17 Ways to Make Your First Ecommerce Sale

17 Ways to Make Your First Ecommerce Sale
Have you ever walked into a bar, restaurant, or other small business and saw money framed and mounted on the wall like a trophy or work of fine art?
For many businesses that first sale, first dollar earned is a monument, marking the transition to a real revenue-generating concern. Unfortunately, brand new online retailers sometimes open to something like the sound of crickets chirping.
Here are 17 ways to make your first online sale even before Google or Bing have bothered to notice you:

1. Tell Family & Friends

Imitate the Avon ladies, Tupperware queens, and Pampered Chefs of multi-level marketing and tell all of your family and friends about your new ecommerce store. Encourage them to share a link or two on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest. Remember, you're not just asking them to make a purchase, you're asking them to share your online store with their network - which can be extremely valuable.

2. Use Google Adwords 

Pay-per-click (PPC) marketing, at its core, is the act of buying site traffic. Although PPC marketing can be nuanced, it's a pretty sure fired way to get site visitors and, thereby, sales. Every new Shopify store owner receives a $100 Google AdWords Credit upon signing up. Use your AdWords credit to drive targeted traffic to your online store. Finding the right audience across millions of websites can be difficult and when you're paying per click, the costs can add up. Be sure to learn some Google AdWords best practices before ramping up your spend too much.  

3. Give Stuff Away

Giving products away may not seem like a smart way to sell something, but there are two clever ways to turn giveaways into real sales. 
  • You can gain hundreds, even thousands of email subscribers by hosting a product giveaway before or after your online store opens. Ask visitors to register to enter the contest and give bonus entries for sharing the contest on social media networks or forwarding it to friends. Once the site launches, or when the contest ends, send a promotional email offering a discount. 
  • Search google for the influencers in your industry. Say you're selling a cool new gadget, find the reporters, blogs, and magazines that may be interested in your product and send them a free sample with a short description of what your product and online store is all about. Big businesses have been doing this for ages, and it works if done correctly. Just don't expect a huge response from this tactic, even if you only get 1 article as a result, the campaign should be considered a success. 

4. Make an Infographic

Informational graphics, better known as infographics, visually display data in a way that makes it easy to understand. This form of data communication has become very popular recently — as an example check out our Build-a-Business infographic published right here on the Shopify blog. 
Have a designer create an infographic relevant to the products your store carries. For example, if you sell hiking boots you could publish an infographic about the miles of open, public trails that might show how the number of miles of trails has changed over time or in comparison to other regions. Killer Infographics is a great design firm that only does infographics - they're a great place to start. The inforgraphic could then be released on a paid news service like iReach, or a free design "show-and-tell" platform like dribbble. Dozens of publications could republish the graphic Each one linking back to the store.

5. Submit to Product Feeds

Sites like The FindNextag, Shopzilla, and Google Merchant, aggregate product information and prices so that consumers can find and, let's be frank, compare prices more readily. Adding a feed to one of these sites and sometimes paying a small fee could send a parade of new customers to your online store, helping to secure an initial sale.

6. Embrace Video

When the marketers at Seattle-based Replyboard launched their service, which screens Craigslist replies, they released four videos showing ReplayBoard pranksters responding to Craigslist ads. One video features a man randomly taking a shower at a seller's home. It's pretty hilarious.
While it might not be a great idea to "punk" potential customers, video can be a very powerful way to promote a new business, and in the case of an ecommerce business, garner sales. You can also consider adding ecommerce product videos to your online store to better display some of your more popular products.

7. Put Stuff on eBay

Online retailers should be comfortable selling via any number of channels, including eBay or similar auction sites. Don't be afraid to put a few products up. Include a coupon for 10 percent off a purchase from your online store. This way, it's possible to make a first sale and a second.

8. Ask Vendors for Some Love

Distributors and manufacturers will often help new retailers by including the startup in dealer listings or mentioning the new retailer on social media sites. Don't be afraid to ask them for some assistance while you're building your business.

9. Get Interviewed

Merchants are frequently experts in a particular industry. If you sell handmade shirts and you're knowledgeable in men's fashion, why not approach media outlets about providing them with expert comment on fashion. Reporters are often on the hunt for industry experts, and you'll often get the opportunity to mention the company you own or represent.
To help get this sort of relationship going, consider using Help a Reporter Out (HARO), and check out our Guide to Getting PR.

10. Make an Awesome Blog

Content marketing is the technique of attracting site visitors (read potential customers) by providing good quality content, like how-to blog posts. There are a few key ingredients to improve your ecommerce store's blog and make it something worth sharing: Offer good and relevant content, make sure it's visually appealing, show your products in action, keep it short and snappy, and show them behind the scenes. 

11. Use Amazon Product Ads 

Amazon lets online retailers place ads right in the context of an Amazon product detail page. Since the people who see your ad are already on Amazon.com looking to make a purchase, the conversion rate on these ads can be much higher than traditional PPC. 

12. Hand Out Business Cards

Every online store owners should have business cards. Get some cards made, make sure they're stylish and reflect your store design. Remember, your store URL should be front and center. At Shopify we get all our cards made by MOO - they do extremely high quality work for a good price. Since I'm referring you, if you use the link above, you'll get 10% off your first order. Once you have your cards, hand them out to everyone! 

13. Rev Up Social Media

You've read a million blog articles about social media marketing for a reason - it works. Make sure you have a strong presence on all the usual suspects: Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Start conversations about your industry, and also inject yourself into conversations already happening, and you'll quickly grow to become an influencer and a thought leader. It's amazing how much traffic you can drive through social media. If you keep growing your social presence it won't be long until your following start to convert to customers.

14. Create a Coupon Code 

Everyone loves a deal. You may be surprised how many people shop by typing "____coupon code" into Google. Create a coupon code for your online store then head over to a site like RetailMeNot or RedFlagDeals and post your deal. Write something like, "Woah, I just found this awesome coupon for yourstore.com!" 

15. Consider an Affiliate Program

With an affiliate program you can pay people to share and promote your products. Essentially, you sign up with a service like Commission Junction or ShareASale and then you'll pay the "affiliate" a certain commission on each sale they bring you. These sites can be expensive and time consuming so they're not for everyone, but for certain products it's worth a shot.

16. Facebook Advertising 

Facebook advertising can be a great way to access a very targeted audience. Lets say you sell jewelry, with Facebook Advertising you can target people who have "jewelry" or "watches" or "bracelets" with custom banners that have a message specifically to their interests. Similar to Google AdWords, advertising on Facebook is PPC. 

17. Be Patient

If you were launching a brick and mortar store or restaurant you probably wouldn't expect your business to be profitable for the first little while. Same goes with ecommerce - it takes time, so be patient. 

57 comments

  • Alex Commons
    Alex Commons
    March 29 2012, 11:31AM

    Awesome list Mark! Those first few sales are the hardest part for shops to get any traction. This is a gold mine for new stores!

  • Beth R
    Beth R
    March 29 2012, 06:26PM

    Talk about useful. Every new business owner should read this.

  • Jeff Issis
    Jeff Issis
    March 30 2012, 04:10PM

    Great tips. I know one way we launched our sales was we put a gift card up for sale on ecardexchange.com for a small fee they will publish your gift card to millions. If you put a link to ecardexchange.com on your site they will also share your coupon codes.

  • ggbb
    ggbb
    April 03 2012, 11:31PM

    fytf

  • donna & huggalo
    donna & huggalo
    April 19 2012, 05:13PM

    Great article. When there are so many options for new commerce shopify owners we get overwhelmed. You’re article was very helpful. How do I get my product featured on Shopify;s interest page? Do you recommending that friends on Facebook, Pinterest etc post a photo of the product or of a lifestyle image. I don’t want to come across too pushy. Thanks again. Donna

  • Caren
    Caren
    April 25 2012, 11:52AM

    I don’t see my store on the market place how do I get on. Great info by the way, Thanks

  • Iona (www.prettypicklesshop.com
    Iona (www.prettypicklesshop.com
    June 19 2012, 09:06AM

    Thank you Shopify for posting this. As a new Shopify shop owner, I can definitely relate.

    Cheers

  • Julie
    Julie
    June 20 2012, 06:27PM

    This is a great list. I’m just starting out on a new business and I appreciate the list. Thanks.

  • CharmedByCarol
    CharmedByCarol
    July 06 2012, 01:53PM

    Your articles/postings are very informative and helpful. Especially to someone like me who is new to all of this!

  • StokedBoardshop.be
    StokedBoardshop.be
    July 10 2012, 11:40AM

    Thanks a lot for this list. We’ve been selling boards now for 7 months and really want to give it a “push” now. I’m gonna try as much as possible to see what works.

    Peace !

  • Betty (www.ellalabelladesigns.com)
    Betty (www.ellalabelladesigns.com)
    July 10 2012, 09:30PM

    These are some great tips, thank you very much for posting! As a new business (launched a week ago) that has utilized most of these tips listed (Facebook ad, social media, friends/family, blog), I am truly embracing tip #17 (to be patient). How long would you advice waiting until other outlets should be considered to significantly see increase in sales?

  • Will Buckley
    Will Buckley
    July 11 2012, 07:35PM

    Absolutely brilliant article, I see light at the end of the tunnel!

    Thanks
    Will
    mybellebox.com.au

  • Chrissy (www.everafterdark.com)
    Chrissy (www.everafterdark.com)
    July 19 2012, 12:49AM

    Thank you a million for the great post. I am beginning to use several of the items that you have put on here. Learning #17 is something that we can all take part of, these things take time. I think the last one should be, never give up hope! Your first sale will come soon! Just push your butt to get it :) Thanks again!

  • David (www.SalesWarp.com)
    David (www.SalesWarp.com)
    August 16 2012, 09:41AM

    Great list. Will sure to repost & highlight in an upcoming blog on our site.

  • Alex
    Alex
    August 31 2012, 02:14PM

    Regarding #5, how does a shopify store owner create a product feed? It doesn’t seem to be a built in function of the software.

  • @Shopify Mark Hayes
    Mark Hayes
    October 03 2012, 09:59AM

    Thanks so much for all the positive feedback everyone. I’m so glad you find this useful. :-)

  • Dan Auns
    Dan Auns
    October 03 2012, 10:55AM

    Google Merchant changed their model a couple of months ago, it’s now cooked into AdWords ……..there is no longer the feed option that you reference.

  • Zara syed
    Zara syed
    October 03 2012, 10:20PM

    Hi Iam a ladies garment supplier how do I display my garments on line so that the buyers can look at it

  • Samantha Zinn
    Samantha Zinn
    November 05 2012, 12:00PM

    This are such great tips! And I am sure they work
    Thanks!

  • Pharmb694
    Pharmb694
    December 26 2012, 10:12AM
    Hello! bddbbek interesting bddbbek site! I’m really like it! Very, very bddbbek good!
  • Pharme465
    Pharme465
    December 26 2012, 10:12AM
    Hello! dcaaacc interesting dcaaacc site! I’m really like it! Very, very dcaaacc good!
  • Pharmd701
    Pharmd701
    December 26 2012, 10:12AM
    Hello! kdcbgbd interesting kdcbgbd site! I’m really like it! Very, very kdcbgbd good!
  • Tim
    Tim
    January 17 2013, 12:35PM

    As a new store owner, this is really helpful. Thanks.

  • Joe Nelson (www.theyfit.com)
    Joe Nelson (www.theyfit.com)
    January 17 2013, 02:05PM

    nice one – this is a really comprehensive list. Perhaps expand on Google AdWords as there are certain ways to make such campaigns more effective and increase impact. As a seller of custom fit condoms (!!) I know this first hand!

    Joe

  • Seema Sayyidah
    Seema Sayyidah
    January 17 2013, 06:18PM

    Great Read and very encouraging! Thanks Shopify is a Great Platform, for new small businesses… Serving as a Guiding Light
    Awesome!!! Thanks

  • Denise N Verdant
    Denise N Verdant
    February 02 2013, 07:42PM

    I learned a thing or two! Thanks!

  • sreekanth
    sreekanth
    March 26 2013, 03:23AM

    VEry very good post and it is help full and i sold my mangoes online.
    Please visit www.farmmangoes.com and buy mangoes online.use SHOPIFY coupon code to get 10% percent discount on fresh mangoes.

  • Shannon at HouseofBoutiques.com
    Shannon at HouseofBoutiques.com
    April 04 2013, 08:57PM

    Thank you for the great suggestions! It’s nice to hear others’ ideas and know we’re all in this together. Keep up the entrepreneurial spirit and supporting small businesses!

  • Tillie (hooplaparasols.com)
    Tillie (hooplaparasols.com)
    May 21 2013, 11:23PM

    Brillian article! thanks for all of the suggestions. Hoping that the wait is not too long!

  • Holby (fashionscores.com)
    Holby (fashionscores.com)
    June 26 2013, 07:49AM

    Okay, so I’m not the only Shopify merchant living this. This article is both inspiring and instructional. Great job.

  • Cory Kingsbury
    Cory Kingsbury
    July 04 2013, 04:11PM

    Thanks for the post, very helpful!

  • Daniel (petsfriends.org)
    Daniel (petsfriends.org)
    July 07 2013, 06:32PM

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks a lot for this info, as I am just starting out this has given me great ideas.

  • Alex (www.wellnorthgoods.com)
    Alex (www.wellnorthgoods.com)
    July 16 2013, 11:23AM

    Thanks a lot for the post. Being patient is probably one of the most important tips you provided.

    “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”- Thomas Edison

  • Donfelix
    Donfelix
    August 06 2013, 06:36AM

    This seemed very important when i found it in Google with this search term ‘making your first sale’, now am writing a post on how to make the transition from idea to business.

  • BreadLady * www.EdensTouchBread.com
    BreadLady * www.EdensTouchBread.com
    November 26 2013, 08:23PM

    Thanks for the insight.

  • MARK  WWW.PANDORASTHRILLS.COM
    MARK WWW.PANDORASTHRILLS.COM
    December 03 2013, 12:45PM

    Nice list! Very Helpful

  • Morgan
    Morgan
    February 18 2014, 08:58PM

    Great Advice!!!

  • Vanessa
    Vanessa
    March 23 2014, 02:00AM

    Thanks for this article. I was able to get my first sale for my shopify store www.babyteething.com.au through a promoted post on my Facebook page. Haven’t had any more sales yet but it was encouraging to get that first one !

  • www.scream-queen.com
    www.scream-queen.com
    April 14 2014, 02:16AM

    Thanks for the great tips. I really needed help getting the ball rolling.

  • Lee
    Lee
    April 17 2014, 05:32AM

    Great advise, we are working on all the above and we are getting GREAT response, The website is selling and eBay is going through the roof. We all love online sales.

  • http://ferns-finds.myshopify.com/
    http://ferns-finds.myshopify.com/
    April 24 2014, 10:47AM

    I just hit the pay load reading this article. All are actionable items that I never thought about. Thanks!

  • Alex
    Alex
    June 13 2014, 09:08PM

    Thanks for the tips. I just opened my store couple of days ago. I already told my family and friends and tried a few things that you listed. I will keep trying and be patient! I guess the hardest part is to wait…

    I will also use the 100 dollars coupon for the Google Adword but I really don’t want to waste it so I will read carefully about it to make the campaign as effective as possible.

    Good luck to you all!

    ps: If you guys are looking for high quality hats, please check our store: www.syklparis.com

    Cheers,

    Alex

  • Vanessa (commasense.myshopify.com)
    Vanessa (commasense.myshopify.com)
    June 15 2014, 09:46PM

    Thank you for the tips. I have had my shop for one month now… no sales and trying to keep patient. I will follow your tips and keep everything crossed. Any hints on targeting certain demographic markets would be a help… My market is the Aged Care Sector.

  • LatinRun www.latinrun.com
    LatinRun www.latinrun.com
    July 17 2014, 08:41PM

    Thank you for the advice!
    I guess being patient should do, I am getting a lot of traffic but no sales yet! I sell running shoes but it has been complicated to get a lot of inventory in shoe sizes – so I’ll be patient! Can’t wait!
    #LatinRunShop #LatinRun
    please check out our store! www.latinrun.com thanks!

  • Robert Abeytia
    Robert Abeytia
    July 24 2014, 07:10PM

    What Shopify doesn’t tell you is if you don’t make a sale at all in the 30days shopify makes their monthly fee, or if you do make a sale they take a percentage. So its win win for Shopify. It should be if you don’t make they don’t make money.

  • sami kazi
    sami kazi
    August 01 2014, 11:17AM

    This was extremely helpful with the launch of our online store! http://shop.blksheep.com/

  • Lehia (PakaloloAndPineapples.com)
    Lehia (PakaloloAndPineapples.com)
    August 06 2014, 03:17AM

    Mahalo for this! I’m borderline obsessed with lists, and this is definitely a keeper. Couldn’t agree more with #6…that’s next on the to-do list.

  • Nick French
    Nick French
    August 21 2014, 10:13PM

    Great post. I have had some success with twitter as well as requesting to be on the dealer section of websites that supply us.

    My site is apspondsupply.com

  • Sam www.esprouts.com.au
    Sam www.esprouts.com.au
    August 23 2014, 11:48PM

    Awesome information for someone starting out!

  • Mel
    Mel
    September 04 2014, 10:08PM

    I wonder if these techniques still work in 2014. Alot has changed since this article was published. Especially with googles Hummingbird release. We are a new beauty start-up that lets customers create a beauty face mask online. So some of these are obvious, but others are not a good fit, like Ebay. Maybe Etsy is a a good replacement.

    http://lavishhand.com

  • Rasti
    Rasti
    September 18 2014, 09:18PM

    Good afternoon. Once was not trying to make almost all the hype. Understand the best and most reliable way to your website. On a normal hosting and interesting content, and the money from advertising on the site. Another way is to shop online digging in the internet pointed out that the credibility of the online sales is growing. Another thing that we should learn how and what, so I decided to find a site and affiliate sales on something there all the necessary.
    And I found:
    Pay from 10% to 13%. You do not then do not pay! Register, you are given a website with ready-made templates in two clicks, come up with his name and promoting it. If you like it, can with a free transfer to your own domain. Everything is simple and clear. Money earned, you can translate into WebMoney.
    Now where!?:
    Come in http://conectcards.pushline.com follow the link at the bottom Affiliate program ………
    All examining and doing well become the owner of your own online store. (And Free) Website will sell itself, and the owner of the affiliate program to organize the sale. You just promote your website! If you know how to write the code is very easy to use menu. Good luck!

  • orlando
    orlando
    October 07 2014, 11:09PM

    thanks for the article, we just launched Evolve Apparel here on shopify and we are working on making our first sale (outside family and friends).
    any advice is great, i appreciate this article.

  • Atelier BiBi
    Atelier BiBi
    October 26 2014, 06:15PM

    Hi, I am very interested to test the Shopify power about a so difficult theme to sell on-line as… original art!
    I would like to export italian creativity and these suggestions are so useful! :-)
    www.atelierbibi.boutique is ready to start!

  • Sylvia
    Sylvia
    November 11 2014, 10:34PM

    I know, patience is a virtue but it’s so difficult! Arrgh!
    Thank you for the encouraging tips and words of wisdom. This was just the thing I needed right now. Off to more work!

  • Ashley
    Ashley
    November 18 2014, 10:42PM

    Great info!
    I have a site, but not happy with it.
    Def heard great things about shopify.
    Now—to keep learning, and getting it themed, etc

    Hopefully sometime soon!

  • Ashley
    Ashley
    November 18 2014, 10:45PM

    If anyone wants to market and help together, let us know.
    We create handmade, fresh body care and hand-blended perfumes.

    Just have to get my site over to this cart…..but, may take time to theme it.

    Let me know what you think of design!

    SugarWorksBathandBody.com
    And email, too!
    Same addy as above except @gmail.com

    Hope to get to know you guys!!

  • Ashley
    Ashley
    November 18 2014, 10:47PM

    How do you get a shopify way to accept credit cards through shopify—so you aren’t charged the transactions fees.

    Is there a qualifying process, or just bank account needed?

Leave a comment ...

Start your free 14-day trial of Shopify