In 2009, I decided to embark on a personal mission to document and photograph every product Apple has made since 1976.
In 2013, after collecting over 500 products and taking over 150,000 photos I self published 'ICONIC: A Photographic Tribute to Apple Innovation' - a 340 page coffee table book that chronicles every major Apple product ever released. The foreword was written by Steve Wozniak and the book has been featured in most tech publications including CNN, Fast Company and the WSJ.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Publishing is a tough market and odds are against self publishers. I was confident that I had a good story to tell and prepared myself for success - to make sure that my customers could seamlessly purchase the book with a smooth buying process, I decided to launch my store with Shopify.
On October 4th, 2013 the Wall Street Journal (Arena section) published a story about my book and that morning orders started pouring in. The first week I saw about 15,000 visitors to the store and I sold about 1000 copies - this type of performance is rare for self publishers, especially for a premium priced coffee table book.
Since then I have nearly sold out of my entire first print run. Managing this process simply wouldn't have been financially feasible with a custom built solution - every scenario I could have thought of was handled by Shopify - refunds, discounts, reports, abandoned carts - you name it.
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?
My main website iconicbook.com is powered by Squarespace, Shopify powers my store, and fulfillment is handled by ShipStation. These solutions work seamlessly together to provide a hassle free solution that allows me to ship my large and heavy coffee table book anywhere in the world. Push notifications for sales orders via the iPhone app has been a godsend.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Run live tests on your setup so you'll know what to expect - be ready to understand how your setup will perform for both domestic and international shipments, and run some real transactions through your own credit card (you can always refund them).
Shopify is flexible enough, both with standard functionality and plugins through their app store, to support just about any scenario you can think of.
Shopify support is really amazing - it's very personalized and they won't leave you hanging until they resolve your issue so you always have that as a fallback.