Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
When I moved to the US in 2010, I was getting a lot of compliments on the shirts I was wearing. People were stopping me at the supermarket, on the street or at clubs to ask me where I bought them. I always wanted to be my own boss, this was my chance. To get started I needed to partner with a designer. I decided to reach my favorite brand from Paris. At that time they had no representative in the US and they liked my idea to sell there. I purchased 500 shirts to start the website.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
My first sale was probably 15 days after I launched the website thanks to Google Adwords. The first 6 months were tough to gain new customers. However most of them were starting to re-order on a frequent basis which is a big part of the success. Pay-per-click and search engine traffic have been our main source of leads and sales. More than 50% of our sales are with existing customer so email blast has been crucial as well.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
I use around 20 different apps to run the store. I like Zopim for the live chat with the potential customers. Stock Sync has been really helpful to synchronize inventory with my dropshippers. Credible is a cool widget to show off recent sales. I send shipping labels to my vendors if they don't want to manage it. I stock the returned merchandise at my location with some strategic items.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Find a niche market, become one of the top 3 players and only once you get there, expand to new market opportunities. Don't start too broad or target everybody, you will loose yourself.