take care of your salary.
Ecommerce is a great market but you have to expand in my mind. Can't just put everything on one product.
 

Strm

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Ah okay. But why sell the same product. (or a similar one)
Or why put everything on that product. You say that you only put in a couple of hours every day. Then you have a lot of time left to build a second shop. With two shops the risk is even smaller and if you get competitors in one market and your sales go down you still have one shop which will take care of your salary.
Ecommerce is a great market but you have to expand in my mind. Can't just put everything on one product.

It’s more of a series of products in the same category. Right now I have around 20.
 

Strm

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without getting too much into details is it something that can be copied easily?

I wouldn't say "easily". There are some issues with it.

Update!

October was pretty successful as expected.

1. november was my record day so far. But still short of 1K. And with that, my 40K threshold is exceeded. So I registered for VAT number today (I also raised the prices on my website a bit, to test how it goes in the coming days). It takes away some profits, but it's inevitable and shows that things are moving in the right direction.

I'm making a new order for the factory in the coming days for new products to sell outside Estonia. It's going OK at the moment!
 

Kasimir

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I wouldn't say "easily". There are some issues with it.

Update!

October was pretty successful as expected.

1. november was my record day so far. But still short of 1K. And with that, my 40K threshold is exceeded. So I registered for VAT number today (I also raised the prices on my website a bit, to test how it goes in the coming days). It takes away some profits, but it's inevitable and shows that things are moving in the right direction.

I'm making a new order for the factory in the coming days for new products to sell outside Estonia. It's going OK at the moment!
Great news. How high is the VAT in your country? And do you have a lot of expenses which you can deduct?
Otherwise, VAT can hurt pretty badly.
 

Strm

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How high is the VAT in your country? And do you have a lot of expenses which you can deduct?
Otherwise, VAT can hurt pretty badly.

It's 20%.
There are some expenses, yes. Of course it will affect things, but I will adjust. There's no other way. ;)
 

Strm

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I'm curious, how did November go?
Hey!

Sorry, I've been having some issues in personal life so haven't been updateing as usual. November was solid - first month when my store crossed 12K mark + cash and invoice payments. December is also very good so far. But I'm paying VAT also now for the first time but that's part of the thing :D

I will register myself as an employee in January. I have enough saved to start paying a small salary. Another huge milestone for me. :smile2:
 

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Hey, @Strm you are killing it!

What are your problems right now that you're trying to overcome?
 

Strm

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Hey, @Strm you are killing it!

What are your problems right now that you're trying to overcome?

Hey man, thanks!

It's ok business-wise. But personal life is upside down right now so I try to concentrate on this a bit more.

But to be honest, I'm a bit bored too, so I'm thinking about some new products as well. It seems I'm a guy who needs some new projects sometimes to work on, along with the old ones. At least I feel this inside.
 

Strm

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January is going slower, as expected. Oct-Dec were all 10K+ months. I'm also not advertising as much, because I am low on stock atm and all the greatest versions are out of stock. New shipment should arrive in February.

Right now I'm learning how to start on Amazon, because it's a huge channel so I need to test there as well. Trying to get all the info I need from the forum and web. My manufacturer also has no previous experience with FBA, so I have to figure out what needs to be done before shipping to their warehouse. Seems complicated :D But I know it probably isn't as difficult as I am thinking it is.

I'm also planning to open a new shop to sell abroad with .com domain, but I'd also like to change my local shop to different platform.. But keep the estonian domain. How would be the best to do it? Maybe new .com store on wordpress and if you select Estonian language, that would then go to .ee store??? Makes sense? Is that possible?
 
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A bit more than half a year ago I came up with a simple product idea and have been working on it since. I got some samples about 4 months ago and they were quite popular, sold them pretty fast, so I decided to invest in it a bit and go for it. Last wednesday I got my bulk order here in Estonia and the same evening got the first sales as well. I'm happy that I sticked to it for all this time, not really knowing where it will lead me. I took a break from my construction job abroad (was so fed up with it too) and now I am finally back home and can work on my own project. Luckily my boss is a good friend so I will probably have work when I need it. This thread is long overdue but I didn't want to make it before something real was going on. My last execution thread died too quickly :)

From wednesday to sunday I sold 18 units, that's around 620€ in revenue (not profit). When I calculate all the expenses, including ad cost, the net profit per unit should be around 25€. I need to sell around 90-100 units to cover my first investment. I'm ignoring the crisis and I know that people have money just like they always do. My product is not an essential but still seem to press on some emotions and people are buying. Also I have found out that I am pretty good in customer service so that helps. When I got reviews for my last business, people always said how nice it was to communicate with me. I'm keeping it up this time too - no need to be an a**hole!

I'm taking orders only on FB right now, sending invoices manually, packing, shipping and doing all this stuff, so the next goal is to get a website up and running to automate it a bit. I will probably use Shopify. It's a bit scary but I know it will be next level for me! I also need to learn more about Instagram and other platforms to use.
I think I will have enough money in May to make a second order and slowly start to sell in Europe (maybe I will use my personal funds to make the process go faster) because the local market is pretty small. There's only 1.3 millions of us Estonians. But I see some potential in it. I was hoping for maybe around 30 sales per first month, but I think I will get there on wednesday - after just one week. To be honest, that's huge for me!

I have some personal savings for maybe about a year or so. So I have time to work on this and hopefully grow this business. But sales are so addictive and it's a bit challenging mentally, real emotional rollercoaster. Even now when there's some proof that people like my stuff, I still find myself doubting. :) I guess that's the part of it. No problem. I can handle it. I'm enjoying it actually.

So I'm writing this thread to keep you guys posted. Maybe weekly updates on sales numbers and also when I have something big to share. Thanks for all of you inspiring people who are here in the forum giving advice and helping so often. I hope this thread can inspire someone in the future as well.
That’s amazing! Almost like a fairy tale, lol. Good to know that your product is selling despite being a non essential. If you need help selling it in international markets, PM me. And also, keep us posted on this venture. Cheers
 

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