We make modern Map Prints that combine type and pattern. I like to say that they "inspire wanderlust and cure the homesick." I've been making the prints for about 10 years. That is when we started selling online.
Back then Shopify wasn't in existence and our e-commerce site was hardcoded with Paypal buttons! In 2009 my friend told me about this "great new e-commerce template site" called Shopify. I found a developer to make the theme that I designed (there weren't many templates then) and the rest is history.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first online sales came from a post about our calendar years ago on the blog Design*Sponge. Blog mentions have continually been a great source of site traffic for us. As our customer base has grown we've been able to do more with direct outreach. Social Media wise Pinterest is a big draw to our site as is talking with people on Twitter.
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?
Shopify Apps are so valuable to us. We recently started working with the email company Klayivo. Their integration with the sales and traffic data from Shopify is amazing. Through them we are sending very targeted emails to select customers daily, where before we were just sending out blanket blasts once a month. The return has been great.
We also use ShipStation for all our order processing/shipping. BoldApps Upsell to offer our customers framing options. O'Lark's chatting app has been a great way for customer to ask us questions during the day. Recently we started trying StitchLabs for sales reporting. It's looking like a very valuable tool.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Use Shopify's flexibility. Try out different themes to see which one is the perfect fit. There are so many apps that can grow your business, and many have free trials. I think it is a good idea to regularly try out apps.
Talk to other Shopify store owners and see what is working for them. So much of what works for us we've learned from other users. If you have an idea that isn't available via theme or app right now find a Shopify programmer to make it happen. The code is really easy to work with (speaking from experience. we built a personalized form into our personalized print product page back in 2010 before Shopify added it).