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Scripbox is an online platform to invest in mutual funds with zero manual paperwork requirements.   In just a few clicks, you can open a Scripbox investment account and complete mutual […]

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Try and Try Again. Building a Successful Business After Multiple Failures


“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

When William Edward Hickson popularized this expression, he certainly wasn’t thinking about ecommerce or dropshipping. But that doesn’t make it any less relevant.

After all, what is failure but another step towards success?

That’s the attitude that propelled Ahmed Hadi towards dropshipping success. Instead of letting not one, two, but three dropshipping setbacks take him down, Ahmed saw them as an opportunity to learn and capitalized on them.

Documenting every single decision that he made, he adapted and improved on them with each new store. He joins us in this episode of Start Yours to talk about how he stayed strong in the face of multiple failures and the tactics he’s learned that have brought him to where he is today.

If you enjoy this podcast, do consider subscribing.

Prefer a summary? Here’s a five-point TL;DR version:

  1. Ahmed’s perception of making money online involved doing painstaking tasks. It wasn’t until an army buddy introduced him to dropshipping that he learned otherwise.
  2. One of the biggest mistakes he made with his first store was not investing any branding efforts into it. He thought that he could just throw products in front of the right audiences and sales would flow.
  3. With his second store, he learned about the importance of selling high-quality products. Even if you do get those first sales, people will soon realize they’re getting ripped off once they receive the products.
  4. Ahmed got his first sales from the third store, which he closed because it was a seasonal opportunity. But there, he got his first taste of success and realized he could make it work.
  5. Logistical delays from COVID-19 and problems with his supplier for his fourth store led him to discover a hybrid business model between dropshipping fulfillment and investing in physical inventory.

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Learning About Dropshipping in the Military

Ahmed Hadi outdoors

David: You graduated high school last year, and you planned to attend university to study mechanical engineering. You ended up deferring that start date until 2020 so that you could complete your military service, which is mandatory in Finland.

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: And I wanted to ask about this background, mechanical engineering plus military. That’s not necessarily the most obvious background for an online business owner. How did you find your way into the digital business world without having any sort of normal predictable route?

Ahmed: So I’ve always been good with computers ever since I was small. I actually used to do coding when I was smaller and I’ve never had any difficulties with online stuff or digital stuff, so that was never a big stepping stone for me. But I’ve actually had multiple passions when I was in school, and the ones that stuck were Maths, Social Studies, usually Civics, and then Science Studies. So I’ve always been interested in sciences and business. 

And military service, well, it’s mandatory so you just have to do it. And some people postpone military service until they’re 25, up until they’re 30. But I thought that I just wanna get it over with so I can pursue my other real passions instead of always thinking about this bump that’s coming sometime in the future, which is military service. 

But actually, it was quite good that I went because there, I met a friend who was with me and he told us about this dropshipping and ecommerce in general. And it was eye-opening because I had always thought… I always heard about making money online. 

But I had this picture that to make money online, you have to be doing these surveys or these really painstaking tasks, which pay very little. 

So I didn’t really make much of it. But he told us that it was possible, and you can make a business online and it doesn’t cost much to start. And he told us about this store he did in 2019, and he made €270,000 in revenue in, I think it was three months. And that was…

David: Wow.

Ahmed: And that really struck me. I was like, “Wow! I’ve never heard a 19-year-old talk about figures like that.” So that’s when I started looking into it. Obviously, I was still in the military, so I didn’t have much time to pursue it. 

So all I did was when we had these… Every day after 6:00 PM, we had some free time. So I would go on the Internet and read about dropshipping and ecommerce and all these business models, print on demand, all this stuff, and gather information little by little until I got out, and then I actually started trying it out.

David: Cool. Now, you chatted with us for a story over at the Oberlo blog, and you had a great quote in there where you said, 

“I’d heard about making money online and all those ads you see on the Internet, but I never really believed them, so I just took them all with a grain of salt.”

Talk a bit more about that, if you would, because you’re really not alone with this skeptical attitude. There are a lot of promises out there where people see a YouTube ad or something, that there’s a promise of lots of money. You only have to work 30 minutes a week or whatever. What was your perception of online business when you were looking at those ads and based on the things you were hearing there?

Ahmed: Yeah, so obviously, I didn’t believe them before I heard what my friend said in the army. I always thought that these were just schemes that these online gurus run to make money off of people who wanna make money online. And it’s really a shame because I don’t really blame the people who are skeptical because the media, social media, and news are filled with stories of people getting scammed online. It’s a really big issue that people are afraid of getting scammed or ripped off online because it’s easy to get away with. It’s much easier to scam someone online than in real life. 

So I think that’s a big barrier for people between believing in the possibility of being able to work online, and as you said, maybe for only 30 minutes a day, compared to, traditionally, going to work physically to someplace for a nine-to-five job every day and making the same amount of money.

So, I really didn’t believe any of those ads, which in hindsight is quite foolish because, obviously, if there are ads which are selling this dream, as you could call it, then, obviously, there are some people who are making it because if it wasn’t true, then people wouldn’t be running ads on it because people wouldn’t buy into it. But since there are these gurus who are making money off of people who are buying the courses, then there has to be some kind of tangible proof that it works, otherwise, it would just die off.

Launching His First Store

David: Okay, so you were skeptical coming into it and then you kinda got your interest piqued when you heard your military buddy talking about it. So tell me about launching your first store. How did you pick the products and what sort of store was it?

Ahmed: Yeah, so before I picked the first store, before I started doing it, I was doing some research on it. I think I read about dropshipping about… Really did some research for about two weeks before I started my first store. And my research really consisted of watching YouTube videos of these, as I call them, online gurus. And they do give some helpful information, especially for beginners, but most of the time, they are trying to sell their own course. 

So they give this kind of introduction, maybe some useful information, but then the rest of the real information is in the course that you have to buy. But, anyway, it was enough to get me started, and I figured I’d be better off learning as I do, starting a store, and learning as I progressed through the stages.

So I started this store with things that I myself had bought off of AliExpress, which are iPhone cases and things that go with it such as fake AirPods. I think I have this neck phone holder, which also fits into the same niche. And at the time, I had heard these people say, “Don’t reinvent the wheel. Go where there is money to be made. Don’t try to start a new trend. If something is selling, it means there’s money to be made there.” 

But, obviously, if something is selling, there’s also a lot of competition there. 

And if you wanna be able to sell iPhone cases, you have to have something to stick out to beat your competition, which is, frankly, in 2020, it’s really hard because there are these people who have already made it to the big leagues and it’s really hard to beat them.

So, anyway, I got on with my first store. It was kind of a general store. I just threw everything that I thought would sell that fits into this electronics niche in there. And I made my own ads because… Well, I tried to be ethical with my business as well, so I don’t like stealing ads. 

David: That’s good. We like that.

Ahmed: Yeah, so I made my own ads, but I think the ads are on the blog post. They aren’t really that good. They look like they were made by an eight-year-old on paint.net, something like that. But, anyway, it was enough to get me interested and started with influencer marketing, which is paying Instagram pages or influencers a fixed amount for a 24-hour post, for example, for your ad. 

And that’s because Facebook advertising is, especially for beginners, in many cases, is really expensive, so people like to start off with influencer marketing. 

But the thing with influencer marketing is that it’s really a hit or miss kind of thing. If you hit, you usually hit pretty well, but if you miss, which happens most of the time, you would do zero sales and you’ll end up losing all the money that you paid for the page.

Ahmed on influencer marketing being a hit and miss

David: I assume you missed.

Ahmed: Yeah. Definitely. But that wasn’t… I’m not saying that the reason I didn’t make money with the first store was that I didn’t do Facebook marketing. There are many more reasons. 

I didn’t do any branding. I had these… When you import products with Oberlo, it imports the default description that AliExpress has, which has all this information, voltage, if it’s an electronic product, all these specifications. And I remember thinking, I was like, “Oh, well, this is nice. It’s all ready. I don’t have to write the description myself.” So I just left it there and thought it would sell like that. So that’s one thing. I didn’t focus on branding at all. 

I had this idea that if you just throw products in front of the right audiences, they will buy it regardless of whether you try to sell it or not, which is of course very wrong.

That’s not how it goes if you’re a new brand. No one has heard of you. You have to sell your product. You have to give people a reason to buy from you.

David: Yeah, that’s a good point. There is more to making sales than simply importing the products. We’ve actually talked to… Some of our customer satisfaction experts, they’ve talked about messages that they’ve gotten from users and the message will be something like, “Hey, I’ve had products in my store for two days and there are no sales yet. What’s going on?” 

And there’s an assumption that all you need to do is put a product there and then it just kinda takes care of itself. But as you learned and as everybody’s learned, there’s a little bit more to it than simply hitting the import button.

Ahmed: Yeah, but I don’t blame them, really, because the thing is that with all the ads about making money online and all these videos about how easy dropshipping and ecommerce is, it really does give you an image that dropshipping, especially, is really easy, and all you need to do is set up this Shopify store and import product through Oberlo and that’s it, run some ads and people will buy from you. 

And that’s really how people… These gurus who try to sell their courses, that’s how they get people to sign up because it seems so easy. 

But the thing is that if it really were that easy, everyone would be doing it. Why would anyone work if it were that easy. Of course, you have to work to make real revenue.

David: Yeah, for sure. I mean, and easy… “Easy” is just a word that we kind of… I treat that as a bad word. We don’t talk about things being easy ’cause it’s not easy.

Ahmed: Exactly, yeah.

David: There are some things that are simple and there is “one-click import”, that’s a thing, but it’s very different having an imported product sitting in your back-end versus generating revenue on the front-end.

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: So, yeah, definitely, I think this is… This is a good takeaway that dropshipping is very hard, I think easier is a fair word, it is easier…

Ahmed: Sure, yeah.

David: To dropship than to have a retail store, open up a brick and mortar place, but definitely ain’t easy. So I’m glad you brought that up.

Ahmed: Yeah, yeah. I did also try some Snapchat marketing, which didn’t work, and I’ve never really looked into it after. But Snapchat, the thing with Snapchat is some people actually can find and have found success with Snapchat ads. But Snapchat is really a swipe-based application where people just swipe through all the posts, when people watch stories, they just tap through all the posts without really even giving any of them some attention. 

So Snapchat was interesting in the sense that I got tons of traffic, I got like for only maybe putting €10 a day, you could get 1,000 visitors, but none of them would even add to cart, so I would say that the quality of traffic that you get from Snapchat ads, it’s much, much lower than you would get from say, Facebook or Instagram.

Snapchat ads traffic quality

David: Alright, so you had… You had your first store up, it didn’t go great. So as you said, you did not invest in branding, you made the kind of rookie mistake of importing the AliExpress product descriptions word for word, which, if anybody’s read those descriptions, they are not poetry.

Ahmed: Yeah.

Learning From His Mistakes and Launching a Second Store

David: And then you kind of… You had to make a few mistakes on the advertising front with Snapchat or trying things that didn’t end up working, so that was store number one. But to your credit, you didn’t give up, you came back and went for it again with store two. Talk about what was different when you decided to launch it for a second round.

Ahmed: Yeah, so the reason I didn’t give up was that I was genuinely convinced that I could make this work because my friend had made it work. 

And when I see something tangible, when I see someone I know say that something has happened, that’s much more convincing than seeing an ad on the internet that something has happened.

And I also… It made sense. Dropshipping really makes sense when you start researching it, so I was like, this can definitely work, there’s just something that I haven’t figured out yet, so I was convinced that I just have to try again and again and at some point, it would work. 

So the second store I made, I tried to focus on branding much more since the first store was this kind of a general store that I just threw products in without really putting any effort into it. The second store was this hair trimmer that I had found on AliExpress again, and the branding was actually done quite well and I even wrote compelling descriptions

I made the entire site quite uniform, I made my own logos. But the thing with the product was that the product was, first of all, low quality, it was also widely available in brick and mortar stores.

For example, if someone wants to buy a hair trimmer, they’re much more likely to buy it from their local store than from a random Internet store. So that was the problem with that product, and the bigger problem was, in my opinion, the fact that it was low quality.

People could see through the branding and the ads. It’s actually good that people don’t buy… That people aren’t deceived by low-quality products because even if you do make your first sales, even if you do find success, when the customers eventually do get the product, that’s the point at which they realize, “Oh, I’ve been ripped off. I’ve bought a 40… I’ve bought a trimmer worth 40 Euros but it’s actually worth only two.” Or something like that.

David: Right, right. It’s worth the cost of the battery inside.

Ahmed: Exactly, yeah. And then you’re just gonna get… You’re just gonna get cashbacks and all the revenue you made is just gonna be lost, so what’s the point? You’re just gonna be stuck with a huge customer service problem.

David: It seems like a hair trimmer is also a product that people would probably want relatively quickly. If you have a need for a hair trimmer then that need is not gonna go away. In fact, it’s only gonna get worse in the few weeks it might take to ship there. Was that another issue that you ran into with that particular product?

Ahmed: Yeah, certainly, certainly. Yeah, the shipping times were, if I remember correctly, around three to four weeks, which is quite normal for dropshipping out of China. But definitely, yeah, that was one issue too.

Doing Branding for a One-Product Store vs a General Store

David: You talked about the… That you emphasized branding more and I’m curious what that looked like because dropshippers often struggle with this idea of creating a brand image. I mean part of it is inherent to the business model. You are taking products that are… They’re not yours, they’re made from somebody else and it’s very possible that other stores are selling the exact same thing. 

And I think for some people there’s a sense that they shouldn’t even try to worry about the branding because their store… They might not plan on having it open for that long and there’s no point in investing in this kind of a long-term branding strategy. What was your approach to branding for round two and what was better that time than with your first store where you really didn’t pay any attention to that?

Ahmed: Yeah. Actually the second store was easier to brand because it was just this one product. It’s much easier to brand a company around one product than it is around a variety of products, especially if it’s mixed niches together because when you focus on one product or one group of similar products, you can really make your company seem like an expert in that area. 

So, for example, concretely what I did on my second store was speak in a language that appeals to people who care about the way they look, put logos together, fonts together, colors together that match, and they match the language and they match the audience.

Branding a one-product store is easier, says Ahmed

The most important thing about branding is that you have to understand your audience and you have to talk to them. 

You have to be able to talk in a language that your audience can relate to, you have to be able to… How should I say this? Sell the outcome, not the product, don’t focus on what the product does, you have to focus on… I’m sorry, I’m sorry… Don’t focus on what the product is, you have to focus on what the product does, what the outcome is of them using your product, which is for a hair trimmer it’s getting maybe a better-looking beard for men.

And you have to go further than that. What does a better-looking beard do for people who care about how they look? Well, it gives them better self-esteem. They might feel more confident. So you have to sell the confidence feature. You have to sell the self-esteem. You have to sell… Perhaps you have an ad that shows a guy waking up and he looks in the mirror and he’s like, “Wow, I look good.” And you know, people who maybe aren’t that confident, they look at that ad and they’re like, “I wanna be like that.” 

And that’s all included in your branding, everything from logo, behavior, language. You have to have an About Us page. Even if you’re starting out and you haven’t made even one sale, you have to be able to tell your customers what your mission and vision are so that they will really understand why you exist and why they should buy from you and not from another store. 

And all of this ties together. When people talk about branding, many people think it’s just the logo and colors and fonts, but it’s really… That’s the most superficial level of branding. The real value of branding and the deeper meaning is found in the language, in your behavior, in your culture, the way you communicate to your audience, all that is included in branding.

David: Yeah, I think that’s spot on. We actually had… We had somebody on the podcast a few months ago, Paul Lee. He had a beard brand and he really immersed himself in the whole beard culture. He learned this language that you’re talking about. And these things like self-esteem and confidence, like those, are real things. 

And I think for something like hair care products that you’re talking about or Paul was talking about, those are definitely top of mind. And then for other niches, it’s gonna be other things. Like if you sell swimwear, it’ll be about having fun, for example, or enjoying the summer, whatever it might be. But there are, exactly like you’re saying, there are these kinds of secondary effects. So like yes, you are trimming your hair, but what does that mean? Or, yes, you’re going to the beach, but what is going to the beach feel like? 

So I think that’s an awesome way to put it, that you need to kind of look beyond the product itself and then look at what the product does and then think about, “Okay, what is it gonna do for somebody?”

Ahmed: Yeah, yeah.

Ahmed discusses the real value of branding

The Third Time’s the Charm

David: So okay, so you learned a lot about branding from your first store, and then you learned a lot about crappy products from your second store.

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: But you didn’t give up. So what was it that kind of convinced you that maybe you should try this yet again and open up a third store?

Ahmed: Well, pretty soon I understood that the issue was in my product and I should just find another product and try again. 

Because going back to the branding aspect, you can do all the branding you want, but if your product doesn’t actually deliver on your branding, it’s all for nothing.

You can promise that people will get self-esteem when they trim their beard with your hair trimmer. But then if they get a crappy plastic hair trimmer in the mail four weeks later after they buy it on the Internet, that story is gonna die out pretty soon, even though you do the best of branding. 

So with the third store, I actually tried to use timing to my advantage because Valentine’s Day was coming, and I thought I’d try a store and leverage timing to my advantage because I was just a beginner so I had to have some kind of edge over the competition. 

So I opened up again a one-product store around this Golden Foil Rose in this dome, which is a classic dropshipping product.

David: It is very classic. This is one that we’ve written about on the Oberlo blog. This is definitely a tried-and-true dropshipping product, so look this up if you’re interested.

Ahmed: Definitely, and the thing with the Gold Foil Rose is that it works every year. It’s seasonal. Every time Valentine’s Day comes around, it sells. And it’s been like that for the last four or five years, at least. 

So I did that, and I focused again on branding. I think I didn’t really do much more than I did with the second store because I didn’t know better. So I did the same thing with branding, tried to appeal to the audience, tried to make it relevant, tried to focus on the one product and make everything revolve around it and around the customer. And that’s the store with which I made my first, I think three sales actually, and that’s when I got the first taste of success and I was like, “Okay, this is gonna work. I just have to get a few more things right, and I can really make this work.”

David: Yeah, and that’s kind of a revelation that we’ve heard from other people as well that once you get the sales, you get the orders fulfilled, and the product is actually legitimate, that there’s this, I don’t know, like a light that flips on or whatever the cliche is that you wanna use. But there’s kind of a realization and confidence that like, “Oh, this is how it’s supposed to work. This is how it feels. It does work to do it this way.” 

So yeah, that’s awesome that you kind of had the light bulb moment, so to speak, getting a few sales under your belt ’cause that’s all it really takes. Once you see those first few come in, it kinda changes everything.

The First Sales Are the Hardest

Ahmed: Yeah, many people actually do say this that the first sales you make are the hardest and the rest come after it, which is really squeezing it in a nutshell, but it really does make sense. The first sales are the hardest ones to get, but after that, you can just duplicate and make your strategy better and you should be able to improve from that. 

I remember the feeling. It was quite incredible to see the first sales because I had been… I live in Finland myself, and I had been… All these stores I made first were for English-speaking countries, mainly the United States. So all the sales I made with this Valentine’s Day store were when I was sleeping. So I remember waking up and I looked at my phone and I had made three sales, and it was such an incredible feeling of knowing that you…

The challenges of getting those first sales

David: Nice, good notifications to get.

Ahmed: Yeah, that you had made money in your sleep. And I remember looking at the orders and looking at the customers and realizing that, “Wow, these are real people who came to my store and bought from me.” And it was… It… It might sound silly that I’m saying this now, but it was really quite an incredible feeling at the time. 

And, this is just the thing with business, that, the reason it’s hard and easy at the same time, is that… The hard part is when you’re actually doing the work because in business, the heavy lifting is done before you get the money. 

And, the thing that makes it challenging is that when you’re doing the heavy lifting, when you’re putting in the hours and the work, and, you know, all the effort, you’re not seeing any of the results yet, and you don’t even know if you’re gonna get results.

You can’t know until you do actually get them. But when you do get the results, you’re not doing anything, you might be sleeping like I was. So, it’s like… You feel… You feel… It’s really challenging at times, and then, when it does work out, it’s the best feeling in the world.

David: Nice.

Ahmed: So, with the third store, I had to close it pretty soon because it’s a seasonal product so, as soon as Valentine’s Day was over, or actually a week before it was over because the shipping times were about a week long, so, I had to close it because… Yeah.

David: You don’t want any February 12th sales on a rose coming from… Yeah, coming from China, that won’t… It won’t get there.

Self-Learning and Leveraging Your Unique Traits

Ahmed: Yeah. Yeah. So after that, I had really realized… After that light bulb moment, I was like, “Okay, this is really gonna work.” I didn’t actually make any profit, I broke even with the store, but it was better than losing money as I did with the first stores. So, I realized that I’ve been having the right strategy in the sense that, every store I’ve made has been better than the earlier one, and that’s exactly how you should do it. 

You should always improve when you take your next shot. You should never do the same thing twice.

And the thing with online business and any business really, is that you should… As cliche as it sounds, you should really learn from your mistakes. And what it means is… What I did was I documented my mistakes, or more accurately, I documented everything I did. And after I closed the store, I looked over what I did and I was like, “Okay, which one of these things I did was good, and which one was not, and which one should I never do again, and which one should I maybe improve or implement in my next store too?”

And, with the third store, when I closed it, I really didn’t know how I could improve with my fourth store. And that was bad because I wasn’t ready to make a fourth store and lose money again or even break-even.

I was determined to make a profit with the fourth store. So, what I did was I actually took some time off. I was also working at the time. But my work was good in the sense that I was able to take my laptop with me to work, it was a customer service related job, and, when there were no customers, I was able to read about ecommerce and study during work time. 

So, that’s what I did. And I think for two to three weeks, all I did was go through videos, go through articles, do research on products. I actually took one free course that I found… 

I don’t think any beginners should buy a course because it’s really hard to figure out which ones are worth the money in the beginning, and, quite frankly, I think all the information you need to get started is out there.

David: Oberlo’s dropshipping course is free right now, I guess I should go ahead and plug that while we’re on the topic…

Ahmed: Sure. Sure.

David: Our is… Ours is free. As Ahmed is saying, it has all the information you need so…

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: Alright. As you were. You set me up for that one. I had to take the chance.

Most of the hard work in business is done before getting the money, says Ahmed

Finding Success in His Fourth Store

Ahmed: Yeah, no problem. And, if you do buy a course, which is fine, and you totally should, and it’s good to invest in yourself, just make sure you’re not being ripped off. Don’t buy a $1,000 Euro course or anything. Make sure it’s… The value that the course offers is worth the money that you’re paying. That’s the… That’s the main thing.

David: Yeah, there are a lot of… A lot of four-figure courses out there.

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: They’re pretty expensive.

Ahmed: So, I did research and I learned many new things of which the most important I think was a huge lesson on branding. It’s this concept called the 12 brand archetypes, which is this concept built by this psychologist I think. I don’t remember his name. But it’s this psychologist who came up with the concept that all brands should fit into personalities. 

When you develop a brand, you should think of it as a book character that you’re building.

You’re building how he or she looks, you’re building the language, you’re building everything, the whole personality of the character, and you have to speak to your target audience with it. And, the 12 archetypes are divided roughly so that all brand types can fit into all of them. 

And there are examples of the archetypes that might be the ‘explorer’ archetype into which, for example, The North Face fits. The North Face is this company that sells apparel and backpacks and all these, and you can see from their ads that… All their ads are these people who are trekking on mountains or hanging from cliffs, doing this really daredevil stuff in nature. 

And, what this means… They’re selling jackets. So, how does hanging from a cliff connect to selling jackets? Well, they’re appealing to the people who maybe like nature, people who like trekking, people who like to take risks. It’s all really psychological when you come to think of it. And, people who aren’t like that, they don’t buy jackets from The North Face, they buy jackets from another place, which appeals to their personality and things they like. 

And this is really important with your target audience. Many people think that… Many people have this process of first finding the product and then thinking about, “Okay, who should I sell this to?” Whereas they should be thinking, “Okay, I need to find some people who need something… For example, I need to find a problem within the fishing community.” Maybe fishers have a problem and, you have to find a product to solve that problem that they have. 

That’s a much better way of thinking about it, and it’s way better to develop your brand when you start from the audience instead of the product. And, that’s exactly what I did with my fourth store, which I opened soon after I finished researching and I found some new strategies to try out. And, I actually went with print on demand. And the fourth store is the store I’m currently running, it’s this jewelry store that I have.

Another thing I learned, which I implemented was that you have to leverage your strengths because dropshipping is obviously gaining in popularity, and it has ever since, I would say, 2015 and really took off in 2017. And, it’s getting harder and harder to compete against other dropshippers because quite frankly, other dropshippers are as good or many times better than you yourself are or I am. So you have to use your strengths to your advantage. 

And I thought, “What’s my strength compared to other dropshippers?” Well, to really find your strengths, you have to find what traits or abilities you have that other people might not have. And to me, that was living in Finland and to be able to talk, to speak the Finnish language. And I thought, “Okay, I’m gonna make a store in Finland and make it in Finnish and sell it to Finnish people.” 

Because dropshipping is really competitive in the English-speaking community, so I will eliminate a lot of the competition by catering to the Finnish community.

This is really important. And one of the big pieces of advice I would give to beginners is to really try to find strengths that you have. It can be like mine was. It’s really, like, obvious and small but it makes a big difference. You have to find traits that you can leverage to beat your competition.

Ahmed says it's getting harder to compete in dropshipping

Fighting Saturation With Unconventional Dropshipping Markets

David: I love this idea of targeting a different market. I mean, this is something that I think a lot of people fall into the trap that maybe you fell into for your first few stores, where you think it needs to be the US or it needs to be these English-speaking markets like the US, UK, Australia, whatever. Those are definitely good markets. They buy a lot of stuff, and a lot of Oberlo users, for example, have huge success there. 

But we’ve looked at this and published content on other markets that you can target all across Scandinavia. There are a lot of purchases coming into Oberlo-powered stores. Countries that you might not even think of like Malaysia and the Philippines. There are all sorts of markets out there to target. Of course, you had it pretty obvious with Finland, just kind of knowing the language and understanding the culture and the market.

But this is something that when people talk about, “Oh, this is saturated,” or, “Dropshipping is saturated,” or, “This dropshipping product is saturated,” the world is a very big place and everybody’s online now pretty much, so you do not need to restrict yourself to the US. ‘Cause, yeah, something might be too expensive to market in the US or US Facebook ads are pricey and you have to compete with all these people that you were talking about, who are… They’ve been there, they’ve been doing it for a while, that is really, really difficult, but just change the target market. And then all of a sudden the dynamic changes if you find some little inefficiency, and what you’re talking about is brilliant, just look in your back backyard and there’s the market you should be focused on instead of the US.

Ahmed: Yeah, and many people talk about, as you said, saturation, which is a word I really hate personally because I think saturation is just a synonym for competition, but it’s a much more negative tone. It’s this word that you use when you’re trying to make people… Crush people’s hopes and dreams by calling a product or a market saturated, and what it really means is just, it’s really competitive. And it’s obviously harder to make it, but usually, when something, some market or some product is saturated, it does mean that there is a lot of money to be made there. And if you do make it, you are gonna get a big piece. But the flip side, there’s always this balance, I would say.

Ahmed's definition of saturation

David: Yeah, totally. We had somebody on the podcast before. He was talking about these face masks to clear your pores, and there was this perception that they were saturated. And I think in the US, they might have been. This is a big dropshipping. He was deep into it, so he knew which products were selling and where they were selling. And so face masks, US, okay, that actually might be a little bit saturated. But if you just do the same product and the same targeting, the same ads in Canada, it’s all of a sudden a totally different ball game.

Ahmed: Yeah, exactly.

David: And the ad prices change, the market is not the same, there are new dynamics that you can take advantage of. So, yeah, I’m with you. I think that there is competition out there. It’s not supposed to be easy like we talked about, but there is a lot of ecommerce and it’s a big pie and a lot of pieces to go around for sure.

Ahmed: And changing the market, as you said, is only one way of beating this challenge of saturation. I don’t know if you knew this, but the fidget spinner, which was a huge, huge, huge product back in, I think, 2017, I don’t know if I got this wrong. But anyway, it was like a huge product during this… I think it was a six-month period or something like this. 

But the funny thing with fidget spinners is that somebody actually already came up with the toy and tried to sell it back in, I think it was the early 2000s, but it was called the Spinning Toy, and it made absolutely… It was a horrible product at the time, it made no sales, and they were actually in the process of patenting it, but they gave up because it was such a bad product. And someone found it in 2015, 2016. The only thing that he changed, he or she changed, was the name, from Spinning Toy to the Fidget Spinner, and instantly, it became a hit product. 

So sometimes all it takes is a bit more creativity. Give some new touch to it. Put it in a new light. Give some personalization aspect to it, anything to make it different from the saturated market that it is and you might be starting the next big trend.

A Hybrid Business Model

David: So your fourth store was a success. And instead of digging into the nuances of your Finnish ad copy and all that stuff, I wanted to ask you about how you are now fulfilling orders and testing products because I think you did something that’s pretty cool. You went from a pure dropshipping fulfillment method to now kind of a hybrid between dropshipping and working with a supplier and their inventory directly. So tell us, if you would, about how you set that up and how you’re still using dropshipping but not relying solely on that.

Ahmed: Yeah, so actually where they started from was, I had this huge problem with my supplier and it was due to the coronavirus. My supplier was based in the US and my store was in Finland, and it was selling to the Finnish audience, mainly. 

And so all my products were supposed to come from the US to Finland via UPS, I think it was. But there was this issue that started appearing around April where my products would get stuck at the airports because of flights that were canceled and because of priority mail taking place… Priority mail has an advantage because the thing with many courier services is that they actually first stuff the priority mail in the planes, and then economy comes after if there is space.

So with flights being reduced, priority mail was mainly getting flown over to Finland and economy was just sitting at the airport and my… And the funny thing is April was actually the time I made the most sales too, so when I was scaling up, my deliveries were being stuck, which was a huge problem. 

And I think I did about, I sold for about two weeks before realizing that this was an issue, I realized that, okay, deliveries are not coming through. So I stopped the store and I started looking into the problem, what’s up, what’s wrong, how can I expedite the delivery or help, or somehow make my customers get their products. 

Customers were already calling me and sending emails and asking about where the products are, and the big problem was I didn’t know myself.

So after finding out they were being stuck at the airports in the US, I realized that I could no longer work with the supplier and the thing with my supplier was, it was really, really hard because the supplier was good and he had good communication when things were going well. But as soon as things went downhill, it was getting harder to reach them, especially since I had, it was hundreds of deliveries that were stuck, it was about €8,000 in sales that I had stuck…

David: Oh wow!

Ahmed: At the airports, and the thing with… No, it was more, it was actually €14,000, but €8,000 was the amount I had to return to my customers because the issue with dropshipping is you don’t have control over your deliveries, as I just proved with my store.

David: Right, yeah.

Ahmed: But the issue with the traditional online business, ecommerce with your own inventory is that you don’t know if your product is going to sell before you actually try to sell it. So people are often buying huge inventories of products and then being stuck with them because they can’t sell them. 

I thought about this idea that I would test products, or actually, I had already tested the products which I had sold. 

So why wouldn’t I just buy the inventory to myself and ship them from within Finland and get one-day deliveries, two-day deliveries, and control my supply chain myself, and also get cheaper prices since I would get them straight from the factory and not have to pay my supplier, which is just a middle man in the supply chain?

So I did just that and I got my own inventory straight from the factories, and I started fulfilling orders myself from my house and…

Ahmed talks about the disadvantages of traditional ecommerce

David: And so that the process was that you would use, you would use ads and the different marketing channels that you talked about to do market research in a way or to kind of test what was going to work product-wise and then fulfill those orders with whatever kind of standard dropshipping was available. But then, in the background, you would invest in actual physical inventory…

Ahmed: Yeah.

David: That would give you more control, is that kind of how it worked?

Ahmed: Exactly, yeah.

David: Cool.

Ahmed: And with the stuck orders, there was around €14,000 worth of stuck orders at the airports, and I had this solution that I would send to all the customers who had their delivery stuck, I sent them an email offering them two ways out. One was that they would get a replacement product from the ones that I had bought to my own inventory here to Finland. 

It was slightly different. It was still the same necklace, it was just slightly different. I sent them a picture of it and I told them, “Hey, if you want, you can change to this product, I’ll send it to you for free”, because if they had already bought it and it was stuck, “And if you don’t want this, I can return your money and we can be done with it. No problem.” 

And I was expecting that most people would want their money back. But I was surprised that about half actually wanted the replacement necklace, which was good because that saved me a lot of money.

And I ended up losing, because of this problem, I ended up losing around €13,000 in out of pocket, because €8,000 was the actual amount of sales that I lost, which is about half of the products that were stuck. But the thing is that with cashbacks, with returning the money to the customers, I’m not getting back the amount I lost on ads of those sales or the processing fees or the amounts that I actually paid to my supplier because my supplier ghosted me so I couldn’t get my money back from there either. 

So with a little bit of customer service, that problem got solved too. And that’s one thing that I also advocate for, which is ethical business, really try and solve your problems, if you run into issues like this, which is you are bound to run into problems, maybe not this exact problem, but if you are a business owner, you will run into problems and you have to be able to solve them and you will be losing money sometimes. 

But what makes people who succeed stand out is the ability to adapt in challenging situations like this one.

And in hindsight, this situation was actually good because it gave me this idea of implementing a hybrid business model between traditional ecommerce and dropshipping.

So now I have this system where all the products that I have already proven to be sellable, I have proven to sell them, I am getting them myself to my own inventory and I have a fulfiller that I’m paying to fulfill the products to here, and then I am doing prospecting with dropshipping, trying out new products and testing them maybe for a week or two. If they work, then I change it over to the traditional inventory stock system.

The Importance of Adapting and Perservering

David: I love this idea of adapting and I think if we look at the timeline of your stores, the first store had crappy branding, you adapted, had good branding, the second store had crappy products, you adapted, got better products, and then just kept pivoting wherever you needed to, I think that that’s kind of something that anybody who’s just getting started that they could, that could be a big takeaway, that there are gonna be headaches, there are gonna be problems and mistakes.

Ahmed: Yeah, exactly, it’s never gonna be like you plan it out to be. That’s definitely with, especially ecommerce, and I think other businesses too, not only ecommerce, but especially with ecommerce, you can make all the business plans you want, you can plan all you want, but it’s usually not gonna go the way you want it to go. 

Surprises are gonna come up, you will have to adapt to new situations, and if you don’t have the ability to adapt, then it’s gonna be much more challenging for you. You have to be comfortable making decisions that are not the ones that you were, you thought about making in the first place.

Especially when I had this huge problem of orders being stuck, I’m not gonna lie, I really did think about stopping the store and refunding and stopping, but often because it was a huge headache, especially since this was my first success, and I think I had made, the profits I had made were about the same as the returns I was about to give back. 

I had made about €15,000 in profit, and I was about to refund about €14,000.

So I was like, “Wow, maybe I should just get a normal job and go back and be done with this headache of ecommerce,” because it’s huge pressure to have 300 customers angry at you, wanting their money back, asking where the product is, and you don’t know where it is.

Tough decision making in business

But usually, these kinds of problems, especially these customer service problems, are actually quite easy to solve. All you have to be is transparent. Transparency over everything. If you start lying to your customers, you’re gonna make it harder for yourself and your customer. I had many customers who were stuck in this problem that I had.

But when I was transparent, I told them that these products are stuck in the US because of the coronavirus thing, but you can change to this product or you can get a refund, actually, most of them were pretty happy, and they told me that they are really happy with the customer service they received and they would be return customers, they would buy in the future too because of the service they received. 

So you should always try to flip your problems to your advantage, try to find the silver lining, try to learn, especially learn from your challenges and problems.

David: That’s a great place to leave it Ahmed, so I’ll let you get out of here. I really appreciate you taking the time to chat. Again, Ahmed Hadi, serial dropshipper, dropping some wisdom on us, so thank you. Thank you so much for taking the time, we appreciate it.

Ahmed: Yeah, thanks for having me.

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Aspiring Entrepreneurs: Read This If You Feel Like You’re Not Good Enough

Entrepreneurship can feel like an impossible dream. It’s a big word for something that is actually so simple. 

After failing at entrepreneurship early in my career, I became an aspiring entrepreneur for several years until I built up the courage to start again and give it a go. I learned to use my seven startup failures and one successful business as inspiration, rather than a demotivating excuse. 

It certainly wasn’t easy, but after six years of grinding it out, I finally found a way to create another online business. This online business charges for ebooks, online courses, digital content, coaching services, and consulting to a handful of internet businesses.

Not feeling good enough is something I became an expert in before getting started with my latest online business. After attending Startup Grind Meetups and listening to the Foundr Podcast, I realized that this feeling is incredibly common. Feeling like you’re not good enough is part of the business journey. It’s completely normal and should be embraced in an effort to overcome the feeling. 

Here’s how.

Think of business as nothing more than an interest.

The words “passion” and “purpose” easily confuse aspiring entrepreneurs. They seem grandiose and unachievable. You can wait your entire life for some magical moment or transformation. 

The word “interest” is simpler to understand and apply. 

You may not have a passion or a purpose, but I’m willing to bet you have an interest. What is it? Knowing your interest is key because business is nothing more than an interest. If you have an interest in something, it can be a business. You can use that interest as the first step to start a simple business.

Entrepreneurship is nothing more than charging money for something.

This is the most important point of the article. If you are charging money for anything, you are an entrepreneur. 

If you got paid to coach the basketball team, then you’re an entrepreneur. If you got paid to tutor a college student, then you’re an entrepreneur. If you got paid $20 to cut someone’s hair after work, you’re an entrepreneur. 

Let’s go even further: If you have a regular 9 to 5 job, then you’re an entrepreneur who already has one client. And the best part is you can sell your skills to more than one client. People let non-compete agreements stop them from doing part-time entrepreneurship, but with the right advice, you can have multiple customers you bill your time or outcomes to. 

You are good enough to be an entrepreneur if you have at least one deposit hitting your bank account already. 

The setup costs are a lot less than you might think.

VC money can make us think we need to have millions of dollars to get started. Here’s what I started with:

  • A free WordPress website
  • An old version of Microsoft Word
  • A PayPal account to receive payments online
  • A home internet connection
  • An old desk

The internet was the only thing I really paid for, and – let’s be honest – I was always going to have internet. So, essentially this entire business setup was free and cost nothing. 

The start of a business idea is an experiment, and you can do it for free. 

The best startups were created during recessions.

The economic environment can stop many aspiring entrepreneurs from giving it a go. It can seem smart to sit and wait for the crisis to pass. 

But here’s the thing: A recession is a code word for “SALE.”

Ads are cheaper to buy in a recession; traffic is cheaper to acquire during a recession; freelancers will put their prices down during a recession; subscription companies might offer lower monthly plans during a recession. 

If you can, you want to start a business during a recession when there is less competition and everything is cheaper. Startups like Uber, Square and Airbnb all came out of the 2008 recession, proving how much opportunity can exist. 

Everything changes during a recession for aspiring entrepreneurs, and now is the time to pounce.

You can de-risk your entrepreneur journey with a four-day workweek.

If you have dreams of being an entrepreneur and want to de-risk your journey, an easy solution is to work a four-day workweek. The current economic client makes it easier because companies are looking to save money and offering to be paid for one less day a week can help. You can then use your extra workday, the weekend, and after hours to start your little business. 

As you learn more about business and find ways to monetize, you can then slowly wind back your days even more until you go all-in on your business. Or you could have a normal career and a side business for diversity. 

You will build mental strength even if your business idea fails.

Whatever business you start might not work out, and that’s completely fine. It’s not because you’re not good enough. The psychological reframe you can use to avoid feeling like a failure is to see your business failures as a way to build mental strength. 

Your mind gets stronger through entrepreneurship because you have to back yourself, your ideas, your beliefs, put money where your mouth is, and take a few calculated risks that might not pay off. 

It’s hard to feel like you’re not good enough when you focus on the incredible mental strength you’re building in the process. 

You can dip your toes in with content first.

Content creation is a great way to test your entrepreneurial skills. All businesses need content, and most of us are creating content and sharing it on social media already in our personal lives. You can take your social media habit and consciously use it for business purposes. 

The way I started was by writing a couple of blog posts a week. After some time, I began earning a few dollars from that content and posting it in different places. Then, I charged people, who wanted to do the same as me, for blocks of coaching and an accountability partner. 

If you can find a way to charge for content – ads, payment from publications, Medium, coaching, freelancing – you can test your ability to charge money for your skills, and that could lead you into your own business. 

You can run mini-tests with Facebook ads and a mailing list.

Another easy way to test a business idea as an aspiring entrepreneur is to set up a mailing list and direct people to it through content and social media. If the call to action on your content and social media posts is strong, then the number of daily email subscribers will trend upwards. 

I had an idea for an ebook I wanted to sell and ran a few test Facebook ads to see which title would help a wider audience find my how-to strategies. 

Final Thought

I hear aspiring entrepreneurs say all the time that they don’t feel like they’re good enough. Well, I’m here to disagree with that myth. I’m here to tell you that you can be an entrepreneur because it’s as simple as charging money for a skill you’ve acquired. If you need a skill to sell, there are plenty of online courses you can do to acquire billable skills. 

Don’t wait your entire life to start your entrepreneurship journey and end up having regrets because you didn’t try. You are good enough.

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ETMONEY App Review 2020: Safe or Not!

ETMONEY is an online investment platform that helps you in investing, tracking and managing mutual fund investments, insurance policies, loans and credit reports under one roof.   ETMONEY Services ETMONEY investment […]

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11 Best Online Jobs in India That Pay Rs. 50,000 Per Month in 2020

Technology has changed the work environment significantly by bringing jobs online. Now, it is possible to start a job without even moving out of your home. You can start an […]

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How I Organically Grew My Store’s Instagram to Over 6000 Followers in Just Two Months

As the lockdowns started all over the world, I found myself with a lot more spare time. While the pressure to learn new skills and make the most of the lockdown seemed a little unhealthy, I wanted to channel this new free time into something constructive.

Around the same time, a friend of mine was furloughed and went from working a 40 hour week to nothing. Although we had discussed working together on a store for months, the timing never seemed to work. But then, thanks to a worldwide pandemic, we suddenly had nothing but time.

Over the next few weeks, we transformed an old online store I had started months before (and quickly abandoned). We changed niche, purchased a new domain, imported new items, and optimized all our product descriptions for search.

With our store looking much better than ever, we wanted to establish ourselves within our niche community. Although we had written a blog that was starting to rank, we needed a quicker way to make an impact, so we started posting on Instagram.

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Building Our Instagram Account

Using the Instagram account I had set up for my original store, which had just 40 followers, we deleted all previous posts, transformed the profile, and started posting as much content as possible.

The wins started coming in.

We started our Instagram project on April 20, with 40 followers leftover from the old account. By May 15, we had 500 followers and a ton of engagement thanks to our hashtags. Two days later, the Instagram algorithm blessed us, and somehow we gained 800 followers overnight. Our account then quickly gained momentum and currently has 6,860 followers — all in just ten weeks.

gaining 6000 followers in two months

Sure, our following is nothing compared to mega influencers, but our Instagram account is so low maintenance that gaining this following in such a short space of time feels like an achievement worth celebrating.

And, what’s more, we’ve even had sales through our Instagram profile. We never expected that to happen – and it all happened for free.

Building a social media presence is not something that every ecommerce entrepreneur wants to focus on, but I believe that it can help your business. If you’re curious to learn how to bulk up your profile, read on to learn exactly how we did it.

Research Your Niche and Community

After thinking about our options, we decided to create a niche store focusing on products that would have broad appeal to a younger age group who enjoyed social media trends.

After importing products that we knew this group would like, we also decided to add items to appeal specifically to a smaller niche within the group. We discovered this small niche through social media and, after some research, realized we would have few competitors. We used social media to get to know the niche and to get an understanding of what they would like.

social media apps on an iphone

Although I won’t reveal our specific niche, you could easily find your own by looking at discussion forums or social media. Think of communities with a particular interest or aesthetic but are currently underserved. You should also dig deep to find sub-cultures. For example, it’s easy to find communities who love building computer setups, but why not get more specific and solely target the mechanical keyboard enthusiast community.

Because all our product pages were search engine optimized, we knew people would find our most popular products. But for our more niche products, we wanted to become embedded in the community and realized Instagram was the key.

Find Hashtags to Help You Make an Impact

After deciding to dedicate our Instagram to a specific niche, we wanted to make sure those in this community would discover our new account. And the best way to do that on Instagram? Hashtags.

We found that the best way to find relevant hashtags was to start with the most apparent tags and use them as a jumping point. These hashtags all had a high number of posts, which was great, but also meant that other users might dominate them.

To avoid our posts getting lost in the noise, we looked at influential accounts in our niche to see what hashtags they used. There are also websites to help with this process, but we found manually searching worked best for us.

Different levels of hashtag popularity

After spending time collecting the different hashtags, we ended up with a small list that included the most popular hashtags through to those that only had a couple of thousand posts. Our idea was to dominate those smaller hashtags, gain followers, and earn favor with the Instagram algorithm to be shown more prominently on the more popular hashtags. It was a tactic that soon paid off. Even if we were unable to grab a spot in the ‘top posts’ section of a popular hashtag, we had uplifts in traffic from totally dominating the smaller hashtags.

Post Multiple Times a Day

Even with a carefully cultivated list of hashtags, no Instagram account will gain a following unless you post a lot of content.

To jumpstart our account, we signed up to the scheduling tool Buffer. We took advantage of the 14-day premium trial, meaning we could schedule as many posts as we wanted in advance. This allowed us to schedule posts for entire weeks, getting all the work done at once. By the time the trial ended, we already had the beginnings of a good follower base.

Using Buffer’s free account, we’ve set up five different time slots for posting and aim to post between three and five pieces of content per day. This regularity means we stay on users’ radars. If someone doesn’t follow us the first time they see one of our posts, they might when they see the fourth or fifth.

We tend to post simple pictures to our profile, and a lot of our content is gathered from Pinterest and credited where possible. However, depending on the community you want to target, places such as Reddit, Twitter, or TikTok can be treasure-troves – or simply make original content.

Post What Your Followers Want – Not Just Ads

If you’ve ever used Instagram, you’ll know how annoying it is when a profile posts nothing but sponsored content or advertising. Nobody follows someone on Instagram for constant ads, and you should avoid doing this with your store’s account.

We wanted to make our profile a place that reliably provided the type of content our niche wanted to see. In doing this, we hoped that when we did post our products, our audience wouldn’t mind because we’d built up a good relationship. However, this can be difficult if you don’t know a niche particularly well.

If you aren’t sure what your audience actually likes, be sure to do some serious research. You could also consider hiring someone who already has a better understanding, which is what dropshipper Burak Dogan did. After entrusting his Instagram account to his sister, she grew his store’s account to almost 37,000 followers.

Once you have a good grasp on the type of things your community likes, be sure to post a lot of that content with just a sprinkling of ads mixed in between. We leave between three and ten posts between any posts advertising our products to overwhelm or annoy our followers.

Because our store has multiple products, we can cycle through different products in our product posts without repeating, avoiding annoying our followers. However, if you’re a one product store, you might need to get a little more creative with how you post your items to keep your product posts looking fresh.

Engage with Your Community and Followers

Screenshots of happy follower comments

Engaging with followers is one of those things that seems like extra work, but we’ve found it an excellent way to connect with our followers, a.k.a potential customers. After all, it’s hardly fair to want to take from a community without giving back.

While it’s hard to prove whether this has helped our following grow, we believe our interactions have helped retain followers and better establish our profile and brand.

Our community loves to comment on our posts, especially if we’ve included a call to action or question in our caption. We try to like all comments and reply when appropriate – occasionally, our quick replies even catch followers pleasantly off guard. We’ve been open to posting content from followers and often follow those in our niche. Our tone of voice is polite, and kind, and it’s resulted in a kind community of followers.

Engaging authentically with the followers is a tactic that store owner Courtney White swears by. Her genuine and friendly approach has resulted in the growth of a fantastic community for her store, Finer and Dandy. She has even taken this to the next level and works with Instagram users as affiliates for her store, shunning Facebook ads altogether.

Fine Tune With Analytics

Screenshots of Instagram Insights

When we started posting to our account, we did what seemed like the right move. However, after a few weeks, our Instagram Insights began filling up with data. This meant we could dig into how our followers were receiving our posts.

Using the information in Instagram Insights – available to any business profile – we could see precisely the engagement, reach, comments, followers, impressions, likes, and website clicks each post was getting. We could see that our product posts resulted in website visits and that specific themes in posts outperformed others. For example, pictures of home interiors consistently perform better than posts with animals. This was the opposite of what I had thought (who doesn’t like animals? Our audience, apparently).

Screenshots of posting times for the account

We also used Insights to fine-tune our posting schedule. Right at the bottom of the Audience tab in Insights, there’s a section called Followers. This shows the average times your followers are on Instagram – both the hours and the days. Here we discovered Monday was when most of our followers were online, and Tuesday was the lowest day.

We were also able to see our followers were most online between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. US Central Time. Because most of our followers are from the United States, this made total sense,. Using this information we adjusted our scheduled posting times to match when most users were online.

Things We Should Have Done Sooner

As with anything, there was always going to be things we wished we did sooner with our account. Here a few things that we eventually started doing that would have been better to implement from day one.

Make Our Posts Shoppable

For the first seven weeks of running our account when posting products to our feed, we told our followers to click the link in our bio. Although this worked, we eventually realized we should have also been tagging our posts with the products. Because our store was linked to our Instagram account, tagging the products was super simple, and it was a shame we didn’t do it sooner. Now any time we post a product, we tag the item in the post as well.

Set up Posting Schedules

I’ve mentioned our posting schedule a few times in this article, but it took us awhile to put this in place. In the beginning, we were manually setting the publishing time – even if we were posting at the same time every day – which took longer than was necessary. It’s an excellent reminder to take advantage of all the features in any scheduling platform you use.

Creating a Link Directly to Our Collection

Our store currently gains visitors through traffic from social media and search. However, the Instagram audience generally buys different products to the search audience. As a result, our store’s homepage is a mix of products that mostly caters to the search audience.

After a few weeks posting products on Instagram and directing followers to click the link in our bio, we realized that anyone following that link would go to a homepage filled with items different to those on our Instagram account. We wanted anyone following the link to quickly find the product they had seen on Instagram, so we swapped it for a link to a specific collection instead. The collection contains all the products we post about on Instagram and fits the theme of our Instagram profile. This makes it a better experience all round for potential buyers.

Plans for the Future

'what's next' on chalkboard

Overall our experience running a niche Instagram account has been fun. Although I’ve covered a lot of content in this article, our account is very straightforward to run. Because we know the type of content our community enjoys, we can easily schedule posts. Then it’s just a matter of checking in and interacting with followers.

Our Instagram account has already made us a tiny amount of money from orders. The traffic that comes to our store from Instagram provides excellent data for our Facebook Pixel. This will all be extremely useful if we decide to run Facebook ads in the future.

In the coming weeks, we hope to grow the account to over 10,000 followers and make use of Instagram Stories. Once a business account has 10,000 followers, it can use the “Swipe Up” function in Stories, adding another exciting aspect to our Instagram experiment.

If you plan to use any of the tips from this article or have your own – let me know in the comment section below, I’d love to hear them.

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Mobile Website Design in 2020: Everything You Need to Know

Mobile website design is essential.

Why? Because mobile devices are revolutionizing the way we connect, and as a result, the way businesses operate. In fact, the majority of web traffic now comes from mobile devices.

“Mobile is becoming not only the new digital hub, but also the bridge to the physical world,” said Thomas Husson, the Vice President and Principal Analyst at Forrester Research. “That’s why mobile will affect more than just your digital operations – it will transform your entire business.”

In other words, you need a mobile responsive website.

But what is a mobile-friendly website? In this article, you’ll learn all about mobile-friendly websites and see nine of the best mobile website design examples. Plus, you’ll learn how to find out if your website is mobile-friendly.

Let’s get to it.

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What is a Mobile-Friendly Website?

Simply put, a mobile-friendly website is a site that is designed and optimized for hand-held devices, such as smartphones and tablets.

And mobile responsive design is the process of creating a website that adapts to the screen size it’s viewed on.

Here at Oberlo, we have a mobile-friendly website design. Let’s compare how it looks on desktop and mobile.

In the image below, you can see that the desktop website has plenty of space, the page elements are arranged side-by-side in places, and the text is relatively small compared to the size of the screen.

Oberlo Desktop Website

On the other hand, when you view the website on mobile, the page elements are stacked on top of each other in one long column, and there’s less space around each element. Also, the buttons are bigger to make it easy to tap them, and the text is larger in relation to the page size to make it easier to read.

Oberlo Mobile Website Design

“The rich and interactive experiences we have come to expect on mobile apps have created new standards and expectations for all digital media including the web,” said Raj Aggarwal, CEO of mobile marketing company Localytics. “The result is websites are evolving to become more app-like in their rich functionality.”

The Importance of Mobile Website Design

Let’s cut to the chase: In the last quarter of 2019, smartphones were responsible for a whopping 52.6 percent of global website traffic.

This means mobile device use now dominates desktop computers.

Plus, the number of mobile devices worldwide is expected to grow to 16.8 billion by 2023.

Mobile Devices Globally

As Cyndie Shaffstall, the founder of marketing company Spider Trainers, said, “Mobile is not the future, it is the now. Meet your customers in the environment of their choice, not where it is convenient for you.”

Mobile devices are also changing shopping habits.

According to Google, 59 percent of shoppers say that being able to shop on their mobile devices is important when deciding which retailer or brand to buy from.

Plus, 70 percent of smartphone owners who made a purchase in-store turned to their mobile devices to research the purchase beforehand.

If that’s not enough, Google’s algorithm prioritizes mobile-friendly websites in the search results.

In March 2020, Google said, “To simplify, we’ll be switching to mobile-first indexing for all websites.”

If you’re wondering what this means, Google developer advocate John Mueller explains:

“Currently, Google looks at the desktop version of a site and then bases how it will rank the mobile site according to that information. Once this update rolls out, the opposite of that will happen. Google will begin looking at your mobile site and from that, will rank the desktop site.”

The update officially will come into play in September 2020, but 70 percent of websites displayed in the search results are already being ranked based on this mobile-first indexing algorithm.

Google Statistic

Finally, many users load mobile websites using slow, weak phone connections. As a result, brands must create a mobile website design that loads quickly.

All in all, the world is now mobile-first – and that’s why you need a mobile responsive website.

8 Design Tips from the Best Mobile Websites

In this section, we’ll take a closer look at eight mobile website design tips that you can use. Plus, you’ll see real-life examples from some of the best mobile websites on the web.

1. Use Large Buttons

Mobile-friendly websites need to have buttons large enough for users to tap them without having to zoom in.

Additionally, there needs to be space between hyperlinks. If links are placed too close together, users might attempt to click on a link and accidentally click on a different one. 

Shopify uses large buttons and puts plenty of space between hyperlinks on its mobile website design.

Shopify Large Buttons

So, when you design your mobile responsive website, keep spacing in mind, and make sure that every hyperlink can be easily clicked.

2. Make the Text Large Enough to Read

This one might seem a little obvious, but it’s also crucial to mobile-friendly website design.

Users should never have to zoom in – or scroll left or right – to read something. The text should always be large enough to read comfortably.

In the example below from Beardbrand, you can see that all of the text on display perfectly fits the size of the screen.

Beardbrand Large Text

Make your text large enough on screens of all sizes so users can easily read what you have to say.

3. Simplify Menus

Desktop website menus have a lot of space. They can take up an entire bar at the top of the screen, and have extensive drop-down options, all without hindering the user experience.

This isn’t the case on mobile devices – there just isn’t enough space.

Mobile-friendly websites should use simple menus that present an overview of the website. Users can then use categories, filters, or the search feature to hone in on what they’re looking for.

Most mobile-friendly websites use the hamburger symbol – consisting of two or three horizontal lines – to indicate a menu.

Let’s check out a good example from one of the best mobile websites, Kylie Skin

When users tap the two-line hamburger menu in the top-right of the screen, they’ll be shown a full-screen menu with large buttons and text.

KylieSkin Mobile Menu Example

When creating a mobile responsive website, keep your menus simple to make it easy for users to find what they’re looking for. 

4. Provide a Simple and Intuitive Search Feature

Your website’s search feature is especially important to mobile users.

As mentioned above, simplified menus can make mobile browsing easier. However, they can also make it more difficult for users to find a specific item.

To make it effortless for users to find what they want, place the search feature front-and-center.

Shopify user Gymshark places the search function in the top bar of the page. There’s also an intuitive filter function to make it easier for users to find specific types of products.

Gymshark Search and Filter Features

The key takeaway? Make a simple and effective search feature part of your mobile website design.

5. Make it Easy to Get in Touch

If a customer is looking for your contact details, they might have run into trouble – which means they’re likely already a little frustrated. Don’t add insult to injury by making it difficult to contact you.

Especially when 84 percent of consumers consider customer service to be a key factor when deciding whether to make a purchase.

Customer Service Stat

Here’s another great mobile website design example from Shopify user Bremont. This luxury watch brand places a chat icon at the bottom-right of the screen, which makes it quick and easy for website visitors to contact a representative.

Bremont Contact Options

If you can’t offer live chat around the clock, consider linking to a Facebook chatbot, or simply provide a contact form that users can access via a “Contact” link in your menu.

6. Create Simple Forms

Users may be more inclined to fill out a long form on a computer because the screen is larger and it’s easier to type with a keyboard.

On mobile devices, forms need to be shorter with large text fields and buttons.

For example, if you’re asking users to sign up to your mailing list, you shouldn’t ask for more than a first name and email address.

If you need to include more questions, make them quick and easy to answer.

In this mobile website design example from Shopify user QuadLock, you can see large fields with simple form requirements. There’s even a drop-down menu to help users provide information about their inquiry.

QuadLock Contact Form

In short, make sure your forms are short and sweet.

7. Create Eye-Catching Calls-to-Action

A call-to-action – also known as a CTA – is an image, banner, or piece of text that literally calls users to take some form of action.

For example, you might prompt users to sign up to your mailing list, learn more about an offer, or purchase a product.

This marketing tactic plays an essential role in mobile website design.

However, it can be challenging to create compelling calls-to-action with such limited screen space to play with.

In this mobile website example from Shopify user Luxy Hair, you can see two banners featuring calls-to-action. The first one promotes a new product that comes with a free gift, and the second prompts users to learn more about the brand’s free shipping and 90-day exchange policies.

Luxy Hair Calls-to-Action

When creating CTAs for your mobile-friendly website, make them stand out by placing them above the fold where users can see them without having to scroll down.

8. Avoid Pop-Ups

Let’s face it: Most people hate pop-ups. In fact, if you Google “I hate pop-up ads,” you’ll find almost 48 million results.

"I Hate Pop Ups" Google Search

No wonder Google rolled out an algorithm change in 2017 that penalizes websites that serve specific types of pop-ups on mobile devices.

These days, your search rankings are likely to suffer if you:

  • Show a pop-up that covers the main content
  • Display a standalone interstitial that the user has to dismiss before they can access the main content.
  • Make the top of the page resemble a standalone interstitial and place the original content underneath.

Pop-Ups That Suck

That said, some types of pop-ups shouldn’t affect your rankings negatively, such as

  • Interstitials used to meet legal obligations such as age verification, cookie consent, or GDPR.
  • Login windows to access private content, such as email or content that is behind a paywall.
  • Small banners that are easily dismissable and “use a reasonable amount of screen space,” such as the app install banners used by Chrome and Safari.

Pop-Ups That Are Okay

Bottom line, mobile pop-ups frustrate users and can hurt your search rankings, so only use them when absolutely necessary.

How to Find Out If You Have a Mobile-Friendly Website

If you’re wondering whether your website is mobile-friendly, it’ll only take a moment to find out with Google’s mobile-friendly test tool – just input a link to your website and click “Test URL.” 

This tool will evaluate how mobile-friendly your website is and give you a detailed breakdown of what you can do to improve it.

Google's Mobile-Friendly Test

Summary: Mobile Website Design in 2020

A mobile-friendly website is one that is designed to work well on smartphones and tablets. And now that the world is mobile-first, your website should be too. 

In summary, here are eight mobile website design tips:

  1. Make buttons big enough for people to tap them.
  2. Ensure that text is large enough to read without users needing to zoom in.
  3. Simplify your menu to make it easy to navigate on a small screen.
  4. Place the search feature front-and-center and allow users to filter search results.
  5. Make it effortless for users to contact you.
  6. Create forms that are simple and quick to use.
  7. Place calls-to-action above the fold, so that they’re prominent.
  8. Avoid frustrating users with pop-ups unless they’re absolutely necessary.

What are your thoughts on mobile website design? Have we missed any great mobile web design best practices? Let us know in the comments below!

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FundsIndia Review 2020: Detailed Unbiased Review

FundsIndia is an online investment platform that helps you invest in mutual funds and other investment assets like equities and corporate fixed deposits.  You can invest, track and redeem any […]

The post FundsIndia Review 2020: Detailed Unbiased Review appeared first on Cash Overflow.

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11 Best Online Jobs From Home Without Investment India in 2020

Online jobs are a great opportunity for college-going students, housewives, retired people, unemployed people and even working people. You can create an additional source of income without impacting much of […]

The post 11 Best Online Jobs From Home Without Investment India in 2020 appeared first on Cash Overflow.

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10 Online Review Statistics You Need to Know in 2020 [Infographic]

Your online store is all set up. Your systems are fully tested and in place. What can go wrong?

As experienced dropshippers know, there are so many aspects involved in running an ecommerce business that some problems do get overlooked.

When they affect the way customers engage with your store, the result can sometimes take the form of bad online reviews, which could hurt your business. 

From logistical delays because of the complexities of international shipping to a miscommunication with your supplier, there are plenty of unanticipated hiccups that can turn a positive shopping experience negative for your customer. 

When that happens, you will want to mitigate the problem as quickly and as best as you can before it makes its way online and public.

But customer reviews are tricky. As we’ll see from these online review statistics, negative reviews can be damaging, but all-perfect review scores may also raise warning bells.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the ten online review statistics all business owners need to know in 2020.

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1. Consumers Consult Reviews Online Before Making a Purchase

Consumers Consult Reviews Online Before Making a Purchase

The first statistic will help you to understand the importance of reviews in a consumer’s purchase journey.

Nearly nine out of ten (89 percent) consumers worldwide make the effort to read reviews before buying products (Trustpilot, 2020).

Not only does this imply that reviews are an integral part of consumers’ purchase process, it also indicates a high level of confidence and faith that buyers have in fellow consumers’ opinions.

There doesn’t seem to be a big difference in reviews consumption between men and women. Just slightly more women (90 percent) read reviews compared to men (88 percent).

Interestingly, slight imperfections in review scores seem to hold more swaying power. More than half of consumers say review scores that are less than perfect appear more “authentic.”

In fact, six out of ten consumers say they will continue to do more research on products that have perfect, five-star reviews.

2. Authenticity of Online Reviews

Authenticity of Online ReviewsSo then, how many people trust a business more after reading positive online reviews? 

As it turns out, that depends. 

Authenticity and transparency are important factors consumers look out for in reviews. As established in the previous statistic, reviews with perfect scores may do more harm than good. 

That aside, ecommerce owners should also avoid manipulating their reviews in any way. That includes censoring negative reviews. 

As online reviews statistics show, this is a practice that could greatly jeopardize business sales. As many as 62 percent of consumers say they will not support brands that engage in review censorship (Trustpilot, 2020).

The same goes for fake reviews, which are present in countless websites including major review sites like Google and Amazon. Statistics show that 62 percent of consumers have no tolerance for fraudulent reviews and believe that they should be removed.

3. Buyers Trust the Reviews They Read Online

Buyers Trust the Reviews They Read OnlineAlthough the power of online reviews still lags behind that of personal recommendations from family and friends, it continues to hold much influence over consumers with the exception of the older generation.

According to the latest online review statistics, more than three out of four (76 percent) of consumers say they trust the reviews they read online as much as personal recommendations (Brightlocal, 2019).

However, there is a substantial difference in the level of trust across age groups: 89 percent of consumers aged 35 to 54 say they trust them as much as personal recommendations equally. This percentage falls slightly to 81 for the 18- to 24-year-olds. 

In contrast, as many as 39 percent of consumers aged 55 and above say they have more trust in personal recommendations. In fact, 31 percent of them say they feel skeptical towards reviews posted online, and eight percent say they don’t trust them at all. 

4. Where Consumers Read Reviews

Where Consumers Read ReviewsWith so many platforms on the internet, where do consumers go to read customer reviews? 

Google is by far the most popular channel people turn to for reviews, with approximately 57 percent of shoppers using it (Bizrate Insights, 2019). This is followed by a business’ own website at just over 40 percent and Yelp and Facebook at around 20 percent each.

However, featuring reviews on your own ecommerce website may not be sufficient to convince customers. Only one in five consumers say they fully trust the reviews on brands’ websites, while a staggering 70 percent say they “somewhat” trust them.

The importance of reviews cannot be denied. But as these online review statistics show, it’s also crucial to diversify the places where customers can read reviews about your products and business.

5. Average Number of Reviews Consumers Read Online

Average Number of Reviews Consumers Read OnlineMost consumers who read online reviews don’t just stop at one. Online review statistics show that more than half of online shoppers (56 percent) read at least four product reviews prior to purchasing a product. More than one-third of them read between one and three reviews (Bizrate Insights, 2019).

But that doesn’t mean that the more reviews your company or product has, the merrier. As a matter of fact, the number of reviews a product has generates different levels of trust in consumers.

According to the latest rating and review statistics, the majority of consumers (27.55 percent) say that products with between 11 and 50 reviews emit a higher sense of trust. In contrast, just 4.59 percent of consumers feel like they can trust products that have between 501 and 1,000 reviews.

6. How Many People Leave Online Reviews

How Many People Leave Online ReviewsNot only are consumers reading reviews online before making a purchase, many of them are also leaving their own reviews.

Almost half (47 percent) of all internet users worldwide say they post reviews about a product, company, or service each month (GlobalWebIndex, 2019). 

Though this is common behavior among online consumers of all ages, it is the younger generation that is more likely to do so. 

For example, 53 percent of internet users aged between 25 and 34 post reviews at least once a month, while just 39 percent of those between 45 to 54 years old do so. In comparison, less than one-third (30 percent) of internet users from 55 to 64 post monthly reviews online.

7. Customers Expect Businesses to Respond to Their Reviews and Quickly

Customers Expect Businesses to Respond to Their Reviews and QuicklyAs the previous online review statistics have shown, shoppers rely pretty heavily on reviews when deciding what products to buy and which businesses to support. 

But shoppers don’t just leave online reviews for the benefit of others. Statistics indicate that most of them also do so to lodge complaints with hopes of eliciting a response from the company. And they want them fast.

In fact, 53.3 percent of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week (ReviewTrackers, 2018). However, most of them are left disappointed: 63.3 percent of them say they’ve never heard back from a business about their review.

In the next statistic, we’ll go into why failing to respond to reviews could be detrimental for businesses. 

8. Importance of Businesses’ Response to Online Reviews

Importance of Businesses’ Response to Online ReviewsWhen evaluating a business, consumers aren’t only influenced by the reviews that others leave but also how businesses manage their reviews. As many as 97 percent of shoppers who read reviews online also read responses from businesses (Brightlocal, 2019).

Responding to negative reviews is part of providing good customer service to your clients and it results in benefits for your business. Addressing their concerns shows that you, as a business, care for your customers. 

It also helps to placate any angry customers, which increases the chances of retaining them. Plus, as many as 45 percent of consumers are more likely to support businesses if they see that they’ve responded to negative reviews. 

Do not overlook the simple act of responding to a review. It could hurt you in the long run as bad experience with customer service is often shared with others

9. Online Reviews Are Important for Local Businesses

Online Reviews Are Important for Local BusinessesReviews are also important for local businesses. As many as 82 percent of consumers say they consult them to find out more about local stores (Brightlocal, 2019).

This is a slight decrease from 86 percent from the previous year. But industry experts are hesitant to attribute this to a decreasing reliance on online reviews and foresee that they will continue to be important to both local businesses and shoppers.

There’s, again, a stark difference in the way the older generation consumes reviews. While more than half (52 percent) of consumers aged from 18 to 54 claim to “always” consult reviews of local businesses online, just one in ten consumers over the age of 55 do so.

In fact, 29 percent of consumers over 55 say they never read online customer reviews of local stores, compared to just 17 percent for 18- to 34-year-old consumers and seven percent for 35- to 54-year-olds. 

10. On-Page Customer Reviews Lead to More Sales

On-Page Customer Reviews Lead to More SalesThe above statistics should paint a clear picture of the importance of reviews for a business. If you want to take full advantage of reviews, don’t simply rely on external review platforms. Consider incorporating them onto your website and, in particular, your product pages to drive sales.

The latest online review statistics show that the conversion rates of product pages with reviews are up to 3.5 times higher than those that don’t (Bazaarvoice, 2018). This is regardless of whether shop visitors actually engaged with the reviews. Furthermore, these product pages also experience nearly 4.5 times more Revenue Per Visitor (RPV). 

Let’s also not forget that online reviews can also boost SEO for your business and increase visibility on search engine result pages. 

Conclusion

There you have it! These are some of the most eye-opening online review statistics to help you understand the importance of online reviews and how to best manage and implement a reviews system for your dropshipping business.

We hope that these have been useful to you and that you’ll use them to drive sales and grow your business.

What do you think of these statistics? How have you been dealing with business reviews? Do share your thoughts and experiences with us in the comments section below!

Online Review Statistics 2020

Summary: Online Review Statistics

Here’s a summary of the Online Review statistics you need to know in 2020:

  1. Nearly nine out of ten consumers read reviews before making a purchase.
  2. 62 percent of consumers say they will not buy from brands that censor online reviews.
  3. Three in four shoppers say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
  4. Google is the most popular online review platform. 57 percent of consumers use it to read reviews.
  5. 56 percent of consumers read at least four reviews before buying a product.
  6. Almost half of all internet users say they post online reviews at least once a month.
  7. More than half of customers expect businesses to respond to their negative reviews within a week.
  8. 97 percent of shoppers who read online reviews from other consumers also read responses from businesses.
  9. Eight in ten consumers consult online reviews for local businesses.
  10. Product pages with customer reviews experience 3.5 times more conversions than those without.

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Is there anything else you’d like to know about Online Review statistics and wish was included in this article? Let us know in the comments below!