How to Succeed with an eCommerce Store

8 common questions answered.

My most successful online venture is my eCommerce store.  I earn more there than I do with my day job! Since I’m pretty open about this, I get a lot of questions about how I do it.  And I love answering your questions, so I decided to share some of the most common ones with you to help you out. In fact, the answers to these questions alone could help you start and be successful with your own eCommerce store.

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Years ago, I would self host the stores that I built, which meant I was responsible for setting up a payment gateway and making sure my store was secured. The past four years, I have used Shopify without complaints. Try Shopify for Free!

Questions about succeeding with an ecommerce store:

1. How do you drive traffic to your ecommerce store?

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My traffic is mostly organic.  My store ranks really well for long tail search terms within my niche. Content is king.  I update my store frequently with information that naturally uses related keywords. 

Example of a Long tail keyword:  You sell Dishwashers.   A potential customer google searches, “Samsung quiet XYZ dishwasher”.  If your site ranks well for the long tail keywords,  “Samsung quiet XYZ dishwasher,”, then your site will appear in the results.

When someone emails or calls with a question, I update my help resource page with the question and answer. The purpose of this is two-fold.  It minimizes that same questions being asked over and over and it creates search engine juice.

I am also active on  forums that are related to my niche.  My site has grown naturally by offering excellent customer service and providing people with the information they need to make informed decisions about the products we sell. Over the years, my site has become known as the go-to place for the industry that I am in.  I don’t offer thousands of products for sale. I offer several categories within my niche, but my main focus is only one product. I have became known as the specialist for this product.

As far as paid traffic, I dabble a little bit with Pinterest ads and Google campaigns. Last year, I hired a marketing firm to create Google ad campaigns, but after losing thousands of dollars, I went back to doing my own. 

2. How did you decide whether or not your product was an item people wanted to buy?

I researched using they keyword planner tool in Google Adwords , to see how many monthly searches there was for terms related to the products I was considering selling, but because I chose a high-end product, I didn’t need to sell that many. I only need to sell 3 or 4 per day to make a great income. 

It’s easy to become paralyzed by the completion and wonder why someone would purchase from your ecommerce store.  You have to change your mindset. Focus on creating excellent customer service and detailed information.  Become an expert in your niche. Don’t try to be the next Wal Mart or Amazon. Determine your monthly financial goal and then figure out how much you need to sell per day to meet your goal.  If you focus on selling products that are at least $500 each, then you don’t have to sell that many to make a nice living or side income.

For example:  If you sell a $500 product that has 15% margin, your profit will be $75 per item.  So let’s say you have a monthly goal of $4000. You will only need to sell 53 items, or about 2 per day. It is very competitive in the eCommerce space, but it’s a lot easier to own an ecommerce store than a local retail store. You do not have all the monthly overhead, like utilities, rent, employees, etc. Plus, you have the opportunity to reach more people.

3. Do you have your items dropshipped or do you store inventory?

I dropship.  In today’s economy, many large retailers dropship. 

There are negatives to  dropshipping and one of them is that the bar for entry is low, which creates a lot more competition.

4. You make a good living with your ecommerce store. How long did it take you to get to that point?

I’ve been in business for several years. Each year, my ecommerce store has grown. Last year,  I made more with my ecommerce store than I make with my day job. You can probably accomplish it faster than I did, but I had other projects going on and a family to take care of.

5. How did you build your ecommerce store? Did you build it yourself? If so, what shopping plugins and themes do you use?

I use Shopify as my platform. I originally built the store myself, and spent many nights up until two or three in the morning to get it going. When I would get discouraged and wonder if it was worth it, I would remind myself why I was doing it, and that would motivate me to continue working. Now, I have a team that I use for the things I’m not good at or don’t like to do.

Don’t waste your time attempting to self host your ecommerce store.  Do what I did and Try Shopify for Free!

A few of the Shopify apps I use:

Checkout Share – allows customers to share what they purchase on social media.

Exit Offers –creates a pop-up that appears when a potential customer is getting ready to leave your store.

Free Shipping Bar – displays a brightly colored bar at the top of your store page to alert customers of special promotions.

Help Center – allows you to create a professional looking help page that customers can search.

Judge.me – a great review app. It is reasonably priced. It sends out an automated email after a few days to request a review from the customer.

6. When you called potential wholesalers, did you already have a site started? What were some common requirements?

I allowed the conversation to flow.  I found that being honest and letting them know that I just started my ecommerce store worked for me.  Not every manufacture approved me at the beginning. There is still a manufacture that I haven’t been able to set up an account with because they require retailers to have a physical store, but the last correspondence I had with them is that they are considering approving my account based upon my knowledge and longevity of being in business.   

Some of the most common requirements are:

– Federal ID number.

– 3 References

– Banking information

7. How do you decide how to price your items?

Most of the manufactures I work with have MAP (minimum advertising pricing). Unfortunately, big box retail stores don’t always adhere to the rules. When I first started my business, I would check the competitors’ pricing all the time because I just assumed that every customer is price-conscious.  I quickly found that is not always the case. I price my items to make sure I make a decent profit. Though I still check pricing from time to time, that is not my focus. I focus on great customer service and information.  I focus on building trust with potential customers so they will have the confidence to spend a $1000 with me. 

The worst thing you can do is try to be the lowest price. I’m not going to sell a $1,000 item and only make $30 on it. There is too much risk involved. There are potential customers that are willing to pay a premium price to know that they are going to be taken care of through the whole buying process and after the sale. And since I don’t need to sell  a large quantity to make a great living, this model serves me well.

Ways that I build trust:

*Live chat

*1-800 number 

*testimonials

*a hassle-free return policy that is easy to understand

*I don’t try to pretend that we are a huge corporation. I’m honest and let them know that when they purchase from us they are purchasing from a small, family-owned business.

8. If you were to start another niche store, is there anything you would do differently?

I have opened several online stores since starting my original, but I have found my mental bandwidth is limited.  I just recently closed two other ecommerce stores that I had started.  I had good intentions but did not have the time to focus on them. 

My focus right now is my original ecommerce store and helping aspiring work-at-home entrepreneurs become successful, which is why I started this blog.

I am always keeping an eye open for stores for sale. The next time around, I would like to purchase an established  store that sells a private-labeled product.

What Do You Want to Know About Starting an ecommerce store?

These are just a few of the most common questions people have about starting a successful eCommerce store , but don’t hesitate to chime in with your most pressing questions below. I’m all for helping folks earn a living online and I don’t hold anything back. If you’re thinking about starting an ecommerce store, I’m here to answer your questions and inspire you to succeed!

Just take a step,

Michael

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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