Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
My background is in electrical engineering, and I love tinkering and repairing other old collectibles, namely muscle cars. I decided that if I made these old radios work again and look like new, other people would want them in their homes. I felt that up-cycling these beauties to incorporate Bluetooth technology and able to play MP3 music, customers would fall in love with these retro radios too. We source our products anywhere; we look at garage sales, antique radio conventions (yes, they exist!), antique stores, thrift stores, and online.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
I just put up my site on Shopify. Luckily, I had a buyer right away and I decided to work on creating an interesting sales experience for my customers by focusing on my writing. By writing interesting descriptions of each one-of-a-kind product, I try to dramatize the beauty of the designs. I also try to have fun by pointing out the quirkiness of some of these old beauties. I also like thinking about the style trends of decades past and how those old and out-of-date styles influenced the design elements of the radios. The best channels for our company is by far Shopify. In the beginning I sold my radios on Ebay. As I launched my Shopify store in May 2014, the Ebay channel generated 100% of sales, and by January 2015 the new Shopify channel generated 40% of sales and my Etsy store generated 20% of sales. This year total sales in the Shopfy channel generated $12K in revenue, Etsy came in at $8K. Ebay now lags way behind these other more lucrative channels.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
I use Shopify Product Reviews, RetailtowerPro, Shippo, Live Web Insights by Yahoo, Plug in SEO, Yotpo Reviews, Facebook Store by Shopify, Product Bundles, Inkfrog Open, Persistent Cart, Social Autopilot, Soundest, Auto Gift Card & Discount Code, and Better Coupon Box. The biggest impact in generating more sales is the Product bundles app; which helps me sell upgraded merchandise for a higher retail price. Retail Tower has helped increase efficiency in posting my products where customers look online. My wife and I handle all shipping and fulfillment. We carefully test the product and make sure it is the best product we can sell. Then we carefully wrap the radio for shipment anywhere around the world. I don't think I could trust anyone else to handle the merchandise at this point. My wife knows how I want the product to look and makes sure the radio is gorgeous and ready to play once the customer receives the package.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
I really love the product, sometimes I get sad when a special radio sells and I have to send it to a new home. However, I feel that customers genuinely appreciate the level of care we give to each order. We also include plenty of paperwork designed to answer common questions and thank the customer for their order. Many of our customers give us repeat business which is especially gratifying. I also highly recommend shipping insurance on every item, because bad things can happen to good packages. Refunding and responding to customer queries quickly (same day) is also very important to creating a successful online store, where people want to shop.