8 weeks ago, a Minneapolis eCommerce company that specializes in household cleaning products reached out to me asking for help. They needed a developer to update their website…badly. They had already gone through 2 other developers and wanted someone who could work fast.
Because they wanted to relaunch their eCommerce business as soon as possible, and wanted some major changes done in 3 weeks. I accepted the challenge.
Please note that I left out the company name to protect them and for confidentiality reasons.
2 years prior, the Minneapolis eCommerce company was doing well selling all purpose, bathroom, and streak free cleaning products until they received bad news. Essentially they were misled into thinking their formula was 100% free of synthetic ingredients.
For the last 2 years, the company has been working on a new formula and distributor that is human-safe, plant & mineral based, free of harmful preservatives, biodegradable, and non-gmo.
Now, they were ready to relaunch their business, and they approached me.
The big question now was how much inventory should they order? How do you estimate the demand from their previous customers?
The Minneapolis eCommerce company had two options:
a) Spend hours going through data developing a model to estimate how much inventory they should order
b) Offer a pre-order period to let their customers dictate the demand
What’d they do? You guessed it: offer a pre-order period.
They communicated with their distributor and fulfillment centers that they were undergoing a pre-order period.
Theirsupply chain was ready to send out product as quickly as needed.
Key lessons about pre-orders:
- If there is actual demand for your product people will pre-order it
- Pre-orders are the best way to get sales to see how much inventory they should order.
- Pre-orders are a game changer for a relaunch of an eCommerce website.
2. Your eCommerce, Email, and Marketing Software Really Matter?
Before this project I used to spend hours researching what eCommerce platform was better.
For example, a post on Quora said that Shopify is easier to use than WooCommerce, but it wouldn’t be hard to find dozens of articles that argue both sides of that point all over the web.
Your platform matters, but it isn’t the most crucial part of your website
The business I relaunched worked on used WooCommerce, the biggest and most used eCommerce platform on the planet.
Getting hung up on what eCommerce platform to use isn’t a good use of your time.
If you create a high quality product, as this company did, then marketing tools aren’t of the highest importance right away.
Focus on creating a high quality product first then partnering with a digital marketing agency to create your website second.
Why? eCommerce businesses rely on their website as their storefront and is their livelihood.
It doesn’t matter if you use Mailchimp, ConstantContact, Klaviyo, or ActiveCampaign as your email marketing campaign.
At first, people are going to buy your product if they want it…not what platform you think is superior.
Like everything your specific platform is personal preference. You time would be better spent writing a few weeks worth of content for your email campaign…that’s the hard part!
Key lessons about eCommerce platforms:
- Spend a majority of your time creating a kickass product
- Don’t focus on the fancy and shiny marketing tools
- It’s hard to market a subpar product, but easy with a unbelievable one
View the infographic (opens in new tab)
3. Use your email list to your advantage?
Some people have a massive list but don’t use it to its fullest potential.
Email newsletters are huge in eCommerce companies and the best way to communicate updates to your customers is through email.
Why Email Lists Are King?
Email lists also allow you to generate leads, promote sales of products, get to know your customers, and create a relationship with your base.
Nurturing that list is going to be a MASSIVELY important move by eCommerce companies.
In the case of this company, they had over 25,000 subscribers on their email list.
How To Use It To Your Fullest Potential?
You may have 100 people on your list, or 500,000, but either way, a company who doesn’t pay attention and utilize their list, regardless of its size, isn’t going to see results.
Notifying their subscribers that they were planning a relaunch in the coming weeks was huge in the relaunch of their company.
Key metrics learned from email list vs. sales analysis:
- Launch day on August 10th brought their highest daily sales to date.
- Every time they send an email to their list, they see a 4X spike in average daily sales.
Makes sense, right? People don’t have time to constantly browse your website to buy products, you need to remind them to do so.
The best way to do this is being attentive, nurturing relationships, being responsive, and targeting your audience correctly when relentless sending out emails.
4. Communicate with your Customers
This eCommerce company wanted a developer that was local in Minneapolis.
Sure, they could’ve gone on the internet and found someone cheaper than me.
However, I guarantee they would’ve had many issues.
Why? They couldn’t pick up the phone or meet in person to communicate ongoing issues they were having.
One of the biggest issues in any project is communication.
Lack of communication delays the project. I was on a tight deadline to finish my work.
I frequently texted the project manager at the company and had daily calls to make sure I was staying on track.
I feel one of my value props is being able to bridge the communication between the client and the web development I was working on.
Like I said, they had already gone through 2 other developers before they found me, and they wanted to avoid wasting more time with another developer that couldn’t meet their needs.
I’m not the cheapest option, but I’m the most responsive.
Key lessons learned:
- Constantly communication ensures the project launches on time
- Being consistent and responsive not only is actually great for you and the customer, but it builds your brand as a dependable, communicative businessperson and a reputation in this industry is going to take you a long way.
The afternoon of launch day was so rewarding hearing their phone buzz non-stop as more orders came pouring in as we had a celebratory drink.
Be Flexible and Always Help When You Can
The night of launch day I was heading up to a cabin with some buddies. I got a call from the company that there was a issue with users resetting their password. “Oh no,” I thought, “How am I going to make this work?” The issue needed to be handled ASAP.
I fired up 3G Hotspot on my phone and connected to my laptop. I was able to work on the issue in the car (shoutout Chase Haller for driving the whole way).
Some people might think that this wasn’t the most ideal situation but I knew I had to try to fix the issue.
Being responsive and helping whenever I can helps builds your brand and reputation as someone who does the job right and sees it through to the end.
5. What To Do When You Don’t Know Something?
Working on any project I learn something I haven’t known before. Being apart of a small team I don’t have the luxury of tapping my boss on the shoulder and asking how to do something. Thus, it’s in my hands to find answers to questions I have quickly.
How do I continuously learn?
The answer is Google, Google, Google! I firmly believe that ‘googling’ is a skill. Using the right search terms helps me find answers to questions I have faster. It sounds simple but I’m always researching new ways to do things quicker.
How Did I Learn To Do This?
When I went to DevBootcamp, a 12 week immersion coding camp, the instructors were sticklers. They didn’t allow you to ask them a question until you had Googled your question, asked your partner, and asked everyone around you. At first I thought this was pretty irritating. I was paying these instructors to teach me how to code, and they were refusing to answer my questions?
But I was wrong.
The instructors said when you’re working you won’t always be able to ask someone for help, and that couldn’t be more true. Plus, who likes being constantly shoulder tapped when most of your answers can be found by a seconds-long Google search? You have to know how to find answers to your questions fast, and you have to be confident that the answer is out there.
During this project, the company had a lot of custom functions in WooCommerce and I wasn’t entirely familiar with the platform, but knowing the answer existed on the internet allowed me to confidently go into the project, Googling the questions I didn’t already have answers to.
Overall, helping this eCommerce company relaunch their business was a great experience! I learned so much partnering with them. I often find myself researching the best email marketing tools, what eCommerce platform to use, or what are the best times to post on social media. However, that is not relevant. What is relevant is creating a superb product that people actually want! That is the hard part. The easy part is over thinking your marketing stack.