We're a supplier of high impact visuals and custom branded displays (think logo'd tents, table covers, banners, flags, carpets and mats and other displays).
The company started in 2009 as a part-time gig for the founder. By 2011, she was forced to rent space and hire her first employee due to the order demand.
For the first four years, our company home was a website that the founder created from scratch - a site that was not user-friendly or easy to navigate, but was very SEO-friendly.
I purchased the company in 2012 - with my first goal being to have a more professional-looking website that would be easier to order from and increase conversions. We found that with Shopify!
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were done almost exclusively over the phone or via email (roughly 90/10 as a percentage breakdown).
That percentage since the re-launch in the fall of 2013 is currently almost 50/50! This has saved our customer service team incredible amounts of time to focus on revenue-generated activity, such as our eBooks or educational videos.
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?
The tools and apps we use for our back-end include
Quickbooks for our accounting and order processing
Desk.com for our support page and customer service inquiries.
Jotform for our online payment forms.
Several Shopify apps including Adroll, Retail Tower, Happy Ending, Abandon Aid, Quantity Breaks, Locksmith, and Google Shopping.
Shipping and fulfillment is handled in two different ways. First, we have 20+ US-based manufacturers who drop-ship our custom products blind once digital artwork proofs (or physical prototypes) have been approved by our customer. These vendors are product-specific and we typically have multiple vendors for each product category.
We also source directly from China with companies we have established relationships with over time. In these instances, the items are manufactured when they're ordered because they feature a custom logo or artwork, which is different than most Chinese imports, which are purchased in bulk. The products are shipped to our office in 2-4 days and we ship them out directly to our customers upon arrival.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Make sure your site SEO is buttoned up prior to pushing your marketing initiatives.
Focus on revenue-generating activity as much as you can in the beginning, rather than getting caught up in the daily minutiae of running your own e commerce company.
Try and create leverage with active vendors by researching your industry and finding multiple suppliers.
Find out who your customer base is and what they're buying habits are - then you can market to them in the niche areas they regularly visit and hang out.