I started my mustard company in 2010, selling at farmer's markets. I didn't have an online store until 2011 -- and I went through countless ecommerce systems that were all frustrating. I just wanted something that worked. And Shopify works.
We've been selling on the platform for just a few months, but sales are already up 385% from last year - crazy!
I sold what I made - single jars of mustard. Then, a customer let me know he was sick of clicking on each mustard to add it to his cart. He wanted a one-click variety pack. I added it in under 3 minutes, he ordered, and so did four more people that same week. The variety packs have stayed!
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales came from loyal customers we meet when we're on the road across New England. Our best channel, though, is definitely email marketing.
While there are only a few hundred emails on my list, I send out plain-text emails with specials. I'll generate $300 off that one email. It doesn't sound like a lot, but for a small food company where the average sale is pretty much the shipping cost, it's awesome!
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?
All of the orders are packed manually. Each jar of mustard is individually wrapped in bubble-wrap. We include a fun postcard and a hand-written note with each order. Some are funny. Some are random. And some are straight-up thank you notes.
As for apps, I use Chimpified to seamlessly send customer emails to my list. Before Shopify, it was a manual process.
I also use Shippo for shipping labels. It's painfully easy to get shipping labels and cuts down siginificantly on manual data entry.
For marketing, I use AbandonApp. It's resulted in a couple sales, but most importantly, it let me know I wasn't communicating our free shipping offer well.
That led me to use Sales Motivator to promote free shipping. It's hard to tell whether it's helped, but I'm leaving it up because I think it's working.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
1. Get your store out there.
You could spend hours - even months - customizing your store to make sure it's perfect. What's more important is that it's finished. You can tweak and play with things later. Get out there and make some money first!
2. Offer free shipping
We would not have increased ours sales 385% without free shipping. Figure out the free shipping minimum that works for your store. It guarantees you more sales. Plus, after we raised our prices and our free shipping minimum, we actually got more sales. Mind blown, right?
3. Show your products
While I can't attribute this to more sales, we have four pictures of each mustard on our product page, plus a video of me talking about each flavor. We try to show texture and color, much like you would if it was clothing. We're constantly trying to find ways to give our visitors an experience that truly does cut the mustard. You should, too.