Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
As a runner, I saw a pain point that I personally wanted to solve. At a race, when the gear storage options available were secure, the weren't convenient, and when they were convenient, they weren't secure. So, the concept was born! I surveyed runner friends and did some market research, saw that this was a viable opportunity, and hit the ground running (pun intended!). Online, we offer runners the opportunity to rent their locker in advance. This secures their locker and, for certain events, saves them 20% off the onsite pricing. So, being a service, we don't have to source any product.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
About eight months before launch, I began to reach out to race organizers in New England to secure bookings. By the time we launched, we were 40% booked for the year! Races promote our services on their website and in their email communications to runners, so our first online rentals came in about a week before our first race. I remember where I was when the email notification was - in the car driving in Boston. I turned up the music and began to dance, I was so excited! The emails sent by the races drive the most traffic, as well as their website, but we also see a good amount coming in from Facebook. For B2B leads, we get most of our traffic from Google.
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?
We use the Shopify Facebook store app, which is great because folks can rent right from our company page. We're looking into expanding our app use to more social referrals! As a service, we don't have to worry about shipping, which is great. In terms of fulfillment, each Friday at 5pm we close our online orders for that weekend and import them into the event docs for the weekend so my event staff know how many online rentals we had and has the list of customers to track redemption.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Look for the free stuff first! As you're starting out and growing, you can often get drawn into paying for things that you don't need just yet. Once your volume builds, your budget will grow and then you'll also have more of a need for the increased service the paid apps provide. Until then, do more with less! Also, definitely look to others advice. Have them check out your site and send feedback. When you're working so hard on creating your idea of a perfect site, you often forget simple things.