Ready to Give Up pre 1 year...please help

Discussion in 'Ecommerce Forum' started by BeautyStartUp, Mar 6, 2019.

  1. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    Hi all,

    I'm about 9 months into my new ecommerce business. It has been beyond tough. My conversion rate on a good month is 1.5% on a bad one lower than 1%. I sell niche natural beauty products by relatively unknown brands.

    I feel that I have done everything I can and without significant investment in PCC/Adwords/Remarketing/Email Marketing/More Stock that this business is going to continue to flatline. I am seriously considering closing it down as I am so tired of working so hard and not seeing any results.

    I have - an online facebook group with 1.8k member ( this is shared with another beauty business). Worked with a range of influencers/bloggers to promote products and the store. Conducted a national skincare survey to grow my newsletter list to over 600 subscribers. Written relevant content for my blog. Run fbook/twitter/insta channels every day with good content (around 1.5 followers). I bring on new brands & products every month. I send newsletters every 2 weeks with original content in them. I optimise all products and content for SEO as best I can. I have a small Google Shopping campaign which is converting at just over 2% but I have not broken even yet.

    I wish someone had told me how competitive it was out there. I had no idea what I would be up against and thought that I would pick up the 'long tail' of the market - natural & organic skincare- which is huge. But I am not getting the traffic and not getting noticed amongst all my competitors. The beauty industry seems pretty cut throat.

    My growth is pretty static - on average I get 700 user hits a month and 10-15 orders. It appears that the countless hours I have put into marketing the business is coming to pretty much nothing.

    I have no more time and no more money to give the business. So what I want to know is - how long does it take to build up an ecommerce store? If I am seeing no real growth should I just give up the ghost as the products clearly are not selling? If I keep doing what I am doing then will SEO/marketing etc start to yield results? Or are the sales figures trying to tell me something more important?

    What I find most frustrating is that the people I do convert love the products, they like the website and the brands and the ethos of the business. I KNOW there is a market for these products but its just getting to that market which is proving pretty much impossible.

    Thanks for reading this far. Any experiences or suggestions most appreciated.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #1
  2. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    346 67
    9 months isn't long though. There may be things you can do to improve but there isn't much you are going to change overnight, small incremental improvements over time really do add up though.

    Since you say your customers love your product can you not get them involved, maybe offer free products or a discount for anyone they refer?
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #2
  3. I_DO_MARKETING

    I_DO_MARKETING UKBF Regular Free Member

    373 97
    I would keep going... Another 2 years and you'll be flying!

    You're doing all the right things, you just have to keep doing it. And do more of it, and get up an hour earlier and then do it all over again.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: I_DO_MARKETING Member since: Oct 24, 2015
    #3
  4. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    I was going to introduce a customer loyalty scheme to encourage more reviews/referrals etc. So if I carry on doing what I am doing it will grow slowly but organically? I guess I am struggling with that idea as the evidence is suggesting otherwise - as in since I launched sales have not really grown much (first month was great as I had built up a decent following and buzz). I get the sneaking feeling that the only ecommerce stores to do well have tons of money to throw at marketing and I have spent all my savings, I have nothing left. And now I have to take a second job to pay the bills which is a bit of a kick in the teeth as by now I was expecting to be taking a (small) income from the business. In it's current form I will not make any (more than pocket) money until year 2 or perhaps 3. Is this normal?
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #4
  5. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    thanks for the replies btw :)
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #5
  6. Guy Incognito

    Guy Incognito UKBF Contributor Free Member

    48 5
    We're in a different sector but have similarly low conversion rates. It can work out!

    Do you manufacture yourself or are you selling stock from other companies? I read it like it was the latter, in which case your margins are going to be small.

    You need to look at the cost per order and revenue per order mainly. You need the revenue to be higher than the cost. If you are not manufacturing then the margin could be your issue.

    In our first 9 months (to Dec 17) we had 25,700 visitors to our website and 170 orders (but our average order value is relatively high). Most of the visitors came through google ads.

    Fast forward to 2019 and this year to date we have already had 40,000 visitors and 218 orders. We have brought in over 50% more revenue than we did in those first 9 months, and we are aiming to increase turnover to seven figures this year.

    We're not a massive business (yet) but we focussed on Instagram and specifically google ad words, and now we are about to do some proper Facebook advertising too. We don't do newsletters. We don't discount.

    The main difference seems to be two fold - we're in a niche sector with very few (if any) competitors, and we manufacture our own products. You seem to be in a crowded market with smaller margins.

    Good luck!
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: Guy Incognito Member since: Aug 2, 2016
    #6
  7. AllUpHere

    AllUpHere UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,907 1,030
    What marketing budget did you start off with?
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: AllUpHere Member since: Jun 30, 2014
    #7
  8. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    Nice to hear a success story! Bur yes your situation is very different from mine. I sell stock on consignment at a relatively decent margin (40-50%) but I probably only make about 20-25% per sale once postage and discounts have been taken off. I'm not making a loss on any of the sales - I am just about breaking even once marketing costs etc have been taken off. As I don't own the stock it is very tempting on tough days to just send it all back and got back to what I know which is B2B sales ;)
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #8
  9. I_DO_MARKETING

    I_DO_MARKETING UKBF Regular Free Member

    373 97
    Without a marketing budget it's going to grow slowly, but it will grow. It always does.

    E-commerce business can be really exciting because it's so low overhead. It sounds more as if it's the love you need back, just as much as you need the customers.

    Do you have a supplier who would have an interest in supporting you? Another business who can carry your product line? You are going to have to keep plugging away for another few years before there is any cash to take out so if you can't run it part time with a small investment each month to pay the running costs then you will probably have little choice but to close down or move the business on. It'd be a shame though.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: I_DO_MARKETING Member since: Oct 24, 2015
    #9
  10. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    re marketing budget. Very little tbh. I focused my budgets on free product for influencers mostly, I gave up on Adwords as it wasnt working. I have just paid £500 for training on PPC and Adwords which is already working so I could scale that up if I wanted. The main issues is time - I have about 8-10 hours a week to spend on this business (I have small children and another consultancy role that pays the bills) This situation is not going to change for another year at least.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #10
  11. Mr D

    Mr D UKBF Legend Free Member

    14,945 1,630
    With unknown products you are always going to struggle to get noticed.
    9 months is nothing.

    Took me almost that long my first year to sell £1k total worth of product when I started early this decade, within another 6 months I had sold another £6k.

    You have a niche - its a crowded one and as you have found, competitive. So compete.

    Add sites. Add offers. Get your name out there.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: Mr D Member since: Feb 12, 2017
    #11
  12. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    It sounds more as if it's the love you need back, just as much as you need the customers. You've hit the nail on the head there. I find it lonely, isolating and like F*&king pulling teeth most of the time. I'm used to instant results which is what you get with B2B sales. A handshake, a deal done and money in the bank. Shame I had to learn that by spending all this time and money on a B2C business but hey ho! I wanted to have a team a people (can't afford them) and to see the rewards of seeing a business grow. But I'm getting none of that at the moment! Not sure I can hack it for another 2-3 years to be honest.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #12
  13. DEFCON1

    DEFCON1 UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 11
    Yep, it is extremely tough & you will likely have to work even harder if you want a chance of making it a success.
    I would say now's the time to take a step back & stop the scatter gun approach. You most likely will be spending an awful lot of time and effort on the wrong things & not doing any of them properly.
    My question to you right now would be..
    Specifically where & how are you getting those 10 - 15 sales a month? I bet it's mostly from one particular channel.
    Answer that question & for now put ALL your efforts in that ONE area!
    Let us know how many sales you get next month, best of luck.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: DEFCON1 Member since: May 28, 2016
    #13
  14. I_DO_MARKETING

    I_DO_MARKETING UKBF Regular Free Member

    373 97
    I'll drop you a PM with some contacts - if you ever want to vent or pick our brains on Adwords or affiliate marketing, or email marketing, feel free. I have an office with 20 staff who keep each other gee'd up and motivated now. Alone this stuff is hard.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: I_DO_MARKETING Member since: Oct 24, 2015
    #14
  15. BeautyStartUp

    BeautyStartUp UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 3
    Specifically where & how are you getting those 10 - 15 sales a month? I bet it's mostly from one particular channel. Good idea I will definitely do that. Im surprised at how well PPC has been doing tbh (all sale this month have been from google shopping) so I think I will look to scale back other areas that are not yielding much.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: BeautyStartUp Member since: Mar 6, 2019
    #15
  16. Darren_Ssc

    Darren_Ssc UKBF Regular Free Member

    346 67
    If you believe in what you are doing then take a second job to keep some money coming in. You can grow organically but there will be more pain on the way; if you can pay your bills in the meantime it makes all the difference.

    I have a lifestyle business now where I earn a decent living and can work more or less when I want. The first 3 years were awful though and I wouldn't want anyone to go through the same - it was worth it eventually though.

    It sounds like you just need a bit of encouragement more than anything, it can be difficult when friends and family are not in the same boat and don't really understand.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: Darren_Ssc Member since: Mar 1, 2019
    #16
  17. DEFCON1

    DEFCON1 UKBF Contributor Free Member

    64 11
    In that case, this month ONLY put your efforts into Google Shopping & look at doing an awesome job at it!
    Drill down into the data & find which keywords & ads are driving those sales. Just focus on those that are converting for now.
    What keywords are converting? - Bid Top Spot for those & add Negative keywords!!.
    What ads are performing best? - Create 5 - 10 Ad Variations & test.
    What time of day are you making sales? - Shutdown bids on times you don't & double down your budget for when you do.
    Mobile, Desktop or Tablet?
    Etc... etc..
    So much to do in just this one area. (A Full Time Job in itself) Research & do it well.
    I bet you could double or triple your sales from just concentrating on that this month.
    That alone would give you a much needed motivation boost!
     
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2019
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: DEFCON1 Member since: May 28, 2016
    #17
  18. Paul Norman

    Paul Norman UKBF Ace Free Member

    2,455 750
    I have done this - for three sites.

    To get to stage one - which for me was where I could pay a person's salary to do the day to day stuff in the business - took around 18 months for each of the business.

    To get to the next stage - £1m turnover - took a further 18 months.

    But turnover is dependant on the value of what you are selling (shoes and clothes for me) . The underlying target was a profit target.

    We, at the point you are at, looked for some off line ways of marketing too. We were trying to create stories to boost our content. None of these ideas will be for you, but they might give you a thought starter! We sponsored street dance 'B-Boy' competitions - and got stories, and shout outs. We spent a fair bit of photography - good images are vital to get your stuff picked up by other people, like magazines. We did pop up yard sales. We put leaflets in thousands of doors. We ran a pop up art show. We turned up for the opening of an envelope if relevant people were there.

    It is tough. And at times you will wonder if it is worth it. And if you decided it wasn't, that does not make you a bad person. But I don't reckon you as far off track as it seems.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: Paul Norman Member since: Apr 8, 2010
    #18
  19. The Ecom Guy

    The Ecom Guy UKBF Contributor Free Member

    39 7
    If money is your issue, cut down or cut out completly your PPC activity. - it does seem that since your original post you invested £500 in your own knowledge for PPC. I would quickly determine whether you are making money on PPC or not. If you are not, shut it down and forget about it for now.

    Your focus imo with that product range should be building up your email marketing list, your 10 -15 orders a month within 6 months can grow 200% pretty seemlessly by introducing basic segmentation campaigns. Email marketing is also very cheap especially for your sorts of volume you would be sending.

    Focus on building your list - be careful how you approach incentivisation for a signup now though due to GDPR regulations.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: The Ecom Guy Member since: Mar 3, 2019
    #19
  20. js5691

    js5691 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    19 0
    Have you thought about posting your website for a few of us to take a look at?

    Often a third party can find things, you cannot see from within.
     
    Posted: Mar 6, 2019 By: js5691 Member since: May 21, 2015
    #20