Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
The items that we sell come to fruition in a variety of ways. Sometimes, someone will join our organization with a unique skill or talent which will blossom into an offering that others might find beneficial. For a product to be worthwhile for us to sell it needs to contribute meaningfully to our customer's lives. Someone making space in their life for your product creates a responsibility that we don't take lightly. Each meditation cushion produced entirely in-house by volunteers. Our forthcoming book on meditation is being printed on-site at our state of the art printing press.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
As a non-profit organization, we have to be more conscious than most when it comes to marketing expenditures. Word of mouth is the single largest contributor to our success on Shopify. Our customers are often repeat buyers who continue to stay close to our brand for years. Because of the different projects we're involved with, including the largest donation of books in human history, we have so many interesting angles from which to tell our story. The challenge for us is picking the right angle for the right audience and communicating in a way that is in alignment with our mission. Events and retreats contribute significantly to our awareness and sales. In addition, our email campaigns have been consistent drivers of return traffic for new programs and products.
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?
We use Fetch to fulfill digital product orders (a large portion of our business) which makes selling intangible goods very easy. We use Mailchimp and the related plugin for easy management of our email lists. We've also begun to use Shippo to create shipping labels, it's hard to believe how much easier it is to use than our old solution. We handle production and fulfillment of our meditation products entirely in-house. It's so important for us to make sure that everything we send out meets our standard of quality and that everyone in the organization builds familiarity with what we sell. We're selling something that has the potential to be used by someone by years and dramatically change the way they experience their life. That provides us with the motivation to stay close to the production and fulfillment process to be sure we're always delivering more than expected.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Individual success on any online platform is very closely related to your understanding of it. As you get more and more familiar with a service like Shopify opportunities for growth and improvement will start to spontaneously appear at every turn. One of the best investments new business owners can make is in their own knowledge.