Personally, I prefer to pay through Alibaba itself or Paypal. I think these are safer options than Western Union or anything else an Alibaba supplier might ask you to pay through. Once paid, wait for the supplier to confirm the order. Feel free to ask any questions about the production time and shipping time. Once I got my link, I paid. Then the waiting game began. The glasses I'd be receiving from China would not have any packaging. I decided I would create my own packaging. I decided I would order hard travel cases, microfiber cleaning cloths, and stickers and hang tags to make the product look more professional.
I looked to AliExpress to find hard cases to ship with my glasses. I began to look through the top listings, reading the descriptions and reviews until finally settling on the following item:.
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It was black, had no logo or branding, and was inexpensive. Next, I wanted to find microfiber cloths. I again sorted the results by the lowest price and filtered the results to sellers that shipped to Canada. I eventually landed on the following product after going through the description and reviews of the seller:.
To create and order stickers, I decided to go with StickerMule. For the hang tags, I did some searching. I wanted to find a printing company that could provide inexpensive paper tags with a hole already punched into them so I could easily tie them to my glasses. Kind of like this:. After some searching on Google, I found GotPrint , who offered a low enough minimum with the exact look I wanted.
This requires my confirmation since that manufacturer wants to ensure I approve the end result before mass producing and shipping my order.
At this point, since I had to wait for the order to arrive before I could take any photos of the product and begin selling it, I decided to begin building the website and writing sales copy for the homepage. The first thing I had to do was create a store on Shopify. Since I was only selling one product, I wanted a theme that focused on one product instead of having an entire catalogue for several products. I decided to go with Startup for my theme.
It was a theme I was previously familiar with, looked great and made it easy for me to feature and focus on selling one product. Now that the theme was selected and installed, and I created my store on Shopify, it was time for me to purchase a domain name. And so, SyghtGlassesShop. After buying the domain, I also created forwards for emails hello syghtglassesshop. Next, I started by adding a placeholder product and used the mockup of my glasses I created earlier. This helped fill out my website and made designing everything a lot easier.
I also began to brainstorm the pages I wanted on my website. Looking at the theme, I looked at the sections that needed sales copy and created a new Google Doc to begin writing copy for the home page. Here, I would also write a great product description. I also created a new Google Doc for each page of my store that I would need to write up. I needed to give my product a unique selling position, and describe what pain points my product solved and how. I looked at websites of similar products such as HD glasses and night driving glasses to get an idea of the language they used to describe their products.
I also watched YouTube reviews of other glasses and read Amazon reviews of other glasses to see how people talked about their pain points and how the product solved them. The next step, before going any further, was installing a Facebook custom audience pixel on my website so I could retarget traffic through Facebook later as well as setting up Google Analytics so I could track my traffic and goals. Next, I wanted to set up email marketing.
I figured it was also worth installing some of my other favorite apps. There are a lot of great apps out there and I recommend trying the alternatives to these as well. I eventually edited the theme, after going through a few iterations and talking with co-workers at Shopify, to improve conversions on the page. I made the top navigation sticky and included the Canadian and American flag along with a Buy Now call-to-action. For the hero image I would eventually end up using, I wanted a stock photo of someone playing video games or on their computer that I could Photoshop either my logo or glasses onto.
I went looking on stock photo sites such as Stocksy and iStock. By the way, Shopify has since launched a new stock photo site where you can download free images for your store and marketing campaigns. I eventually settled on the following:. Next, I wanted to create a diagram showing how the glasses work. I wanted to show a full color light spectrum entering the eyes from a computer monitor, with the glasses blocking out blue light in the spectrum.
I used Iconfinder to find a silhouette of a head and silhouette of a monitor, and used Photoshop to create the diagram I would use on the store. Lastly, I wanted to find icons I could place on the homepage to highlight some of the features and benefits of the glasses. I used Iconfinder again, found 3 icons and included them on my homepage. With the site completed, all I could do was sit back and wait for my products to come in. The first thing to arrive were the stickers. They came out perfect and as expected with no issues. The next thing to arrive were the hang tags. Both the stickers and the hang tags arrived pretty quickly, since the supplier is in the US.
Almost immediately, I realized I needed something to tie these hang tags to the glasses. I swung by the local Wal-Mart to pick up some string. Almost a month after ordering the glasses cases from Aliexpress, they finally arrive. It arrived in a cardboard box that had been taped over several times. As a result, some of the cases were damaged.
The ends of some of the cases were frayed and the clip pin was broken on others. Fortunately, it looked like 80 cases or so came out perfectly fine. I also eventually received my order of microfiber cloths. During all this time, as I was setting up my website, and receiving stickers and hang tags, I was waiting for my glasses to arrive. I ordered the glasses on November 11, The glasses soon went into production since they required custom branding and on November 29 , almost 3 weeks later, the glasses were finished and were shipped.
On December 9, , nearly a month after placing the order, the glasses arrive at Shopify HQ. This was expected and around the average length of time for orders on Alibaba. When I opened the box, I was pleased with what I received. The glasses were placed in plastic bags and packaged into smaller boxes. Each of the glasses seemed undamaged and had the quality I expected. Now that I had the glasses, it was time to take some visually appealing product photos so that I could begin selling them.
I was lucky enough to have equipment available at the Shopify office to take some great product photos. I was also fortunate to have the help of a colleague who has experience taking excellent photos. However, I could have easily taken great looking photos myself with my smartphone. We have a video showing you how to take a DIY approach to taking professional product photos. The glasses were a bit of a challenge to shoot. They would reflect a lot of light and drop many shadows.
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I wanted a solid white background for my product photos to use on the product page and homepage. To learn how to properly shoot reflection-sensitive products like these, check out our blog post on taking product photos for jewelry. I also recommend checking out our DIY product photography tools blog post for tools and resources to make your product photos more professional. I ensured I took product photos from nearly every angle possible to show off as much of the glasses as I could. Since I was only selling one product on the website, I felt it was necessary to fill up the website and sales page.
I used Photoshop to crop and center the glasses, as well as resize every image since the raw files were thousands of pixels high and wide. After adding all the product images to my website, it was time to establish my brand on other platforms. Obviously, it was important that I establish a presence on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Not only to increase the perceived legitimacy of my business, but for additional cost-free sales, too. To do this, I would actively follow, comment and like other user activity on Twitter and Instagram every day. The idea was that if I engaged with people on Twitter and Instagram that were interested in video games and esports, they would likely be interested in my glasses. So first, I setup my Twitter and Instagram account. For Twitter, I was able to register syghtglasses. The profile picture, banner and name for the Twitter profile were pretty standard. However, for the bio and pinned Tweet, I specifically included an exclusive coupon just for Twitter.
This way, it would allow me to better track the sales from Twitter as well as encouraging new Twitter followers to make a purchase. Instagram was set up the same way to stay consistent with my branding and track purchases. To grow my following on Twitter, I would spend a half hour or so following Twitter users that were following Twitter accounts in the gaming niche. To find popular Twitter accounts in your niche, try Followerwonk. Here, I would follow up to 50 people per day in hopes of them following me back or checking out my store. I would also search Twitter for users talking about MLG, esports, or games that were just released in order to Like their Tweets.
I applied the same strategy to Instagram. I would search for users and photos related to video games and follow, like and comment to get noticed. You need to be careful not to follow too many users at one time on either platform. I would follow roughly 50 people per day on Twitter and Instagram, which would only take me about 30 minutes a day to do.
The other part of social media, besides growing an audience, is keeping your audience engaged by sharing content. I chose to curate and share content I found around the internet rather than to create my own such as blog posts. For a long-term strategy, I would have started blogging about video games and creating videos on YouTube. For Twitter, I used Buffer to schedule Tweets. For Instagram, I used Latergramme to schedule Instagram posts on my phone, to make it easier for me to post and share images. Both Buffer and Latergramme have free plans, which I chose to use to keep the costs down for this case study.
Now that my website and social media was set up, it was time to start getting some feedback and begin selling. The easiest and quickest way to get some early feedback, as well as sales, is to talk to friends, family and coworkers. Some of the smartest people I know are my colleagues here at Shopify. So, after receiving the glasses and creating the sales page, I was very open to feedback. It helped me with the language I chose to use on the website and how I chose to position the product. Any questions that would come up, I would note down to later include answers for on the website since it was likely other people would have the same questions.
After receiving some feedback from gamer colleagues in Slack, and taking notes to make changes on the store, I got my first order! Because I chose to offer free shipping on my store to increase checkout conversions , I wanted to keep shipping costs down to maintain my high margins. The first thing I had to decide was how I would ship the product. I used an app called Order Printer to print a packing slip for the order, as well as the sender and recipient address, which I would tape onto the front of the package. After printing the invoice, I simply cut it to shape and used clear packaging tape to stick it onto the bubble mailer.
I took the package to my local post office and asked for the most economical shipping choice to Finland. Next, I had to fill out a customs form, which the post office provided. Every time you ship an item internationally, you will be asked to fill out a customs form. This form will ask for a description of the contents, the value, the weight and whether the package contains a gift, sample or merchandise.
Based on the information you put in your customs form, your customer may be charged duties and taxes. This will save time by allowing you to bring your pre-filled customs form to the post office. After shipping my first order, I realized international shipping could get expensive. I chose to switch from free shipping worldwide to free shipping in the US and Canada on my store. With my first order in the books, I got the confidence to begin promoting my glasses around the internet.
The first place I looked to was Product Hunt. Product Hunt is an invite-only community where product creators and founders share their cool new products and tech. There is a Games section on Product Hunt for developers and designers to share their games, so I figured submitting Syght Glasses to this section would be a good idea. With a little help from a few members of the content team here at Shopify, the post on Product Hunt did relatively well.
This is a subreddit where Reddit users can share products that other Reddit users would find unique and interesting. To give the post a better chance at being successful, I submitted my Reddit post early in the morning, around 8 am, in the middle of the week. As a result, a lot of traffic came from Reddit and other collateral sites that linked to my site because of this submission being at the top of the subreddit for two days. After staying at the top of Shutup and Take My Money for two days, the submission ended with total upvotes and 59 comments. The lesson here is to find websites or subreddits in your niche where you can share your cool products to get eyes on them and hopefully a few sales.
There are many sites like Product Hunt for your niche, where you can submit products or have your product featured. This is where the real work came in. I now had to tie 21 hang tags to 21 glasses, pack 21 glasses into 21 cases, fill out several customs forms, print 21 shipping labels, and package and ship 21 orders at the post office. Eventually, once everything was packaged, labelled and ready to go, it was time to drop it off at the post office. For the purpose of this case study, I shipped these products like most new store owners would: by heading down to the local post office and having a clerk provide assistance with customs forms and postage.
I brought 13 packages down to the post office at 9 am right when it opened to avoid any lines, but a line quickly formed behind me. Christmas was around the corner and there was only one clerk working at that time. After about 20 minutes of filling out papers and the clerk measuring and weighing the packages, a woman stormed up to the counter.
Immediately I saw her face scrunch up in anger as she turned to me and pointed. Needless to say, that was my last time going to the post office. From here on out, I decided to buy my postage and fill out customs forms online. I used Shippo to fulfill orders and buy postage online for the rest of the orders. This allowed me to generate a label, with the postage paid, that I could simply attach to the package and drop off in a mailbox or at the post office. No more lines, no more angry, impatient letter-senders. This includes purchasing the bubble mailers and printing postage using Shippo.
After dropping everything off at the post office, my business had a lot of momentum. At this point, I wanted to try my main marketing strategy and put together an affiliate program for my glasses, and have influencers and gamers help sell them. I needed an app that allowed me to run an affiliate program with my Shopify store. I chose to use Affiliately , which allowed me to create a unique, trackable coupon for each affiliate.
Affiliates could also directly send traffic through a trackable referral link such as syghtglassesshop. Having 50 active affiliates would be more than enough at this point. After uploading my logo, setting commissions, and activating Paypal mass payments, it was time to find people willing to promote my glasses. My plan was to find gamers on YouTube with medium-sized audiences and Twitch.
There are a lot of people with large audiences on YouTube that record and upload videos of themselves playing video games. My plan was to offer each influencer a spot in my affiliate program. I first started on Twitch. I looked for streamers with small to medium sized audiences, who already had banner ads on their stream pages.
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While looking through these websites, I began making a short list. After a few responses to my emails and some correspondence, I got 4 people on board to help promote my glasses. A few Youtubers I reached out to with a sponsorship opportunity eventually posted an awesome video review of my glasses after I sent them a free pair. In total, I sent four pairs of glasses out for influencers to talk about and share with their audience. As of the writing of this case study, 3 influencers created reviews and shared them with their audience.
Overall, I was very pleased with the reviews! They were all positive and very professional. Only three purchases have come from these affiliates. Over the course of the store being open, I had many requests from people asking to be affiliates for my glasses. This Instagram shoutout provided a nice surge in sales for three days. Making the shoutout commissioned-based is a lot safer and most of the time, less expensive.
I tried to go with two very different styles of describing the benefits of these glasses. For the images, I tried showing the glasses being used, and just the product itself. I set the objective of this campaign to website clicks instead of conversions. In other cases, I may have chose to optimize my ads to be shown to users who are more likely to convert, but since this was a retargeting campaign, I wanted to put my ad in front of website visitors as frequently as possible.
I ran these ads for around 10 days while I began to ramp up marketing on other channels. The ad on the left, above with the gamer looking into his computer screen, performed better. The ad on the left also converted better than the ad on the right. I did this to tweak the ads and the sales page after getting some results. At the end of the campaign, I can attribute 5 sales to my Facebook retarget ads.
This app allowed me to easily add products to my Google Merchant account and show my products in Google Shopping as well as inline product ads in Google searches. To do this with your Shopify store, read our documentation. Syncing up my store was very simple. First, I had to create an Adwords account and Merchant account.
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