If there’s one thing that bothers me about eCommerce, it’s the misconception many people have about opening and running an online business. There seems to be this belief out there that running an online store is simple and you’re going to make so much money in a short amount of time, you won’t know how to spend it.
Sure, there are plenty of very successful eCommerce stores out there. Mine were generating $12M in annual revenue when they were sold in 2007, but getting sales to that point wasn’t something that was done in a few months. It took years. And patience. And money. You also need an ecommerce fulfillment service that you can count on for better shipping solutions. A reputable logistics company like Strader Ferris International can do just that, you can visit the page to know more about their service if you’re interested.
I’ve helped entrepreneurs for nearly 20 years by offering advice and real world experience to help them be successful online and I always use a cliché I absolutely HATE using. “The Internet isn’t the Field of Dreams.” Unfortunately, many think they can spend a couple grand, open a store, and like magic people are going to find it and start ordering.
I think I just heard you say, “no shit, Scott.”
At least two times a week, I get an email from a new store owner pleading for help in getting them orders. While I sympathize with them wanting to be that overnight success we all dream of, I have to shock them back into reality by telling them that just because they’ve been online for less than a year, the membership card for the Millionaire’s Club isn’t coming in the mail just yet.
Unless you’re selling an instant cure for gonorrhea.
When that email hits my inbox, I spend a few minutes taking a look at the store, offering some advice and explaining that being an eCommerce store owner takes work. Lots of it. And if they stick to it, devote money to advertising, marketing, customer service and all the other components that go into running a successful store, they will eventually be on the path to success.
The other day, I got one of these emails. I did my usual response to the store owner, but I also threw it out to my Facebook followers and said, “How would YOU answer this email?”
Here’s the email that I received:
I started a store about three months ago. I get somewheres [sic] around 10 sales a week. I need more but I have no money to spend on internet ads. Can you help me get more sales?
Here are the responses, unedited and some humorous, from my Facebook peeps:
Joe P: You’re selling your products for too little margin. Be creative with packaging and marketing and try to find a way to maintain your volume of sales, while increasing your margin.
Kevin R: That’s normal for us too. Hard times. We really wish that we could do more to reach out and find ways that they could grow with little to no investment… Unfortunately, business just doesn’t grow without investing. Those of us that have grown remember the Mac n’ Cheese only for weeks on end.
Bob B: Use a branded Facebook page along with Twitter to push people seeking your product to your store. Talk it up, blog it up.. FREE. Use proper hashtags and invite comment .. ask open ended questions, offer a coupon code. activity is the key to the NEXT level.
Farukh S: While this is not a step by step approach… it let’s you know the right/long term way of everything that you need to be involved in to grow sales/brand: https://sphotos-b.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-frc1/575867_10151414097856246_178700067_n.jpg
Jamie M: E-mail market to your current customers. There are many platforms that offer it for free up to X number of subscribers. Find products that compliment the products they already bought and use them or cross/upsells and e-mail marketing. Do social media and get the customers you did sell something to to join and market those products that compliment what they bought. Signup for as many marketing services out there that you can find that arrange their compensation based on conversions, meaning revenue share, so that you only pay for sales that happen and not some monthly service. Insert fliers in your outgoing orders to market other products or services. Call the customers who did buy to check and see if they had any questions about what they bought and maybe sell other items by gently suggesting the benefits they would garner by doing so – plant the seed. Recruit affiliates and simply use your Yahoo tracking links to avoid hefty network fees in the beginning. Offer multiple unit pricing. Create combos of products that go together to raise average order value. Ask your suppliers for co-op dollars to help with paid advertising costs. Bid on mis-spellings of the actual product names in PPC engines to lower costs. I can go on forever…
James R: Sure, I’ll send this to all my FB friends and urge them to buy from you, and if that doesn’t generate enough sales, I’ll personally order as much as you need to get on your feet. Because I’m that nice a guy.
Shirley T: Everything that Jamie M said and barter for ad dollars somebody must be willing to help him out and take some products in trade.
Joseph K: Get some scantily clad drunk whores to dance around with your products. Be sure to make a video of this and put it on YouTube. Don’t forget to include your URL in the video.
Don’t dis Joseph K’s answer just yet. A funny video that goes viral can drive sales. Not sure what he described would fit that definition, but you get the point. Thanks everyone for your great comments. I wanted to include them here for those that don’t stalk me on Facebook, can benefit from your answers as well.
I’ve taken enough time away from you for today…. don’t you have your own Field of Dreams to plow on a Saturday afternoon?