Business of eCommerce – Episode 100! πŸ₯³ πŸŽ‰


Welcome to the business to be commerce, the show that helps eCommerce retailers
start launch and grow eCommerce business. I mean, I was Charles
[inaudible] and I’m here today alone. Today’s actually a very special episode
is episode 100 so first I’d like to thank everyone for watching
the past nine episodes. If you’ve watched in the beginning, some people have emailed me
and said that that is amazing, or if you’ve just kind of come on
in the past few weeks. So amazing. Thank you so much for that. What I wanted to do for this episode to
celebrate past nine episodes we’ve done is make a mashup of different
interviews with different guests, things they’ve said kind of highlights, some tips that we’ve had
some great guests on here. So I wanted to kind of really bring
that out and do some quick little clips, jumping from different guests and just
some different things that even I look back and forgot it was so long ago,
you know, Hey, wow, that was great. So going back to these past 99 clips
was awesome. So thank you to you, the viewer, you, the listener, and
I hope you enjoy this episode. So, onto the show. So kind of a start is when you
first started talking to a client, what are some things you would
look at? New client? Well, the first thing is always to take a look
at their site or their app, you know, together get a listing for that and make
sure you understand exactly what it is you know, that they’re doing. And then
talk to them sort of globally about, you know, what their goals are,
what their original goals were, how they’ve evolved. Because
after a few years, you know, people can can swerve
one way or the other. So the logistics process hasn’t changed
much at the end of the day, you know, to make cookies and ship them out.
There’s only so many ways to do that, but the rest of the business, what we found is to focus on the
things that we like and we’re good at. So I like to write, I like to think
I’m pretty good at it. So I’ll take, take care of writing the blog every day. And then Lee is an artist so she kind of
runs the graphic Overwatch on the whole thing and makes sure that the direction
as far as the look of paleo treats is going where she wants it. Usually an in terms of low hanging fruit, there is going to be some major
opportunities that we’re going to look at. But first we’re going to look at how
much traffic to site kits because when, when you’re talking about AB testing, you want to focus your efforts where
it’s going to have the biggest impact. And when we’re looking at where we’re
going to have the biggest impact, it’s usually the pages or areas where
you’re going to get the most traffic. I think I’m really, any kind
of eCommerce business can, can have some level of benefit from
having a podcast that supports their products and services. There’s a couple
of different ways you can look at it. You can look at it from almost like a
customer support kind of show to a show talking and featuring various products
or services that are offered on your, your, you know, in your business. I think it’s really important to go
through an extensive discovery period. Really identify what the main objectives
of making the eCommerce site are. So some people, some brands and
especially in fashion and beauty, they really want to make an immersive
site that tells the brand story. So that type of site is
definitely different in
comparison to an eCommerce site that really is just purely
focused on conversion. So identifying what your main objectives
are I think is cornerstone to this process. You know, when, when I talk about getting financing
or I refer to it as capital, basically any kind of buddy
you can get as a business, there’s a couple of different avenues
you really want to focus on. You know, one is the business credit,
the corporate credit side, which really has to do with credit
cards, right? Visa cards, MasterCards, American express, Dell, Apple, et cetera. And then I look at the other side
of it is the business financing. Everything is left. These are loans, these are credit lines that are through
alternative lenders and SBA, et cetera. So there’s a couple
different avenues you can go. The problem is is that
loans and lines and those, a lot of people know the difficulties, especially in e-commerce of getting
approved with a lot of those because a lot of it, the industries that we’re
in in eCommerce, even where I am, financial services is
considered to be high risk. And if you’re out there doing your own
Facebook ads and you’re trying to give me product research and you’re uploading
things to the website and you’re dealing with the customer experience and you’re
dealing with returns and exchanges, none of those kinds of things, it can be just a little bit overwhelming
to think there’s probably some extra things I could be doing to make more
money to increase the customer experience. And I am so passionate about trying
to give people a customer experience, especially when it comes to
online because that’s the thing. You have to fight against
bricks and mortar. So through a couple of job transitions
I had on a fluke bought the domain name, what is my IP address.com. I was doing some it stuff and I needed
to know what my IP address was at the office and I should do something with
it, which led to the challenge is, okay, how do you monetize someone
looking for their IP address? Doing some research and finding out
that there were companies that, gosh, I would just Politico to my website and, and they’ll put a banner on a banner ad
on there for me and pay me a percentage. I don’t have to find people
to advertise on the site. And This is easy peasy. My honest opinion is if you can go
with an off the shelf like Shopify or BigCommerce and you can be
satisfied with that, then do it. I, I definitely think if those
platforms fit for you, then there’s no need because customers
is going to typically get to be more expensive. There’s sometimes like you can get more
expensive than Shopify and especially on the Shopify plus on the monthly
recurring and all that stuff. Kind of these fees that you pay over time. So I mean you could weigh
those costs depending on that. But I definitely encourage people
even like thinking non e-commerce, like people who just need websites, they feel like they need some big awesome
custom marketing site like chai and Squarespace first kiddo. If it
works in Squarespace, then why? Why, why it fix that? Why spend
more money if you don’t Have to? So I’m all about the lean
Boston surprisingly like
it’s not as a robust for lots of e-commerce firms compared to
what? Well, compared to New York, you know a lot, like a lot of locally,
our competitors are mostly in New York. There’s like so many of them
there, but Boston’s not quite as, not quite as many here. Well the first thing you
need to understand is exactly
what sort of tax you’re dealing with. So we’ve got income tax, which is an eCommerce retailer
at the end of the year, makes $100,000 how much
tax do they owe the IRS? That’s one entire funnel of tax issues. Then there’s an entirely different funnel, which tax professionals called [inaudible]
called salt state and local taxes and this is local income taxes
but also local sales taxes. And there really is a lot more going
on in the salt arena for eCommerce retailers simply because there’s, there’s developing consensus on
what should be subject to sales tax, what should not be subject
to sales tax. You know, 15 years ago Amazon got their
start largely by avoiding
state level sales taxes. That was their their big big competitive advantage
when I first started With e-commerce was in 2007 and I actually
started with importing cause I didn’t know drop shipping was a thing and I
was using Alibaba back then. So that, you know, for as long as I’ve known about
this has been around the Ali express. I started hearing about, I want
to say five plus years ago, but recently I would say in the past two
years is when it became almost a trendy thing. Like there’s probably dozens
of YouTube channels now. You know, where you see all these
Shopify screenshots and it’s
all Oberlo Ali express drop ship from China. And that’s just what
people naturally think in their head. Now when they, when they
hear the term drop shipping, so people come to your site, they’re
looking around, they’re really excited. Maybe they add some stuff to your
cart and then they get distracted, they walk away, maybe they’re
not sure, whatever it is, they find some reason that they’re not
going to complete the purchase and they leave all their stuff in the cart and
they just close the browser tab or walk away from their computer or close
their mobile device, whatever it is. And that basically is an
abandoned cart. And unfortunately, abandoned carts are a huge,
huge problem in eCommerce. Many Opinions there. But basically to me it comes down to
what’s the right fit for you and your company. I mean if you’re sitting, it doesn’t really comes down to that
and it really is such a unique fit that it’s not a blanket answer.
You can give anyone. So I mean I’ve seen that question come
up in the core of forum core questions, whatever you want to call that. And everything’s so often that
I go often wonder, you know, how could I answer to this?
And, and I don’t know, I ended up not answering those questions
for people unless it’s like a specific call because I mean, you
could use, I mean a general, a star person starting out could use a
Shopify store or they could use a Magento stuff or it really all depends on what
your overall goals are as a business. Yeah. I think food and clothing do
really well on Instagram, right? Like I do most of my clothing
shopping from Instagram ads. I will tell you that I
find out about new brands. I would say like some probably struggle
depending on what the brand is, but there’s a great opportunity to
have a different voice on Instagram. And I also think there’s a little bit
of more positive attitude on Instagram than sometimes you see like
then Twitter or Facebook. But I see a lot of sellers giving each
other advice and giving each other bad advice based on their idea of
how it works inside the company. And I would say maybe 75% of the time
when I’m reading sellers communicating with each other on how this stuff works, I see wrong and mistaken information and
that’s why you have to talk to people. It doesn’t have to be me, but you haven’t talked to somebody
who knows what’s true and what isn’t. I find that social media
marketing is super, super popular. Everybody wants to know how to use online
to generate and grow their business. What we do is we try and
keep it really simple. There’s a lot of competitors out there. There’s a lot of other people that they
tell you how to set up like a 20s step sales funnel and you have to do all this
stuff before you even get started on making money. Well, we kind
of take the opposite approach. I exclusively work on Shopify. I niche down to Shopify years ago and
having that laser focus has been really a rocket ship ride for us.
You know, certainly we, we hitched our cart to the right horse, but having that crispy laser-focused
positioning where people just go, Oh, you can not like they just tie it
together in their brain and go, Oh, you’re the Shopify guy. Yup. And I say that would be like my first
tip is focus on your positioning work on your positioning statement. First off we’ll go with the beginners,
then the more advanced people. But for beginners you know, the biggest tips in terms of setting up
your account correctly and then scaling it in the future is one
naming convention is huge. So one thing that a lot of people don’t
sort of get the first time round is organization and naming convention because
overlap in your audiences campaigns, target audience, that sort of stuff
is a huge issue within accounts. And so if you don’t have the
correct name and conventions, you don’t exactly know what
you’re running and where, and that can lead to a lot of overlap or
it can lead to you retesting audiences you’ve already tested.
So number one takeaway is
definitely a naming convention. You definitely need to have a system that
you follow throughout your entire sort of account. So this, the, the long and the
short of it is, is, you know, just like a collar state keeps
the collar looking straight, million-dollar collar actually
goes down this part of the shirt. So when you wear a shirt without a tie,
it’ll never crumble a little, never Fold it. Just give you that
nice V so that, you know, when you’re wearing a dress shirt,
you always look good. To me, I, I like to wear v-necks and
tee shirts and hang out, but when I put on a dress shirt, I, I, it’s because I want to look important
or I want to dress up or you know, I just don’t want to look sloppy. So when I got married and my shirt looked
like this all day it really drove me nuts and I just remember tugging and
tugging and tugging and just wouldn’t sit the way I wanted. And that’s
pays a enforcement down
this part of the shirt. So that’s basically what it is. It’s just
a little strip. It looks like this. So One goes into each side, it gets sewn
into your shirt and once it’s in, it lasts the life of the shirt. The first part of what you just asked
me was, let’s say you’re a retailer. So that’s a big red
flag right there, right? If you’re a detail versus a retailer, the landscape of retail
is completely changing. And so one of the things that I look at
is what’s really going to keep you up at night and having that honest
conversation with yourself. There’s a very famous proverb that
fear and courage are brothers, that you actually can’t get
to the courageous choice
without first channeling it through fear. But what I’ve
found is that most companies, they suppress fear versus address fear. So after kind of riding
this wave up and down, up and down in the wholesale market, I decided after reading a book that I
came across called the new rules of retail by Robin Lewis who’s a sort of
a retail master out of New York. We’re basically the book talks about
how retail started out with catalogs at Sears and Roebuck, which was an ex, which was a big change from
the general stores where they had their, to Sears Roebuck where all of a sudden
now you’ve got a catalog delivered to your house and they’d ship stuff to you. And then how that changed
into the department store. And then the department store changed
into the specialty store and then by the mid two thousands the need for, for actual wholesale and retailers was
going away because brands could start to go direct to the consumer
through their own e-commerce. So I’m, I’m not one to tell somebody that their
business model is not going to work. I recognize that there are people that
understand how to do, for example, retail arbitrage and do
that very, very well. And there are companies that know how
to identify other people’s brands and negotiate good arrangements with those
brands so that they can be the resellers. There are companies that
do private label brands. [inaudible] Actually know how to launch
products very, very well on Amazon. That being said, there are lots that try to make their own
brands and have absolutely no idea how to do it well. So the reality
is all these models can work. The challenge is you have to recognize, you need different skills and different
processes to be able to make each of the models work. So even when I go into a retail arbitrage
or when I learned that business model, I at the same times began to
research other business models. But I knew I didn’t really have, I knew I didn’t have the cash to already
go into wholesale or private label at the time, but I knew of it. So I was listening to podcasts and
Alstein sizing to learn about it. And then I moved into wholesale
books. I thought, okay, well I can’t keep doing retail
arbitrage because it’s burning me out. Like physically, I’m getting four hours,
three hours sleep at night on average, and that’s just not good
enough to have a human life. So I parked that and I stopped
doing retail arbitrage completely. And then I moved over to wholesale. So the thing with private
label is your product, you’re, you’re making a bet that you’re going
to be smart enough to choose a product that has enough demand but not too
much competition. And then you invest, you know, you get, you, you get
your samples and you get your name, you get your B, your big order and
it gets shipped here and so forth. And so there’s a lot of money
that gets sunk in upfront. And if you get it wrong, if you pick, like in my case one of the products
that I invested the most money in was a shock collar for dogs
cause I wanted to get into, I wasn’t afraid of spending
money on advertising, but I totally underestimated the amount
of black hat that goes on with false reviews and so forth. Because back
then you could still game the system. And so I was just spending and spending
and spending on promotions and per click to try and get my sales rank
and my product to get to
the point where, you know, it would sell well enough and it
wasn’t the only product I had. I had some essential oil
diffuser necklaces as well. But both of the products selections
that I made weren’t really that good. And so, you know, four or five months in I’m still not
making any profit and I was really, really frustrated and just didn’t
really want to do it anymore. Yeah, I’ll give you kind of the quick story
behind best day in my life and how it started. So back in 2014 my best buddies and I
figured it’d be a cool idea to get into business together. We started
saying just kind of tongue in cheek. I asked one of my buddies how his day
was and at one point he’s like, Hey, best day of my life, just kind
of being a smart Alec. Right. And we started saying it started
kind of catching on, you know, you kind of talk how your friends talk. And my girlfriend at the time ended up
making us tee shirts that said best day of my life on M. And we just
kinda thought it was funny. So we just warm around and the response
from people was just overwhelmingly positive and interactive and it
was just such a conversation piece. People come up and ask, well, Hey,
is it really the best day of life? Why is it the best day
of your life? You know, Hey cause I’m here cause I’m breathing
or because this is good because I’m great. It just, it was an amazing way to meet people
and just have organic conversations with strangers that normally wouldn’t happen. And so we started wearing these
shirts around and you know what ha, what ended up happening for me as
an entrepreneur is people asking, where can I get one? Where
can I buy one of those shirts? Like how do I get my hands on
one? And so we figured, all right, let’s look up the trademark, right? Figuring there’s no way best that my
life’s available as a trademark, right. Somebody has to have that domain,
somebody has to have the trademark. And sure enough on GoDaddy, nobody owned best day of my
life.com [inaudible] on that. We bought it for $40, which is insane. Yeah. When we started selling FBA, it really helps the ability to
scale the business because you know, if you have the right product, and I’m sure we’ll talk
some more about this stuff, but just the ability if you know,
if you get somethings right, a big part of it in terms of how to
actually source and execute is it was handled for you and it
helps a ton. Just, you know, Amazon has all these criteria and things
you have to do right as a seller to maintain certain status as a, as a seller and nice thing when Amazon
FBA and when they’re handling so much of it, you’re pretty much assured that your, your seller stats can be really good
in all those areas cause Amazon versus fantastic and making sure
they fulfill all the orders. If you let’s start with the worst end
of the scenario of things. If you just, if you get interested in the Amazon
thing cause it’s still a big opportunity that one hears about famously from various
different podcasts and all angles to the internet if you like. A lot of
people come to me having said that, I’ve listened to you know about 50
episodes of different podcast episodes and different people and sometimes they come, they say listen to like 200
of the episodes I produced
275 episodes on hour and they’ve watched a lot of YouTube videos
and like quite unsurprisingly their brain is mush. That’s an
example of how not to do it. I think if you’re starting out, I think
it’s great to take a structured course. I want to be very clear that I, I think
that does work. That’s what I’ve done. That’s what a lot of my successful
friends have done and they’re thinking it does cut your learning term time
and you can model what works. I always say to break it down into
three different levels of hires. The first is basic. Then you’ve
got mid and then you’ve got expert. So for a basic level of
freelancer or virtual assistant, this is when you think of outsourcing
non U S five to $10 an hour. They might have years of
experience, but they’re followers. They’re there to follow
your system, your process. And then you’ve got the mid level,
the mid level, they’re specialists. They do the same thing, eight to 10 hours
every day. They’re graphic designers, they’re bookkeepers, they
write Amazon product listings. You’re not teaching them how
to be a graphic designer, although you can tweak what
they do to fit your needs, but they’re not consulting
with you either. They’re doers. And then you’ve got the experts,
the 25 and up, they can consult, they can project manage, they can
execute high level game plans. They can bring their own expertise
to the table. So with that in mind, you have to figure out,
do I need a follower? Do I need a doer or do I need an expert? I had been working as a, as a chef and I kind of burned out on
that after 17 years and wanted to have more flexibility with my time, which is pretty much the story of most
people that start their own eCommerce business. And I was trying to decide really what type
of eCommerce business to start and I, I had a side interest or just
sort of a side dream of, you know, wanting to have a, a little cabin
in the woods someday. And so that, that type of decor appealed
to me and I just decided, you know what, that’s what I’ll
do. I’ll start with you know, sort of cabin cabin furnishings.
And initially when I started, I wasn’t just working only with
artisans and the handcrafted items. I had things that lamps and different
kinds of things that you know, actually had standard UPC codes and
that you could buy other places. And then after a while it morphed
into working with just artisans. And I ended up, I decided to eliminate anything that you
could literally put in an item number on Google and find that item at,
you know, several different sources. Oh yeah. I mean I think two things.
Obviously the first is, you know, you get the cushion of salary and
benefits. So even if you lose, you know, of course I went into the
business knowing that Hey, I might lose a couple thousand dollars. I really tried to approach it very
leanly like I was never like, okay, cool. Like let me take my whole salary and
invest in starting up this business. I approached it with the
mindset of Hey, okay, if I’m going to launch
at the farmer’s market, like my first step is just
purely to validate the product. Like I want to know that other people
are going to like want craved and repeatedly buy my product. And it’s
not just, okay great, this is good, but I would never buy it. So I wanted to test that as quickly
as possible and I figured the farmer’s market was the easiest way to
access that immediate feedback. And I went in like prepared to lose,
maybe up to a thousand, $2,000, just based off like buying your LLC,
you know, setting up a basic website, you know, boots, stuff, you
know, filing for my trademark. Sure. The, the, the goal
is to do two things, to increase your conversion rate on
the checkout and then to increase your average order value on
with post-purchase upsells. So what we do is we allow we allow
merchants to have a checkout page that’s completely in their control. So Shopify is a fantastic platform
and their checkout is good too, but it is limiting in the
amount of flexibility that
merchants have to add trust symbols to add images, testimonials to test things out,
different button colors and so on. And then the other thing we do is we
take that three page Shopify checkout and we put it all on one page. The metrics we look for are amount of
unique visitors to a site on a monthly basis because we need
enough traffic to run a, B, or multivariate testing on this site. So generally we want to see more than 10
to 12,000 unique visitors per month to the site as a bare minimum before
you can truly focus on AB testing. The way that we to define a conversion
rate optimization is the improving of any metric that we are looking to grow that
would ultimately lead to additional revenue for the eCom site. You know, I’ve have learned along the way the
best methods to grow aggressively and eCommerce and it’s, it’s
a growing market. I mean, we all know that it’s the growing
piece of any given industry. But it does take quite a discipline to
be able to grow at triple digit growth and still sustain profitability. The retailers have been pressured mostly
realistically by Amazon to develop their eCommerce business in the mid two
thousands and through today and they’re still building, but they’ve got a
quite a foundation developed. Now. What I’m actually involved
with is other industries, whether it’s manufacturers, there’s a big conversation out
there today with direct to consumer, how manufacturers can go directly to the
consumer rather than wholesale to the retailers. And then other industries
such as financial and services. I can remember when I
decided to quit my job, it was really during the financial crisis
of 2008 and it was the day the dollar broke. And for me it was
like I lost my religion. I didn’t know what anything was anymore.
And I started thinking, you know, the only safe thing today is potatoes. And I’d had this dream since I was 18
years old of being able to create this shoe. And I ended up just talking
to people about it nonstop talking. And everyone’s like, you know,
honestly, that’s a good idea. You sound very passionate about
it. Well, why don’t you do it? So by January I was able to leave my
company and by February I started working part time, or sorry, full time,
I’m looking for a solution. I’m using the skill set I have,
which is mergers, acquisitions, buying intellectual property. So I try to buy a company that looked
like they had interesting technology in the United States. So they
were in a chapter 11 situation. The technologies tested
very badly here in France. People were comparing the shoes
to dead donkeys, which you know, that’s a hard sell. So no you really don’t, you really don’t. So nine months later I figured there was
nothing out there that I could buy and improve. So I started working with engineers here
in Paris and we started working on our own approach. So I had heard of some people
and basically they were
trying to get you to buy products and giving you discount codes
and realizing that that would drive sales. So thinking it
through, I was like, okay, let’s build up an email list and
let’s send that email as coupon codes. But rather than just sending them links, I’m going to tell them what to search for, I’m and tell him what page it’s going
to be on and then have them go through that. So I’d build up a
list, have them do that, and suddenly I have X number of people.
The first day that product launches, searching for the exact perfect
keywords and buying that product, you would kind of shoot up the ranking. So I had products with one review that
was like top three product in a very competitive space and it was working
really well. And all of this was all, this was gray hat at the
time. Technically Amazon has, in their terms of service, you’re not allowed to do anything
whatsoever that remotely gives you an advantage or tries to help
you sell your product. So it was kind of something where
Amazon sellers were like, okay, this is a joke. We don’t care, so we’re
going to try. And that’s what I did. I was also pretty decent at copywriting
and marketing and advertising as well. So using Amazons, Amazon’s PPC engines,
the best PPC engine in the world. So dealing with that and really pouring
money into things that were either, they didn’t have to be profitable, they just had to get us ranking and
get us selling well enough to where the losses from PPC could kind of eat those. And then the gains from organic
sales more than made up for it. Yeah, there’s definitely a lot of mess.
It’s, it’s a weird space. You know, Google’s algorithm is a black box
because the more people know about it, then the more people will try
to manipulate it. And you know, that’s what Google has been battling
for the last two decades is all kinds of spam and people trying to manipulate the
rankings in terms of SEO being dead or alive. SEO is very much alive. If you have a website and you look
over the last several years of how much traffic it’s getting you know, unless
of course, you know, I don’t know, there was like a penalty or some other
change to the site. I’ve seen, you know, the, the traffic and the amount
of search volume to Google
basically continue to grow over time. The change has been that Google is
starting to give answers in the search results page itself, which means that not as frequently
will people be clicking on those search results and becoming
traffic to your website. So that’s been posing a
challenge certainly going
forward for people that have been using SEO to get
traffic to their website. And then you have things
like voice search, which is at the time of our recording
now, it is still very early. But maybe two, three, four years from now things might pick
up where people are searching by voice, not by, you know, on their, let’s say like typing on their mobile
phone or on their desktops rather than visiting a website. So things
are definitely evolving. You could easily inflate growth by running
some paid ads and getting traffic to the side. So you have that pretty
graph that goes up into the right. For whenever I’m thinking of growth
with the eCommerce companies, usually I’m thinking of something that’s,
you know, sustainable and repeatable. So you found a channel for
getting quality traffic. And that can be a free channel
or maybe it’s a paid channel, but it’s an ROI positive paid channel. And the traffic that’s coming in, you can actually convert
that traffic into customers. And a reasonable conversion rate.
It’s usually what the eCommerce sites, you know, that’s over 2%. If you’re selling products between 50
to 300 bucks and unless you’re in the acquisition game you actually
also have retention. So you’re Able to get good repeat
purchases and under say 90 days A scale. Excel is my newest venture. I’ve been doing e-commerce consulting
for I guess about 10 years now. I started because I was
a broke college student. I ended up failing out of school and I
needed to find a new way to replace my scholarship. I got five younger
brothers and my parents said, it’s great idea if you go to
school, but we can’t pay for it, so you you’re going to need to
figure something out. And I said, man, what can I do? And I’d done a
little bit of web design in high school. I am somehow stumbled my way into
digital marketing and started off as a copywriter. So then one
thing led to another, ended up founding a company with some
guys and I realized that there’s just a huge market and direct consumer
e-commerce offering. So I said, man, I’m going to keep doing this. Took a year
off and did your mission and she lay, I’m Catholic and came back and
decided to get back in the game, did some more consulting for
a survival product company. And now I’m looking to acquire some
companies as well as offer a little bit of individualized consulting. A lot of people that host WordPress
sites have fundamentally made sure their site runs fast by
caching everything right? By turning it into basically
an HTML site via cash. And that doesn’t work
for applications, right? If you’re running a membership
site, a course, any kind of LMS, and if you’re running an
eCommerce store, right, you can’t just go to one of those
other hosts and say, Hey, run my store. Because their infrastructure
is suited towards WordPress, not necessarily woo commerce. And that’s
when people start feeling that pain. They call in, Hey, I’m having
trouble. This isn’t working. Right. And that’s why we created managed
WooCommerce hosting. Right. So that you could basically call in and
say, Oh, I have this problem. They go, yeah, I understand exactly
what you’re talking about. Yeah, I mean, right off the bat, I would
say if they’re working with, you know, trading companies or agents
or wholesalers, you know, you always just want to go direct
to factory, especially at scale. So that’s really kind of the
first analysis that we do. Secondly is understanding, you know,
where they’re manufacturing right now, China is actually become one of the more
expensive areas of the world to produce products. And so a lot of times we’re diversifying
a production outside of China, into India, Vietnam, Thailand,
Pakistan, the Philippines, you name it. And so really, you know,
diversification is another, you know, big kind of step that we
make. And then, you know, number two is just actually from
their team standpoint, you know, really making sure that they
have the right tools in place, which is why we developed our
software to enable them to, you know, have complete oversight and control of
production and understand what’s going on in each step of the way.
Yeah, I mean, imagine, I’d like to tell my clients and
people I’m talking to like friends and marketers, it’s like, imagine if
Facebook just disappeared over night. Like how would that impact your
business? And so many of these companies Are doing 90, 95, 99% of their
sales from Facebook. Which is great. Like Facebook’s killing it. But
it’s just like you said, it’s, it’s tough being at the
mercy of that platform. Historically, everyone, any commerce really knows
us for email capture. So you’ve come to pretty easily design
and target things like exit intent popups or spin wheels or fly outs
that take the site traffic. You have offer an incentive in exchange
for an email list subscription and then we would plug that into MailChimp
or Klaviyo or whoever you use. As we’ve grown within this space, we
had a lot of customers that said, Hey, we’d like your support. We like how easy it is to use the product
and how tightly integrated it is for eCommerce. So they actually started asking us for
email marketing tools specifically and our first use case around email marketing
that’s going very well really ties the concept of the data we see on your
website and emails together in a way that helps us run cart abandonment
emails like no one else can. And I’m happy to kind of
walk through that too. Definitely SEO can be
hard for eCommerce sites. Ecommerce sites tend to tend
to have issues like getting
links like and getting, if you’re reaching out to influencers, a lot of influencers are pay to play
nowadays, so, so that can get difficult. I remember that statistic when we
first started, we were like, Oh, are we gonna make it past that five year
Mark? And, you know, things like that. And I think customer service is probably
been the single biggest reason why, you know I, I pin it down to, there’s a lot of other companies out
there that make products similar to me. I, you know, I belong to a
business group where, you know, I would vouch for their products to
almost as much as I would vow to mind because we all sort of
follow the same principles. So there is a reason that my customers
are going to come back to scrum and that’s going to be the
way they’re treated here. Yeah. So, I mean, we, in
the last 19 years you know, in terms of educating our consumer and
prospecting and trying to, you know, it’s funny, I use [inaudible] words like words like
prospecting a roll off of my tongue now, but when it was, you know, 1999 we’re
just trying to figure it out. You know, prospecting wasn’t a, a
marketing term that I, that I was familiar with
at the time. And now it is. So, you know, we moved from, we moved from print ads to to working
with other digital outlets as they came and came, came on board. I mean, we were, we were online selling before
Google AdWords was a thing. The biggest thing that I tell people
especially since I also work with other brands doing consulting because a lot
of people just end up fighting me and I like to talk business. So that’s
where we’re part physical product, part digital media and now part
agency as well. A lot of people, I think they also get that conception about content marketing
that it only has to be written, Oh, I might not be a great writer or you
know, it only has to be Instagram. Oh, I don’t really take photos that well. You just have to really pick one
modality and then you just go for it. So in the beginning, I only did YouTube before
anything else before social media, all I really did was YouTube videos and
video was where everything got started. So, and of course, you know, video tends to be a really big sales
converter, you know, by itself. So if you can do video then great. But if you are not comfortable with
video yet, go with the writing, go with the blogging. Sure. So I, I think you begin to see marketing
automation come into play especially on a retail front as an adjunct
to your eCommerce platform. So, you know, when somebody makes a
purchase or put something into their cart, but maybe it doesn’t
complete the purchase, these marketing automation platforms are
getting really good at kind of having triggers set up where you can notify
the marketing automation platform that someone’s always taken this action, but maybe they haven’t completed the
purchase or they haven’t, you know, finished the conversion
that we might like them to. And it’s at that point that you can use
the marketing automation platform to take over and, you know, send them abandoned cart notifications
offers for a upgrade or coupon or, or something like that. So we started with no card abandonment. So we’ve got that pre-purchased
suite of emails. You know, where we capture emails earlier in
the process and the shopping process. Like you can capture emails when
someone adds something to the cart, for example or when they
reach the checkout page. And we’ll send like recovery emails
for those which we find are fantastic revenue generators for
a lot of stores, right? We’ll send purchase confirmation
emails. So like your, your order status emails like receipts, shipping confirmations
cancellation notices, right? And then also a lot of
post-purchase emails. So we see a huge variety of emails people
sends usually things like asking for a product review, sending an educational
series trip for particular products, right? We see that a lot with
membership sites. You know, where they send like kind of an
intro to your membership thing. We see people using win-back
emails for lapsed customers, replenishment reminders. If you sell something that’s consumable
and people are typically, you know, repurchasing that a welcome series
for first time purchasers or repeat purchasers, right? It’s to kind of thank them
for their loyalty or to send
discounts for their next purchase. So I’m, I’m not one to tell somebody that their
business model is not going to work. I recognize that there are people that
understand how to do, for example, retail arbitrage and do that very, very well and there are companies that
know how to identify other people’s brands and negotiate good arrangements
with those brands so that they can be the resellers. There are companies that do private
label brands that actually know how to launch products very, very well
on Amazon. That being said, there are lots that try to make their own
brands and have absolutely no idea how to do it well. So the reality
is all these models can work. The challenge is you have to recognize, you need different skills and different
processes to be able to make each of the models work. I kind like to start a
little bit before that. I normally come into clients when they’re
working through the design and the development. A lot of times people
are like ready to, you know, make changes in their business, get more
clients, and they start with, you know, maybe a design update
or a development update. And that’s kind of where I like to come
in to make sure that it’s designed with SEO in mind, that it’s not simply designed to look
amazing or to put the products or the services, you know, most
beautifully on the site. But I want to make sure that
it is designed with SEO in mind For backlinks, especially
when it comes to e-commerce. There’s no quick solutions
other than to build a brand. So we found the ones that focus on brand
building naturally build up the most backlinks over time. You can also
create press and do product launches. We felt that works really well with
e-commerce. If you’re just selling, you know, shoelaces and shoes that
everyone else has, that’s fine. But if you’re releasing a new pair of
kicks that no one’s ever seen before, creating a vet around a launching or a
whole line, kind of like what Apple does, but for your eCommerce products,
it’s a great way to get press. People covering it. Backlinks and the all does help
with rankings in the long run. Yeah, that’s, that’s
one very popular thing. And then the other side of it that tends
to work really well with eCommerce in some cases it works much better is
actually to give your customer a, a way to get their friends at discount. So there are a lot of times they’re
different from affiliates in that they’re more interested in hooking their friends
up with a good deal than they are in like earning, you know, a gift card or a discount on their
next purchase. And so I think every, every store owners should test those
things and figure it out which one works for their customer base and their product. That’s what Kickstarter is about.
That’s what people are giving you. I was just meeting with a new bookkeeper
yesterday and explaining to him, Hey, you know, I do a lot of presales, a lot of Kickstarter and
there’s some accounting things. We have to keep a track on that cause
we’ve got money coming in that’s like not actually being recognized as revenue for
six months later when we ship out the product. And he’s like, so they just give you their money and
then don’t get anything for a year later. I’m like, yeah, I don’t, it’s
crazy if you say it that way. But, and but that’s like what you’re selling
is the product that you’re also selling. You’re bringing them on the journey,
right? And that’s where your, you get these people who are
excited about the process, who you’re going to bring them along. So you know, if you are
obviously, you know, in a competitive e-commerce landscape,
you need to monitor all the actions Of your competitors, including the
pricing decisions. So, and on top of that, you need to come up with competitive
and profitable pricing decisions. So we have eCommerce retailers from all
around the world to really satisfy that. In an automated way. And we do
this in actually three steps. So we initially helped those eCommerce
companies to automatically identify all their competitor listings. So let’s
say they are selling product a. So we automatically identify all
the listings for this product, a on let’s say tons of eCommerce companies
out there. And with the matching, let’s say landscape, we done focused on tricking all
the prices of those products on, on those tens of different
channels in an automated way. We talked price monitoring modules. So we have an automated price monitoring
for benchmarking all the prices over the competitors. And
then we deliver all this, let’s say fresh and updated data in a
web dashboard. We send email alerts, we send Excel reports. Okay. So I think,
you know, for eCommerce especially, I would look at product name. I think that that’s very important
for branding. And for just, you know, leaving a lasting impression
with your customers. I would also test your main product
photo because that’s going to have a huge impact on your click
through rates. And you know, just sort of the appeal that
your product has, the the, the impression that it
leaves with customers. And then I would look very carefully
at the language in your product description. So those would be my
top three for an eCommerce listing. Yeah. So we have a calmness and
we define like five key steps of, of a customer journey. So our first
one is even before having a contact, so it’s anonymous, anonymous visitor
to your website, your online store. So with that visitor, the first
girl in the first stage is to be, to convert a visitor into subscriber to, to convert into subscribers. So this is a second stage
like becoming a subscriber. And once talking about subscriber, what’s very important that usually
we do understand subscribers, that email subscriber leaving an email
address and obtaining fall and news newsletters. But but what do
we advocate for is irrelevant. This definition should be expanded. So subscriber is the one who attends to
email is the one who gives a permission to communicate via Facebook messenger, which allows you to send push
notifications, all text messages. MMS. So all of those subscribers, because you get the permission
from a person to communicate. Like with a customer, you Know, we serve any customer who, who
understands what our mission is about. Our mission is to make men look and feel
awesome. And it’s like through that, that awesomeness that they can derive
their confidence to take on the world and ultimately make the world a better place.
So I don’t care what you look like, I don’t care what you dress like if you, if you are that Harley guy or if you’re
that musician or if you’re that woodsmen and you identify with a brand, you
know, it’s a, it’s a big open camp. Like we’re not, we’re not an
exclusionary type of company, but at the same time, you know, like
these are our roots of our companies. Like this is, this is where we came
from. And, and we believe that, you know, a well-groomed beard is completely
different than, you know, a beer that, that you’d see like a homeless guy where, or someone who just doesn’t take care
of it. And it can really add like a, a lot of effects and a lot of
he can bring attention to you, which puts you in a position of power
and leadership where you can utilize like a well-groomed beard. As you know,
really like a leader in your community With eCommerce learning is such a huge
part of this game because we’re now in this accelerated transformative
curve where, you know, we have our playbook and
then a year later it’s, it’s as if that playbook is
not as effective anymore. So, you know, how do you, so you know,
everything’s going to change, you know, so how do you do that trendspotting and
learning so that you’re not surprised. Cause I think as a, as an eCommerce
company hates surprises. I, I wanna, you know, you don’t
have to be the first person, but you just want to be on that first
wave of people that becomes aware of these shifts in strategy and trends. So that’s how I got more interested
in learning because I’ve, I’ve been in the industry for 20 years And a lot, I hear a lot of
sellers that will say, well, I go to bed bath and beyond or I go
to target or something like that. And I see that they’re
using canned copy. Yes. But they don’t have to depend on the
power and the the boost that original copy brings them because they have devoted
shoppers, they are huge sites. They have a huge list they can mail to
and drive traffic to a site any given time. They’re sending out mass mailings in
newspapers every Sunday about the sales that they’re having and
they’re driving traffic. And a lot of other ways that a brand
new eCommerce site or even a small established site might not be doing. So the dependency on what copy can bring
is going to be even more important for medium to smaller sites than it would
be for great big, giant e-tailers. Right? So there are multiple ways in which
fraudsters obviously can affect a business all in the online business. Right. So, and in one of the most important of
them in terms of how much it affects the bottom line is what we call a Charge backs. Sorry, the transactions that
you accepted in your website, usually with art credit cars and they the, the actual card holder, it will say that the he or she doesn’t
recognize the transaction and then he or she will ask for a reimbursement,
the card holder and then they bank, they issuer bank will give
the money back to this person. And then this liability, this financial liability when it comes
to card not present transactions are the liabilities on the
immersions Childers. Right? So which means that let’s say
you sold a hundred meters, $100,000 in a given month, eventually two or three
of these transactions will
get back to you as charge backs and then you have to pay back your
bank and a lot of your revenues can be really recognize it. And on the other hand you’ll lose probably
you lost probably or the products who shaped or what are the services To, so I’ve worked a lot with real estate
agents and they all come to me because they see my YouTube
channel and they’re like, well I want to do that cause every real
estate agent is really just a personal brand. So if they do it the right way, they can build a strong following on
social media and use that to leverage that to really generate more
sales for the agency. The trouble is most agents
come to me and they tried to, when they think YouTube
they’re like, all right, well I just want to put all my listings
on my YouTube channel. I’m like, well number one, have you ever in your life heard of
anyone going to YouTube to look at a listing? No, because
they’re gone too quickly. Youtube is a long form content platform. So there it’s where
stuff needs to to last. It just needs to last a long amount of
time where a listing is there and then it’s gone, you know the next
day. So, and not to mention, no one’s going to YouTube and searching
home listings in Atlanta, Georgia, right? That’s not where you go. You go to Google and then you usually
end up on like Zillow or Trulia or something like that, right? So you have to start to wrap your head
around what content would people look for instead of what do I want to sell? Do you, to the YouTube channel only, you
know, became a thing because I’m a big, I’m a big fan of guy, Gary Vaynerchuk
and his, you’ve heard of them. He’s a YouTube, you know, entrepreneur
or whatever. And I grew up in, I grew up in the town
or town next to where, where he grew up and I kind
of grew up in his, you know, like entrepreneurship
shadow. So, you know, one day I got to meet him and the great
piece of advice that he gave me was to find the white space, right? Find when
other people aren’t doing in your space. You know, what’s, you know, where can
you fit in, where can you capitalize? Others aren’t planning and do
that. It took a little while. I didn’t immediately say YouTube.
But I knew that people around me, my dad being one said, you know,
maybe you’re not the best on camera, meaning me, but you can start to practice and no
one else in your business is doing it. No one else in the industry.
So take a shot. You know, maybe you’ll get better at it.
In fact, you almost surely will. So I just took a shot that was about
six or eight months into the business. So YouTube was a, you know,
it was kind of an afterthought For us. We, a lot of people don’t say
a lot of different things
when it comes down, right? A lot of people For a while they got obsessed
with Japan. People got obsessed, are now obsessed with Australia
as well as at the time recording. And the reality is that the two
biggest markets and Amazon are, do you see us being number one and
then the European zone been number two? Because cause we have the FN. So we’re
able to, to classify Europe as one place. So we always focus on, if
you’re sending inventory over, I would say 50 to 60% of the inventory
to the U S the remainder to Europe. And that’s what I would do to, to test
because they’re similar size markets. So it kind of makes sense.
Okay. So it’s a pain. So you’d split a base almost in half
basically half Tiara pal most, yeah, almost in half now
because of, you know, the, the European markets have developed
a lot more than years ago. We would have done maybe 70, 30 a few years ago in favor of the U S
whereas that’s kind of changing now that European micros are getting bigger
because there’s five countries as a whole. But the thing you got to remember,
but the European markets as well, which is really cool, is that, let’s say
you’re selling your product in Germany. Well people in Austria, they’ll see your German listing cause
they typically shop on amazon.de so you’re not really just selling to five countries. You’re selling to the
surrounding countries as well. Well, I think diversifying. I
think any, any business, and again, if you’re just selling a product, you’re not a business really
that that’s my belief, right? If you’re just selling a one off
product, a widget of some kind, you’re not really, you’re not really a business in a sense
because you’re not a brand. You’re not, you’re not a business that someone can
go in and ball and buy multiple products or everything is linked together, or you have content that
can actually help people. Like if you’ve ever seen any
really successful brands, they always mix in content so
they get traffic externally. They’re dominating the search
engines. They have an email list. They have a presence on social,
like all of these different things. They’re communicating with the customer. That’s a brand like look
at Bulletproof, right? Bulletproof has content to help
people live a healthier life, but they also sell products. People underestimate that. When
you’re first getting started, the the most important aspect is your
own personal interest in the business, right? You are the engine that’s going
to drive this thing to the first, you know, $100,000 in
revenue or whatever it is. And so keeping your own interests
is really, really important. It’s like a car engine that you know,
that that needs to start, it needs to, needs to be interested in. So I think the other thing to think
about when you’re doing this is like, even if the numbers all make sense, if you hate waking up on
Saturday morning to work on this, you’re going to have a very
rough road ahead of you. So I actually really like this idea of
aligning your interest in working on this project first, like before all the numbers and before
everything else and then letting a lot of that momentum carry you towards it
because it’s just easier to figure it out, right? Like if you’re having a problem
with keywords in your title tags or your, or getting reviews or fixing a problem
with the product in the factory, you find yourself naturally solving the
problem. If you love what you’re doing. I know it’s cliche, I know it’s corny, but and I know that not
everyone does it that way. There’s plenty of people working on big
businesses with boring products, right? But I personally wasn’t able to find
myself able to wake up in the morning on Saturday morning and work on the
product unless I was in love with it. So step one, most people
want to skip past. Step one is getting your
content plan in place. So because Instagram is designed to be
an on the go social media platform where for for years it was impossible to post
from anything except for your phone. Now they’ve kind of opened
that up a little bit, but because it’s on the go most people
thought that they had to generate new content all the time, every single day. And there is a place
for generating content. But if you’re going to grow it and
you’re going to grow it effectively and systematically, then your content
has to be systematic as well. So first thing that I always explain
to people is I basically break it down. You want a five, five content categories. So five different styles of posts and
they could be anything from memes. In fact, on my website, I publish a
list of them, but it means you know, inspiration customer testimonials. I’m specifically dealing with like
eCommerce brands, testimonials you know, lifestyle pics, whatever
the, whatever the case is. So you want to choose your content
categories and you want to post I say no less than once a day. Like you said you really want to
you know, post as much as possible. You could post one to three times a day. The reality of, of traffic on Amazon is that the lion’s
share of it moves through search. And nowadays with Amazon’s advertising
and sponsored ads specifically pretty much everything above the
fold is a paid placement. So the bulk of all clicks
are paid placements and
Amazon’s advertising units do have a, a very high click
through and conversion rates. So while there still is a, a significant
amount of traffic that moves through, you know, organic search an increasingly
large share is going through a page, specifically sponsored ads. Well, you have to learn to
think different. You know, if the rat is always trapped in the rat
maze it never finds a way out or never decides to break free we’ll just
continually be chasing that. Jeez. Always one step behind.
And, and unfortunately, yeah the, the entrepreneur
is one of the best, a sort of tributaries to go upstream
financially in one’s life to become an entrepreneur is, I think one of the
coolest and best ways that this, you know, this country has sort of left for, for the average American if you’re
smart and savvy enough to manage it. You know, I mean, we do have a
lot of trouble in our big, I mean, we’ve got one point $5 trillion in
student loan debt, you know, mortgages, credit cards that are
going out of control. But I’d say one of the best things
you can do is start a business. I mean that’s, that’s a very old
strategy. It’s, it’s old as, as, as old as the pyramids. Really. If I had not started
with retail arbitrage, if I had not started
with online arbitrage, if I had not gone through all those
processes, I wouldn’t be where I am today, you know? I just got started then.
That’s, that’s the key I think as, as getting started. It doesn’t matter
what you do, doesn’t matter how you do, it doesn’t matter. Just, just
have a goal that, okay, by X, I want to make X. Right. Have a vision. But you don’t need to know every single
step of the way to get there because if you just sit there and dwell over, well, I think I should do this before this and
I think I should do that before this. And what if this happened here? And
what if that doesn’t work out this way? You’re just never going
to get started. Like, literally every single successful
entrepreneur I have interviewed or, or you know, spoken to
or, or, or seen, you know, been interviewed or something
like that. They always say, when I first got started, I didn’t
know how I was going to get there. I didn’t have all the
pieces in the right places. I just knew I wanted to go somewhere and
I knew if I don’t do anything about it, nothing’s going to change. And that’s what I always tell people
is that just start man, just stop, you know, over analyzing things.
Just start somewhere. You know, I think one of the things that I
like to think of is start slow. Especially with a blog or a podcast,
you know, the examples that we’re using, it’s easy to get overwhelmed
with all that you should do, but really what you need to
do is one thing at a time. And it’s just fine to start with.
Like if you’re starting a blog write one article and after
that’s done write another. And after a while I would think
about the consistency of them. It’s really easy and it’s a, it’s a good practice to kind of borrow
from the news of the world or the media of cadences, right? But first just prove to yourself that
you can actually create that content and put it out there and after a while, maybe commit to publishing every
Monday and what they’ll do is literally kickstart. Like, Oh, if I want to publish
next Monday, I better be writing now. And it’ll help you to think in
that mindset of a proper cadence. And then as you start to nail every
single Monday just add in more days and go from there. Yeah. So I’ve been in internet
marketing for a long time and really, I mean it’s called digital
marketing now, but back, you know, 20 years ago when this was like just
getting started it was a very wild, wild West type of thing
going on. And, you know, just weird people were on the internet
trying to sell stuff on there, but now it’s, it’s definitely mainstream. Everyone does it right. It became a
lot more normal. Right. Where before, like you said, it was literally just
like this, like people are doing it. You’re like, is this a scam? I don’t know. But now this became like
just a way businesses Mark, this is normally what people do. Now. Some people have it down and they
say, you know, we’ve got this, we’re happy with our website copy, we’re
happy with our product descriptions, but we need to bring this into our email
life cycle or we need to write a new welcome series. Other clients are saying, we know where we’ve been and
we know where we want to go, but we’re not sure how to
get there. And so we’ll say, where does it make sense to roll
out? More of a distinctive voice? Or where does it make sense to experiment
a little bit, especially with humor. Cause I, they’re in the lead a whole
lot, but humor is kind of my thing. And so we’ll, we’ll
figure that out together. But often humor is the
best place to start. Or emails are the best place to start
with humor because you’re building that one on one relationship
in someone’s inbox. One example for us that is
has had a decent return on it, is looking at, you know, everything in your content library and
everything in your customer journey, looking at, you know,
everything you’ve got out there. And then sending machine learning
algorithms out to determine what are the critical checkpoints
and when do they happen. So you can come back with
a graph and say, okay look, so in the average four month
buying cycle for this product, we can see that in the first three months. These are the three things that
everybody tends to hit. You know, as they crossed this threshold here, these one or two marketing
programs are the most effective. And then we see the indicators
at the end of, you know, these are the ones that are
already there when we close. And then you’re also able
to test, you know okay, so you kind of know which
ones are the checkpoints. They always hit which ones are
directly correlated to that too. So you can look at certain things
and ultimately say, Hey, look, if we drive more traffic to, you
know, these two or three videos, we know that that will pay out with
business over the next four months. Human nature really hasn’t changed. And if you can understand a persuasion
principles like I talk about in my book, or direct marketing strategies that work
back in the 1920s, thirties, forties, 50s they use the same things. It’s just a delivery mechanism is
different how people are receiving the message. So that’s a, a real important message that you hit on
that I really definitely like to share with the listeners.

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