Here we are with the owner of The Indulge Store, Alisha Wray with what it takes to have a successful e-commerce store. You know what we do: we find the people who know “da code” and we give you “da code” so that you can be successful in your business.
We’ll get to that interview in just a second.
First, let’s talk a bit about the e-com movement. E-commerce is a massive part of how to make money online. The rising generation especially is like, hey wait a second, working 9–5 for someone else kind of sucks. I’d much rather work for myself.
Just to give you an idea of the amount of money that e-commerce boasts—$2.3 TRILLION in 2017. TRILLION people—Trillion. And it’s expected to rise to $4.5 trillion in just a few short years, 2021. That’s pretty ridiculous, and it gives you the idea that despite a lot of competition—e-commerce is still on the rise and has lots of opportunities.
But, as you’ve probably noticed, there are a lot of online stores and the competition can be pretty crazy.
So now, we turn to successful entrepreneur, Alisha Wray with how to be successful in e-commerce.
DaCode: Alisha, thank you for joining us. How long have you been in the internet world?
Alisha: Hey, thanks for having me. We’ve been in the internet world for a little over five years now.
Five years! That’s incredible.
[Laughs] It hasn’t been all glitz and glamor. It’s taken a lot of work to be able to figure out what works and what doesn’t.
So how long do you think it was before you discovered what works?
It’s one of those things where the knowledge and practice comes cumulatively, if that makes sense.
So, the first while we just kept going until we figured out what works. I mean, for a while it was operating at a loss, right, and then we started figuring out how to break even, and then—finally—how to make a profit.
So tell us a little bit about that journey. Did you try trainings, or affiliates, or something like that?
Can you say which ones you tried?
[Exhales] Which didn’t we try? We probably got shiny object syndrome there for a while and tried just about everything. ClickFunnels, Mage Omega, sheesh, I don’t even remember all of them. A bunch of cheap ones and a bunch of expensive ones.
Awesome. So what did you find in the e-commerce world? Where do you start?
Most people start with the product that they want to sell. But I’m going to say you need to figure out first what type of store you’re going to have up. Are you going to have a very niche-specific store like selling A/C units? Or are you going to have more of a general store where you sell a bunch of different products? This is very important, and there are great reasons and arguments for which types of stores work better than others. The truth of the matter is that there are successful stores that are specific or generalized; some sell super expensive items, other a variety of inexpensive items—and yet they work. So decide which route you want.
Then once you figure out the type of store you want to have—it’s time to figure out products.
For niche-specific we’ve found that products that are more expensive tend to create a more successful store than cheaper products. We’re looking at the $150–$1000 range, with around $300 or $400 to be the sweet spot. And the cool thing is, is that you don’t have to sell a ton of volume to start having a successful store. Start looking at Amazon to see what’s hot. They’ve got several different lists from movers and shakers to best sellers and so on. Amazon is a gold mine of information.
From there, you want to see how many pages there are on Amazon of the products you’re interested in. If there are less than 20 pages, you’re probably going to be okay. If there are hundreds and thousands—probably not. You’ll be surprised though at just how many good products there are that aren’t saturated with sellers. From there do a Google search. And see how many ads come up and who the top sites are. If they’re all giant sites like Walmart and Amazon—steer clear. But if there are a lot of unknowns, that’s where you know you’ve got a potentially good product.
Also, it’s cool, because Google offers coupons when you first start selling (like when you start a free AdWords account). So you’ll get $100 to start advertising your product. Pretty cool.
That is pretty cool. Wow, that’s a lot of information. And I love that it’s not just the same rehashed information that I keep seeing!
Yeah, it can be a lot to take in at first.
So what if you want to do the general store route?
For sure. First of all, start looking for products similarly to how you would for the big stuff. Look for trending types of things. There are loads and loads of ways to find trends: Amazon (again!), popular shows or movies, gadgets, and toys. But remember, make items a bit more novelty items.
What do you mean novelty?
I mean, if it’s easier to go to Walmart and buy it, why would someone want to buy it online and have to wait? Pick things that are bit more novel. A good example is when fidget spinners and cubes first came out. They came out online first, and they exploded! We know people who made millions off of these. Then they hit Walmart and your local grocery store, and it’s pretty much just easier to get a generic fidget spinner at the local store than waiting a few days or a few weeks for the fidget spinner. Now, if you can make your fidget spinner something cool or unique that you can’t find at Walmart, that’s great.
Take our Nordic Ring, for example. It’s a cool ring. It’s trendy (we’ve got Thor and Vikings in the media spotlight). We sell a lot of these. Hmm, come to think of it, I think we’ll add some more of these.
Or another example is our 3 bff necklaces. How many people have more than one bff?
So why not do a three-way necklace?
This is fantastic. I love it! Where do you go from here?
You know, the next thing and this can be time-consuming, but it’s totally worth it, is to find out the search volumes for the different types of products you’re wanting to sell.
You’re talking AdWords?
Yep. There are tons of trainings, so I won’t bog you down with how I look up the search volumes there, but do this. It’s so important. Because what happens when you’ve spent 100 hours putting together your website and your presence, but then nobody comes because no one’s searching for it? Or maybe you’ll see that there are ten million searches every month for this. How likely is it that your brand new site is going to get found when the searches are so inundated?
Not very likely. Alisha, this is fascinating. So is there a number that you’re looking for or a range or something?
It’s going to depend on the product and the niches that you’re in. But if you’ve got a few hundred searches a month, great—that product is probably going to get found. Or it’s going to be a lot easier anyway.
So do the research and the work. It’s so worth it and can set you up for success.
So we’ve done the research. We’ve found products. What about suppliers?
Good question! If you’re going to do the general store approach it’s really easy to just hop on AliExpress find the products that you’re wanting and use them. Look for sellers that have a lot of social proof so how many sales they’ve had and how many reviews they have. I like to see around 100 reviews at around 4.5–5 stars. Make sure you can get “e-packet,” which is the trackable form of shipment and is between 12–18 days shipping. So start there.
For the niche specific store, hop on WayFair and type in your product and see who comes up. A lot of those are the actual brands, i.e. your vendors/manufacturers. From there, look those companies up. A lot of them will have terrible websites made back in the Nineties or early 2000s, but that’s okay, because you’ll be able to call or email them and ask to carry their brand.
And is there a better way to contact them or something specific you need to say?
You know, it’s best to have your website up when you contact your manufacturers and suppliers (other than AliExpress, that one doesn’t matter) because when they ask who you’re with, you can confidently say, “I’m with theinduldgestore.com,” and then they go there and it’s a real site.
But since we’re on the topic, if you’re opening a new store, you can tell them something like “I’m with The Indulge Store, and we’re moving into the wig industry and we’d like to see about opening up a drop shipping account with you.” Most of the companies I’ve dealt with have been great. There’ve been a few that have crazy restrictions and I’d say leave them alone because there’s always going to be another manufacturer or another winning product who then has a different manufacturer.
So then, if wait to contact the manufacturers, what do you do next?
I research different storefronts and see what they look like and try to get a feel for the names and logos and just how the site feels if that makes sense.
Then what I do, and this can be a huge—huge—tip that helps you get your store off the ground fast, is I buy an auctioned domain.
An auctioned domain? Do you mean something like going to GoDaddy Auctions and getting one of theirs?
Yes, you’ll need an account there, and it’s super cheap, only like $5 a year. But trying to find the domains like that is pretty crazy. There are just so many and it’s hard to see the metrics. What I do is I get an account with Register Compass. It’s only around $30 a month and you can cancel at any time. You can see what niche the domain is in, which is great because that will give you a boost. Look for domains that have around 80–100 websites linking to them, and watch out for hundreds of thousands of links. Those are spammed. The next thing is get a trial account at ahrefs and this is where you can see the backlinks and see if they’re spammed.
Wow. This is the type of training you pay good money for. Folks, I hope that you’re enjoying the gold Alisha’s dropping here.
So what do spammy links look like? Are we talking adult content or—?
Yes. Anything that looks like it’s from the porn industry, the pharmaceutical industry, casinos, make money online, that type of thing. If it doesn’t match what the site should be about and you see tons and tons of backlinks vs how many websites are linking to it, just watch out. Or if there are hundreds of thousands of websites linking to it, and it’s just up for auction at like $12, watch out. I’d just avoid it.
What you can do to further check is go to archive.org and that’ll tell you what the website used to look like. If it looks like it was a naughty site—don’t get it.
If the site looks like it has really thin content, look at the backlinks. If it looks like someone selling vitamins or oils or something like that, stay away. It probably got penalized. And you don’t want a penalized site.
If you don’t want to do all of this legwork, there are a few services that you can Google and find an auctioned domain. It’s going to be more expensive, but if you’re feeling out of your depth, that’s okay, let someone else do the work for you.
So at this point, is this then where you build the site?
Yes. Remember those sites you found that you wanted to match the storefront of? Hopefully you made a list and you can then start building your site to match the successful ones out there. Shopify makes it really easy. WordPress takes a bit more to get used to and learn, but it’s super versatile and there are lots of plugins. A couple things to look for, is bright, warm, inviting colors. Have models looking straight at you on your homepage. And also, have a chat box show up. If you’ve got a sale, let everyone know—or even better—in exchange for their email, you can take 25% off their first purchase.
Yes. I love getting the email list!
For sure. Because then when you launch a new product, or have a sale—
You’ve got an audience to send it to.
Wow. Alisha. Just wow. I wasn’t expecting to get so much. This has been so helpful. And inspiring.
Any last words you’d like to say?
Just keep at it. Don’t get discouraged. And attend a lot of the trainings, because eventually, you’ll get enough pieces of the puzzle that you’ll be able to win.
—Da Code of Business