Hi, my name is Jesse S. Gaddis and I am the co-founder of Bedford Slims - an electronic cigarette company based right here in Brooklyn, NY.
It all started with a walk in my neighborhood. I was jobless, close to broke, and thinking about all the ventures I could be apart of when I noticed the real problem that needed to be solved was smoking. Every one on the street was smoking - kids, grandmas, hipsters, etc. And while they were smoking I noticed tagged on the brick wall of an apartment building - Brooklyn has the highest asthma rates in the country. I knew then that Bedford Slims needed to be introduced to my community.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Before the product had even come in, I had sold off 10% of the inventory to local stores in my neighborhood. Many of them had no real knowledge of electronic cigarettes back in 2011, so my sales pitches had to be very persuasive. It was a major confidence boost even in those salad days to be on store shelves.
By the time we started to use Shopify, we were a year into the business. We were still pretty cash poor and trying to find our groove despite an awesome product. So we started to enlist Mommy Bloggers who would give our products an honest review on their site. I mean who better to help you quit smoking than a mother?
As time has gone on we have gotten heavily into Social Media, leveraging blog and news media relationships, and finely tuned SEO, to help people find us.
While we love our retailers out there in Brooklyn, our Shopify store is still the heart of our business, because of how diverse our audience has become online.
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?
Top 5 Apps All Shopify Stores Need
1. Yotpo - Honest customer reviews that also sneakily raise your SEO.
2. ShipStation - If you do shipping - this is the software for you.
3. Mailchimp - Integrating the store with Mailchimp makes so much sense. Say goodbye to building email lists manually.
4. Coolence - Abandoned shopping carts are a big problem for any e-commerce, Coolence has a great way of mitigating those empty shopping carts.
5. Want Button - I know it seems pretty basic, and it is, but having that button up there can be pretty powerful marketing.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
I recommend all store owners dive deep into Shopify's extensive apps and tools. There's a lot of great ways to enhance your store presence.
As we get buried further into the "internet of things" make sure your site reads well on tablets, smart phones, google glass et. al.
And lastly, don't forget to have fun. Sales can be tough at first, but it's the human smile that keeps us going. Make your first customers smile and they, assuredly, will also be your first brand ambassadors.