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Several months back I had the plan to hire someone with ZERO experience give them 2 of my ecommernce businesses to grow and have them document the entire journey.
The ECommerce Intern Case Study was born. Annie was hired and while attending school she worked part time to learn and grow a couple of projects. She did a great job and has documented everything in Weekly VLogs and Monthly Updates.
You can view her entire playlist of VLog updates here
Hi guys and welcome to my final blog post!
My contract is coming to an end and so this will be my last post documenting my journey. I have learned so much over the past four months and it has been a really great journey.
Personal Update: First of all Merry Christmas (if you celebrate Christmas) and happy new year, the last few weeks while I was at home I took some time off from work and spent most of my time with my family. I also had my first white Christmas in many years. I took advantage of the snow by learning how to cross country ski and by going snowshoeing. Unfortunately we were in lockdown in Ontario the whole time I was there so the downhill ski clubs had to close. I was really disappointed as I was really looking forward to downhill skiing.
I am now back in Birmingham, AL, after a nice break in Canada. We are back to full on training for volleyball and have two weeks before school starts to really focus on tuning our skills back up. It’s weird to be back in the United States again after being in Canada for awhile. When I left Collingwood most of the province was in Lockdown and here there are barely any restrictions. I am hoping that I will be able to receive the vaccine when I am down here and can continue to avoid getting Covid-19. Fingers crossed.
This post will serve as a conclusion for the project; I’ll show you guys the sales results, my thoughts on the project and the grand successes and failures of the project.
The total sales for Business A over this time frame were just over $16 thousand. While some Ecommerce stores can do that in a few days I think it is a big win for Business A. When I first took over the business we hit a major lull but recently it has been doing a lot better. As I talk about in my vlog quite often this business does not exactly follow the Drop Ship Lifestyle model and it also has a very specific niche market. The niche that it’s in while they are typically loyal customers and interested in new products, as a group the customer demographic had an unpredictable response to sales. I ran a few 4 day only flash sales and some sales that were run were VERY successful whereas others that were basically the exact same sale but just at a different had a completely different reaction. So it was a challenge to put my finger on what exactly consumers would want when it came to marketing.
Another Challenge: Paid Trafficking was not profitable!
Another issue that I ran across with this niche market and the online store was being able to use paid trafficking to the point where it was profitable. So far the best form of advertising for this niche market has been email marketing and nothing else. I tried Facebook Ads and Google Ads and neither were successful. Jon and I actually made the decision a few weeks ago to shut off paid trafficking for this business due to it just draining money from the store and not increasing any sales.
This conversion rate is still really low. A goal for this site is to get it to 1% but a challenge with this site is figuring out which changes will actually make an impact since the usual improvements such as updating the look of the website to be cleaner and more modern might actually be counterintuitive.
Ideas for future:
- Affiliate Linking: A big goal for the future will be increasing the ranking of the site and therefore that will lead to more people finding the site and making purchases. A big measure to improve the site that will be the next step for this website is affiliate linking. Which will involve sending out inquiries and getting other websites to link back to our product and blog pages. I have already done this a few times due to other sites reaching out to us and exchanging links with them. The idea behind this business affiliate linking plan would be to offer a link exchange or to provide them with a product that is relatively inexpensive in exchange for a link to our website and a review/testimonial that we could share on our site.
- Add to cart reminder: As you can see on the image the conversion rate for “Adding to Cart” is closer to our goal of a conversion rate of 1%. I think a big improvement to be made after seeing that is setting up a reminder email service for people who have products in their cart that way they will have another contact with us and be reminded to make a purchase if they simply got side tracked or just forgot.
Business B: I’d say that Business B has been kind of like my baby for this time. In comparison to Business A it did not have a lot set up and was very unestablished as a business. I feel as if the work I’ve put in now has turned it from a good idea to an actual existing business. While the numbers for this Business are still not super impressive they are a grand improvement from how they were when I initially started.
- New Product Line: During the course of my work on this project I looked into sourcing many different new products but nailed down two new products that are both selling pretty well. It’s been awesome to be a part of the whole journey of sourcing a product and then watching it getting a sale for the first time.
- New Website: We completely redesigned the website for this Business and it has been a huge contributing factor to the increase in sales and increase in conversion rate
- Large Increase in Sales: As previously mentioned the sales have drastically increased. In the past two weeks we are having a sale every day which is a huge increase compared to barely getting a sale every two weeks before all the changes.
- Launch of eBook: A big success of this project was a monster how to article finally being completed and then turning that monster article into an eBook.
Sometimes looking at this number without any other context makes me feel a bit dejected but as you can see it is also a 66% improvement from the previous time period. The conversion rate is still quite low but due to our website ranking well and the Google Ads that are running we are still able to get good sales numbers.
- Improved Social Recognition: I think increasing the social media presence will be key to improving the conversion rate. Having real customers writing reviews and posts will increase customers’ desire to make purchases.
- Improvements to website: While the website went through a great improvement process there is always room for more improvement. I think there should be ongoing research on what the top landing pages are with the highest conversion rates and to continue to model the site after those super successful sites.
- Research on Competitors: During this process I have been mainly looking internally and figuring out the website in order to get it to a point where it could even be considered a competitor but now that it is making sales I think a good idea would be to start doing competitive research and figuring out what other similar companies are doing better or worse than our business and what changes we should make.
- Expanding the product line: Any website with multiple products seems more legitimate and I think a good idea for the future for this product would be to source a few more high quality products that fit in with the current product line.
In conclusion, it has been great to see both businesses improve over the time that I’ve been running them and putting a lot of work into them. I’m excited to see how big Business B can become and watch Business A grow more consistently and slowly over time. Overall I feel as if I am very well versed when it comes to Ecommerce and feel very competent handling all different types of situations. I hope that you guys enjoyed reading my blog. Until next time!
Don’t worry this isn’t a new years post about how the best investment in 2021 is in yourself. Although there may be some truth to that common answer I want to take a more objective view about where is the best place to deploy capital in 2021 for your business.
- Is it in the stock market… ARK ETFs are booming, TSLA, new SPACs?
- Is it in cryptocurrency?
- Is it in precious metals?
- What about wine, art and trading cards?
All of the above at/near all time highs in terms of their price.
What I would argue is the best place to look is in an asset class that has…
- Increased in quality in 2020
- Reduced in cost in 2020
- Is Low risk & has High probability of a return
My argument for the best investment in 2021 is people… 2021 the best investment opportunity is building your team.
Currently, we have 30 team members on the payroll and many more working as freelancers with plans for growth in 2021.
Why do I argue that the best investment opportunity is human capital?
Lets look in more detail at the dimensions that would make it a good investment… quality, cost and risk/reward.
Increased in Quality in 2020
With the increase in the unemployment rate and significant movement of employees between sectors we have seen an improvement in the quality of available applicants to job postings.
Compared to other possible investments I can think of few where their quality increased by the amount the available labor pool did. If the quality of the available candidates is correlated to the unemployment rate (obviously a massive simplification) then the quality of the available labour is up 75% compared to this time 1 year ago.
Reduced in Cost in 2020
As the unemployment rate went up AND people started looking at alternative lifestyle choices…. Working 70+ hour weeks in the city not seeing their family started to not make as much sense.
People are re-evaluating their decision between money and lifestyle… if you can meet that need with a fliexible employment offer that values them then total compensation does not need to directly compete with their previous roles.
The labour statistics also point to falling wages…
“In some countries where they are available, labour statistics point to falling wages. In Australia, nominal average wages of workers aged 50 to 59 years old declined by 3.2% between the week ending March 14, 2020 and the week ending June 13, 2020.”Source
Low Risk and has a High Probability of a Return
This one becomes a little more debatable/unique to everyones situation…if you pay wages and nothing productive gets built then its a complete loss.
Everyone needs to make this decision on their own and it is outside the scope of this short article.
My greatest investments have clearly been getting the right managers on the team.
However, getting this wrong also leads to some serious pain that isn’t just financial.
Summary and My Take Away:
As a result of this thought process we are ramping up hiring for a few roles (writers, editors and a business manager). These new team members will be tackling a couple new projects and putting some additional horsepower behind some projects that have gained great traction in Q4.