This is the continuation of our series of articles on merchant profiles according to the level of turnover reached. Today, we’ll analyze what a $30K/month online store operation looks like.
After $15K/month, here is what we notice in common among e-commerce merchants who have passed that level to advance their online store to the $30K/month mark.
The typical profile of a merchant whose online store makes $30K/month
The salary of the manager or manager couple is paid, the business model is viable, and the products are sold with minimal errors or returns.
To reach the $30K/month level (and we will see later that this level is finally long enough for traders), this e-merchant has lived through the mistakes we described in the last article and has perfected their game.
So, what did they do differently to grow their online store?
In general, it is at this time (between $15K and $30K/month) that the first intern joins the company. Even if her position is slightly unclear on the day she arrives (“You will post to FaceBook, and you will communicate on the forums”), the daily routine means that this trainee will end up, very quickly, in the sales department to answer customers and make the sale.
This ends up with them holding a much more pragmatic position than why they were hired and fulfills the reason she accepted this internship in the first place. It’s a win-win for everyone.
The new sales and fulfillment support now allows the merchant to take a step back from daily life and spend his time on subjects with higher added value: suppliers, negotiation of postal/logistics rates, improvement of processes, after-sales service, etc., stepping up to the next level requires you to square up all the different elements of merchandising.
What it takes to get to $30K/month: strategy and fine-tuning
After they’ve done the basics of setting up their product listings and product pages, it’s time to roll up their sleeves and fine-tune the whole operation.
Job one: are the right products visible on the home page?
How is the range of pages presented, and what is the order of products displayed? Do the most popular products display first, as opposed to the cheapest, the last added to the site, etc?
This has a guaranteed effect on sales! Don’t assume that Internet users are scrolling down, let alone browsing from page to page. If your star products are on page 2 or at the bottom of your “ranges” pages, you will not sell them. They should appear front and center.
Is the home page itself visually appealing, search-optimized and easy to read?
The home page will be straightforward, with attractive graphics themes and minimal distractions. (The large banners that blink everywhere are very inefficient, as confirmed by Altics’ eye-tracking tests). The best brands, the best products will always be available from the home page.
Are you optimized for organic search traffic? Google Shopping relies on Google’s search algorithms, so make sure your main home page is assigned a focus keyword containing the best description of your store (the categories of things you sell, not just the store name)
Search optimization also pays off when using shopping comparison engines like Leguide.com (in paid mode), Shopping.com or Nextag. Organic search referencing will start quickly to bear fruit.
Is the Adwords campaign optimized?
Let’s talk more precisely about Adwords: An online store at the $30K/month level generally has a budget of more or less $80-100K/day, but with profitable and targeted campaigns. No keywords “viruses” will be tolerated in these campaigns.
By “virus” keywords we mean those keywords that you buy on Adwords, and that eat up your budget faster than all the keywords that make sales. If this happens to you, you can increase your AdWords budget as much as you want, but your sales will stagnate. Only your cost/sales will explode.
The solution is to increase the keywords used throughout the product catalog (and here is another job for the trainee in question). New suppliers, new brands, new products, range expansion, etc… Your Internet users and even Google will greatly appreciate it.
The key to moving from $15K to $30K/month is the manager’s availability to rethink everything and make strategic and organizational decisions, instead of managing the day-to-day business.
What are the typical mistakes made by merchants whose online stores do $30K/month?
Failure to delegate
It can be complicated to leave the phone or email processing to someone else, when you consider yourself best able to sell your products and satisfy your customers. If you’ve got a helper who’s been around a while, let go and trust them–you’ve got more important things to do.
Promoting the wrong product mix
The risk of hubris is also present in web marketing (this thing where everyone thinks they are a specialist…). Carefully select the products that will send you to the paid price comparators, and remove unprofitable products (which Shopping Flux allows). The familiar 80/20 rule applies here: In general, 80% of an average product catalog is not profitable, while the remaining 20% are profitable enough to cover everything else.
The same goes for the choice of the SEO agency (one of the main pitfalls of web marketing). Sometimes, training will suffice. Also, get as much information as possible, even if, on blogs and forums, you will find conflicting advice (the joy of free expression on the web).
Worrying too much about the competition (get over it)
Finally, the risk that we see as the most dangerous is over-reaction to competition.
The latter is pure and perfect on the Net. You have to accept it and deal with it. Your competitor is breaking prices? Your competitor announces a “new and available” product when you know it has not yet been released? He calls himself “leader of…” while suppliers tell you that his sales are largely weaker than yours? There’s nothing you can do about it. Get over it.
You have better things to do, and that’s to ask yourself the question, “How can I get to $60K/month? The next article will try to give you some hints.
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