We manufacture and sell Montessori Materials from our small office in Seattle, WA. We started in 2007 and had an oscommerce site which was taking a lot of our resources to keep running.
We started our business because we are trained educators and saw a need for a specific type of montessori material in the market.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We earned our first sales through trade conferences, then catalog sales (purchase orders from schools), and then through our oscommerce site. Our income is pretty split between our three channels but all three are growing rapidly. We more than doubled our sales in 2013 and are on track to do the same in 2014. Our website is our largest showcase of our materials.
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 now run Shopify with Shopify payments which saved us a lot of money vs. our old gateway. We use an additional search app for predictive searching, yotpo for reviews, and chimpified for gathering emails. We ship using stamps.com but may be interested in another shipping platform in the future. We use USPS and it can get complicated because we offer free shipping.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Research your market. Find a niche where you can be a big (or at least a medium sized) fish in a small pool. Love what you sell and who you sell to because you are going to be living in that world for a while. You don't have to be awesome, but you need to be better than your competition. Awesomeness then becomes an opportunity to seize upon later.