Today we’re going to talk about the eCommerce store. A lot of people don’t know this, but when I was 18 or 19, so this was actually before Pepsi, I started an eBay business. It was an interesting business because eBay was kind of just getting started, not getting started, it had been around for a couple of years. It was where power sellers really started moving a lot of products.
I was really into cars at the time, car stereos, actually. I was paging through a magazine of Truckin’, it was a Truckin’ Magazine. In this magazine, there was an ad. There was a six-page ad of all the car parts that you could put on your truck. On the very bottom, it said, “Wholesale accounts can apply here.” I was like, “Well, shit. Wholesale accounts. Does that mean that I can actually buy product wholesale and then it to somebody like they are now a supplier for me?”
How I started my first eCommerce Store
I applied to be a wholesaler. Then, I started taking their product shots, putting them on eBay, and then just marking up the bumper, or marking up the hood scoop, or marking up the whatever for the truck that we were trying to sell for. That worked really well, I mean, I was at Mercer Northeast at the time. Actually, so I was in the Northeast here. I was selling quite a few bumpers. By quite a few I mean 10 or 12 a month.
Basically, I would take the money from eBay, and then I would give it to the wholesaler. The wholesaler would then drop ship it. This was 22 years again, 20 ish years ago. It was a really long time. At the time, I think I was working for Pepsi. I haven’t thought about this in a long time. I don’t know, that’s probably where my love of the internet came from, that and blogging and all that other stuff.
Anyway, so what happened was, is right around that time, shipping got really expensive. So FedEx, UPS, all that got super expensive. You just couldn’t do anything with it, it jacked the shipping rates up. The wholesaler was charging me shipping rates, and then my shipping rates got crazy because it’s oversized bumpers and stuff, so it was $40, $60, $80 to ship it, and that was all my profit. That was the profit margin on a wholesale good.
I wasn’t good at it, so I ended up just kind of pausing that thing and whatever. That was the first e-comm physical product business that I ever worked in, which is cool. There were a lot of learned lessons. We were doing about, I think the very last month that I was doing it, I did $16,000 in revenue or something. Most of that goes right back out the door because it’s wholesale. It was an interesting learning experience, let’s put it that way.
Now fast forward to today, and we work with a lot of e-comm stores that are selling a lot of different products. So most of the e-comm stores are set up in Shopify. Some of them are using other platforms like WordPress and WooCommerce, but most of them are Shopify.
I wanted to talk about a few things. First of all, I want to talk about sourcing products.
Two Ways of Sourcing Product
I want to talk about specializing in something and then also running traffic and scaling stores.
1. Find stuff that you’re going to sell yourself.
It could end up being a whole course all unto itself, but I want to give a couple of nuggets in each scenario.
First of all, sourcing products. There’s a couple of ways, there are two ways you can source a product. You can either find stuff that you’re going to sell yourself. It might be something you design in CAD, or there’s all kinds of really, really cool 3D CAD drawing kind of apps for iPads and stuff. They make it super, super easy to do it. If you have an idea for a product, you can design it up and send it to a manufacturer. The manufacturer then can do a prototype and then send you a supply, and then you can sell it on your Shopify store or whatever.
The disadvantage of selling your own stuff
That ends up being kind of a risky proposition because you don’t know what’s going to sell. In every business, there’s an 80/20 rule, and you’re going to hear me talk about this a lot. But in every business, 80/20 rule. So 80% of your revenue is going to come from 20% of your products or even fewer. It might be 95% of your revenue comes from 5% of your products. It really just depends. So e-comm is the same way. The problem with designing a product from scratch and then sending it to a company to fulfill that product, you don’t know if it’s going to sell.
2. Sell a prototype.
The best thing to do is to sell a prototype.
One of the easiest and quickest ways of doing it without a lot of labor and a lot of mind share from you is just sourcing it. Let’s say you wanted to sell some workout equipment. Let’s say a jump rope. Well, you have this really good idea for a ball-bearing jump rope that spins really fast, and CrossFit athletes can use it for double under. Well, you don’t know if your jump rope is going to sell. The next best thing is to go to Alibaba, look for jump ropes, and find some jump ropes that look like they’re worth you testing out and trying to sell, so testing your product first.
Then, request samples. It might be two samples, three samples, five samples, whatever. They send them to you, DHL usually, overseas. You import them into this country, so the shipping is fucking crazy, so it’s going to be 50 bucks to ship five jump ropes, and it’s going to take three weeks to get here. But at the same time, you’re able to test that quickly. You take those five jump ropes, you put them on your Shopify store. If they sell through, you reorder, or you go and source the jump rope you wanted to create. You now have a working prototype.
If you go through all the expense of trying something without testing it, and then you have 1000 jump ropes sitting in your garage that isn’t going to sell, then that doesn’t work. Sourcing e-comm products is the best way to do it.
However, there’s an even better one, and it’s drop-shipping products. You can do the same kind of testing by using a drop shipping plug-in or app like Zendrop. It lets you tap into thousands of products that are out there, able to be drop shipped. You just add them to your store, you set a price. Then when somebody buys it, you collect the money, and then it goes to Zendrop. Zendrop suppliers fulfill that product. It is the quickest and best way of testing something, well, fast really. Fast, zero risks, you just throw it up in your store. You test it. You run some traffic and that’s it.
The downside of eCommerce Stores
1. 80/20 Rules
Now the thing about e-comm stores is eight of 10 of your products are going to fail. It’s the, like I said, 80/20 rules. 80% of your revenue’s going to come from 20% of your products, or two out of 10. Two of the products you test are going to be flying away winners. The other eight are going to suck. You throw those eight products away. You scale the two, and then you go test 10 more. That’s how you create an e-comm store that works, either through importing, through creating your own stuff, or through drop shipping. That’s how you would source your products.
2. Most E-comm stores don’t specialize
We’ve worked with a lot of e-comm stores that just don’t specialize in anything. Think of retailers. Retailers oftentimes buy in season. It depends on the retailer, but I mean, you think of the bargain bin kind of pallet drop retailer. The retailer, you go to one of these supply liquidation events or so. You buy a pallet of stuff, then you sell that pallet of stuff on your e-comm store, or Amazon, or whatever.
Now you have a very limited supply, which means when you have a limited supply, you can’t ramp up the ad spent and ramp down the ad spend. So you have, let’s say, three pressure cookers. You can’t continue to sell pressure cookers because you only have three of them, so once you’re out of supply and you have no means of getting more, then that ad is toast. It doesn’t make sense to invest a lot of money in something that you’re not going to be able to run like a brand over and over and over again.
Strategies to Build eCommerce Store
1. Figure out things that are selling the best
You want to specialize in those things. It might be a private line, it might be a handpicked line, it might be whatever. Maybe it’s eight or 10 things that you know your customers love buying from you. Those are the things that you want to stock and buy a lot of inventory of, keep in stock, and run ads year-round, or summer, or fall, spring, or whatever. You want to run them for a long time, so those are your core priority products. And those things are always in stock and you’re always moving those things.
Then everything else that is seasonal, or that comes in, that maybe you can buy a bulk order for the fall or whatever, all that stuff becomes secondary items that you might sell with a targeted ad, or you might sell with email. Your primary core offers, your core e-comm products, those are what you’re driving traffic to the most, year-round, cold traffic, warm traffic, whatever. And that’s where you make the bulk of your money. That’s your 80% profit or 80% revenue. And then everything else is secondary, and you’re driving traffic there through email.
2. Create Campaign that will hit core offers
Running traffic, that kind of gets into running traffic. When you can keep a campaign on for a while, so if you can keep it on for four weeks, six weeks, eight weeks, every campaign has an end of the life cycle. We’re always trying to actively prevent that end of the life cycle. We’re always trying to switch up ads and use dynamic creative and stuff so that we’re not burning out the same creative. But at the same time, every offer has a life cycle. Every ad has a life cycle.
What we always try to do is hit those core offers, and we try to always be attracting cold audiences into our ecosystem, into our brand. So how that works is you have one bucket and it’s all cold ads. And then when they watch 10 seconds of a video, they go to a website, they like a page, whatever, then they get re-targeted as a second ad set. So we have cold traffic, warm traffic. What happens is, well, it’s July now, but in November, December when traffic starts getting more expensive, then what we can do is we can just shut off. We can just throw away the cold traffic, and we’re only targeting the warm traffic, which lets us just more intelligently spend ad budget.
Scaling eCommerce Stores
The last bit that I wanted to cover today is scaling stores. Basically, scaling stores is mostly about identifying your core products and running traffic to those things, and using every means necessary to promote those. Then understanding that you have your core products, the ones that are generating all the revenue. You have your secondary products, the ones that are generating a little bit of revenue, and understanding how they mix. Also, when you have your core products, you can arrange upsells, bundle offers, any of that kind of stuff.
That’s like just more advice on how to scale your own stuff, there are two ways. Go to doneforyou.com, and that is going to lead you into our services portal. We’re just starting something new called Done With You. Done With You is where we don’t necessarily push the buttons for you, but we help on a mentorship advisement coaching level. We are always with you, but we’re helping you navigate the waters, go through, and just basically saving you months and years worth of time off of scaling your own stores in this case, or scaling your online business.
At the end of the day, we have literally seen it all. There are a lot of situations where Done For You doesn’t work, but Done With You does. So that’s pretty much how we’re going to roll out. We’re building consultingsession.com to really be the place where you can kind of self-select whichever side you want. But being restarting these GSD Dailies has kind of been a shotgun thing. That’s in the works.
If you have any questions at all, go to doneforyou.com/start. Or comment below and we’ll get right back to you.