Hi There - I am looking for some feedback from this community on my new business. This may be a long post but I want to give a lot of detail and context to this community so that you can really give me the most honest and real feedback.
So I am 27 and from Toronto Canada, I HAD a corporate career prior to this virus but lost it 2 months ago and rather than watch Netflix I figured I would start my own business venture as a side project to learn. I found a new career I start in July, but for the time off I set a goal: to really just learn about eCommerce and not lose too too much money in the process lol... BUT if it takes off and scales then great. I have a passion for fitness and have relationships with suppliers in china so I decided to private label fitness product in the at home gym equipment space... Starting with resistance bands. Synergistixbands.com is the site.
To date, I have built my site, created a pre-order page for the product, and have begun working on an Instagram account (@synergistixbands) while my product is in production. Product will arrive early July, at which point I will be taking professional photography and videography. My main differentiation are: 1) service from North America and same day shipping. 2) My accessory set that is not sold with this product by any other supplier.
Here are my questions:
Amazon - I have connected with a few people in my space who believe the best way to build a business in the category is to start first with an Amazon page before a Shopify page (even though I have now built the Shopify page first). What is everyone's thoughts on me placing my product in Amazon as FBA product? How much would it cost (roughly in marketing) to get up in pages? What are the challenges? If i have 10-15 people buy from amazon and write reviews is that against the policy? Would it work?
Marketing - I am wondering what this communities believes is for the best direction. I have heard the options of Paid Instagram ads? Splitting profits with influencers and using discount codes? SEO - which I really don't know much about and seems like a lot of work for a beginner with very little opportunity cost? Etc. Most seem to think I need to build my funnel in advertising by starting broad. BUT I am thinking, can i reverse engineer the funnel? Ex. Social Proof is everything early on. If I just pay for advertising to get some quick sales and follows, and generate some posts, then from there I can build a brand and go through the Top Of Funnel, Middle Of Funnel, Bottom Of Funnel marketing strategy? Or do I really need to stick with what works and first market for brand awareness?
Scalability - Does what I have shared make sense and look like it could work? My profit margins are healthy and my belief is that if I can sell through this product and reinvest my profit then I can continue to expand. Happy to hear any thoughts, feedback, comments, hole poking, etc.
Thanks - James
Hope you're doing well and safe.
I understand the situation you're in and I'm sure it has been tough but kudos to you for not giving up during the time of this major setback and instead you got back up and started this new venture. I have to say congratulations!
I must say that the design of your website looks really great and your I really love the fact that even though you're not shipping right now you have a " Pre order " option for the customers who really want the band.
I have a few recommendations for your regarding your store design and I hope these will be of help to you.
1. Firstly, in your main navigation menu, rather than " the band " switch it to shop button. In my first look I would not understand that this is the product button and ever in the future if you want to add more products, it'll be easier.
2. Free shipping is the biggest enticement for shopping online. And since you are offering free shipping from the very beginning, I recommend you to show that on a top announcement bar clearly specifying your free shipping offers. And you can even add any more announcements on the top bar. I would like to recommend you one of the best apps for the same purpose -Superbar
3. Length of pages - Your homepage is long and would also be needing a scroll to top button so that the viewers can easily go up to the top of your page with just one click. Providing you with a link of an app that does this best. Scroll to top
4. Invite customers to be part of your community. You can set up a blog and keep publishing fresh content out once in two weeks and this will allow you to drive traffic, help in starting conversations and build credibility.
5. "Linked In and Twitter" both are the gems of e-commerce store advertising. Hence, should be added to the site footer.
6. You must use live chat. There’s no way around it. If people have questions, they need it answered while they are still on your site. You can set up auto invites to trigger when certain criteria is met.
7. Lastly, as per my opinion, you need to create a some urgency and social proof on your store. And I sincerely think you need to add a top announcement on your store which shows urgency and you can display your announcements like "free shipping",etc. on them. I again highly recommend Superbar
Social proof will help your visitors see who all has bought your products and that increases the trust of the viewer on your product. You can use the same app (Superbar) it provides you tools like a countdown timer, geolocation, etc. I’ll be adding links of a few apps that you could use for social proof as well below.
For example, I'm sure you've seen how amazon creates urgencies in sales by showing the number of products left, upcoming sales, or drive sales by showing how quickly they have to order an item to get quick delivery, right down to the minute.
If you want to sell more, boosting the sense of urgency in your marketing is the way to go. Making people feel as if they’re about to miss out on or lose a great opportunity is a powerful way to drive conversions.
One parting tip: like many other techniques, the urgency is best used in moderation. Don’t try to put pressure on your potential customers all the time, or they’ll stop taking your offers seriously.
Instead, focus on periodically offering great deals that really are limited. I'm providing you some other app links that might be useful.
Links - Urgency Pack Ultimate
I sincerely hope my insights will be of help to you. Do let me know if you have any more questions.
Press " Like " or accept my solution to let me know if it was of help to you.
It sounds like you're doing everything right so far. Setting up a pre-order page is huge, and you're asking all the right questions for the point you're at now.
To answer your questions, Amazon is a great way to get your product in front of lots of people. They already get tons of visitors every day, whereas a new Shopify store won't get much traffic at all in the beginning. So a lot of people do start with Amazon first, then add Shopify as another sales channel later. But it's not a bad thing to start with Shopify first.
Another great thing about Amazon is their fulfillment network. It's so nice to just send them a bunch of your products and have them handle the storage, picking, packing, shipping, etc. You can even have them fulfill your Shopify orders using their MCF program. And you can automate the process of sending your Shopify orders to them and then sending their tracking info to your customers with the FBA Shipping app.
Amazon can be challenging for sellers though. They randomly suspend people all the time, sometimes for legitimate reasons, other times by mistake. And just recently they suspended all inbound shipments while sorting out this COVID-19 mess. So a lot of people couldn't replenish their products, resulting in major losses. But that doesn't mean Amazon is all bad! It's just important to have a back up so all your eggs aren't in one basket. That's where your Shopify store comes in. The challenge is simply marketing it and building up your traffic.
You can and should ask anyone who purchases your product on Amazon to leave a review. You just can't ask them to leave a positive review. Some people include a packaging insert with the product asking for a review. Just make sure you review Amazon's rules for inserts if you go that route.
As far as marketing goes, I'm so glad to see you talking about the sales funnel. That is the framework you want to use for your marketing plan. Advertising is definitely a quick way to get traffic to your store. Just make sure you have your branding in place and ideally a bit of social proof, even if it's just reviews or testimonials on your site. But obviously advertising costs money. SEO is free, but it takes awhile to kick in. Here's an article that can help you get started on that (also lots of other great articles about marketing on that site). Just keep your funnel and customer journey in mind with any marketing initiatives so that you can keep people moving down through the funnel.
This is definitely scalable. Tons of people are doing what you're doing successfully. Create a private label product, forge relationships with manufacturers, then sell the product on Amazon/Shopify. Using Amazon will definitely help with scaling, but it obviously comes at a cost. Might be a good idea to take a look at their fees (keep in mind that MCF fees are lower since there's no referral fee).
Hope that helps! Best of luck to you!
When you go to scale, it is great to start out with a smaller fulfillment center who can offer you business consulting and personalized service. Try OTW Shipping! They help you manage everything from your orders to inventory.
As a former college athlete, I love fitness startups - best of luck!