E-commerce is having its moment in the sun right now, with more entrepreneurs trying to get a piece of the action. For newcomers trying to come up with a strategy, there are plenty of strategies that have been used, and with varying degrees of success.
As much as possible, we all try to learn from other people’s mistakes and emulate the attitudes and behaviors of those who have been successful.
Here are some examples of successful online startup companies. Let’s see what we can learn from their experiences:
1. Angelus Direct
Based in Santa Fe Springs, CA, family-owned Angelus Direct has 108-year old roots as Angelus Shoe Polish. After over a century as a traditional brick-and-mortar establishment, the company took a courageous and ambitious leap into the future when the grandson of the founder decided in 2013 to take the business online.
The transition was wrought with growing pains, from starting out with a cumbersome platform to making less-than-professional quality YouTube videos. As an arts and crafts supplier, Angelus Direct has come to benefit from being able to offer tutorials and product demonstrations on social media.
Add to To-Do List: Leverage Social Media
Angelus Direct credits social media as having played a major role in securing sales and bringing in a majority of the visitor traffic to the site. By reaching out to artists on Instagram and YouTube, you too can offer your product or service for them to bring your product to a larger audience.
Social media allows you to develop and curate a gallery of the possibilities your company offers. Moreover, people generally enjoy being involved in an active and growing community, and the more active you are, the better.
Doba is a marketplace populated by hundreds of manufacturers and suppliers, offering retailers the unique advantage of the ability to sell their products without ever having to purchase and stock materials up front or deal with packing or shipping. This is what dropshipping is all about.
Doba has a very simple mission: to help suppliers and retailers sell more of the right products to the right people. They offer retailers access to over 2 million wholesale products, and this number is expected to grow from here on out.
The Word On The Street: Dropshipping Works
Ever since Zappos.com started dropshipping in 1999, this business model has become the standard for online retail giant Amazon and brick-and-mortar mainstay Sears. Drop shipping has also proven down scalable, proving an effective strategy for full-time independent retailers online.
As an up-and-coming e-commerce entrepreneur, you may find drop shipping attractive because you don’t need to manage inventory or worry about having dead money sitting around in storage in the form of unused stock. This allows you to focus on bringing more customers onboard.
Drop shipping offers plenty of advantages, not the least of which includes the power to control your own margins and enormous flexibility not afforded by traditional retail models.
3. Distil Union
Distil Union was founded in 2011, as a collaborative effort of designers whose ambition was to develop and deliver the products they themselves wanted to see at retail stores.
The story sounds familiar: ambitious corporate employees leaving their jobs to do something innovative. However, they didn’t leave everything behind. By maintaining good relationships with suppliers from their corporate days, the dynamic duo at Distil Union has an entire global network of vendors to leverage.
Distil Union credits their crowdfunding efforts on Kickstarter as an effective springboard for their projects. The platform allows users to find early adopters, design enthusiasts, and potential clients. After launching products on Kickstarter, the company moves on to list their products on Shopify available as preorders.
Take-Home Message: Trying New Things Won’t Hurt.
When you’re just starting out, you’re already trying new things, like it or not. This is the time to be innovative and flexible, learn new skills and take calculated risks. When you have a strong e-commerce community backing you up, starting from scratch isn’t nearly as intimidating as it has to be.
Take Distil Union’s approach to their business, they design new and innovative products, learn new platforms and tools to build their online business and streamline the process, and take part in brand new communities. It hasn’t hurt them so far, and this should be encouraging news for anyone looking to think outside the box.
The health and beauty industry, not to mention its online presence and impact, at one point represented a very small percentage of e-commerce. Anyone who had the courage and foresight to be the first to enter this market ten years ago would be considered a genius by now.
Well+Good founders Alexa Brue and Melisse Gelula did just that a decade ago, by launching their media platform focusing on health, beauty, wellness, exercise, and nutrition. They’ve since branched out to cover travel, lifestyle and other topics for their 5 million visitors.
Currently, the company generates annual revenues upwards of eight figures and maintains a staff of over 40 employees.
Something To Prioritize: Having A Strong Company Culture
Well+Good realized an important lesson: it’s what’s on the inside that counts. Outwardly, they are a company that delivers quality content with consistency, and their large readership speaks for itself. On the inside, they have a staff that rallies to their cause. They have consistent ideas and are united in the core values of the company. The founders of Well+Good are not just managers, they’re true leaders who understand how to develop something for people to believe in.
5. Mister Hound
Mister Hound was born out of the desire to fill a happy medium between the mundane and the flashy. They noticed that pet accessories such as leashes and collars for dogs fell into one of two diametrically opposed categories: generic, plain nylon webbing on one hand, and dazzling sparkly and bejeweled accessories on the other. They were simply looking for something that made sense.
Moral of the Story: Be Consistent
At the beginning of Mister Hound’s journey into e-commerce, maintaining a social media presence was inconsistent at best. The founders would vacillate between posting sporadically and having bursts of activity. It’s not always easy to come up with content for your visitors to consume, but making a schedule is a great way to start. The next step would be to stay on course and follow the plan as disciplined as possible.