As perfecting your online presence is a consistent goal for brands of all sizes, it is always the goal of every business owner to stay on top of the most tips and trends in maintaining your online business. Understanding SEO rank, which social media platforms are best for your brand (hint: it can vary for every brand!) and what resources are best for understanding your audience.
Recently our CEO Stacy Jones, sat down with an expert in the field to discuss his experience in building his business online. In this blog post, Hollywood Branded examines the best practices for e-commerce strategy for your business from the advice and expertise of Drop Ship Lifestyle's Anton Kraly.
A Little Background On Anton
Anton Kraly is founder and CEO of Drop Ship Lifestyle and eCommerce lifestyle. Anton and his team are constantly researching and testing to discover what works best in digital marketing and eCommerce. Since 2013, he's worked with over 10,000 people across the globe to help them learn how to build their own drop shipping stores.
Voted best eCommerce course by Shopify in 2018, Drop Ship Lifestyle is now the top online eCommerce coaching program.
Question: Can we start getting a little bit more information about you and your background and what got you to where you are today?
Answer: I've been building eCommerce stores now since 2007, which is crazy to think about. But at that time, I was just out of college, and I actually had a business. I had bought a business and that was a delivery route for a bakery in Brooklyn, New York. I was 21 years old, had this truck and was driving into Brooklyn every morning, driving to grocery stores, selling cookies, like grocery store to grocery store wholesale. What got me started with eCommerce was the book, The Four Hour Workweek.
There was a chapter in it on eCommerce. Basically it said, anybody could build a store for $29. You don't need to be technical. You don't need to be some coding wizard or anything. And then there was a chapter on Google AdWords. I thought, okay, I have this cookie business, I have access to the cookies, let me make a website and try to sell these things. I spent about a week doing that, set up Google AdWords, and that was my foot in the door to eCommerce. I saw that take off pretty early on and realized I didn't have to drive into Brooklyn anymore for this delivery route. I didn't have to talk to grocery store managers. I could just work on my computer and see orders come in.
Quickly after that, I just started to think that if I could sell cookies, why can't I sell couches, and why can't I sell desks, and why can't I sell bathtubs? I Started to get more and more expensive and product ranges. Since 2007, that's what I've been doing, just building more and more stores, selling all different types of products, mostly B2C home goods, but we've done some B2B businesses as well.
Question: How do you find a supplier? How do you go out and say, this is what we are going to do. We've set up a shop. What are the first steps to even doing that?
Answer: We really just use Google. Once you have a product type. I'm at a stand up desk right now. If I wanted to sell these, I would build a standupdeskstore.com. Whatever it's called. Then I would go on Google and I would type in standup desks and I would start looking at all the companies who make them. And then what we do is we still use the phone, we reach out. I'd call them and say, "This is Anton from standupdeskstore.com." Basically, we frame it almost as you would as if you went on a job interview. We call them prepared to talk to them. Say, 'I've been on your website we really like products X, Y and Z. They'd be a great fit to our site.' Also see that you've been manufacturing these things before anybody else, and we love that. Talk about their company and why we want to work with them.
From there, it's pretty much just them saying, 'Okay, we're going to send over a new dealer form.' That's what we would fill out and then send back to them. After that, they send you all the information like product, photos, product names, prices, descriptions, specifications, all that information you need to then publish on your store so you can start selling them.
Question: Where can drop shipping actually come in and complement the businesses that they're already in?
Answer: I've talked to different people about ways they can do this. Some people that have, let's just say, electronic music websites, right? There was somebody that I was talking to that has a brand for that. He was saying, "Is there any way I can incorporate this?" I said, 'Definitely.' What I recommended was to reach out to all the different companies that make different speakers that his audience would be interested in. Maybe even some starter DJ kits for the segment of the audience that would be interested on that. What you do then is incorporate it to your current website where you already have your content, your videos, whatever else you're sending people to. You simply just add one more link for a store. You could have that built in as an extra revenue channel.
The really good thing about it again, since you're not buying any inventory in advance, you're not laying out a whole bunch of money and hoping does this work. If you already do have an existing audience, you can ask them, 'What do you want? What do you buy? What products are you interested in?' From there, you can reach out to the brands that manufacture these things, and you can say, 'My audience wants this. Let's get approved, we want to sell your stuff.'
If anyone's listening to this and their audience isn't on a website, if it's on social, if they have an Instagram following or YouTube or Facebook, you could do a lot of stuff that's pretty creative now through Shopify, which is who we use for our eCommerce platform. But you can basically push all of your products to Instagram to make Instagram shoppable. You can have your whole products been uploaded to Facebook so people can see everything right there. Even if you don't have the website with all the traffic, you could still mix it into your existing platform.
Question: As a customer would you have to pay for shipping for both products?
Answer: No, one thing we also do is focus on high end products. Our lowest product prices are usually $200. Our average order value is closer to $1,000. We basically, across the board offer free shipping on everything. Meaning that we pay for it. We would definitely save money if his and hers desks were ordered from the same brands because it would be bundled. So we would just make more money in that order. But typically, we're paying for it regardless.
Question: How do you go about marketing your drop shipping site?
Answer: We use a bunch of different channels. My favorite is still Google Ads with Google Shopping. What that is, is if somebody goes to google.com and they type in any product name, it could be like a generic thing like stand up desks or it could be like a supplier name, a manufacturer name, or it could be a skew number, or any combination of that. What you'll see on the top, sometimes it's right across the top, sometimes it's on the right column is a bunch of product images. It'll also show prices for those products and it will show the product name. It will also show the store name. Those are Google Shopping ads and you pay to be there.
What's great about them is everybody that clicks them has intent. Because again, they see the price, they know they're going to a store. What's really great about them is you can set it up so you're only appearing when people are searching for exactly what you're selling. That's why a lot of our focus is trying to get people not when they might be interested in let's just use like a surfboard. If somebody wanted a surfboard, I don't want them coming to my website, if they're on Google typing in surfboard. Because what are the chances they're like, credit card in hand, I'm going to pick one out right now and buy it. Instead, we focus on those long names, those long tail keywords, and we get the traffic from Google Shopping and it converts really well.
Question: How are you being price competitive?
Answer: One of the big things we look for when we're making new deals with different suppliers and brands is if they enforce pricing policies. There's something known as MAP. It stands for minimum advertised price. Big companies have this, some small companies have it, but there's MAP, for example, on iPhones. If you wanted to buy a new iPhone without a contract, and you went to AT&T, and then you went to BestBuy, and then you went to Verizon, and then you went to Target, it would be the same price everywhere. That's not by chance. It's because Apple says, 'Hey, if you're going to sell our stuff, this is minimum advertised price, and everybody has to adhere to that.'
The benefit of it from in this case, Apple's side is that it protects their brand value, because AT&T say, 'Whatever we'll do a loss leader and sell it for 500.' It also prevents really unfair competition. It keeps all the brands retailers happy, and it keeps the perceived value of the brands higher. Because now it's still $1,000 phone or whatever it is.
We do the same thing when we're working with different brands, we want ones that do have these pricing policies so you don't get into this bidding war till someone's making 5% profit margin. What we do to get creative and work around that a little bit, is incentivize people to choose us over maybe five other stores selling the same thing.
One thing we do there is include bonus offers. Let's just say we were selling a $1,200 stand up desk. We might say, 'okay, if you order from us, we're going to include a free wrist rest, or a free monitor arm stand. Maybe something that'll cost us $20, but it will allow us to still sell at MAP, and get a sale that might make us $400 net profit.' That's a creative thing that we do to get around the pricing policies and to get more people to choose our stores over everybody else.
Want to hear more of Anton's suggestions for improving your digital marketing efforts? Take a listen to the full interview on our podcast!
The Next Steps
Curious to learn more on how you can diversify your digital marketing expertise? Check out some of the other blogs we have written on similar topics within digital marketing!
- Effective Digital Media Marketing With Sharifah Hardie
- Forget Traditional Advertising, Think Digital Media Marketing!
- Digital Marketing Strategies With Naresh Vissa
- Using Technology You Have To Increase Sales: RFID Strategies Part II
- #StraightOutta Ad Dollars? When To Try Digital Media Branding
Interested in learning more from experts across various walks of the marketing landscape? Subscribe to our Marketing Mistakes Podcast and learn tips, strategies and suggestions from the pros!