I opened my store based on a lifelong passion for dogs: I'm completely obsessed! I have two dogs of my own and was always searching for products that were safe, healthy, and made in the USA.
I decided that the premise of my store would be to only source products that are made in America, and also to dog-test them with my own two dogs (a pit-mix and boxer-mix) for quality control. I source a lot of local, hand-crafted products from my home state of Maine, but also some well known national brands like West Paw Design and Whole Life Pet Products.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
My first sales were from friends and family, but also from Facebook. I have not spent money on advertising, but I do spend a ton of time on social media. About half of the traffic to my store comes from my Facebook page. I'm also on Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Packdog, Instagram and I have two blogs on Wordpress.
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?
The back-end of my business actually just consists of Shopify and Quickbooks. I bought a digital scale and use a USPS account online to print shipping labels--although I did just install the new Shippo app, so I'm excited to set that up and start using it.
I do my own books and fulfill all my orders from home. It's wonderful, really.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Don't sell anything you can't stand behind and aren't passionate about. I give my customers a 100% satisfaction guarantee and I follow up with every sale.
I'm totally crazy about my dogs and obsessive about the quality of the products I carry. So all the writing, blogging and social media I do comes easily and naturally for me; a lot of it is stuff I would just normally do in my life anyways, like taking a million pictures of my dogs. Now that's part of my marketing and it doesn't feel like work.
I can honestly say I LOVE my job. Also, there is so much you can do on your own. I write all my own copy and take all my product photos. I started the store on a shoestring budget, and thanks to Shopify, my operating costs are very low.