Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
In the Summer of 2012, I found myself needing an extra source of income to supplement what I made as a substitute teacher. I started going to yard sales every weekend and buying items to sell online. While I normally bought video games to boost my growing collection, I found that selling off my doubles was a great way to help me stay afloat over the Summer months. As the inconsistency of teaching work started to wear on me, my increasing online revenue had me excited. In 2013, I met my business partner who encouraged me to move beyond online market places such as eBay and Amazon. I opened www.otcvideogames.com as a store using ZenCart, but wasn't happy with the results. We converted our website to Shopify in April of 2014 and have seen a massive increase in sales, brand recognition, and overall customer trust. While our early months were slow, we quickly watched our Shopify store grow into a reliable source of monthly income. Now, it is the online home of our brand, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Our products have always been sourced from customer trade-ins and wholesalers, both domestic and international. With the Shopify site, we have been able to advertise trade-ins to customers at an international level. We have had trade-ins come in from all over the country and internationally for both store credit and cash.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We started earning our first sales by advertising the site through video game collecting forums. As word of mouth carried us to the next level, we started to advertise with fliers in all of our marketplace sales. Lastly, using the native Google Shopping application really helped us to boost our site traffic. Amazon has traditionally been our greatest source of income and continues to generate the most sales for us, however, our Shopify store has grown to beat out every other marketplace besides Amazon. We are hoping to have our Shopify store as our leading online marketplace by the end of 2016.
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 have used several apps to boost sales on our site. Shopify's new POS system is extremely easy to use and perfect for when we sell at conventions. The new option to create orders and email them to customers has helped us boost sales with our wholesale customers and pre-orders. The native Google Apps integration has been instrumental in boosting our sales sitewide. Last, but not least, the Kudobuzz reviews app was a great addition to our site offering customer testimonials, product reviews, and an import/export feature to Facebook! ShipStation made a huge impact on our day to day functions for shipping. ShipStation automatically pulls orders from all of our marketplaces (we have 5!) and syncs them into one location. When we ship from ShipStation, every packing slip is branded, every shipping label is branded, and the corresponding marketplace is automatically notified of the tracking number. We used to have to sign into 5 different marketplaces just to finish out a day's shipments. Now, ShipStation does it all for us.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Always back up your inventory, and likewise, always back up your .liquid files. Use Shopify gurus whenever you have an issue because they are very helpful! Try out every app you are interested in because they are VERY helpful, but if you decide you don't need it, be sure to delete it! The early months are tough, but keep working hard and trying new things - sales will pick up!