YouParcel Wed, 08 Jul 2020 06:13:15 +0000 en-US hourly 1 YouParcel 32 32 Small Business Resource Guide Sun, 25 Aug 2019 18:41:55 +0000 Small business is one of the biggest drivers of economic growth in the U.S. A 2018 Small Business Administration (SBA) report found that 99.9% of US businesses are small businesses. Those small businesses provide 47.5% of all the jobs in the US. Although big businesses have cut 4 million jobs since 1990, small businesses have created a whopping 8 million new jobs. In fact, the SBA reports that since the 1970s, small businesses have produced 66% of the net new jobs in America.

ECommerce is one of the biggest factors in the rise of small business. With access to the internet, it’s easier than ever to start your own business. Whether you are a budding eCommerce mogul or just want a side hustle, it pays to do it right. Here are the tools and resources you need to get started.

Small business owners

4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Begin Your Business

It may be tempting to plunge in head first, especially if you’re excited about your fantastic new business idea. However, your chances of long-term success will improve if you pause and get clear on your priorities.

Here are four questions to ask before you start a small business. The more honest and thorough your answers, the better your foundation will be. If you don’t know how to answer some of these questions, reach out for help from a business mentor (more on that below).

1. What’s the market for my product?

Let’s say you’ve created a mug in the shape of a tree trunk. You love it. You feel great when you drink your morning coffee out of a tree trunk. You’ve given a few to your friends, and they seem to like the design. Although it sounds great, this is not market research.

You’ll need to know a few more things to understand your market. First, what is the market for ceramic mugs? How crowded is this market niche? Second, what’s the market for novelty or specialty mugs?

It’s a good idea to look into market delivery as well. Will you sell to stores or market your mugs online? If your small business will be primarily eCommerce, find out how much it will cost to box and ship your mugs. If the cost of eCommerce fulfillment doubles the cost of the mug, will the market bear this price? Can you still make a profit?

2. How will I finance my startup before it turns a profit?

If you’re planning a side hustle, your financing may be very simple. You can continue to work at your current job, so you won’t need to worry about keeping a roof over your head. You may be able to scrape together enough funds for your initial production run from your savings.

If you want to build your business into your full-time job, however, you need to think about financing for your startup. This isn’t just your capital and overhead. At some point, your business will get big enough that you’ll need to quit your day job.

Think about how soon you’d like to transition into working on your small business full-time. Ask yourself how soon you can realistically expect to see a profit. Then double that time estimate (entrepreneurs are optimists). Figure out your monthly living expenses. It’s a good idea to start a new business with enough reserves to pay your bills for several months. Also, consider when you’ll need to hire employees to help you grow.

Do you have enough money to self-fund the startup phase of your small business? If not, you could plan to roll out your business slowly, to ease the financial burden. Or you can look for outside financing. More on this below.

3. What kind of return do I want from my business?

Would you be happy with a few extra bucks in your pocket? Or do you need to support a family of five with three kids in college? Do you want your business to provide enough income to fund a private airplane?

The answers to these questions will help shape the direction of your new business. If your goal is to sell some of your tree trunk mugs and that’s it, you can start with a fairly simple business plan. If you want a business that allows you to cruise around on your yacht, you’ll need a ceramic mug empire. You might want to work with a designer to create more types of mugs. Or you might decide that the mug market is too small for your ambitions. You might need to find a different product to sell all together.

4. What kinds of help do I need to get started?

You don’t need an MBA to start your own small business. You don’t even need experience running a business. Everyone has to start somewhere. However, you don’t have to learn by making lots of mistakes. There are tremendous resources available to small business owners. You can find a mentor, take a class, or join a bootcamp (more below). You don’t have to go it alone.

Small Business Startup Resources

As you prepare to start your business, the first step is to reach out for help. Fortunately, there are lots of great resources for small businesses in the US. Even better, many of these are free.

  • SBA Office of Advocacy FAQ Sheet: This helpful collection of facts covers most aspects of small business. It answers the top 21 questions people ask.
  • 20 Questions Before Starting: Twenty key questions to ask when you’re thinking about starting a small business.
  • Business Structure: Do you want to be a sole proprietor, LLC, or S-corp? Your tax status and other regulations depend on your business structure. This SBA resource will help you choose the right structure.

Small Business Training and Resources

Everyone can use a helping hand when they’re getting started in the business. Even if you’re a serial entrepreneur, coaching and mentoring can be immensely valuable. Spending time with a SCORE mentor or in business training can save you time and money as you start your small business.

Here are a few of the training resources you might want to tap into. Pro tip: These resources aren’t just for startups. If your small business has stagnated and you want help to take it to the next level, these resources are for you, too.

  • SCORE: The Service Corps of Retired Executives is a non-profit association supported by the SBA. SCORE provides free and confidential business advice from experienced business owners. The organization offers webinars, mentors, workshops, blogs, and one-on-one mentoring. SCORE’s services are free. 
  • SBA: The SBA has support for businesses that want to learn how to sell to the government. Its All Small program can match you with a mentor-protégé. The service is offered at no charge. 
  • Business bootcamps: Business bootcamps offer intensive training programs of a few weeks or months. A bootcamp is an investment, both of time and money, since most bootcamps charge tuition. 
  • Business incubator: Also known as startup accelerators, incubators combine the training and mentorship of a bootcamp with opportunities for investor funding. These are popular in the tech sector. Some of the most well-known incubators include Y Combinator, TechSeed, and TechStars. The big incubators are competitive; they get many more applicants than they have space for. If you want to work with one of these, be prepared to present your business well. 
  • Business coach: Business coaching is the most personalized small business training. It may also be the most expensive option. However, some business owners feel that business coaching fees are a great investment in their growth as entrepreneurs.
  • Online video training: There are great online resources for business training. Many of these are inexpensive or free. Any question you could have is probably answered in a video on YouTube.
  • 10 Steps to Starting a Business: The SBA lists steps to take when starting a business, each with links for finding lots more information.
  • 50 Free Resources to Help Grow Your Business: This webpage is the kitchen sink of small business lists. It includes everything from networking, operations, and funding to marketing, development, and branding resources.
  • This site offers comprehensive resources for starting a small business. 

Business Planning Basics

Once you’ve done your market research and figured out how you’re going to fund your business, it’s time to write your business plan. Again, you don’t have to have an MBA to write a good business plan. The key is to figure out what’s important to you.

Your business plan should reflect the values you bring to your business, as well as your goals and your strategic plan. You can make your business plan as detailed or as simple as you want. Your plan doesn’t have to be perfect. In fact, if it doesn’t change over time, you might be doing something wrong. Think of your business plan as a living document that you will update as your vision for your business shifts.

In fact, the only business plan mistake you can make is to not write one. A business plan can double the chances of your small business succeeding. However, your business is likely to grow faster if you do have a written plan. In addition, if you want a business loan or investor funding, a well-written business plan is a must.

  • One Page Business Plan: This company grew out of The One Page Business Plan, a book by Jim Horan. If you feel intimidated by the idea of creating a business plan, this is a great resource. Horan’s fast and effective approach makes business planning simple.
  • Business Plan Resources: SCORE provides information on writing a business plan. You’ll also learn how to complete financial and cash flow statements, and find listing for business planning workshops. 
  • SCORE Business Plan Template: SCORE offers a free startup business plan template. The template includes all the sections you might want in your plan, with detailed instructions and worksheets. 
Small business owners

Where to Start Your Small Business 

In our connected world, it’s easy to start a business at your kitchen table or on your sofa. If you’re going for the side hustle, a home-based business might be perfect. If you can earn extra money while you’re curled up in your favorite chair, why not?

If you have a plan for expansion, however, there are some limits to running a business out of your home. Your children and spouse may interrupt your workflow. Your home is full of distractions. Anything from the laundry to the leftovers in the fridge can derail your productivity.

If your home is large enough to provide a dedicated operating space, this can be a cost-saving way to start out. However, you should be aware of local zoning laws. These can affect your ability to base your business in your home. If your business is open to the public, it’s crucial to understand zoning and permitting regulations. 

Some rental options give you a lot of flexibility. Co-working lets you use an office or conference room when you need it. This can be much cheaper than paying for a dedicated office space. If you’re starting an eCommerce business, you can contract with an order fulfillment warehouse to store and ship your products. This allows you to take up more or less space on the warehouse shelves as your demand fluctuates.

If you decide to rent space for your business, you’ll be in good company. According to the SBA, small businesses rent 30% to 50% of all commercial properties. That translates to 20 to 34 billion square feet. The SBA is a great resource for information about how to choose the right location for your business.

Financing Your Small Business

Your best financing option will depend on what you want to sell. Other factors to consider include how you plan to enter the market plus your long-term plans for your business. 

Maybe you would be happy selling a few mugs a month to make some extra money. In that case, you can probably fund your startup by cutting back on lattes.

To build a larger business, however, you will need more capital. You need financing for inventory, space, and equipment. In addition, you’ll need to pay yourself until the business becomes profitable.

There are five broad categories of financing. Within each, there are many different variations.

1. Self-funding

Financing your small business from your own resources is also called bootstrapping. The advantage is that your business doesn’t have the burden of paying off business debt. If your startup doesn’t take off, you won’t be stuck paying back loans for a business you no longer have. In addition, you don’t have to give an interest in your business to an investor.

The downside of self-funding your business is that, unless you have a lot of savings, lack of funding could limit your growth. Additionally, if you dip into your retirement savings or max out your home equity line of credit, you’re gambling with your financial future. SBA data shows that 30% of businesses don’t make it past the first two years. By year 10, only a third of businesses are still afloat.

It’s smart to hope for the best but prepare for the worst when you open a new business. Before you risk your retirement savings on your business idea, look at other financing options.

2. Family and friends

Don’t discount your family and friends, both as customers for your business and as financial backers. Your nearest and dearest may be happy to invest in your startup.

Make sure you are transparent with anyone who backs your business. Put financial agreements in writing, to avoid misunderstandings later. Also, make sure your investors understand the risk of investing in an untested venture.

3. Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is an increasingly popular way to finance a new business. You can also use one of these platforms to launch a new product in an existing business. Some businesses find great value in the market testing that comes with this type of financing. 

The two biggest platforms for crowdfunding are Kickstarter and Indiegogo. Their funding models are different. Indiegogo allows you to do flexible or fixed funding. Flexible funding means you get to keep whatever funds you raise, whether you have two investors or 2,000. 

In the fixed funding model, you set a funding goal. If you don’t meet that goal, you don’t get any money and your backers get refunds. Kickstarter only offers this funding model, which it calls all-or-nothing. Fixed funding ensures that you raise enough to manufacture the perks or rewards that you promised your investors. If your startup requires a minimum order to be profitable, this is a good crowdfunding model for you.

Both of these crowdfunding platforms charge transaction fees for processing payments plus a platform fee. However, you get to fund your initial production run by pre-selling your products. Your only obligation is to send the promised perks to your backers. You don’t carry any debt or pay interest. Plus, you have a great platform to market test your new product.

4. Business loans

There are several ways to get a small business loan for your startup. The SBA offers microloans of up to $50,000.

Another place to look for startup funding is a small business grant program. Grants, unlike loans, do not need to be paid back. Grants are often targeted at a specific group, such as grants for women in business.

You may also qualify for special funding or grants if you are a veteran. There are small business programs for people of color, people with disabilities, and felons, among others. The downside of grants or other special funding programs is that the amount of money may be limited. You may need to seek additional funds through another channel.

5. Investors

You don’t have to pitch your business on Shark Tank or to a venture capital (VC) firm to get investment capital. The SBA offers debt and equity investment through SBICs. An SBIC is a private investment firm that is regulated by SBA. SBICs provide startup capital for small businesses.

Startup financing resources

Here are some resources to help you navigate your small business financing.

Licensing and Taxes

You still have a few more decisions to make to get your small business off the ground. To protect yourself and your business, you’ll need to make sure you’re in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. Failing to do this at the start of your business can lead to headaches down the road. This is especially true if you want your business to grow.

If the thought of dealing with the legal red tape around business ownership gives you a headache, it shouldn’t. The paperwork can seem confusing at first, but you’ll soon get the hang of it. At some point, your business may grow to the point where tax and regulatory filings are too much for you. That’s a good time to hand your bookkeeping over to a professional.

Here are some of the steps you may need to take to make sure your small business operates on the up-and-up.

  • Get a Business License from Your City or County: If you’re a new business with no revenue, the cost should be minimal.
  • Get a Sales Tax License: If you’ll be selling taxable goods, most states require you to register with the state department of revenue. If you’re an eCommerce seller, you may need to get resale licenses in multiple jurisdictions. TaxJar’s blog has great resources, including links to registration information for every state.
  • Register our Business Name: Protect the trade name of your business by registering it with the proper authorities. 
  • File for Patents and Trademarks: If your product is a new invention or creation, you’ll want to protect it. It’s a good idea to at least file for a patent (the process is lengthy) or trademark your work. 
  • Apply for Federal and State Licenses and Permits: The SBA helps you decide if you need any federal permits. Consult the Secretary of State website for your state for state permits and licenses.
  • Filing and Paying Taxes: Does your business need a state tax ID? This SBA page explains your tax responsibilities and how to meet them. 
  • IRS Small Business and Self-Employed Tax Center: This page provides links to all kinds of tax information. You can educate yourself about tax ID numbers, forms, and publications for small business owners. 
  • Learn About Business Laws: You’ll need to become familiar with the laws that apply to small business. This SBA page explains laws relating to privacy, finance, online business, and intellectual property. 
  • Nolo Press: Nolo Press is a tremendous resource for legal matters. It sells DIY legal manuals and also provides small business resources on its website.
Small business startup

Get Ready to Start Your Small Business

In addition to the resources listed above, be sure to check for resources in your local area. Business associations, chambers of commerce, and clubs offer support, advice and networking opportunities.

Now is a great time to start a small business. The bar for entry is low and the possibilities for success are limitless. There is a lot to know before you start a small business. Luckily, you can draw on powerful resources for support every step of the way.

Now get out there and make your mark!

Youparcel Holiday Schedule Fri, 25 Jan 2019 18:42:05 +0000

Check the dates we are closed due holidays, our office hours are Monday to Friday 9:30 am – 17:30 pm.

January 1, New Year’s Day
January 20, Martin Luther King Day
February 17, Presidents’ Day*
May 25, Memorial Day
July 4, Independence Day
September 7, Labor Day
October 12, Columbus Day
November 11, Veterans Day
November 26, Thanksgiving Day
December 25, Christmas Day

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50 Ecommerce Tips for New Entrepreneurs Fri, 25 Jan 2019 18:41:39 +0000 Congratulations on becoming a store owner. Building your own business is a fun experience that pays off – literally. Being a new entrepreneur is exciting because everything is new. However, sometimes, new entrepreneurs get a little too excited about the wrong things. As an experienced entrepreneur, I’ve made my fair share of mistakes. That’s why I created these 50 e-commerce tips for new entrepreneurs like you, so you can get on the right track from the beginning and actually make some money on your new store.

Ecommerce Tips (#1): Experiment as your business depends on it.

To really succeed, you’re going to need to experiment a lot. You’ll need to create ads for different products. Test different copy, formats, and images. Experimenting with ads is what will eventually bring in customers and drive sales. Once you’ve created profitable ads you can start experimenting on your website. Many people focus on improving their website first. However, you don’t know how customers are responding to certain features if you don’t have any yet. Avoid making assumptions about your customers. Be open to being wrong about what really works – you won’t know the truth until you look at the data.


Ecommerce Tips (#2): Don’t pocket the profits just yet.

It can be tempting to keep any profit you make. However, if you want your business to grow, you’ll need to reinvest money into your business. Money makes money. Instead, of making a purchase to buy new equipment, spend your profit on advertising. You’ll probably want to create several $5 ads at first to see which product people respond to best. However, once you’ve found your winning product, you’ll need to spend a lot more than $5 to make the kind of money people dream of.

If your goal is to make $3000 profit each month, you’ll need to spend about $3000 on ads, which will bring in roughly $9000 in revenue. Boosted Facebook posts convert best for my business but you’ll need to find the type of ad that works best for you. By reinvesting the profit for several months, you give your business a chance to grow and become sustainable. Eventually, you’ll be able to live off the money you’re making.


Ecommerce Tips (#3): Commit to a schedule for consistency.

When starting a new e-commerce store, you’ll want to follow a consistent schedule so that your customers can know when to check back. For example, if you add new products each week, you should do it on the same day of the week so people check back on your website on that day every week. If you commit to a blog, adding posts on the same days will encourage people to keep checking back. As soon as you become inconsistent, you start to lose your customer loyalty.

Ecommerce Tips (#4): Build out your channels from day one.

As soon as you’ve bought your store domain name, start building out an audience. You might start with posts on social media to grow a fanbase so that when you launch you have an audience ready to buy. Once your store is launched, you’ll want to start collecting email addresses and building referral traffic. By doing this from day one, you’ll grow your customer base faster. By focusing on building out your social media, email list, and referral traffic, you’ll likely need to spend less on ads over the long-term. You’ll be able to promote your content to your audience through your own channels.


Ecommerce Tips (#5): Start building relationships with relevant influencers.

It takes a few months to find the best influencers to promote your products and even then it’s not guaranteed. From personal experience, I found a great influencer to promote my products and less than six months later they had been doing so many sponsored posts that they were no longer effective. Finding a great influencer is a lot harder than it looks. Sometimes an influencer has a high price but it doesn’t convert to sales. You might want to check out Famebit for access to the best influencers.


Ecommerce Tips (#6): Make sure customers have access to relevant information.

When starting an ecommerce store you’ll want to make sure your customers have access to everything they need to make an informed purchase. You’ll want to include shipping and return information so that customers are aware of the policies before their purchase. You’ll always want to make sure you have a visible contact page so that customers can easily contact you should an issue or question arise. A great resource that covers everything you’ll need to complete on your website is the How to start an eCommerce Store in Less than 30 Minutes Oberlo post.


Ecommerce Tips (#7): Put thought into your copy.

Many Oberlo users make the mistake of not adding copy when importing products in their store. The bullet points listed are there to give you product details yet don’t help convert sales on their own. Writing a description about the product and selecting the most valuable bullet points will better help you achieve more sales. People often read the copy if they’re on the fence for a product. By writing a short paragraph detailing how the product benefits your customer, mentions features while also explaining how to use the product you’ll be better able to persuade your browser into purchase. For example, if you sell dresses on your store you might mention how great they’ll look at their next event, you might mention how the fabric showcases their figure and recommend shoe colors or jewellery looks that would best complement the dress.


Ecommerce Tips (#8): Make your website visually appealing.

Your entire website should be very visually appealing. Product pages should have multiple product images showcasing different angles and uses. Your homepage should have an attention-grabbing banner image that allows the customer to picture themselves with the product. Even your blog posts should be very visual. You should have several images, gifs and maybe even a video in each post to separate bodies of text.


Ecommerce Tips (#9): Find an ecommerce brand to look up to.

When starting out it’s important to seek a mentor. However, sometimes having access to successful eCommerce mentor can be hard. People don’t necessarily want to share their niches, ad templates and answer questions that can be easily Googled. You can join communities to seek advice on occasion. However, the most effective way to succeed is to find an e-commerce brand you aspire to be like and model your brand after them. For example, if you want to be a customer-centric business you might model your store after Disney. If you want to master the art of branding you might model your business after Dollar Shave Club. If you want to create a mega marketplace you might model your store after Amazon. You don’t need to copy their niches or style to succeed, you just need to find the patterns you love about a particular online store and apply them.


Ecommerce Tips (#10): Get feedback on your store.

When you launch your new store, it’s important to get feedback on it. The biggest mistake I see entrepreneurs making with this is that they seek feedback from other entrepreneurs in public communities. The problem with this is that you’re sharing your niche and products with your competitors. While an entrepreneur can give you great insight, you don’t want to rely on feedback from people who might actually be competing with you. Never reveal your niche to another entrepreneur. You can always reach out to Oberlo and Shopify support to get a store review.

Ecommerce Tips (#11): Be specific with your product categories so customers can easily find exact products.

In the early stages when you only have 15 products it can be tempting to lump all of your products into generic categories. However, as you grow your store, you’ll want to be a bit more specific in your product categorization. Having product categories such as ‘Women,’ ‘Men’ and ‘Children’ don’t do much for SEO purposes and yet they’re common to find on many stores. What’s worse is that some stores lump all of their women’s fashion under ‘women’ with no subcategories at all. Most people don’t like browsing an entire collection to find out that they don’t have dresses in their store. Look at how Amazon organizes their product categories. You can find very specific items with ease. The easier you make it for a customer to find exactly what they’re looking for the more likely they’ll buy from your store.


Ecommerce Tips (#12): Be on multiple social media platforms.

When it comes to social media, many stores make the mistake of only being on one platform. For example, some may only post on Instagram and focus their marketing efforts on there through influencer marketing. Others are exclusively on Facebook as they find Facebook ads work great on their store. However, using a combination of platforms might be slightly more work but gives you a competitive advantage. A competitor can see you’re only on Instagram and focus their efforts on a wider range of social platforms which eventually leads to their business out-performing yours. Being on about 3-4 social networks is often manageable. Don’t depend on one platform as one day that platform may disappear and you’re left with nothing.

be-on-multiple social platforms

Ecommerce Tips (#13): Create unique content.

If you’re dropshipping products, odds are you need to find a way to stand out among your competitors. The easiest way to do this is by creating unique content. Pumping out blog posts several times a week is a great way to build an audience, educate visitors while keeping your website looking fresh and up to date. You can also create videos online to build your brand. Luxy Hair created YouTube videos which led to their massive success. Today their YouTube channel has over 2.9 million subscribers. Unique content can make your business much more profitable.


Ecommerce Tips (#14): Offer free shipping.

It’s important to test free versus paid shipping. Yet, when you have a new store with a small social following, it’s better to offer free shipping to incentivize the purchase. People may be wary of paying a company they don’t trust yet so offering free shipping makes it a smaller risk. About 50% of online stores offer free shipping which puts you at an advantage over the others when you offer it. With AliExpress, many suppliers offer free shipping or ePacket which is a low-cost express shipping service, which allows you to offer affordable shipping without a huge impact on your margins.


Ecommerce Tips (#15): Make marketing your main focus.

Marketing and advertising bring in the money so don’t waste your time on perfecting your store. You should be actively posting on social media daily, if not several times a day. Next, you should be contacting magazines and blogs about featuring your products. Don’t forget to also create a budget for advertising. Writing blog content regularly will help your website rank. By putting your store out there, you better your odds of finding more customers.

Ecommerce Tips (#16): Create ads from day one.

Ads bring in the traffic that converts into customers. You’ll need to experiment with different products to find your winning ad, however, once you do its smooth sailing. If your goal is to make $9000 in revenue you’ll need to spend about $3000 in ads. The startup ad costs will be difficult at first so feel free to start a smaller budget and build up to it. Remember it takes 3-5 days for an ad to optimize.

If you keep reinvesting your profit into your advertising your business will grow quickly. Within about 2 months, one of my stores was making $15000 in revenue a month and growing each day. It takes a few weeks to figure out which products will be your best sellers and to figure out if your product price is sustainable for ads. You can use this dropshipping traffic calculator to better understand how much traffic you need in order to reach your financial goals.


Ecommerce Tips (#17): Learn to recover abandoned carts.

Experiment with different abandoned cart apps and email formats. You won’t be able to recover every cart. However, even if you can convert between 1-5% of them, you’ll be better off financially. The abandoned cart rate, on average, falls between 60-80%, according to Baymard. While it may be normal to experience abandoned carts, you shouldn’t stop doing everything you can to make the conversion happen. You should have the first email sent within six hours of the cart abandonment to better help the conversion. Consider also sending at least 3 emails afterwards trying to recover it. You can offer an additional discount to help convert the sale. You could start with a 10% discount and in your last email offer a 15% discount if they haven’t recovered it yet.


Ecommerce Tips (#18): Talk to your customers and get to know their needs.

Building relationships with customers is time consuming but really important to do. A simple thing I do to get better insight into my customers is email them individually. I’ll manually email each customer and ask them how they’re enjoying the product they purchased, if there are any other types of products they wish our store had and if there’s any type of blog content they’d like to learn more about in the niche. I might throw in a VIP discount code as a thank you for their feedback in the first email I send as an extra incentive to provide this information. Not all people will reply, but the ones that do, will help you better understand your customer’s needs. It also helps you better serve them.


Ecommerce Tips (#19): Start building links.

To reduce ad spend while increasing revenue, it’s important to build external backlinks. You can do this by promoting your products on relevant and popular blogs or magazines or by writing guest posts on blogs. The more sources you have driving traffic to your website, the less you’ll spend on ads. For example, even if you write a guest post on another blog, you might not be featuring a specific product but you may get clicks to your website. Once you’ve gotten clicks to your website you can retarget them with your best selling product which will be a lot cheaper than trying to find new customers. When my store was days old, I was able to get a couple of sales using this method.


Ecommerce Tips (#20): Think of ways to put your customer on a pedestal.

If you treat your customers right, they’ll keep coming back. Stay in touch with your customers. Show them that you appreciate them. You can host a ‘Customer Appreciation Event’ where you give them first access to new products or an additional discount. Sending them thank you notes letting them know how grateful you are that they’re a customer while giving a small free gift or discount code goes a long way. Brainstorm things you can do for your customers that’ll make them happy while strengthening your relationship with them. Check out Help Scout for more customer appreciation ideas.


Ecommerce Tips (#21): Set SMART goals.

Whether you’re planning a financial goal or milestone for your store, it’s important to make sure that you have a SMART goal. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. You want to ensure that your goals are well-defined. Make sure you set timelines to know when your goal should be achieved. by You need a goal that is founded in logic and that you have the resources you need to make the goal attainable. Lastly, you want to make sure that you set a time frame that allows you to achieve the goal without any extra time allocated. An example of SMART goal would be: Make at least 10,000 in revenue in one month by December 31, 2018.


Ecommerce Tips (#22): Don’t hide behind books.

Procrastination is a funny thing because sometimes people don’t even realize they’re doing it. It’s great to be active in ecommerce communities, read blogs and take the occasional online course. However, you need to realize that you can’t hide behind your books. You need to work on your store. The sales aren’t going to come in if you spend more time “researching” than working. You’re going to learn so much more by trying something out and Googling the next step when you get stuck.

You’re going to start succeeding after you’ve made a few mistakes. Mistakes give you clues about what success should really look like. So figure it out as you go along, bang your head against the wall if you have to and keep working at it until you hit your financial goals. You’ve got what it takes to succeed on your own. I believe in you, so you should believe in you too.


Ecommerce Tips (#23): Take advantage of free trials on apps to find the right ones for you.

As a new store owner, experimentation plays a big role. I highly recommend trying and testing out the free trials of several apps in the Shopify App Store. Figure out which apps are most useful now before you get even busier running your store. Of course, you’ll want to ensure that you have traffic and sales coming through to figure out which apps are most effective. I recommend starting with apps that help grow your business like upsell and abandoned cart apps.


Ecommerce Tips (#24): Make sure you have upsell offers.

Getting your first sale can be very exciting. However, if you have upsell offers on all of your products from day one, you prevent missing out on easy sales. Customers who already have their credit card out are a lot easier to sell more products to than trying to attract new customers. Not only will you increase your average order value, but you’ll also make more profit per customer making your ad spend even cheaper. A trick I do on my store is that I provide a similar product as an upsell and throw in a free + shipping gift if they purchase now. My store has multiple upsell purchases each day – it’s one of the factors that helped us become a 5-figure a month store so quickly.

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Ecommerce Tips (#25): Make sure your store is finished before you start selling

When someone launches an online store for the first time, they often fail to complete several steps in the process. The biggest mistake I’ve seen store owners make is having an empty homepage. Don’t forget to fill in placeholder text with your own copy, logo and add graphics to your homepage. You’ll also want to make sure you have products categorized properly (such as dresses, skirts, etc) rather than grouping everything together without categories. Adding contact information, refund policies and shipping details is also important to include on your website. While it’s amazing how excited you are to start selling, it’s important to make sure your website is optimized to ensure that you land sales. Having a finished store, will allow your customers to feel confident purchasing from your new store.

Ecommerce Tips (#26): Market your store beyond ads

There’s a good chance that your ads will be one of your store’s biggest money makers. But you don’t want to limit yourself to monetizing via Facebook, Instagram or Google alone. Take the time to drive traffic to your ecommerce store through search engine optimization, pitching your products to blogs and popular magazines, creating content, being active on social media, email marketing and more.

Marketing goes far beyond just creating ads. The more you put your brand out there, the more sales you’re likely to get. Build up your organic traffic by optimizing pages for keywords. Create a list of popular publications and blogs within your niche and start contacting them about featuring your products. Build up your audience on social media by using hashtags, posting multiple times a day and sharing valuable and entertaining content. Build up your email list and regularly send promotions to your customers. Create a loyalty program where you offer special discounts to loyal customers.

Ecommerce Tips (#27): Always have retargeting ads running

My store was only a couple of days old when I started using retargeting ads, a type of ad that’s shown to people who’ve visited your website before. We were pumping out a ton of content on our blog and featuring influencers in it. When influencers shared the content with their audience we had a surge in traffic. We showed a retargeting ad to our customers with our most popular product and it landed us sales. We had a 9x ROI for our ads. In your store’s early days you’ll land a few abandoned carts. By retargeting your add to carts, you can try to win-back lost customers. It actually converts better than most abandoned cart emails too. Your retargeting ads will generally have a low cost but it helps convert customers who weren’t ready to buy the first time around.

Ecommerce Tips (#28): Share your customer’s photos

As you start getting your first few sales, ask your customers to take pictures with your products. You can also reach out to friends, family or influencers to take pictures with some of the items from your online store. If you sell apparel or other accessories, getting as many pictures of people using or wearing your products can help give you social proof. Customers want to see what the actual product looks like received rather than what it looks like in a touched up picture. Contact your customers and ask them to share their pictures with you on social media. If you pay influencers for their pictures, you can use them for your ads. Avoid using your customers’ pictures for ads, but feel free to share them on social media or add them to your website. Always give your customer credit by tagging them in the photo.

Ecommerce Tips (#29): Add a flash sale section

Urgency can help increase your store’s sales. One of the easiest ways to do this is to add a flash sale section to your store. In this section, all of your products should have a countdown timer on them. The products you add should be rotated once a week so that you always have a new selection of products to keep customers coming back for more deals. You can add a Flash Sale section to your top navigation so that people can easily find your sale products. Aim to make it the last category in your top navigation as the first and last categories get the highest number of clicks.

Ecommerce Tips (#30): Use Oberlo to find millions of products

You can use Oberlo to find millions of products that you can add to your store. From fashion to home decor, you’ll find products from nearly every dropshipping niche. And with one-click imports, you can add products to your store with a click of a button. 

Ecommerce Tips (#31): Add your discount codes to a discount code site

For many online shoppers, product price matters. They’ll use tools and apps to find discount codes to save even more money. You should always price your products high enough that you can afford to give a discount to customers without taking a loss. You can hire someone on Fiverr to submit your discount code to the most popular sites. This allows customers to land the discount for your site to ensure the sale. Some stores include an offers page in their top navigation or footer where they include discount codes for their store. You might also want to have discount codes included on your social media such as ‘FB10’ or ‘INSTA15.’ Customers will be excited that they’re saving money and getting a great product. And you’ll be landing the sale making it an all-around win.

Ecommerce Tips (#32): Outsource your weaknesses

When it comes to running a business, there will be things you can do better than everyone else and things that everyone else can do better than you. While being an entrepreneur requires you to be a jack of all trades, there will be some task that you struggle with. Whether it’s writing great product descriptions, accounting, or marketing, you need to make sure that you’re doing what you’re best at. Find someone to do the things you’re the worst at. Collaboration is the secret to success. Work with others who are strong where you’re weak. If you stick to what you’re great at, you’ll see a greater return on your business. If you outsource your weaknesses, you’ll create a balanced and profitable business.

Ecommerce Tips (#33): Automate as much of your business as possible

Use ecommerce automation tools to simplify your business. Oberlo allows you to automate order processing in only a couple of clicks. Buffer allows you to automate social media posting. Kit automates marketing. Shoelace automates retargeting ads. The more of your business you can automate, the more time you’ll have to focus on generating sales or living a lifestyle of freedom and flexibility. Be the store owner, not the employee. You don’t want to be the person running the business as it can eat away at your time. Be the person who owns the business, makes the money and lives life on her own terms.

Ecommerce Tips (#34): Pick a popular but reliable niche

Starting a trendy store is risky. First, most people discover a trend when it peaks. So your sales likely won’t go up. Second, it’s hard to know whether or not something is hot right now or if it’s going to stick around. For example, fidget spinners quickly exploded in popularity and eventually started to die down. On the other hand, when leggings first emerged, no one was really sure if it would last. We still see a huge market for leggings within fitness and fashion.

When it comes to picking the right business ideas for your new store, you want something that you can count on for years to come. If there’s a trendy product, add it as a product collection to your store to capitalize on sales. But don’t base your entire store on a short-term trend. Focus on evergreen niches that stand the test of time such as fashion, fitness, pets, phone accessories, beauty or jewelry. Trends will emerge in these niches allowing you to cash in on best-sellers. But your business is more likely to survive year one, two and five if you stick to popular, stable niches.

Ecommerce Tips (#35): Don’t compete on price

One of the most important ecommerce tips is that you have to stay profitable no matter what. Don’t fall into the trap of outpricing your competition, it’s a losing battle. You won’t win. Customers will pay fair market value for products. Sure, they love a great deal. However, whoever markets to that customer first usually wins. If you’re dropshipping on Amazon, the best price wins. If you’re running ads on Google where other dropshippers are selling the same product, the best price wins here too. However, if you run Facebook ads, are featured in a blog or are found organically on social media, if they find your product first, you will likely win the sale. Always find the workaround. If you hit a roadblock where you’re forced to give up your profit, find another path where you don’t have to.

Ecommerce Tips (#36): Create a blog and monetize it

Starting a blog on your ecommerce store can help you educate your customers, find new customers and make more money on your store. Building out your blog content brings in more traffic to your store organically through SEO and social media. You can use retargeting ads to monetize the audience to show them your product since your niche content brings in qualified traffic. Next, monetize your blog content through gift guides where you feature your best products as gifts for special occasions and holidays. You can also monetize your blog posts by embedding relevant product links into your content.

Ecommerce Tips (#37): Create product videos

Videos can help boost conversions and increase sales for your store. Creating product videos has a two-fold purpose. First, you can add product videos to your product page to show different product angles or demonstrate how to use your product. Second, you can use the product video as a marketing tool. Facebook video ads are showing high levels of engagement, click through and purchases. While creating video content can be time consuming, it ultimately helps you grow your sales effectively. It also gives your brand a competitive advantage as many brands aren’t pumping out a lot of video content, if any.

Ecommerce Tips (#38): Create a loyalty program

Creating a loyalty program for your store helps retain your customers. While you should always try to find new customers, it’s more affordable and rewarding to keep the customers you already have. The goal is to grow your repeat purchases. Customers who are loyal to your brand will keep coming back while outspending new customers. Over the long-term, the more customers you can keep the more money your business will save and make. Whether you’ve invested in ads or some other form of paid marketing, you made a financial investment to acquire your customers. Why not make the most out of the customers you already have? You can follow the exact email template I use in the create a loyalty program article that has proven to be profitable.

Ecommerce Tips (#39): Make shopping online easier

The next important ecommerce tip is to take the steps to make online shopping easy for your customers. Make your website easy to navigate. Add product reviews so that customers can feel confident in their purchase. Ensure your images and copy represent the product accurately. Offer payment gateways that are trusted and popular. Have your site speed tested to ensure quick load times. Remove items that are out of stock. Add pages that’ll provide value to your customers such as shipping and return details.

Ecommerce Tips (#40): Always use ePacket shipping

Shipping costs can scare away a customer. If they’re too high, they might not purchase. If wait times are long, they could ask for a refund. With ePacket shipping, you solve two problems with one shipping method. It’s one of the fastest shipping service from China while having one of the lowest costs. Most products are only a few dollars to ship out allowing you to maintain a profitable business. While some products with ePacket shipping are free to ship. The best part is that you can easily choose products with ePacket shipping with the click of a button. You can choose to only view products with this shipping method to ensure your customers have a positive experience getting their product promptly.

Ecommerce Tips (#41): Build out your email list

Email marketing is an effective way to market your products to leads and customers. You’ll want to collect emails through an exit intent pop-up or lead magnet so that you can continue promoting your brand and products to your audience. You’ll want to spend time creating and testing subject lines to compel customers to open your emails to find your offers. Mentioning discounts in your subject line often works well for ecommerce businesses such as ‘50% off today only.’ Showcase your best performing products. When it comes to email marketing, you can also send VIP offers to your best customers, recover abandoned carts, and provide value by educating customers with relevant tips and tricks for your niche.

Ecommerce Tips (#42): Create an FAQs page

Your online store should have an FAQ page where you answer your most common customer questions. You can send the link to customers who ask common questions. But you’ll also reduce the number of support emails by having a page that answers their question. Questions about shipping times and costs, refunds, sizing, and other product related questions should be addressed on the FAQ page. If customers are regularly asking specific product questions, you might need to add more details to your product page.

Ecommerce Tips (#43): Get product reviews

Product reviews give your brand the social proof it needs to help lead customers through the sales funnel. As you start getting your first few sales, you should contact your customers or use a Shopify app like Product Reviews Addon to send out automated messages to customers. You can encourage customers to leave photo reviews on your product page. If customers share your product on social media, you can ask them to leave a review on your website and include their pictures. The more people you can show using your products to potential customers, the more customers you can build up. Knowing that others have bought and loved products from your store helps assure new customers in their purchase.

Ecommerce Tips (#44): Take your own product photos when necessary

With Oberlo, you can import any of the product photos onto your store. However, there may be times when you need to modify or take your own images. Product images might have logos which you’d want to remove to create a clean look. You might also want to take pictures in a different way to better convert. For example, a picture of your clothes on a flat surface with a white background, might not be as compelling as a lifestyle photo of your apparel being worn. You might also take your own photos to reduce the risk of image copyright to protect your brand. The product image is one of the most important parts that leads to conversion. Make sure your product photo is optimized to drive the highest number of sales through ads and directly on your product page.

Ecommerce Tips (#45): Optimize your store for niche keywords

Most online store owners focus on short-term money making tactics such as Facebook or Google ads or influencer marketing. However, one of the most important ecommerce tips is that you should also consider a search engine optimization strategy. If you plan on running your online store for more than six months, then search engine optimization can help you build out your organic traffic. When you start ranking online for keywords, you can grow your customer base and sales without having to spend even more on ads. Your ad account and brand page can get shut down for unforeseen reasons. Don’t rely on one platform. You’ll want to ensure that if your ad account gets locked, even for a day, that you can still make money on your store through other means. A search engine optimization strategy, if executed correctly, can help drive a lot of free traffic to your store.

Ecommerce Tips (#46): Visit your city’s business centre

One of the best ecommerce tips is to learn more about your city’s business laws. Each city, province or state, and country have it’s own regulations regarding how to run a business, how much you need to pay in taxes, and the laws around your specific business. It’s always best to speak directly with a representative from your city regarding these things as they would know the exact resources you should familiarize yourself with.

Some cities host classes and courses regarding best business practices. They won’t necessarily teach you strategies to run a successful business, but they’ll teach you how to run a business legally. You’ll learn the tax rates for your type of business and city. You might learn a few great resources for further reading. To find this type of information, your city website and community library often know about the city’s business courses and events. Always speak with your city representatives and/or lawyer before starting a business.

Ecommerce Tips (#47): Pick the right payment gateway

Each country has it’s own set of payment gateways you can choose from. You should aim to offer payment gateways such as PayPal, Apple Pay, Shopify Pay, Stripe or 2-Checkout. These tend to be the most popular. Don’t feel too discouraged if your country isn’t able to offer these types of payment gateways to customers. Choose the most popular one for your region to make checkout easy for your customers. Feel free to offer a selection of different payment gateways to your customers so that they can choose to pay in the way they’d prefer.

Ecommerce Tips (#48): Improve your top navigation

Your top navigation is the menu where you list your categories such as ‘Home, Fashion, Jewelry, Accessories, Sale.’ The first and last items on your top navigation get the most click through. While most people put a home button in the first spot, adding a product category first would actually be more strategic. Customers love browsing sale items so having it in last place also works well. Whichever product collection or page you want to draw more attention to you should put in first and last position. How you name your top navigation matters. Some fashion brands prefer having ‘Women’ and ‘Men’ in their top navigation to make shopping easier for their diverse customers. You usually want to keep general categories in the header and having specific sub-categories. For example, you likely wouldn’t add ‘Dresses’ in your top navigation but might add ‘Women’ or ‘Fashion’ or ‘Clothing.’

Ecommerce Tips (#49): Join a Facebook group for support

One of the best ecommerce tips for new entrepreneurs is to join an ecommerce Facebook group. You’ll be able to network with other ecommerce entrepreneurs who you’ll be able to learn from. You can ask for feedback on your new store, advice on how to get your sale, share new tricks you’ve learned to help other entrepreneurs grow. Being a part of a community allows you to stay on top of trends, build relationships with other entrepreneurs, and become a better businessperson. You can join ecommerce groups like Shopify EntrepreneursEcommerce Entrepreneurs and there are many other great groups too.

Ecommerce Tips (#50): Just start… right now.

When it comes to ecommerce tips, this one’s the most important one: stop delaying the launch of your ecommerce business. Yes, you’ll make some mistakes. But you’ll also recover from them quickly. Many only dream of starting a business not realizing how easy it is to make it a reality. The success stories you read of people starting a business and making five, six, or seven figures are real. With dropshipping, it’s so easy to succeed. I launched an Oberlo store about two months ago and it’s already making 5 figures a month. I’m just an average person like you. Believe in yourself because you’ll succeed faster if you do. The longer you wait, the more competitive your niche gets. So stop reading this blog post and get back to work.

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How to Calculate Dimensional Weight Tue, 27 Jun 2017 03:02:56 +0000

UPS® and FedEx® Ground Delivery now using dimensional weight for all packages.

In January 2015, shipping rates were modified for UPS Ground and FedEx Ground delivery. Rates are no longer based on the weight of the package. They are now based on the size of the package. This pricing program is known as Dimensional Weight Pricing, also referred to as “DIM Weight.”

UPS® and FedEx® Ground Delivery now using dimensional weight for all packages.

In January 2015, shipping rates were modified for UPS Ground and FedEx Ground delivery. Rates are no longer based on the weight of the package. They are now based on the size of the package. This pricing program is known as Dimensional Weight Pricing, also referred to as “DIM Weight.”

Previously, UPS Ground and FedEx Ground only used DIM pricing for packages
larger than three cubic feet (Example: 24″ x 18″ x 12″ box = 5,184 cubic inches, or 3 cubic feet). In 2015, DIM weight pricing will be applied to ALL PACKAGES shipped using ground delivery.


By using shipping rates focused on package size, shippers will be able to operate more efficiently and ultimately benefit from using smaller package sizes.

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