I'm the Founder and CEO of LemonStand, an eCommerce platform company used by fast-growing online retail brands. I've worked with hundreds of eCommerce brands, and have seen a lot in online retail; both successes and failures. I'm passionate about eCommerce growth, conversion rate optimization, branding and content marketing. Get in touch, and I'll let you know how I can help within 15 minutes. I also have experience raising venture capital from the biggest institutional VC in Canada + silicon valley angel investors. Previously, I've been hired by companies like MasterCard, Yahoo! and Telltale Games to work on product design, development and eCommerce strategy. I regularly coach young entrepreneurs in my community directly and as a mentor for the Vancouver chapter of the Founder Institute.
As some others have mentioned, the best channel is the one that you put effort into and are able to make work for you. You won't know which one that is until you've made your best guess on where to start, put together a plan, and executed on that plan for some period of time in order to measure your results and have data to inform how to proceed from there.
With that said, my recommendation on the channel to pursue first given your market would be Instagram, and Facebook as a secondary.
At LemonStand, we work with many subscription box companies, and women-centric boxes tend to do really well with a well executed Instagram marketing plan.
Usually, they follow a three-fold approach: 1) Deploy a quality organic content strategy. Quality imagery, with quality hashtags and captions. 2) Supplement with paid posts. Start small, experiment and measure results + iterate. 3) Work with influencers. You can use one of the many influencer marketing platforms to get matched up with an influencer, or find influencers yourself and reach out to them.
Another channel worth exploring is working with bloggers who already write about topics related to your box. Often times you can find box reviewers who will write a review if you send them a box for free. I've seen this approach have very positive results, and often goes hand-in-hand with Instagram marketing.
There's an article published recently on our blog that covers some tips on Instagram marketing for eCommerce brands. Check it out: https://blog.lemonstand.com/marketing-tips-instagram-for-ecommerce/
If you'd like to talk about leveraging Instagram to acquire customers for your subscription box business in more detail, let's set up a call!
Depending on the specs of your boxes, there are many different great options out there for custom printed boxes, at reasonable prices.
From my experience working with online retailers, here's some of the best that I've come across:
Some specialty suppliers:
Hope that helps and gives you some options to consider!
Custom packaging is an important part in building a great brand, so it's smart to be looking into this.
If you need any advice around creating an eCommerce brand and driving online retail sales, schedule a call with me and we can dig into it!
Firstly, you should seek out solving a problem that you are passionate about and have useful expertise in. Building a business with the sole intent on making it appealing to investors will often have the opposite effect.
With that out of the way, markets that are getting a lot of attention from VCs tend to be areas that are ripe for disruption by hot technology trends. At the moment, two of those are AI and Blockchain technologies.
AI is opening up new opportunities in lots of areas: eCommerce, cybersecurity, marketing automation,, business intelligence / analytics (and the interpretation of that data), healthcare, and finance. If you can find things that can be made cheaper, high quality, more personalized or faster through the application of AI, there's potential for VCs to be interested.
Blockchain technology has the potential of disrupting many markets. Just be careful not to use it simply as a buzzword; investors are wising up to shallow uses of Blockchain that are designed merely to attract investment. Some markets that Blockchain will disrupt is finance, cybersecurity, transactions that need to be secure such as real-estate, supply chain management, voting and elections.
AI and Blockchain technology can also be paired up in a complimentary way, so there's ample room for innovation that is also interesting to investors here.
But in the end, the main thing is finding a problem that needs a solution, rather than building a solution then looking for a problem.
If you're looking for advice on evaluating and vetting startup ideas that investors can get excited about, I'd be happy to dig into it with you on a call.
Cost will definitely depends on your specific requirements, and the web agency.
For example, for the mobile repair side, are customers able to schedule a date/time for the repair and have to enter in their location? Does there need to be a system in place to ensure there's no double bookings?
That's just the tip of the iceberg, but a good web agency will dig in deep and ask you a lot of questions in a discovery session to determine your requirements, so that they can propose a solution that'll meet your needs.
The first step is find a web agency who has experience building similar websites. Then, have a conversation with them. Look for professionalism, clear communication and honesty. Ask if they have a minimum project budget. If they check all those boxes, consider paying them to do a discovery session to help you determine all of your requirements (paying for 2-5 hours should be enough). This is a useful exercise for you as well, so that you are clear about what you really need (even if you don't end up using this agency).
After that, the agency could put together a proposal for you.
Generally speaking, a website of this nature will not be less than $3K to build. It could easily be upwards of $20K, depending on all your needs.
Your best bet is to keep things as simple as possible, and launch with the essentials rather than building everything at once.
Use tools like Squarespace, LemonStand or Shopify to get a lot of features out of the box and reduce development cost. After launching, gather qualitative feedback from customers, and measure traffic patterns and conversion rates using Google Analytics. This data can tell you what to change, add or remove from your website. That way, you're building what customers actually want without just making guesses.
Best of luck on your project!
There is no easy answer to the question of how to choose the right eCommerce platform, but it's a lot easier if you carefully map out your requirements, and long-term goals, and then compare each platform against this.
This can be difficult if you haven't been through the process before. You don't know what you don't know. This is where working with someone who has been can really pay off.
Regarding transaction fees: Payment processors like Stripe or Authorize.net will always charge a fee, but there is a huge problem when the eCommerce platform charges fees on top of this as a penalty for not using THEIR payment services. These fees can easily add up to many thousands of dollars depending on your revenue.
Some questions to ask yourself:
* Are you looking to run this as a side business, or are you determine to grow it?
* Do you have the skill set required to launch and grow the business, or do you need help?
* Do you have any special requirements for taxes, shipping, collecting additional info at checkout, etc?
Those are just some basic questions to get you started.
Interestingly, I was interviewed on a podcast about this exact subject. Check it out here: https://soundcloud.com/conversionsense/how-to-choose-the-right-ecommerce-platform-for-your-business-with-danny-halarewich
If you'd like some help identifying your best options for an eCommerce platform, I'd be happy to do a Clarity call with you.
Best of luck!
The problem with many eCommerce platforms, including the ones you mentioned, is that they were designed for micro-businesses. They are not aimed at businesses that are growing quickly and taking advantage of modern tactics.
This is great for getting started, but not great if you have ambitions to grow the business long term.
That's why we developed LemonStand. We offer a platform for the next generation of entrepreneurs that need flexibility and features to help them innovate and grow quickly.
You can check us out at https://lemonstand.com or schedule a call with me to specifically discuss your project in depth.
In the hundreds of eCommerce projects I've participated in, I can say confidently that including a phone number on your website is a very important trust factor. Even if you do not accept orders over the phone, people want to know they are dealing with a legitimate business.
Can you answer the calls if they forward to your cell phone, or even multiple cell phones in sequence? If so, use a service like Grasshopper. http://grasshopper.com/toll-free-numbers-for-ecommerce/ - this allows you to intelligently route calls to different phones until someone picks it up. Or, it can go to voicemail.
If you cannot answer the phone, then I highly recommend at least setting up a professional recording, and returning peoples calls ASAP. You can hire someone from fiverr.com to record a professional voice message.
You should always try to reduce the number of phone calls, by making sure your website includes in-depth information about things such as shipping, taxes, and detailed product descriptions with multiple product photos.
If you'd like to discuss these things in more detail, schedule a call with me and we can dig into it.
Go onto https://dribbble.com and scour the place for quality design work. Once you've found some great pieces, look at what else those designers have done.
If their portfolio fits well with your requirements, contact those designers and tell them about your project.
Avoid sites like 99designs.com and oDesk in my opinion.
LemonStand is the only cloud based eCommerce provider that gives you control over the checkout. You're able to customize the design, steps, functionality and even A/B test the checkout using software like Optimizely.
You can also customize every other aspect of the storefront, for a totally branded shopping experience that's tailored to your audience.