I totally agree, I work a 9-5, I get home and I work on the site, designs, SEO etc then most weekends too - an understanding partner is very important and be careful not to let it affect your relationship, your partner will (indirectly) feel all your excitement AND frustration.
Thanks for the input and looks like I keep soldiering on - I'm in it for the long haul, but it's great to get peoples feedback and own personal stories / perspective - thank you!
Ecommerce is hard, and I think an important part of an e-commerce's business' success is brand. I think people have touched on brand awareness and doing content marketing to promote your brand, but it also comes down to brand confidence and happiness when your potential customers end up landing on your store.
We just wrote an article on what markers of a great ecommerce brand are, feel free to check it out.
Having the right data to figure out why people are buying as well as why they aren't buying are both equally important. Are the inconsistencies seasonal, did something happen that prompted a spike or dip in sales?
I see that you have a bunch of good apps installed already, so you're doing good. And looks like you have the right philosophies in not buying email addresses or just spamming the hell out of social media or just mass following people. Sure, you'll get a bunch of leads, but likely unqualified leads that aren't worth anything.
Keep it up, do share more on your experiences, I think it helps everyone else.
Short and simple advice.
Good designs are what you have. So keep the consistency up.
T-shirts/clothing are one of the hardest industries to crack into.
Be in this for the long haul and you may do well.
Thank you for the positive words, really appreciate them, agree that consistency and long term game plan are key for success.
I'm actually a naturally very impatient person, so the thought of having to grind for 5-6yrs or more should be a real turn off, but I actually love the thought of where I could be after that period of time (if nowhere, then I've lost nothing, but enlighted some people in the world with my products :-)
I'd like to add some comments on sales and giveaways, as feel it's too easy to think that throwing money at the problem (because it will cost you) will solve your issues.
I actually just finished a sale and you know what, I sold more AFTER the event had ended than I did during - nuts? not really.
So I'm sat there realising that it's too early, it's too early to think that a good old sale will just drive people in and convert them because stuff is on offer - this comes down to brand confidence and awareness and actually in the early days I think a sale (and especially the promotional work you should do on it) should be more about driving awareness than sales themselves.
Don't be too keen to devalue your product (and subsequently brand) in the hope of a quick fix, people still wont buy from you because they dont know you and actually, you probably made them less likely to buy because they may now view your product as a cheap / inferior alternative trying to cash in on the market).
But do use your activity to show how good your store is, to capture their details and re-engage with them later.
Some of my own advice here goes against my own "salesman" experience and methods (convert them whilst you've got em there etc) but these only really work face to face and in the online world, people like to mooch about, they can browse a virtual highstreet in a few clicks rather than an hour of walking (or 4 if you're with my missus) so they do.
Instead of focusing on the ideology that a low price = more sales, focus on the extra stuff about you and your company, the stuff they will remember when they leave your site empty handed, but return at a later date because you struck a chord with them and got inside their head (this could be your ethics or contribution to worthy causes etc).
Using heatmaps, I've seen a lot more of my traffic hitting the "about us" button than actual product and this is such valuable information to see, because it tells me people want to know more about me and the company first, before they'll invest in our product.
I've more work to do on this myself, but like to share my insights with those starting out as feel I can give you some hope, even if you think you are failing.
You're not. The online world is so saturated now, it is a very difficult place to launch a business (even if technically easy through amazing platforms like Shopify). Success stories like Ugmonk (a store that inspired me) had it far easier than you do now, the world was far less internet savvy and saturated with ecommerce. It doesn't mean it wasn't hard work, but those with vision and passion for what they did, had a much higher chance of achieving earlier success than you do now - it's just a numbers game.
I worked for a PC Software & Hardware company in the early noughties (1997-2007 to be precise) and experienced the .COM explosion (and bursting) first hand. Even now, BIG corporate companies are only just getting themselves setup online properly, some 16 years after the Internet / Ecommerce exploded into life. Just think how it will look in another 15-16 years... scary... so you're actually STILL in a good place to make a go of this :-)
Remember: The world is a big place, like, really big... and customers like choice, lots of choice... so there will always be a place for you and your product and there will always be people that connect with it - you just need to find them.
Somebody tried to tell me that it was no good trying to be like a Gucci or Armani (hell I'll even take Hollister or Abercrombie to you US folk) as they wouldn't know who `Firelake` were - sure - I agree with this to an extent, those companies have decades of history and loyal fan bases, but I'll tell you what - people like choice (did I say that already?) and if you can create designs and products that they love, it doesn't matter who you are, you WILL sell them.
So what will set you apart from the other 1000s of stores trying the same thing? (and you'll see many of them on these forums, opening and closing) your sheer determination and will power, plus the knowledge that in 15-16 years time the net will be even more crowded than Waterloo / NYC station in rush hour.
Build your story, take your customers on a journey (to coin a phrase) and do read the various articles on these forums about creating a brand identity - I would really say to nail that before you do anything else - if you focus on driving people to your store first, you'll be wasting your time and energy (but if you're like me and like to learn by doing, testing things, go for it - just know what to expect and be in it for the long run).
your website firstly is clean tidy and easy to navigate so well done you.
I launched Rew clothing online 2012 and boy oh boy have I learnt so much in the last few years, still no expert but I make a living.
I can not emphasise enough the importance of re engaging with your customers.
I always look at my abandoned carts and retarget MailChimp is great for this.
I always send a follow up emails after a purchase ( yes automated MailChimp) but it works, I get lots of conversations flowing from customers and word soon spreads.
News letters general rule only shout if you have something to shout about.
News letters earn me so much extra revenue each one I send can generate between £500- £5000 depending on content offers and so on ....
Your product shots are fab but I'd definitely look at life style images for social media and banner images .. hero images really work.
Where are you based out of curiosity?
Thanks for the great insight,enforces what I know I need to do and must get around to doing it :-)
I'm currently targeting the "missing link" of customers that Shopify doesn't register as "abandoned" and those are the ones that add to cart, but don't make it to checkout - something you should look into if you don't already, cannot advise enough on doing this (theres a great app which recognises customers that registered previously too - so if they add something to cart, but don't get to checkout (and thus Shopify's abandoned cart list) it captures them and sends them a recovery email - neat!
I'm based in Southampton, England - hence the Saints FC shirts section :-)
Nice to hear you're doing well from it, it is my dream too (to enable me to live/work the life I want and not slave away for somebody elses business).
hi Paul, I admire all the hardwork you've made.
Reading your post gives me a great boost and hope for my store. My freelancer lady that took care of my seo always ,(almost) everyday reminding me to not give up even though it is hard to make a sale at the beginning. I have her since August up to now, and shes been doing great on everything. she puts backlinks to my website and what not... she keeps reminding me that the more i stay the more great result. she even put blogs (2-3 a month) for me on my website and does all the seo manually. she does email amrketing too.
i just want to know REAL people who run business with the same scenario as me that go through with all the process of waiting, until it will get establised. Finally, i saw your post. thank you for posting this and it is a great relief for me knowing that SEO is our backbone on an ecommerce industry.
if you have a spare time, can you pls send me an email to [ firstname.lastname@example.org ] and will still would like to ask few more questions if you do not mind.
joyce @ thelaxboutique
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