Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We encountered a common parenting problem that had no real solution. So we invented the solution. Our product, the NumNum GOOtensil, enables babies and young toddlers who are ready to self-feed but lack essential motor skills to participate in the feeding process without the frustration they would likely encounter with a spoon. Once we had the idea, we created some rough sketches, hired an industrial designer, hit up friends and family for cash and we were off and running. My industrial designer had a manufacturer's rep among his many professional connections so he introduced us. Turns out, this rep worked with four different facilities in China AND had a materials background. He helped me navigate some critical early decisions and pointed me toward some great suppliers.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Prior to launching our Shopify website, we leveraged our social media circles to spread the word. It worked well. Our very first sale came less than an hour after launch. Since then, we've only spent a couple nickels on advertising, opting instead to put our energy into social media and partnerships with blogging communities. In the last year, our product has really taken off and has been picked up by buybuyBaby, Bed, Bath & Beyond and Nordstrom.com. So our sales have shifted from our own website to those new retail channels. Having said that, a healthy 25% of our sales are still direct to customer via our own site.
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 Shippo and Giftery.me primarily. Shippo has been an incredible tool for us. It grabs the shipping information from the customer order and prepares a label that's ready to print, slap on the package and ship. It is absolutely awesome! Giftery.me enables visitors to add our product to a wish list that they share with others. As of today, we still handle all fulfillment in-house. However, we're about to hand off international shipping to a 3rd party overseas. Again, Shippo helped so much when we were first starting out and is still a tool we use today!
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Shopify has some beautiful themes that work amazingly well if you strive to preserve the integrity of the original design and presentation. What I mean is, don't over merchandise every page. Don't cram in too much messaging. Don't oversell! Think about the story you need to tell and build that story into your site in a compelling way that doesn't overwhelm the visitor and you'll create an easy yet seductive conversation that culminates in a sale.