Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We had the product since fragrance wholesale was the crux of our business, and we had great prices due to the extensive network of partners we had developed over 18 years. But with a deteriorating global economy, wholesale clients were paying late and we needed to adapt to a rapidly changing economy. With the help of Shopify, we were able to expand our client base and reach Canadians across the country, and offer the same wholesale pricing we had been before, but without the stress of late payments. Shopify has now become the place we now promote our products. Our cash flow has dramatically improved and we have emerged a stronger company than ever before. We have been Canada's leading fragrance wholesaler since 1994. All products are purchased and stored in our own warehouse allowing us full quality control over the supply chain and to better serve our customer base.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We started with basic SEO with the help of Shopify. We expanded marketing with Google Adwords and over the months started gaining a following from users from different online forums. We held giveaways with blog partnerships, built a Facebook following of over 6,000, and led exciting competitions (like an Eggsceptional Easter Egg Hunt). All of this helped expand our reach and get people truly excited about our company and what we had to offer. Facebook Ads, Google Adwords and referrals from online fragrance forums of satisfied customers generate the most traffic and sales.
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?
When we had our first month of sales, we were manually inputting each address to ship our parcels. But as business grew, we needed a way to build efficiency so we could ship our products faster to our clients and avoid cumbersome data entry. Shipstation was the best choice we ever made. Then, as business grew we partnered with Riskified to help us better judge our order risk characteristics and protect our bottom line from costly chargebacks. With the insight of Shopify blogs, we then partnered with GLEAM io to host successful competitions to increase client retention. As of 2015, we also incorporated Receiptful to generate beautiful sales receipts that get customers excited about their purchases and keep them informed of their shipment every step of the way. Internally, we pack everything in-house and with the help of Shipstation and a barcode printer, shipping has become so fast that we are shipping hundreds of orders daily. Our order processing time has improved leading to very happy customers who sometimes even get their products in under 24 hours!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
You can be the best buyer in the world and get the cheapest price possible. But unless you have a channel to sell those products, having the lowest price means nothing. A more better approach is a value-added business model. Find ways to increase your efficiency so you can better devote your time to building your business. Find ways to excite and engage your audience. Find ways to add value to your customers. Shopify blogs are an excellent starting point to gain ideas on how value can be added. Once you learn to add value, your business will expand to new heights, which previously were unimaginable.