So I started out my online business with Shopify around Feb 2014. I was introduced to it by a friend and found it extremely easy to use. I had no coding background whatsoever and it was addictive. Previously I had a WordPress website. But it was so ugly and I had to find ways to add PayPal button to collect online payments. So when I found out the Shopify has online payment checkout capabilities, I was hooked. I never looked back.
Shopify allowed me to integrate essentials like Google analytics and download apps to increase functions easily. So if you are thinking of starting an online shop, use Shopify. I stand by it.
Moving on, my first year on Shopify and to be honest, it was bad. I was paying USD40-50 a month without a sale. For the WHOLE YEAR! Look:
At that point of time, I was still young and luckily, I did not have much commitments. So I looked at it as a hobby and I enjoyed having a fully functioning website although I had no sale. I received emails from time to time, but nothing concrete.
So 2014 came and strangely, more and more companies are having online store because of Government Grants like PIC. That actually helped by increasing confidence in online shopping. Furthermore, my products were pretty niche, so I did not have much competition. I started having more emails and more calls. My phone was ringing non stop! I wondered why. I search keywords online and I was shock to see that the site was organic top 3 for most keywords describing the site. In 2013, I was page 100. I read somewhere before if you want to hide a dead body, bury them in page 2 because nobody will find it. And now I am on first page and top 3! Look at my sales in 2014:
I never imagined my sales to shoot up like this. I was thrilled.
I went full time into the site. I went for courses to help increase the site traffic. Basically, tons of books and YouTube videos to learn to be a better online marketeer. I started to market overseas and started selling more and more. 2015 was a breakthrough for me because I felt I truly stepped into the online scene.
I almost tripled my sales! There’s no looking back now.
I felt like an online guru! Thoughts to start an education hub to share my knowledge came into my mind. I wanted to earn more money by helping people achieve an online shop like mine. So I started and strangely, my strategy did not work well with most of my “students”. I couldn’t explain why. So I stopped. I felt like a con man. Until today, I still don’t know why. I think it was the first year of non stop website tweaking despite of no sale that helped the site hit organic first page. So no matter what other people say, ads traffic will never compare up to organic traffic. You can never get a shortcut even if you pay for traffic. There are more elements to make an online sale and even more to have consistent online sales. Anyway, 2016 was another great year for me as more and more people are shopping online.
It was time for me to take they next step. Fighting the big boys
I always knew I had to innovate. The market was getting more congested. My competition were no longer local SMEs. Amazon, Taobao, Qoo10, Lazada and many many more were the preferred place for online shoppers. They were offering way more products, way better prices and they had all kinds of loyalty programme. I needed to be better otherwise I have to start looking for another job. I started to create a video for every product or service that I was selling. Of course I had to keep my loyal customers, so I introduced my own loyalty programme. While I knew I could not compete with the international big boys, there was a market gap of high end consumers who prefer reputable brands. I had to win over this market. So the products I brought in after were from reputable brands. I focused on services too. All kinds of ways to differentiate the site from the main stream ones. I didn’t do too badly for 2017.
Despite the strong competition I managed to maintain my sales. Although the days of crazy year on year increases are over, I strongly believe that the market of online shoppers will continue to grow. Lets hope there will be a better performance in 2018.
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