Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
In my case, I was not making a decision about what to sell. Instead, I had a hobby that turned into a business.
I did not have aspirations to take these products to market, but a series of events which included finding the right partner, led me to launch Botanic Organic.
Our skincare line is artisan crafted in-house. Our ingredients are the building blocks of our finished products and are sourced from suppliers with a commitment to organic agriculture. We craft using cold or expeller pressed oils from raw, organic fruits, grains, nuts and seeds to protect their therapeutic value. They are exceptionally high in vitamin content, critical fatty acids and antioxidants.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our earliest sales started when we were invited to be a vendor at a few small local events. We immediately started to build our mailing list and have continued to do so ever since. In our first year of business we had a static website that served our purposes well enough for the small amount of traffic we generated, but we craved something more elegant and professional looking and we eventually settled on using Shopify as our eCommerce platform.
We have multiple channels for generating business but once we've gained a customer, retaining them and hopefully having them spread the word about us is hugely important:
- Vending at local craft fairs and fundraising events is particularly successful during the holiday season and a great way to find new customers and to grow our mailing list.
- Generating regular newsletters with exclusive promotions for our readers keeps us in the hearts and minds of our customers and brings them to the website to buy.
- Regularly reaching out to bloggers to write product reviews and to run “give-away” promotions has the added benefit of creating back links to our website.
- Continually adding high quality content to our website and social media with great attention to effective linking is helping potential buyers to find us when doing on-line searches.
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 integrate with "Shopify Bulk Discounts" and "LeadDyno". We are also in the process of migrating to a custom internal inventory management application that's tailored to our production demands, and that automatically sync sales information from Shopify. We fulfill internally and use USPS Priority Mail. Since our products are small, USPS is the most economical by far and they're pretty quick.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Create good, regular and informative content; make your store look as appealing as possible with interesting and, if possible, original photos (stock photos are often boring and over used); use high quality and consistent product photos, create good links for SEO; put time and effort into getting your products reviewed or featured in some form of media; offer flat rate and/or free shipping if possible. Run your business with integrity and go the extra distance to take special care of the customers that you already have.