My business is called Nursery Tree Wholesalers and we specialize in drop shipping bonsai trees.
I started my business back in 2010 in preparation for the Peace Corps. I knew volunteers hardly got paid anything (currently I am paid around $7 a day to give you an example) so I wanted to create a business that would hopefully generate a more substantial income while I was overseas. My ideal business needed have the ability to be run from anywhere in the world with very, very little daily time investment. Thus, Nursery Tree Wholesalers was born when I landed on my goldmine idea to drop ship bonsai trees. But why bonsai trees? There are several solid reasons:
- Maintaining bonsai trees is a hobby and people are willing to spend a lot of money on hobbies.
- Bonsai trees have been around for centuries and haven’t changed at all, meaning I would not have to continually update the products on my site
- Believe it or not, hundreds of thousands of people buy bonsai trees as gifts, namely on Mother’s Day
I contacted several bonsai tree nurseries that were actually willing to sign me on as a drop shipper, before I even created my site.
Currently, I am in the Peace Corps serving as a teacher in a remote village of Namibia, Africa. Even now as I write this (and this is not a joke) I am sitting in a mud hut with a thatch roof and can hear the far off rumbling of bongo drums with an accompaniment of villagers singing and clapping.
I have very, very limited access to internet and when I am able to get online, it is painfully slow (think pre-dialup speed!). I am saying all of this because it is encouraging to note that I created my Shopify website here in this hut, despite the ridiculously slow internet and very unreliable connections - all with relative ease.
Compared to Yahoo Small Business, which was my old platform, setting up Shopify was an absolute dream and customizing the format of the site could not have been easier.
My plan to start a business back in 2010 was one of the best decisions I have ever made and I am now reaping the rewards. So here I am, nearly 9,000 miles away from home in a mud hut next to a river infested with crocodiles, processing and sending orders for bonsai trees. Simply amazing.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
My first sale came when I sheepishly asked my mom to get on my newly created site and purchase a bonsai tree, mainly so I could reassure myself that my site was working and so I could learn how to process orders. After several minutes of trying convince her that bonsai trees are actually cool, she reluctantly agreed and bought one in attempt to appease my badgering. She still, 4 years later, has that tree on her back patio - fancy that.
Despite my first sales pitch to my mom over the phone, I now aim for organic traffic, mainly via Google. Yahoo and Bing generate small amounts of traffic but Google, being the reigning master of search engines, is responsible for most of my traffic.
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?
Since I am a drop shipper, handling shipping and fulfillment is almost laughably easy. I receive in email when a costumer places an order, and then that order is forwarded along to my supplier. When the supplier ships the tree via UPS, I receive a tracking number which is then sent back to the costumer. After I receive the tracking number, I bill the customer. It honestly cannot get easier than that.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Utilize the blog that comes with each store! Back when I started my store with Yahoo back in 2010, I knew absolutely nothing about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and the tremendous importance it carries when trying to sell online.
In the last few years however, I have learned that blogs are some of the best ways to get your website ranked high.
Quality, original blog posts will add informative content to your site while increasing your site’s page count, making it more valuable to costumers and thus more valuable to search engines. Use the blog that comes built in with Shopify!