Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
My own passion for coffee was budding back in 2013 while I also happened to be looking for entrepreneurial opportunities. I was particularly interested in eCommerce having worked in the space. One day it occurred to me that coffee beans were in many ways, an ideal eCommerce product.
I made contact with local artisanal roasters to start with, asking them for the opportunity to sell their coffee online. The list of roasters expanded, and then I started to approach local equipment distributors and wholesalers so that I could round out the offering to include brewing gear.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
There were a couple of sales to friends, but in my mind, the first sale that counted came from Adwords and was within a couple of weeks of launch. Google Adwords is still an important channel for CCB, particularly in terms of conversions. However, organic traffic and Facebook are both increasing in importance and now form a significant portion of both traffic and conversions.
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?
Other than Shopify, Xero is probably the most important piece of software I use. Its purchase order system allows me to manage just in time sourcing very easily. The new inventory functionality is very helpful as well. Most importantly, Xero allows me to have an up to date health check on my businesses's financials daily. Other than that, the only thing I use extensively is Google spreadsheets, which helps me do everything from format order csvs into waybills for my logistics partners, to aggregating purchase order requirements to input into Xero.
I work with a local, point to point delivery service called Wumdrop for inbound and on-demand short-distance deliveries. The bulk of my outbound is handed by a national player in South Africa called CourierIT. Currently, I use the csv export function from Shopify to provide the daily waybill data to CourierIT and they then use this to send me waybill PDFs to print and afix to the orders we're packing.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Much of the good getting started advice is already out there - start lean, don't procrastinate, quickly iterate, etc. I think the one tangible piece of advice I have that many people miss is to start using Google Adwords from day 1. It seems to be the quickest way to start driving sales.