Table of Contents
- 1 Step 1: What was your budget for the store?
- 2 Step 2: How did your choose a niche?
- 3 Step 3: How did your focus narrow down on your target audience?
- 4 Step 4: How did your choose the winning, high-quality products?
- 5 Step 5: How did you build the store?
- 6 Step 6: Which payment gateways did your store use?
- 7 Step 7: What did your marketing plan look like?
- 8 Step 8: How do you deal with abandoned carts?
- 9 Step 9: Any other tactics and tools that you employed on your store?
- 10 Step 10: What was your final result?
Marc Chapon started his journey to an online business just like every other entrepreneur. He had studied Hospitality/Restaurant management in Paris and Switzerland and the most he knew about marketing were the basics the course had covered- and now, he had quit his full time job and ventured into ecommerce, with no shortage of determination and enthusiasm.
He was able to make sales of 60 thousand dollars per month in less than one year with only marketing and testing. He now has a course on Spocket Academy detailing how to grow your business from zero to selling thousands per month.
He made more than $10,000 in one day.
We wanted to trace his journey from the beginning to where he is today, to help him become a successful businessman. This is his story and his tips and tricks on how he built the store.
How to build a successful dropshipping store that is sustainable and scalable:
There was so much information online about ecommerce that I didn’t know anything about. There were many scammers and quick-money courses. You can find everything you need about the market on the internet. There are legit blogs and courses that can help new entrepreneurs succeed.
The Internet has everything you need. You can find it if you search for it.
You can find courses, videos on YouTube, Facebook groups and other resources to help you grow your e-commerce company.
I will show you step-by-step how I built a business I can make a living from.
Step 1: What was your budget for the store?
What is the minimum amount of money required to open a successful business?
I was not a complete stranger to the idea of starting my own business when I left my job.
Although a lot of alleged ecommerce experts will claim that you can start an online business with zero capital, any rational entrepreneur knows that funds are necessary to run any business. While you don’t need tens or thousands of dollars to get started with ecommerce you still need $1000 to finish the business.
I had saved about $5000 for my store. But, $1000 was sufficient to make sales and break even. To open a Shopify shop and to run Facebook ads, you will need to have money.
Building a business from scratch is going to require basic funding. Anyone who claims otherwise is simplifying the business.
I didn’t spend any money on purchasing products or holding inventory. If I had to sell online, I would be using the dropshipping model. I had heard about Spocket- through which I could find products and kick off my store at no upfront cost: but first I had to select a niche.
Step 2: How did your choose a niche?
People often say that this is a good niche. This confuses me as there is no good or bad niche.
There aren’t saturated markets, and even the most popular niche wouldn’t work for a retailer that doesn’t put in the effort to market and build a store.
My rule of thumb while selecting a niche is that I had to be interested in the niche to start a store in it: a lot of people do not think this is an important criterion when choosing a category for their store, but I have found that passion precedes any successful business, so if you choose a niche that you do not know anything about, you’ll probably not be as invested as you should be.
You’re more likely to start with something you like than entrepreneurs who are just starting.
All this being said, there were still niches I could pursue. Art was a passion of mine so that was one niche. I loved animals, and I had my own cat and dog. I knew all about the niche and was able to relate to the daily problems and needs of dog owners.
Dog lovers were a hot topic, so I did some research and chose to focus my store on products that are dog-focused.
Google Trends reinforced my conviction
You should also be aware that you may be tempted to open your store with a passing trend but you must not be content with making a lot of money then disappearing from the face of the Earth.
If you choose a niche that consistently performs well, it is possible to build a sustainable business.
I did extensive research on the subject, from looking at Amazon and other sites to find out how popular the niche was to reviewing the revenues generated by it over the years.
When researching a niche, I do the following:
- Google the keywords and look for major companies that offer the product.
- You can see how much traffic they generate.
- Check out the global searches made for keyboards
- Check out the revenue generated by the niche each year online.
- Examine the profitability of your niche
Traffic was high and the category seemed to make a good profit. After I thoroughly researched the niche, all things dog-related were my final choice.
Step 3: How did your focus narrow down on your target audience?
This step was actually a continuation of the previous step.
Google searches lead me to competitors stores. I was able to check reviews and discover who was most interested in the dog breed. Further research revealed exactly who my competitors were and what they were doing well.
As a pet owner, I knew who needed and wanted the products I was selling. I used Google Trends and common sense to figure out the personality traits, lifestyles, and attitudes of people who were most likely to purchase my product.
To reach the right audience, you don’t need tons of data. Dropshipping is not possible without the right audience. My audience consisted of people between 21 and 65 years old, who were based in Europe or the US. They also shopped at PetSmart and followed dog accounts on Instagram. This was a great start. I continued testing and digging deeper over time.
Step 4: How did your choose the winning, high-quality products?
A bad product will not sell, even the most beautiful store.
Google solved this problem again. Although I was initially interested in AliExpress products, I didn’t want to buy the low-quality AliExpress products I could find in 500 stores. Due to the poor product descriptions and images, as well as the unpredictable shipping times, I decided not to include those products in my store.
I was looking for manufacturers with great products and quick shipping times that were based in Europe and the US. A simple Shopify app store search led me to Spocket. Spocket offered a variety of dog tags. All shipping is free from the US. This was also important because they allowed me to make a reasonable profit.
Additionally, I discovered customizable products.
I began immediately to import products for my store.
Oberlo was also available on Shopify, which I found to be less suitable for my products. Between Spocket and Oberlo, I found Spocket to be a better fit for my needs.
I hunted for local suppliers and Etsy artisans on Spocket to fill my store. I searched Amazon for the most popular products and found different suppliers within the US. You don’t need to have 20,000 products in order to make a store successful. I found that 25-50 of the most amazing products was sufficient.
Spocket products were the best because I didn’t have to worry about supplier reliability or product images.
I researched competitor products and sought out reviews to find the best products. This resulted in happy customers. Dropshipping is all in the product. I chose suppliers that I could trust completely. The right product, the right audience, and the right marketing are the key ingredients to winning products. I didn’t want to miss any of these.
To ensure I felt comfortable working with suppliers, I sought out products that were unique and special. Of course, there were times when I chose products that didn’t sell, but that was part of the learning process.
Step 5: How did you build the store?
Shopify was the obvious choice as a website builder. It is easy to use and very quick. I chose the Brooklyn theme and began designing the store. Many people spend a lot time perfecting the look of their stores. You don’t have to be too professional or trustworthy to make your ecommerce store look good.
It is very important that your site loads within 3 seconds.
So I spent some time building a site that contained all the necessary elements, but not too much. These were the steps that I took:
Make a home page:
Your homepage is what people see first. This was my favorite part because I was always fascinated by design.
Many people simply list products on their ecommerce stores: it is not a shop, it is an accumulation of products.
This is how I made a homepage.
- First, I added a high-definition picture from Unsplash to the top of my main page. This was the first thing that people would see upon landing on my site. It had to be relevant to my niche and attractive.
- The image was then given a tagline and CTA button that would direct the users to the products.
This is how your homepage should look, just above the fold.
- I added collections with equally appealing photos to the homepage. The main image took visitors directly to each collection.
- The navigation bar was made sticky so that all visitors could easily access the main sections.
To add value, I created a free guide for dog owners that anyone could download.
Color: My audience was dog-owners of all ages and genders. Yellow is a symbol of happiness and optimism. A muted brown represents earthiness. I also used lots of white space. This was a good fit for the store that I had in my mind: clean and healthy.
Name: The business name is something that is intuitive- that sounds good, and conveys what you want. My store name will not be revealed for privacy reasons. However, a name that is appropriate for a store with a dog theme would be “Puppy Love”.
Font: For headings and subheadings, I chose the font “Now”- Bold and Light. It was easy to read and matched the rustic, clean feel I wanted.
To be successful in ecommerce, an online store must have stunning HD photos. Unsplash and Canva were my tools of choice. Pexels was also helpful.
Descriptions of the products:
I discovered that many ecommerce websites simply copied product descriptions from their supplier’s stores. This was often AliExpress. The result was that product pages were often cluttered with useless information and had no USP. Online shopping demands that product descriptions be crisp.
My method for writing product descriptions was easy. Descriptions of product products must be more than just a description of the product. They have to sell the product, show that it will make a difference in the customer’s life, and explain why your product is better.
The first two lines of my product descriptions focused on the benefits the product would bring to the customer’s lives. After that, I went on to describe the actual utility of each product.
Spocket descriptions were clean and grammatically correct. They covered all points I mentioned so I didn’t have to deal with them.
After these two points have been covered, I can move on to the details and specifications. Bullet points are a great way to organize the information. Bullet points are a great way to make the information easily readable.
Logo: The logo was something I quickly whipped up in Canva: While the logo is an important part of the whole brand package and should be unique, spending large amounts on it as a new business is pointless.
I created an icon and added my company name. Voila! A logo was ready!
Texts that are too long can be a turnoff.
Photos of the products:
Suppliers from Europe or the USA don’t need to worry about product images. To order a sample of each product, would have been too difficult and expensive. Instead, I asked the suppliers to send me newer photos.
If AliExpress products were my choice, I would need to order samples for each product in my store to make sure that it meets my standards. But with US Spocket suppliers, it was much easier.
Once I had the product page template in hand, I just needed to insert the products that I wanted into the template.
Step 6: Which payment gateways did your store use?
Yes, the final step in my store was to set up the payment gateways, customer service, and return policies.
Since I couldn’t use Stripe at the time, I used 2Checkout and PayPal to start my journey. It is a good idea to have a credit card payment readily available. The easiest way to do this is to register a company in a country Stripe can work through. It doesn’t take much to open a bank account in another country.
Multiple payment options are a plus. However, PayPal is a good option if you’re just starting. To ensure that you can trust your purchase, I added assurances to the checkout page.
Untrustworthy and risky payment gateways can be a hassle. I have had a lot of problems with them.
Because nothing can replace a personal touch in a store, I created an About Page. Return policies and other FAQ were also included to make sure that credibility was not a problem.
Step 7: What did your marketing plan look like?
Three major components of my marketing plan were Facebook, Instagram, and email marketing. After I had created my website, I didn’t want to waste time on pre-launch giveaways or other schemes. No one knew what my store was. First, I had to build brand awareness.
Facebook and Instagram Ads:
Social media ads are a great way to drive sales for your store. They have a large reach, and can be done quickly and cheaply.
Facebook ads work well with product images and videos that have compelling copy. This is where great product photos can be found.
These are three things that I have learned from Instagram and Facebook ads:
You should test the audience you’re displaying ads to. While people may change the copy and creatives if they fail to succeed, the problem is often in the targeting of your target audience. I was able to test gender and interests separately from all other audience variables.
It all depends on the product. Some products do very well on Instagram. Some products get crazy traffic from Facebook. Make sure you optimize your ads for the platform you are best at. If a product brings you few sales after a month, or if you have to spend more than you make over the product, it may not be the right product. Your audience might not like the product you are selling. Do not waste money on advertising the product. Try a different one instead!
It doesn’t need to be complicated! Every letter of the alphabet is a plan. Don’t waste time imagining how your Facebook ads might look. You must take action – if something doesn’t work, you can move on to the next. I created several ad sets for each product with different audiences and ran them. This allowed me to quickly get data and adjust my plans daily based on that information.
Here’s a step-by-step example of an actual ad campaign that I ran:
Campaign Objective: You want to achieve results when you run Facebook ads for ecommerce stores. Therefore, conversions were my campaign objective.
Demographics: I didn’t need to sort my audience by gender because of the niche I chose. While I was shipping primarily to the USA and Canada, I was open to sales from Australia, New Zealand, and the US.
Targeting Strategy: PetSmart and Petco were the top-ranked brands for pet products. These were added to my list of common interests.
Placement: I targeted mobile devices because they are the most likely to be browsing Facebook via their phones. Right column ads and instant articles were sufficient. Feed based ads sufficed. Instagram is a place where many pet accounts are created every day, so I used both story and feed ads.
Online retailers often skip this step. Ad copy should only be a few sentences long. Whole paragraphs are not read.
Because other articles in the audience’s feed use emojis, I used them. They are more likely to see your ad if they perceive it as another post in their feed.
The audience was first attracted to me by an emotional statement: every owner wants their dog to be safe. Then I added urgency to the message by mentioning the stock and the discount.
Budgeting: I set a daily budget of $3 for the ad, which meant that I would only spend $84 per month. This was something I could afford due to my savings. I decided to spend 100 on each product. I started with four ad sets, each costing $3. After doing a lot research, I was able to test three products per week. Efficiency was my main goal when choosing the Lowest Cost Bid Strategy. It might not be stable, but I prefer it to the target cost strategy simply because it would have been more expensive per event.
Instagram’s audience is younger so I was able to keep track of trends in my niche and found similar products that performed well on Instagram. Facebook, however, caters to middle-aged people.
If the ad performs well and brings in profits, I will let it go. You can achieve a conversion rate of up to 11% if you have the right audience demographics. However, 2-5% is the goal.
Email Marketing: I sent 2-3 emails per week to my email subscribers. Fun newsletters and cute tweets with curations of cute dogs videos and tweets.
I wanted to provide value to people by teaching them something they didn’t know. Then, I joked about how my store had products that would suit the needs of the customer.
You can also offer value via community forums like Quora, or post on Pinterest – this greatly increases brand awareness.
Step 8: How do you deal with abandoned carts?
It is difficult to deal with abandoned carts.
Retargeting is the first step. Retargeting was first done through email. I had already collected phone numbers and email IDs at checkout. Also on the homepage, I had also collected them. So different segments of emails were sent to people who had abandoned the sale but still had their shopping cart. Or to those who linger on the site but left.
Plus, you can also use Facebook ads. They couldn’t miss my message. The customer could buy right from my message or email. They could also purchase at the store where they were met.
I was also interested in the product with the most abandoned carts and came up with multiple reasons for abandoning it at the final stage.
One product that was selling well had many abandoned carts. This showed that it could make more sales. Multiple tests revealed that the product’s cost was too high. The supplier refused to offer a discount. I decided to reduce the price of my store and take a deliberate loss.
After I had sold enough product, I showed the supplier that a further discount would be beneficial to his business. I then covered all of my losses plus more!
Step 9: Any other tactics and tools that you employed on your store?
Although I was aware of many retailers putting up multiple popups in their stores, ranging from social proof popups to scarcity timers, I decided to keep the urging to a minimum. This was because I didn’t want to be pushy or desperate in the store.
The scarcity principle was only used in two areas of the store: one, on the product pages, where a ‘OnlyX products remain’ indicates my inventory. Two, on checkout:
I did use a few upsell apps for tools. They can slow down your store so I reduced their usage.
I used two upsell strategies:
– Shipping Upselling: I soon realized that shipping costs were the largest part of total sales cost and that people want to lower them. If they are offered lower shipping rates, people will justify adding another tempting product to their shopping cart. Another motivator is faster shipping.
– Cut-off point: Sometimes I have banners that say a percentage off for customers who purchase products of a certain value.
I used Spocket to find and import products- I did try the AliExpress app, but I had different products in mind for my store. Spocket helped me find my most popular products and I was able to fulfill orders quickly when they came in. I didn’t have to spend time on manual work and was not worried about inventory. The stock was always up-to-date in real time.
The second app that I used was Loox: to add photo reviews and making them look clean. Reviews are essential in ecommerce as they provide social proof that establishes trust. Loox was simple to use and sent an email to my customers asking for a review.
I also used Mobile Converter by Beeketing, which helped optimize my site for mobile devices. A sticky Add to Cart button, full-sized image galleries and a sticky Add To Cart button are essential for more than half of all mobile shoppers.
Third: Recart Messenger Marketing helped with abandoned carts. As I said, I wanted abandoned carts to be reached through all media. I sent emails and FB messages as well as SMSes. Recart also addressed FB messenger. I tailored the messages to match the theme and colors of my store and brought them back to the store during, what I assume would have been, an Facebook scroll session.
And lastly, SMSBump was my go-to app for sending SMSes to abandoned carts! SMSBump is compatible with ReCart. Retailers can set up a sequence of SMS + messenger messages where the message goes first. If a customer doesn’t convert, we can contact them with ReCart. Texts have an open rate of 94%, and so few people use this incredible resource. This app was the best I used.
Step 10: What was your final result?
And what should you remember for new retailers when they open their stores?
The final result was evident after 6 months of hard work.
Every little effort you put into your business will make it a success. Dropshipping success stories that claim one revolutionary trick will win you success in a matter of seconds are likely false. These success stories are often fabricated to deceive people.
I tried and reapplied every strategy mentioned above throughout the month, and the results were as clear as daylight.
I was able to create enough profit to support a comfortable lifestyle without having to work a 9-5 job. In the three months between October and December, I made $178,000 in sales.
It took patience, just as with any other business. Dropshipping is not a quick way of making money. Dropshipping is a way to make money quickly.
It was difficult because I didn’t know how long it would take. It is possible.
Like you, I began my journey just like you. I made many mistakes, but I also learned from them and rectified them. The biggest problem I had was my lack of knowledge. Ecommerce was like flying blind. Everyday I tried new things, tested new ideas, and determined to succeed.
My mission now, is to prove that anyone can build a successful ecommerce store through dropshipping. Spocket is a tool that makes it easy to build ecommerce stores. Through my Facebook groups Dropshipping Elite, and Spocket’s Facebook Group, I want to share all the lessons I have learned along my journey to a successful business with other entrepreneurs. Here’s your chance to be the next dropshipping success. If you want to learn exactly what I did with step-by-step instruction, my course is available on Spocket Academy.
You can do it if I can.