Abandoned carts offer low-hanging fruit for ecommerce business owners. These customers were so close to making a purchase, but didn't quite cross the finish line for whatever reason.
Now, you can send them an email like most online retailers do. Or you can call them directly like Ahmad Iqbal, the founder of Nadeef Bidet, hand-held bidets and bathroom accessories.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn how he built a $100,000 business from picking up the phone and calling cart abandoners.
- How to use Facebook ads to validate if there are any “signs of life” for your market.
- How to use "question-based selling".
- What you should say when you are calling cart abandoners
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
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- Store: Nadeef Bidet
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Felix: Today we’re joined by Ahmad Iqbal From GetNadeef.com. That’s G-E-T-N-A-D-E-E-F.com. Nadeef sells handheld bidets and bathroom accessories. It was started in 2015. Based out of Toronto. Welcome, Ahmad.
Ahmad: Thanks for having me.
Felix: Excited to have you on. Tell us a little bit more about your store and, I guess, some of the most popular products that you sell.
Ahmad: Sure. I sell mostly bidets and other bathroom accessories, but mostly bidets and bathroom hygiene products. That’s pretty much it. It’s pretty straight forward. Pretty specific. I don’t focus too much on other things. I just focus specifically on bidets.
Felix: It is pretty specific. How did you come across it? There’s so many things you can sell, obviously. How did you come across these particular products? What made you decide to focus on these?
Ahmad: That’s a great question. It came out of frustration. I think most … I have a lot of ideas and I’m entrepreneurial. I like to try to solve problems. I find that the endeavors that have more success are ones where you actually are executing from your own frustration. For me, personally, I grew up in Asia, south Asia, in the Middle East. Traveled a lot as a child when I was very young. I lived in a lot of countries where bidets were commonplace. They were already in all the bathrooms. People were already using them. It was a normal part of life. I grew up with that standard or with that level of hygiene or that expectation. When I moved to Canada for university when I turned 18. That something we didn’t have here, I was … It felt weird for me to use the bathroom. It was something that I thought I needed to change.
I went without one for a while, but then I decided, “I really want one. I wonder how easy it might be to install in a bathroom here.” Actually, I talked to a lot of my other friends who have a similar background. They traveled around a lot. They had the same frustration as me. I would ask them questions, “Why don’t you have them? Why don’t you use one?” The answer was one of two, if not both, answers, which was one: They don’t sell them here, which is true. You don’t even know where to … If I asked you, where would you get one, you probably wouldn’t be able to tell me. Secondly, they’re probably too hard to install.
It probably requires a lot of renovation and the contractor has to come or something like that. Actually both answers. I felt like I could solve for one, people not knowing that it’s available with Facebook ads, or with Twitters ads, or with any kind of targeted ads. I could reach whoever wants one. Secondly, in terms of how easy it is to install, actually I found a supplier and tweaked the design a little bit to make installation under 2 minutes long. I actually have a video on the website that shows you how to install it in less than 2 minutes. I solved both of those problems and I thought, “Hey, if I could do this, then anybody could do this.” That’s how the gears started to spin.
Felix: I like this. I’ve heard this a lot actually recently where you take an idea or a product that’s not actually that innovative, it’s not something that’s new. A bidet, for instance has been in use for such a long time. You said it’s everywhere in all the places that you’ve traveled to. You found out that there’s specific tweaks or specific issues either with the product itself or with the way you can get access to the product. Then you’ve proved those things. All of a sudden you have a business.
I think this is a really important point because a lot of entrepreneurs always try to think of brand new ideas, brand new products. When you could just find what’s already out there. What’s already selling and find ways to improve it. When you would do this kind of research. I’m not sure how formal this research was for you. You sound like you were asking a bunch of friends around and seeing their experience with trying to get access to bidets. How many people did you talk to? What was this process like in case anyone else out there wants to replicate this when they’re trying to come up with a product to sell?
Ahmad: I think I already new that the product had market fit. What we were just talking about. Millions of people if not billions of people all over the globe are already using this thing. They already have it. They already know what it is. The product market fit was already there. To your point about you just need to figure out how to sell it in a more innovative way or a much more approachable way. Easier to understand, easier to order. The whole unbox thing and urban experience. The website, obviously the website needs to look good. All these other companies that looks like their website was built in 1995. There’s a trust factor online as well. There’s just all these things. Going back to your question about how did I do research around this. It was pretty informal.
I just knew first of all I wanted to solve the problem for myself. I just wanted to confirm that hey can I solve this problem for myself? Is it easy for me to solve for myself? When I found that the answer to that was yes. Then I thought, “Okay, is this scalable?” The answer is also yes. With things like Alibaba and with Shopify and things like that it’s obviously scalable. That’s really the only thing I needed to do. In terms of the research, I’m a little bit hesitant to advise other people to do it this way. One thing that worked for me was, I didn’t have any disposable income. I didn’t have money to order all my inventory up front because Alibaba has a minimum order quantity of 500 pieces. I didn’t have the money for that.
What did I do to mitigate that risk? I actually just set up my Shopify store. I ordered some samples because the factory sends you samples. I took all my product photography. I did all my installation videos and stuff using that one sample that I ordered to make it look like I had a lot of these. I started selling even before I had inventory. That mitigated my risk. My first customers that ordered it took them a month to get their product because once I had some orders. I ordered them and shipped them out. That’s also one thing you can do. You can sell, worst case if you can’t figure out the inventory you can just refund everybody.
That’s the approach that I took. It was getting actual orders. Getting actual people to put their credit card information in. That was the test that I really needed to pass. Just putting up a sign up page or showing your interest or putting up a newsletter. I was concerned that there would be false positives. It’s easy to just give your email address. It’s easy to just visit the website and express some kind of intent. It’s a lot harder to actually put your credit card information in. I didn’t want a false positive. I wanted a true positive. That’s why I had the customer go through the full experience before I even bought my own inventory.
Felix: This is an approach that a lot of people recommend as well. Even if you launch a Kickstart you’re taking pre-orders up front. You said you wouldn’t necessarily advise people to take this approach, why not? What could have gone wrong?
Ahmad: I don’t know if something could have gone wrong. It just feels weird. It seems a little bit deceptive. Telling your customer that you have it already, but you don’t. There’s a little bit of a deception there. You need that confidence, I guess what I’m saying is that’s a slippery slope. If you’re selling something that’s hard to procure yourself as an entrepreneur. You’re selling it and you’re using that money to build the business. What happens if it doesn’t work out, you have to give everybody their money back and you don’t have the money anymore. It’s just very slippery, I think. It requires a lot of maturity and responsibility. I don’t know. I know a lot of people who become entrepreneurs. It wouldn’t work well for their idea.
Felix: I think that’s one of those things that if it all goes well, it goes right then nothing gets hurt. When it goes wrong, it goes really wrong. You mentioned that there could be some ideas of where this one would work. You don’t have to give a specific example of companies. What kind of criteria do you think needs to be met before you try this approach of pre-selling before you actually have the inventory?
Ahmad: I think it needs to be easy to procure. It’s not something you’re building customized for yourself. There was that Skully helmet. I don’t know if you heard about that. They did really really well on Kickstarter. It was a helmet that had a camera on it. It was a smart helmet for a motorcyclists. They had lots and lots of orders. They made millions of dollars of revenue. They were still trying to make the product work. At the end of the day the whole company went under. Everybody that gave their money lost all their money and they’re not going to get their product.
I think the product has to already exist. You have to be able to get inventory shipped to you quickly. I think that’s the 2 major criteria. Also you wouldn’t need much money to set up your store. For me really I just needed a couple hundred dollars to set up my Shopify store and buy a theme and set everything up. I think if your product requires to do a lot of R & D or you still haven’t found a supplier yet or you still haven’t even used it for yourself. You haven’t given enough time to test it for yourself. Then I think it can be a problem.
Felix: You basically had a product already. You knew you found a supplier on Alibaba or wherever you looked. The distribution is already set up for them to get it to you. All you want to do is minimize the risk because of these minimum order quantities. You wanted to make sure you hit that minimum order quantity before or at least get a significant amount of sales to justify a business before diving in.
Felix: Were you able to meet the minimum order quantities off of the initial run or did you get enough to validate?
Ahmad: Exactly it was all about validation. It was in the first week I actually sold 20 of them. Which was a lot more than I thought that I would sell. In a few months I can meet the MOQ the minimum order quantity. That’s okay for me to take the risk. Put something on my credit card, I had some money. I forgot to say I had a full time job. That full time job acted like my investor or my financial, my VC. Really it’s a cash flow issue because when you’re ordering. Again I have cash coming in every month or every other week through my salary. An MOQ of 500 pieces is still going to be thousands and thousands of dollars. It’s not something you might have laying around. A lot of it was mitigating that risk and knowing that, “Hey, you’re going to make this money back.” That’s when I did it.
Felix: Cool. Let’s say someone wants to follow this path. They want to do what you did. They contacted the supplier, they have a supplier set up. They’re ready to go. They have the site set up already too. They’re ready to take these orders. How did you draw traffic to it? How did you actually get people in the door to potentially buy the product or at least check it out?
Ahmad: I used 2 ways to draw traffic from right away. One was Facebook ads, the other was Google ads. That’s pretty much it. I had a few hypothesis. These are the people that might be interested. Anybody that traveled to a country before that uses them. Maybe they were on vacation where they have them. They come back targeting people like that. Obviously people that are searching key words for things like how to install a bidet. Things like that, targeting those people. That’s how it worked out. That’s how I got a lot of my traffic in the beginning.
Felix: Cool. That makes a lot of sense. You have to slice that up. You’re not going to want to wait around for organic search traffic to come in because that’ll take too much time. Pay for the visitors, pay for the traffic just to validate. Do you remember how much you invested early on during this validation phase?
Ahmad: It was very little $200 maybe 200-$300.
Felix: Obviously when you do launch anyone out there that has tried running ads. It takes a while to improve your target running your ads to actually make it profitable. At that point were you thinking about that? Was it profitable in the early stages when you were just trying to validate or did it matter?
Ahmad: I think this is also a really good question. The thing with Facebook ads in the beginning. Especially Facebook, I don’t know so much about how this would work on Google. With Facebook specifically really what you’re looking for is you’re looking for signs of life. My customer acquisition cost was very high. It was 4 times as high as it is now. It was very hard. It was very expensive for me to drive traffic because I didn’t really know what I was looking for ever. I didn’t really know who I should be targeting when. What they like, I still really didn’t understand “What my customer’s avatar looked like.” Usually looking for signs of life. Even if it’s profitable by $.05. There’s signs of life here. Once you know there’s a pulse, then you can start experimenting and try to optimize those ads. That’s what I did. If you look at my earlier data.
My customer acquisition cost was very high. My profitability was very, very low. Now over time since it’s been about 13 months now that I’ve run the ads and had the store. Now I actually keep this graph. I make this graph on Excel. It’s not what’s trying to look exponential. Even though I’m running the same budget for my ads, I’m targeting different people. I’m also leveraging look alike audiences. I think look alikes is very, very powerful because now Facebook knows over the last 12 months of all the people that have been on my site, that have been active on my site and that have bought on my site. The look alikes, I can target people who look like those people. It takes time to develop what that look alike audience looks like. Once you have that then I think you have a better chance. Especially when it comes to niche products. I think especially for niche products.
Felix: That makes sense. I like this approach that you’ve taken because it’s pretty methodical. You look for a product. You tested it out using Facebook ads. You looked up the supplier and everything. Got everything ready to go. It sounded like a pretty step-by-step approach. What was the timeline during this entire phase? By the time you decided that I wanted to do this and actually started researching suppliers. How long did that take from that point until say the end of your validation phase where you realized, “Okay this is a potential business.”
Ahmad: When I got my first sample. Really I think the timeline starts when my first sample came in from my supplier. I was actually sitting on the sample for a while. I didn’t do anything with it for a while. I don’t know why. I think it was because I didn’t have any positive feedback. I didn’t have anything to tell me to keep going. It took me about 3 months when I got my sample to actually use it. To actually start playing around with it and experimenting with it. If I didn’t just take that extra few months in total. I think because it took me 3 months to even do anything. After that it took another 3 months for me to have everything set up. For me to negotiate with the supplier. Actually I did get a couple suppliers. Not just one. I experimented with several to see who had the best quality. That took some time too. I think in total it took me 6 months, but I think it would have been possible in 3 months.
Going to why it took so long in the beginning, I think a lot of entrepreneurs need to understand this, especially with eCommerce is you need those wins. You need those quick wins because they’ll tell you to keep going. When I made my first 20 sales of the first week, I was hooked. I was going turtle speed for those 6 months before that week. As soon as that week hit and I made those 20 sales by the end of that week it was like I made a 180 degree shift. I was a totally different person. I was no longer moving at turtle speed. I was always on how can I sell more? What’s my next optimization? How can I try to make this thing next? I’m just trying to think about new products. Actually I think that’s very important. You can’t take too long. You need to strike when the iron is hot and keep the momentum up because that’s what’s actually going to push you.
Felix: I think this is a very important point, which is a lot of times maybe the entrepreneurship is glamorized where they say, "Oh, you’ve just got to get that motivation yourself. Dig deep inside yourself and try to find a way to force things to work. Cultivate all this motivation out of nowhere. What you’re saying which I think is a much more realistic, pragmatic way to think about it is that you have to set yourself up to gain motivation. You’re saying that this momentum is so important early on.
You need this positive feedback, which is what you were talking about earlier to keep you going. To keep you interested and keep you motivated to keep on working on the business. Also then when you look back on it, what would you do differently to make sure that you could get those early quick wins to get things going a little sooner? Because obviously it worked out in the end for you. It could have been a totally different story where you stalled out and never continued working on this. What do you think you would do differently to ensure that things would get moving a little bit better?
Ahmad: I think now that I know what I’ve been through. Now that I know what’s possible, I would just do it a lot faster. My savings are all over the world. My first store is already doing this much immediately. I can do that again for all those different stores. Just the fact that I’ve done it before, I can do it faster the second time. If I didn’t have success on that first store, I don’t know that I would have that same motivation to do it at the same pace and the same effort that I would … Maybe it would come down to those same 3 months where I was really lazy. That probably would have happened again if I didn’t have experience or some success in a previous one already. At the end of the day, I think just trying to get those quick ones. Just trying to think of what’s the next nozzle I need to do. Just scratch that off the list. Just reach those milestones.
Felix: This idea of doing it faster is also very important. You always want to keep it moving. I think the issue that entrepreneurs run into is maybe they spend too much time thinking and planning on what to do rather than actually taking any action. Did you encounter this in those first 3 months that you’re talking about where you got the sample, but then didn’t do anything with it. What made you actually get off your butt and start making progress on the business?
Ahmad: Actually my background is … Even before I got my full time job, before that I actually had my own tech company. I started when I was in university. That was not a successful tech venture. It was one of those things where you watch that movie the Social Network and you’re like, “If Zuckerberg can do it. He’s super rich now. I want to do it too.” That was where that initial thing came from. That wasn’t very successful for me, but I learned a lot. I learned about the power of iteration. I learned about … I started reading things like area reachability and start up. Started reading books from Ben Horowitz, The Hard Thing About Hard Things. Books like Entrepreneur’s Dilemma. I just read so much during my time I had my start up. That was when it was failing. I matured from a kid who just wants to get rich quick to someone who realized, there’s no such thing as get rich quick.
There is you have to take 3 years of your life to learn something to set yourself up to succeed. You’re not going to be successful just by trying the first time. It’s almost like success your first time looks like being ready to be successful. Had a lot of this philosophical awakening when it comes to things like this. For example this crazy crazy realization that I realized was the word travel or the word work. Work in English we know is work. You have to put in work in order to get something done. Actually in French that is [Foreign language 00:21:37]. Which actually has the same root word as the word travel. In the origin of the word, travel meant to actually work. It meant if I wanted to become the best blacksmith in the country, I might have had to go find my master. I was the apprentice I had to go find a blacksmith master.
That person might live on the other side of the continent or the other side of the country. I would have to travel for months if not years to get to this person. I’d have to stay in people’s barns. Help them with chores around the house to earn my keep. I’d have to go there, talk to that person. Research and find out more about this field. Find somebody else. Just the fact that you were going to find your master was work. When you found your master, that was what was success. Then the second part of success, now wanting to learn as much as I can and become my own master blacksmith. There’s always these 2 steps. I think it’s the same with entrepreneurship. You need to set yourself up to succeed first. Then after that work even harder to actually achieve what you envision success to look like.
Felix: You’re basically saying you had to travel from these different companies or projects that you’re working on … Sometimes you’re not actually at the end goal, but it was part of the process you had to go through in order to ultimately end up where you are today. Once you get to your end point destination that’s when you can really cultivate the success finally after you’ve arrived. Still this is probably one step in your entire journey of entrepreneurship. Your next company, your next one, your next one, your next success over and over again. I think that an important point too. Where I think a lot of entrepreneurs they think, "I’m just going to start my first business. Hopefully it’s going to be successful. If it doesn’t work then give up. You’re saying that sometimes those failures are just part of the journey because it’s necessary for you to learn those lessons. Necessary for you to learn those things before you can arrive at your end destination.
Ahmad: Exactly. Exactly.
Felix: Cool. I was thinking. I think you said earlier on you had a lot of ideas of things you wanted to do. You finally settled on Nadeef after recognizing that this was a problem you had yourself. I think other entrepreneurs out there have this I’d say gift and a curse. Where you’re always constantly thinking about new companies you want to start. New products you want to add to your store, to your catalog. Do you still encounter this? How do you battle to make sure that you’re focused specifically on these hand held bidets and bathroom accessories.
Ahmad: Oh man. I think you just asked the ultimate question for me. I constantly battle this everyday. What I have come to now is to channel these other ideas. Do the ideas and work on the ideas that actually have synergy with what you’re already doing let me give you an example. While I was doing Nadeef I actually had a lot of these other … When I started working on Shopify, I became a Shopify merchant. I had never been a Shopify merchant before. Now I’m a Shopify merchant for the first time. I want to solve my own problems now. For example little things like, the currency doesn’t work really well. Maybe I should just build an app to fix that or "Hey, I’m looking to sell my business but there’s no marketplace where I can go sell my business.
Maybe I should develop a marketplace where I could sell my Shopify store. I have all these ideas. A lot of them were all channeled around Shopify. It wasn’t anything that I felt like I was really feeling much of a frustration, that became my litmus test. Is this problem that I’m having as a Shopify merchant really that frustrating that it’s keeping me up at night. That’s why I have to solve it. That’s what weeded out the majority of the ideas, 9 out of 10 of the ideas. Now the idea that I’m still that I am very passionate about in parallel with my current business is called Scout. It’s ScoutCR.com. Scout is actually this app that will notify you when abandoned cart happens. It’s a very, very, very basic app. It took a weekend to develop. Essentially what I found that made a big, big success for my store, my Shopify store.
The number one advice I would give to everybody who wants to scale from say doing $10,000 a year to doing $100,000 a year. I think really that is to talk to your customer. Call up the customers that have bought already. Call up the customers that haven’t bought that left their phone numbers on their abandoned cart. Ask them, “Why didn’t they buy or why did they buy? What questions do they have? What are they looking for? What other things do they want to buy?” Just have those conversations because that’s what’s going to teach you what really your customers are looking for. We have cognitive biases. As the person who set up your own store you’re like, “Oh yeah that’s easy to understand.” I sell these 3 products.
My major product is on my homepage which was actually the case for me. My major pd is on the homepage. I sell these 2 other products, they’re pretty easy to find. I’m sure somebody that’s on my website can find it. I actually had a really big abandoned cart problem when I first started. For every one sale that I made there were 3 that were being abandoned. The people had typed in all their information and when clicking on choose their shipping method they would just close it and they would just not come back. I knew that I needed to figure out how to solve this because potentially 75% of my sales are not even happening. I started calling people. I would go into the abandoned checkouts part of my orders dashboard in my Shopify admin. Click on abandoned carts. See all the abandoned carts that were there.
First I had the auto email thing going out. That success rate was only 5 to 10%. The best month I had a 20% success rate on my auto emails. When I started calling people saying, “Hey, you didn’t end up checking the sell. Is there anything I can help you with? This is a courtesy call. Is there anything you need? Anything I can help you with? Any questions that you need answered I’m here for you.” I think it works because it’s a niche product. I think people don’t mind getting calls from niche product merchants. Especially when you say, “Hey, I’m the owner of this website.” They feel like, “Wow, the owner is actually calling me.” That changed everything. Honestly, by me calling up my customer it changed everything. I found out from one conversation they needed this complimentary product, which I sell a hot water mixer.
They said, “I don’t want to buy this bidet unless it’s going to have hot water too.” I was like, “Oh, I actually sell that product, it’s on the second page.” “Oh I didn’t know that.” I was like, “Okay this is interesting.” I had a cognitive bias. I thought that somebody would be able to find it if they wanted it. I put it on the front page. Literally overnight my abandoned carts dropped significantly. Not only that, my average cart value went up $20. Literally the average that week went from being $80 per checkout to being $100 per checkout just like that in the next week. I’m 95% confident it was because of that change I made. It’s little things like this that will grow you into a much more successful business. I would not have been able to do that if it wasn’t for calling my customers. That’s why I built Scout. It just links to your messenger.
Anytime an abandoned cart happens within 15 minutes I get a notification, “Hey, John Doe just abandoned a cart this is what was in the cart. Do you want to call them now?” I just click a button and it starts dialing them. It’s changed everything because I started using Scout for myself and by using … It wasn’t called Scout at the time. It was just a quick hack that I made. It took me from 20% abandoned cart recovery to 60% abandoned cart recovery. Normally in that it’s from upselling. If somebody had $60 in their abandoned cart but they ended up after having the call with me, ended up buying $240 worth of stuff. That has happened again, and again, and again. I was like, "Okay, if I’m benefiting from this I’m sure other niche product merchants can benefit from this as well. Which is why I turned that into its own product. To answer your question I think it’s about synergy. If you’re having a lot of other ideas and a lot of entrepreneurs have that curse. At least try to find the synergy with what you’re doing already.
Felix: That makes sense. This approach with calling customers is definitely different than what I’ve heard as well. Where what you tried initially, which is just to set up those automatic emails. The emails send when they abandon a cart. What made you take that first step? Did you always feel comfortable, it’s not necessarily cold calling because they’ve expressed intent on buying the product. Still these customers probably aren’t expecting a call. Did you feel comfortable the very first times you were doing this?
Ahmad: No. Honestly no. I knew that they weren’t cold calls. Just like you said, I knew that they were hot calls because these guys were one click away from actually making a purchase. I know the intent was there. The other thing was, actually in the beginning I wasn’t calling them right away because I didn’t have this app that would tell me right away. It might have been a week later that I end up calling the person. That was a little bit confusing why they got a call. I think because it’s a niche product, because they have the intent. It was pretty easy to have. Again it’s the same thing with the initial when you build that momentum around just getting started. You’re always going to feel friction at the beginning. If you want to grow your business you also have to grow your personal self. Personal development has to come before your business can grow. Not the other way around because your business is an extension of you.
If you want your business to grow you yourself have to grow first. I think inherently it’s a universal law. By calling somebody up, you’re shy. I talked to a lot of entrepreneurs when I started beta testing Scout. They go, “I’m too shy to call.” Then say, "If you want to grow your business you have to grow yourself too. You have to step outside your comfort zone. When I started doing that, I started getting really good feedback from my calls. Now I can’t wait to call abandoned cart customers. Now I actually look forward to having abandoned carts so I can call them. It’s a totally different, once you start and you get that positive feedback it gives you the confidence to keep doing more of it.
Felix: Makes sense. You mentioned earlier on that you do have a day job still. I know you said when you first started doing this you were calling them a week after because you didn’t have an automated service for this that you built just yet. Now today how do you squeeze in the time? How are you making these calls? Is there a certain number of hours or maybe days it needs to be done within? What are your thoughts on that?
Ahmad: Normally I try to do it the same day. For example if I’m at work, I take my lunch hour. I eat on my desk. I won’t go out for lunch. I’ll bring my lunch with me. I’ll eat at my desk. During my lunch hour I’ll make my calls or for example a lot of my checkouts happen on the weekend, that’s fine. A lot of it happens after hours, like after 6 pm. I would say 80% of my sales happen after 6 pm or on the weekend. It works out already. I would say, call them right away. What I’ve seen a few times happen, it really upset me when I first found out that this was happening. People were on my site. They abandoned, I would call them within 10 minutes of abandoning. When I was on the phone with them they would tell me, “Hey, I’m actually on Amazon looking for a cheaper price.”
Oh man, I spent money on that person’s traffic. I spent a dollar for example for them to actually get on my site. Now I spent money on them and they’re not even going to convert with me. They’re going to convert with one of my competitors who didn’t even buy any ads against them. That really upset me that my competitors who were not driving paid traffic to their product, they’re taking it off me. That really upset me. Again that motivated me even more that I need to call these customers up. When I call this person up, he just admitted to me that he was on Amazon looking for a lower price. I didn’t match that.
He found a really really low price that I didn’t want to match. I just told him, “Look, you get this customer service. I’m the owner of the company. I’m calling you up. I’m here to help you if you have any problems with the installation, these other guys they’re not going to be able to help you. I’ll help you, call me up. This is my personal number and I’ll help you.” The person ended up coming back and buying again, not just buying that one for their one bathroom, but buying 4 for each of their bathrooms. The upsell also happened. I think it’s important to do it right away because that’s when it’s most relevant to that person. That’s when they’re already in the mode, in the mood to buy. I think if you wait a week they’re on to something else. Chances are they might have bought it from somebody else. That might be too late.
Felix: Cool. For someone who wants to start doing this whether using an app like yours or doing it manually the way you were doing it before by looking at cart abandoners and calling them up Florida. Can you give us an idea of your script that someone could work off of. They pick up the phone and call a customer, what should they be saying?
Ahmad: Hi, my name is Ahmad. I’m the owner of GetNadeef.com, I saw that you were on my website that you showed an interest in these products. I just wanted to call, this is a courtesy call. I just wanted to call and see if there was anything I could help you with. Are there any questions that you have? I’m here to help. Is there an issue with the price? Let me do what I can to make you happy or to answer your questions. It’s very straightforward. It’s exactly like that script and just listen. Just wait for your person to keep talking, keep talking. If you’re not sure really what they want just ask them more questions. Really you’re looking to listen. You’re really looking to listen first.
Felix: You’re not calling them to try to pitch something you’re just trying to learn from them what their objections are what their issues might be?
Ahmad: Exactly. It’s called question based selling. Actually I learned about this a long time ago. It’s called question based selling. You’re not selling by pitching first. You’re actually listening to what their needs are. Then you cater your pitch to what they just told you their need was.
Felix: Much more customized than a blanket pitch, same thing to everybody. That makes sense. You mentioned too that the upselling was a big part of it. It sounded like a a surprise that you didn’t expect with these cart abandonment calls that you’re making. How did that work? Were you also purposefully trying to upsell them on something or they just organically decided to buy more because you were talking to them?
Ahmad: Both. One was because my product was also unique in that you can have one for each bathroom. People just have one in their cart. I know that most houses have more than one bathroom. At least you have 2. At least you could have up to 4 bathrooms in your house. I always ask the question, “How many bathrooms do you have?” Just start it off as a question. “I have 4, but I just want to buy one to see how it works first. Then I’ll buy the other 3.” Interesting because I give free shipping with my product. If you’re buying all 4 I could actually give you a cheaper price. Whatever I would save in shipping I would just give it back to you. Plus if you’re worried about quality I have a warranty. If you have any problems at all, I’ll just replace it for free." That just took away any of their concerns with it because I just told them that any concern that they have, you have the warranty worst case if it doesn’t work out. That’s how it is with my product.
If you have another product that’s a … I don’t know what it is. Find out maybe maybe it’s near Christmas, ask maybe is this something your friends might like. Maybe gift it for their friends. Shopify also has that gift card feature. “I’d be happy to give you a free $5 gift card where you can send to your friends.” That $5 gift card doesn’t cover the whole product. If their friend might want it too, then they’ll use it and get $5 off. Again just get creative with it. You’ll learn more as you have more calls. I can’t just give a mechanical script of, "Hey, this is exactly what you say to get sales. It’s going to be different for each product, different for each person and different for each person and different for each customer tie in. Once you start calling you’ll just learn. Then by the time you’re making your 30th call, you’ll be like a pro.
Felix: I think one thing that’s going to happen across the board when you are calling customers is the trust factor goes up. They’re talking directly to a human, rather than just going through a site. Especially if you’re calling saying you’re the owner or the founder of that particular product or website. It improves so much of the trust factor that people feel much more comfortable spending more with you or coming back to spend again with you.
Ahmad: If I can just say one more thing. I think you said something really important you gave this realization is I know that Shopify themselves, one of their mandates. I think you would probably know this more than I would, is to bring that human element back to shopping. When we used to go into the store to buy things from the stores it was because there would be a person there. We then asked our questions. We have confidence. We’re buying from that person. There was like an avatar associated with the business that you’re buying from. Now with online that disappears. You’re buying from faceless white label kind of thing. When you’re having a conversation you’re booting that face back to your business, which is actually what people want. I think that’s still why retail brick and mortars still exist. If we can mimic that experience still online, that’s going to be very successful.
Felix: Definitely. Now that we’re on topic of keeping it personalized. This isn’t going to be scalable for you long term once this business keeps growing and growing and growing. Do you have plans to outsource this or delegate this to other people? What are your thoughts on doing that?
Ahmad: I’m not there yet. I’m not thinking about that yet. For example right now I get maybe 5 abandoned carts a day. Which is not much I can deal with that. Even if I got 20 a day I feel like I could deal with it. That’s still quite a bit of growth left for me to have to worry about it. If it’s a really really big business. You now have thousands of abandoned carts a day or hundreds of abandoned carts a day. I would outsource it to a VA in Indonesia, in Eastern Europe or something like that. I feel like this is a scalable process.
Felix: Definitely. Cool. You also mentioned in some of the pre-interview answers that you gave about Facebook as being a key driver for your traffic and sales. Tell us about your strategy on there. How did you … I know you were initially were talking about how you were using Facebook to test early on. The costs of acquisition was 4 times what it is today. Tell us about that process. How are you able to drive that down over time.
Ahmad: I think it has a lot to do with look alike audiences. You have to give it some time for Facebook to learn what your customer looks like. If you’re not familiar with look alike audiences, there’s a lot of great blogs out there. There’s this guy John Loomer has this great blog on Facebook ads. I follow a lot of his work. I got a lot of my tips and advice from this person. John Loomer, you can just Google it and I’m sure you’ll find his website. What you need to do is just start driving traffic to your site even if your conversion rate is really low. Create your pixel on conversion. Now there’s that Shopify Facebook pixel.
You just have to put one pixel in there. Just see who are the people that are converting. It might, depending on how slow the growth of your business is. Let’s say it takes you 6 months to drive let’s say 100 sales. That’s fine. Now create a look alike audience around those 100 sales. Fine more people like that. A lot of it is I think Facebook is a great business. They have a great business model. They’re actually doing all the hard work for us merchants. In the sense that they’re learning who our audience should be. I think just trusting the Facebook algorithm worked for me. I think just drive as much traffic as possible in the beginning so you can help Facebook help you.
Felix: Do you remember how long it took before you started seeing significant decreases in the cost of acquisition.
Ahmad: I would say it was like 6 months in.
Felix: Just give an idea for the listeners if they’re thinking about doing this not to give up too early. That should give the time you’re saying it needs.
Ahmad: You also need, I would say one thing. You can’t rely on Facebook alone. You need to add that multiplier effect to it. I found other traffic sources, Google is another one. Pinterest, House, all the other channels that already exist that can drive traffic to your website, use them because Facebook will also … You don’t have to come through Facebook for Facebook to learn about that person. As long as they’re signed into their Facebook account. It could be coming from Twitter to your site. If they’re already logged into Facebook, Facebook knows who they are. Don’t just rely only on Facebook. Try to get as much traffic from everywhere as possible. I just think that Facebook is the best way to scale once you have that look alike profile down.
Felix: That makes sense. Speaking of the sources I think you mentioned in the pre-interview about the organic searches being very helpful for you. Specifically the early investments of building back links. Tell us about this. Maybe start off with what are back links and why are they important?
Ahmad: To be honest, I don’t even know what the answer to that question is. I’m still a student of all of this stuff. I’m not an expert. I’m still learning even in my store. I think I need to do a lot more than my store already does. I have no idea. I don’t really know much about back links. I know what it is. It’s a way that Google search results work because it’s through a network effect. The more websites in the world that are linking back to your websites gives more authority to your website. Really it’s all about these other websites in the world that they are linking back to your site. That tells Google that, “Hey, this site has more authority because a lot of other sites know about this site.”
Therefore this site must be important. That’s a little about back links. I didn’t know any of this stuff. I actually just hired a VA in Indonesia. I found him through Upwork.com. Just let someone do SEO optimization for me. I didn’t really know what it was. It just cost me $100. That person educated me as well on what is it. How he did it. I would just say if you don’t know what it is, if you have $100 I would say hire somebody who knows what they’re doing. Let them take care of it. Now through that person that worked for me I show up on the first page of the Google results for my keywords.
Felix: That’s awesome. You mentioned then when you’re running all these ads in Google search, Organic search of SEO traffic you are looking at specific metrics. One thing that you called out in an email to me was about trying to measure to dollars per visitors. First of all how did you calculate this? Why did you think it was an important figure to know?
Ahmad: Because for example let’s say I drive 200 visits in a day. From those 200 visits I make about $200 in revenue. Those are low numbers. My real numbers are between 300 and 1,000. Let’s say if I have 400 visitors that day, it’s a pretty good sign that I’ll make $400 that day. Maybe not specifically looking at one day at a time. If you look at my last 90 days we had about 30,000 visitors. I actually made very, very close to $30,000 in those last 90 days. The reason why that’s important is it tells you how much you should be willing to pay for traffic. If one visitor is $1, let’s say my margins are let’s just say 80%. My cost is $.20 on that. My profit is $.80. Really I should be willing to spend up to $.80 for any traffic.
Now depending on how much money you want to make. Obviously you don’t want to just break even all the time maybe you want to take home $.40 of every dollar you made. Then that tells you … I shouldn’t be spending anymore than $.40 per visitor. That becomes your benchmark. Anything that becomes more expensive than $.40 a visitor you just don’t do it. Then as you try more things, you’ll find that experiment did $.30 a visitor. That experiment did $.35 a visitor. That one did $.25 a visitor. How can I grow that one more. It’s just a benchmark, like you said. It’s a little bit methodical. You sometimes have to become a bit methodical. If you have to measure something you can’t manage it. That’s really where I’m coming from is to be able to measure it so that when you can measure you can manage it better.
Felix: The key that you said there was it gives you an idea of how much you can spend or what you should be spending on acquiring a customer. Ideally obviously below the amount of revenue you can generate from them. Then also you can add in all these things like email marketing and clicking emails, extending the value of a visitor. You threw out some numbers today. You said 300 to $1,000 per day. This is at least a 6 figure business for you now. You say you still have a full time job. What’s the plan there? Do you plan on eventually quitting the job and going full time into this? Where do you see yourself in the next few months?
Ahmad: It’s a question I’m struggling with now. I really like my job. Actually my job is helping businesses be more lean. I actually consult for bigger businesses to be more lucrative. I like what I do. I really like it. That’s what has kept me from leaving it already. If I didn’t like it I would have left already. I think. At the same time my side business of GetNadeef, it doesn’t take as much time as my full time job. I just spend about an hour to 2 hours a day on my business. I will do more than 6 figures. I actually earn more from GetNadeef than I do from my full time job. I think it’s just one of those things. A friend of mine told me this. He recently quit his job too. He had an Amazon store. He matched his income from his job and he quit. Now fast forward 5 months, he’s actually looking to get hired again. He wants to go back. He’s telling his boss to rehire him back.
I asked him, why is that? It’s a lot of seasonality. There’s a lot of ups and downs. Sometimes a product is defective, you have to scratch it or worst case something like that happens or somebody … It’s Christmas and my ad is no longer working. My customer acquisition costs went up by 3 times just because it’s Christmas. There’s all these uncertainties that come up. He actually advised to me you should probably only quit when you make twice as much as your job. Actually I had this conversation with him a few days ago. That’s what actually changed my position. Initially I was looking to leave a lot sooner. Now that he’s told me this I’m thinking maybe I should wait until I’m making at least 200 a year. Then I’ll quit. Just to act as the buffer when something does go wrong because things will go wrong.
Felix: For sure. I’ve heard from people that this same situation where they do have a business that’s doing better than their day job. They actually ended up liking their day job even more after that because they could leave whenever they wanted to. It’s just this kind of freedom that you have.
Ahmad: Oh yes.
Felix: When you have this day job, but you don’t necessarily need it. It makes your job that much more enjoyable.
Ahmad: You know what? As soon as you said that. You’re totally right. That’s exactly how I feel. I just feel more empowered at work. I don’t feel like I have to listen to the stuff that I think is frustrating. I no longer have to deal with the things I don’t like about my job. I can either do A or B. B, I don’t really want to do B, so I’m just not going to do it. I’m just going to have fun and do A and let me do my work. You’re totally right. It’s a really great insight actually.
Felix: You have the freedom to design your job at that point because of what we’re saying. You could get fired or leave. It doesn’t matter because you have this safety net at the end of the day. Cool. Very successful, this business has only been around a little over a year. You’ve already matched your income from your … Where do you see the business going in the next year or so? What do you want to focus on?
Ahmad: I want to double next year. In terms of my milestone is to double each year, really. Going back to I want to launch new products. I talked about ScoutCR, ScoutCR.com. Scout is this app that I’m developing. I want to continue building more Shopify apps. What I learned is I actually really like and really enjoy. Actually one of the reasons we got in touch was also because I like that you’re helping other entrepreneurs as well. I got a sense, I have my 9 to 5 job. Seeing the people, I’m seeing there are lots and lots and lots of really bright people out there that I think quite frankly are underachieving their full potential.
I want to help people like that reach their full potential. I’m not saying I’m reaching my full potential. I’m just a student. I just want to help. Really I think I want to build Shopify apps that will help people get started on Shopify easier and get started on Shopify better. Then again get into a position where they can leave their jobs sooner. That’s why I really love ScoutCR. That changed everything for me. I think if it changed everything for me it can change a lot for a lot of pother people too.
Felix: Very cool. I’m not sure how seasonal your product is, but I think as we’re coming up on … We’re already in the holiday season, especially by the time this episode comes out. Any preparation or plays that you have in place to take the full advantage of the holiday shopping season.
Ahmad: Since this is only a year old, last Christmas it was a very small store. I didn’t have anything to leverage. I didn’t have any email lists to leverage. I didn’t have much of something to offer. I didn’t really know what it was. Now I haven’t really thought about it. I’m thinking maybe I want to do some competitions, like meme generating competitions. Something that doesn’t really have much to do with … The way that I’m thinking about doing it is I actually want to give back this Christmas. Not look to make more sales. I’m hoping that by giving back and starting new. Giving competitions for prizes.
One thing I’m thinking about doing is doing a meme competition. I found that a lot of my customer base is Asian. There’s a lot of these funny Asian memes. Life of an Asian person or Asian problem, hashtag Asian things like that. A lot of people are really funny. I personally am very entertained by them because I’m South Asian as well. There’s all these South Asian memes. I just want to do a competition, “$1,000 for the best meme, that gets the most likes.” Just something like that, I don’t know. I don’t think I’m thinking too much about how do I make more sales I’m thinking a lot more about what can I do just draw up some viral thing. I don’t even know yet. I haven’t thought about it that much.
Felix: Cool. Makes sense. Awesome. Thanks again so much for your time Ahmad. GetNadeef.com is the website. G-E-T-N-A-D-E-E-F.com. Also you said ScoutCR.com is your app. Anywhere else you recommend listeners check out if they want to follow along with what you’re up to.
Ahmad: I’m on Instagram at AHMIQ. I use my Instagram to share a lot of my ideas and a lot of things that I’ve learned. That’s pretty much it, I’m on Instagram a lot.
Felix: Cool. Thanks again so much for your time Ahmad.
Ahmad: Thanks Felix.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the eCommerce podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today visit Shopify.com/Masters to claim your extended 30-day free trial.