Starting an eCommerce website or storefront is just the beginning of your commerce journey, but the first steps you take may be the most important. Join Cory and Brian as they discuss how to get started with your online business.
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We hope you enjoy this introductory webinar that we think can be valuable to new and existing store owners alike.
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Here's the video:
Brian Krogsgard 00:05
Hello, everybody and welcome to this Commerce Journey webinar, Cory Miller and I, my name is Brian Krogsgard. We're going to talk today about the key steps to starting your eCommerce store. We're really happy to have you. Cory is going to lead this discussion and then we're gonna open it up to Q&A and I'll be around for some commentary as well. Thanks for being here. And with that, Cory, I'm gonna toss it over to you but before I do, please everybody check out GoDaddy Pro. They are our presenting sponsor for everything we do at Commerce Journey. You can go to Commerce Journey.com slash go dash webinar. That little link is going to make sure that you get the best deal. GoDaddy is a fantastic place to get started with your eCommerce store and we're thrilled to have partnered with them. You have unlimited storage, unlimited visitors, you get free business email, they have a website backup protection program, you can get a free domain when you sign up on this special deal. That has an honestly incredible three month discount associated with it. So go to commerce Ernie comm slash go dash webinar to check it out. Thanks so much to GoDaddy for being our presenting sponsor. All right, Cory over to you.
Cory Miller 01:12
All right, well, thanks, Brian, for leaving us in here. And so today, getting straight to it, we're going to be talking about the key steps to starting your eCommerce store. Now, Brian, I've worked with dozens of people just this year. COVID has through, you know, tailspin in everybody's lives, but particularly businesses that are used to delivering services and goods, face to face, bricks and mortar kind of concept there. And so we wanted to put this webinar together to kind of give you the base foundation for everything we're going to be talking about kind of Commerce Journey. It kind of starts right here. The key question most of Brian, I hear and most of us here are related about technical things. You have a product or service, you're ready to sell online. How do I do that? At least that's me. My experience I don't know about you, Brian, I think you've, you've shared kind of a similar thing off and on about friends that kind of know. Brian can build websites. Let's, let's ask him questions.
Brian Krogsgard 02:11
Yeah, we're here.
Cory Miller 02:14
Yeah. And so we wanted to cover some of the basics. But as we put this together, I started a company with a family friend of ours to sell organic shampoo bars and conditioners. And part of this whole prep for this was Brian was like, go back, think about what were the key questions that we moved through to get this from product idea to selling online and we've already sold three batches of our product, organic shampoo bars and conditioners, and we're on our fourth batch here pretty soon. And so we've sold pretty good amount of money bars this year through it, but I wanted to make sure we covered the holistic thing, and it really starts with something that's not as sexy as making money online. It is the first step is getting legit But let me back up for a second on this webinar today, Brian are going to share some key things right at the front here, some key takeaways, you're going to hear us discuss and make some commentary and insights about the whole process. CT, myself and Brian have both built online businesses, multiple businesses over the last 10 plus years. And so we're going to be sharing from our own experiences. And then at the end, we're going to take your questions, every webinar we do at Commerce Journey is going to have a Q&A period. And so if you have questions, make sure you hit the bottom of the zoom app here, the Q&A button or the chat. And if you're listening to this later, you can go to Commerce Journey.com, sign up for a Facebook group, or hit our contact button to we'd love your questions. We want your questions.
Brian Krogsgard 03:43
And we know two people have started are at different parts of this journey. But we know we're pretty sure if you're here today. You're somewhere on that front portion of your journey. Whether you've begun your business or launched your store you may be slightly done. Different parts of that. But we are staying kind of on the front side of the of the highway or this, you know this journey. So we're assuming that, you know, you are not a full time eCommerce store owner quite yet or you know, this is a side hustle or you're just getting going that kind of thing. So that's the perspective that we hope that you'll keep in mind for today. And if you share this with somebody in the future, the type of audience that we're trying to target, because the commerce is just such a big landscape, we need to narrow it down with these specific pieces of content. And Cory, you're muted.
Cory Miller 04:38
You know, every webinar live webinar has to come with some technical things, right? Yeah. Or if it's user error with me. So let's get straight into it. And if you just joined us again, we're going to share some content here about your key steps to starting your online store. And then after this, we're gonna have Q&A period. And so make sure you queue your questions up as always on all of our commissary, calm live webinars, we're gonna be doing that in the Q&A button at the bottom of the zoom app. So the first is the unsexy part of eCommerce. And but I think this is what a lot of first time entrepreneurs Brian Don't think about until later. And but it's such a key step, and I'm gonna share to how it cascades down into the actual eCommerce platform that you choose. But getting legitimate and what that means is you need to get legitimate with your state if you're in the United States, your state and the federal government. And primarily, we're talking about generally speaking, and I want to give the disclaimer, Brian that are not attorneys or CPAs. You don't even want to listen to our legal or business, you know, legal or financial advice. You want to consult your own and you want to get your own and we can share later on how you might find a really good CPA and really get a business attorney. We both had that experience in the last eight months now as we joined forces Brian but First step is you want to get your most states have limited LLC, limited liability company. And what that does is essentially, this is my layman's terms explanation is shield your, your entire family assets from potential liability that might happen as part of your company. So when we did organic bars or even Commerce Journey, we run I have a joint venture and LLC, that is owns the domain name and certain assets in there. And so you want to get your LLC. I will give a link in the chat but you can go to sba.gov if you're in the United States, and I'll give you a link to that where you can go straight to it and find your state's registering entity. Typically, it's the Department of State, at least in Oklahoma where I'm based that's what it is. I think the same maybe in Alabama, Brian.
Brian Krogsgard 06:52
Yeah, and a couple of things on this. One if you're a sole proprietor, you're the only person in the business this is still important for limiting your personal liability from your corporate liability, you're shipping a physical good often to people. And with a physical good, you never know what somebody could come back with or tried to sue you for whether it's a rightful suit or not, you still have to defend it. Another thing is if you are in a partnership, this is especially important because when more than one persons part of this corporation Well, if everything's under personal names and doing business as individuals, things can get really complicated if the partnership goes south and you never want something to go south, but you need to plan for the worst case scenarios. Finally, I think your LLC is going to enable a lot of things to go more simply like having your AI in numbers and how you show up on people's credit card statements. You don't want Cory Miller showing up on someone's credit card statement because they buy what they think is cosmetics from a corporation. You want the Vida Bars LLC or you know Commerce Journey, LLC whatever to be what shows up on that credit card statement. And on the official documentation, Terms of Service, those types of things, and it just makes you more legitimate. And if it's something that you've put off is really something that you should pay a little bit of attention to, and even put a little money towards, it'll pay off in the long run for sure.
Cory Miller 08:13
Yeah. And I highly suggest if you did it for the first time, get will get a business lawyer to help you walk through the steps, you can do it on your own. But unless you've done it before, I like to just kind of, you know, scratch off any potential mistakes specifically at this foundational level level.
Brian Krogsgard 08:32
It's only a few billable hours for most lawyers.
Cory Miller 08:35
Yeah, like Brian said, that's a good point too, specially if you're in a partnership, you're gonna want a business lawyer to walk through buy sell agreements, percentages, how that works, operating agreements, part of that the state will need to, and specifically when you get down to the bank account, those type of things that entity like the bank needs to know. Okay, Brian and Cory are 5050 partners. You know, who has you know, Sign in all that kind of backup if there if there is a dispute to between partner so this, this part isn't sexy, and it's the part I have to start with. But it also builds two coupled parts downstream for you. Like for instance, once you get your, your, your LLC or your registered your company name with your state, you can also have DBAs. So like even if it's the Vida Bars, but you want to sell it another name, that's actually how we have Commerce Journey, right now. It's a DBA of another entity that run jointly own that was for ease of launch kind of thing was some point down the road, we might separate that out, by the way,
Brian Krogsgard 09:38
but the structure of the partnership is still the same. And the important part and it is important because you know, I know people who've run 10s of millions of dollars per year revenue businesses, and then something went south after 20 years of business and then they realized that there was an issue in how the owning ownership of the company was declared and what was really What, and it never mattered for the life of that company until it went south after decades of business. And that's the last thing you want after you've worked for a career at setting something up, which is what we want for your eCommerce store is for this to be something that can become your career for a long time, you don't want those things that should have happened in the first weeks of your venture to come back to bite you many years down the road. So we have to put it first.
Cory Miller 10:26
It totally right. And it is this foundational thing. And so once you get the LLC or your corporate structure with your state established, then you want to go get your EIN number. And this is essentially shorthand for instead of using your social security on things like bank accounts and things like that you want and when you invoice people particularly it comes back to the entity so the entity it simply gets a name. I believe that's what the IRS will put links to that too in the chat and the show notes later, but what the Ei n number two so now we've done the LLC written agreements only can you get your certificate then you get your your EIN number, then you can go to a bank. I particularly, you know, Chase for instances across the United States and where I've done most of my stuff, but whatever banking institution you need, you go with those documents that number and you can set up your bank account. And that will be critical later on the bank account. See how this kind of steps when you start talking about payment processing, so when you take orders, you need that money to be able to be connected to a business bank account. So okay, Brian, that this is the unsexy part but the critical and essential foundational part two, you have any other thoughts on this.
Brian Krogsgard 11:39
I think we should skip right ahead. I think we got we put the seriousness and everyone's brains,
Cory Miller 11:43
we got it. Alright, so now to the fun stuff. establishing your online headquarters. And Brian, in preparation for this talk specifically to make sure we say your online headquarters. Brian, what are your thoughts specifically around this, this Like the intro into this online headquarters?
Brian Krogsgard 12:03
Yeah, I mean, I think one of the important things to remember is that you can sell online in a lot of different ways. It could be as simple as posting something on Craigslist or eBay. Or it could be you having a custom developed website on your own domain and be managing all that stuff with an agency. And it's just this spectrum of stuff that you can do. And I think what's important is to define what is your headquarters in that. And Korean I have a bias in that we believe every business should have their own domain, what they own, which is their headquarters. And it's why not to, you know, promote too much, but it's why we like partnering with GoDaddy Pros because that's something they value as well. But it's important that that's something that you own, even if something is huge as Amazon and you're selling, you know, the majority of your revenue on Amazon. Well if they cut ties with you, which they do, sometimes even For something where you didn't really have significant wrongdoing or in your mind or whatever, if you run afoul of the person in control, then what do you have to fall back on. And you always want to have your own entity, your own domain, your own website, really your own brand that you have control over to fall back on. So that gets his rent versus own concept. Because when you're on another platform, if you're an omni seller, if you're, you know, multi-channel, that's great. Those are awesome revenue opportunities. But you need to know that at the end of the day, the real place that defines who you are and what you are is your own property.
Cory Miller 13:40
Yeah, I couldn't have said it better. I mean, I and I think we brought this up specifically because I think there's a tendency like Facebook rolled out shops recently, or there's the marketplace. There's been Etsy and eBay are the ones I think of as long as eBay specifically a place a venue to sell your stuff. We brought that up because it's vitally and Gordon, I think with all this new technology or tools or features coming out, like Facebook shops, for instance, the thought is, well, I can just start there. But that you may be able to start there. But long term as you're building the business, I don't want to build it on something that I don't own in one control you, you talk specifically about that culture. You know, we know stories of people getting shut down overnight. And, you know, the eCommerce software business I started grew and ran and Vinci sold for 10 plus years, was on a website that was our primary front door, or shingle, I guess, was our website. And but we controlled that now. We shifted website hosting partners over the years, but our domain was our address that people could show up and and I wanted that to be there as best as possible and as much as I can to have control of that. And that's why that's one of the many reasons why it's so essential. So it's appealing to think about Etsy and eBay and these different platforms. There may be that strategy for you. In fact, Brian, you know, I'm working with a lady here, actually in New Mexico. And she sells boxes, subscription to emotional well being. She's an art therapist. And she's put together these incredible boxes. Well, she did it on another platform happened to be crate joy. And one of the conversations we've had is I want to move you off, not move you off that keeps you there for now. But I want to start building this online HQ for her because then, like right now she can't sell one off boxes. She has to sell subscriptions. She says there's built in requirements with that platform that she can't unbundle them. And she the reporting is not not as helpful because it's not real down to her specific business. When you own your piece of, you know, your platform, like your website, like the eCommerce solution you have us, then you're much better shape to be able to control that and so Brian, you were gonna say something there
Brian Krogsgard 16:01
I was just gonna say and you don't always know what the reasons are for why you'll need that control in the future. It could be, you know, something with regards to terms of service that you don't like or the way they share your information or your data or your sales, it could be their pricing, they could you know, the difference of say, Hey, we take a 10% cut versus we take a 13% cut or 15% cut that could be enough to where it eats into your margins and makes you too unprofitable under that system. And you want to be able to have as much control as you can, and balance that with the ease of use of the platform that you're using. And it is a delicate balance. But thinking through those things as you're deciding what is your HQ going to be is going to be really important.
Cory Miller 16:49
Yeah. And Brian, I will admit our bias. We love WordPress. As a website platform. It's open source, it's free. You have to have website hosting, like a GoDaddy or other hosting provider. But the the software itself, the license that comes on under it gives you ultimate freedom to do anything you want with it, including which we don't necessarily recommend. But you can sell the little zip file if you wanted to and say, here's my CMS cardboard. Now there's trademark issues with WordPress, but we do we come from that community because that's ultimate freedom and where we're going to be biased and share more options around WordPress platform you can control wordpress.org is where you can download the the open source software. You can also use a host like GoDaddy to install, install WordPress, on your hosting platform. And the domain name to is just that physical address or Brian's just that place where people know and you want to get a great domain name and next week we're going to be talking about a specialist. One of the trainers at GoDaddy. GoDaddy been, I think, still the largest domain name registrar in the world. We're gonna have an expert from GoDaddy talking about not only domain names. That's a big one, but also walking through the specific package. They have curated together for eCommerce stores with WordPress and a platform called WooCommerce. We're going to be talking a lot about. Okay, so any other any other thoughts here on the HQ brand?
Brian Krogsgard 18:16
Just one other element of that is, you know, this idea of using a hosted platform you mentioned cratejoy for subscriptions, or, you know, Shopify, for more generic store. One of the things that people were hesitant for a long time about in terms of having their own hosting and using, you know, downloadable software was that the updates were difficult or the maintenance is difficult. Unfortunately, we're beyond the days of, you know, difficult Magento installations that are almost impossible to manage. Those still exist, but the flexibility and then you know, the ease of use that you have with software that you control is better than it's ever been today. That's not to say that we're saying it's always the right choice. To use, you know, WordPress with WooCommerce, or whatever, there are situations where there are other tools, better tools for your use case, but we just want you to consider the different advantages or disadvantages of each, you certainly get the benefit of never having to think about updates and stuff if you're using Shopify, for instance. But eventually, you know, you are under Shopify is thumb for certain things. And that might be as simple as when you have a new store, the baseline monthly price, like if it's $30 a month to run your store. Well, that $30 could be the difference between you being able to afford getting started or not, versus being able to essentially go for, you know, almost nothing, say less than $5 a month, if you're using something like WordPress, and there's just considerations around that. And either way, the having it on your own domain, which you can do on all these hosted platforms, or most of them, is probably the most important part of that because you're establishing your brand and you're putting your foothold out there before you do anything else.
Cory Miller 20:00
Brian Do you own By the way, which is your domain name. So if you decide you want to start with Shopify and have your website and your eCommerce platform, all in that, and then later on decide you're going to move, you know, there's technical logistics to do that. But your domain name is the same, right? When you move, whatever you want to do. So that's a good point. Okay, so here's the real meat of it. And I think we're most of us have the questions and this gets to the part, it's, it feels sexy, cuz you're like, Okay, I'm getting closer to be able to sell something online. But there are some things that you got to really consider. And in my enthusiasm market, will, you know, Brian, I'll be talking about an idea or come. I'll be thinking about something I want to sell online. That's the fun part. Now you go, Okay, how do I specifically sell it online? How do I price it, how to deliver it. And so in this whole choosing your eCommerce platform, eventually an eCommerce Journey. We're going to have many courses and tutorials on this but as our first official webinar with Commerce Journey.com We want to walk through some key questions that you need to consider. Like Brian said, we're not going to say we're not going to say WordPress and WooCommerce is the best for every single case that that's not at all. By and large, we've seen WordPress for sure is your website thing, as that's still key, but it might not always be the solution. We want to give you enough things to consider to make the right choice for you and what you're selling online.
Brian Krogsgard 21:26
You know, what's your appetite and show you some of the things that we think are important to think about, like there's this idea of unknown unknowns, and we want to eliminate those for you. We want to help make your unknowns known so that you can figure out the right things to track down in the future. And this is listed in really three bullet points and I think this order is important. Particularly let's start with this idea of brick and click versus online, online brick and click is where you have a hybrid, you know, retail, plus online store. A lot of people think are real people really starting online stores when they had retail before, like they're just now doing that. And I actually think, if anything else, this whole COVID thing has shown us that a lot of people did wait until now they put it off for years. They knew eCommerce was a big deal but they put it off and put it off and put it off and businesses I've been involved with have really seen upticks and people that are finally you know, coming to terms with the fact that their store needs to exist in some fashion online. But it affects the choices that you make if you have both a retail and an online store versus if you're on on online only. One really simple one is consider how your inventory works. If your inventory is a big part of the way you sell, for instance, if you have large lead times then you want to be accurate with your inventory because you don't want to sell something that then takes you know four weeks or 10 weeks to replenish if you don't have it so if you sell it because your inventory Tracking solution says you have it, you want to make sure that you have it. So if you're in person and online, you need to be able to blend your inventory between the two entities. And if you're already using an inventory management solution and your retail shop, well, it's going to be important that you can blend that and use that same inventory solution for your online shop. And that's where it gets into this idea of extensions and apps. You know, Shopify App Store is really, really great, has a lot of stuff. WooCommerce has tons and tons of extensions for just about any of these solutions. But you do want to double-check and say, Hey, if I use obscure XYZ inventory solution for my retail store, well, you need to see, is this important for me to, you know, sync this with my online inventory? And can I integrate that with my online store? Thankfully, most of the time you can today, but those are the types of considerations that you want to make. And another one that is relevant because of the atmosphere that we've been in is For instance, being able to check out but structure your store so that it can have a physical pickup or maybe even a delivery option, even though they're ordering online. Well, that wouldn't have been something you thought of as a common circumstance to encounter until 2020. You know, but now that's really common. That's how I do most of my local shopping. And over the past several months has been I order online, so their store has been really important. And for what it's worth the experiences, I can tell who needs this webinar and who doesn't, based on my experiences, trying to check out online for most of these places, but then I want to go pick it up or have it delivered to me, I don't I don't, you know, I don't have two days or whatever, or a week to wait for something to be shipped because I still want that convenience. So you may be setting up your online store as a hybrid retail experience and that there's a lot of unique things going on in that setup. Cory you're the digital versus physical guru here. So can you touch on this second bullet point?
Cory Miller 25:05
Yeah, yeah, I just want to go back to the second on the bricks and clicks. You know, one thing Brian kind of made us mention and this is a big phenomenon right now because businesses are being forced. I've got a business to business manufacturing, friend, start, he owns a business B2B manufacturing company. And they're using NetSuite a popular online software tool, and for their inventory and things like that. And there they've got an integration to their WordPress and WooCommerce site. That's an interesting thing. And then I've even got a family friend who is one that they raised cattle and are getting ready to sell cattle like beef where you can, you know, get a butchered and processed and all that so it's like a full calf, half calf, quarter calf, all that kind of stuff. It's really interesting. Okay, to your point, physical digital or comma, this is so interesting. We tend to think there's these are the three buckets you start with either you're thinking of a physical good Like the two bars, the organic shampoo bars, right? or digital Commerce Journey is digital. We are essentially right now kind of sponsor oriented. But we've got a Facebook group for instance like that and downstream, mostly everything we're going to do is going to be in the digital but as Brian brought up there there's there's mashups with the two and the combo. Now I'll tell you, I have the bulk of my experience with digital and I think Brian you as well 10 plus years and all of that for both of us with digital membership sites selling software online. Now only recently have I really stuck my foot in with physical goods and that's what I talked about the Vida Bars. So there are so much that the two if there if you look at them as two disparate things that they can formula and go you know, I never had to worry about inventory. Now we have to worry about inventory and shipping and taxes and things like that, which we worried about taxes Of course with our online stuff too, but It's really interesting when you start talking to my friends who are selling different products that do have either need to be fed, or have, you know, inventory in the form of warehouse. And so, as you start thinking, I might, you know, I think you're gonna come in most of those two buckets, physical goods, something, maybe it's an art thing that you do, for instance, that you're, you know, specifically an artwork, right, you're an artist trying to sell a painting or something like that, or you're manufacturing a good, like my B2B experience for B2B or, or dizzle, which has an IP near infinite variations of what you're selling online. And then you mash it up with a physical product, somehow you includes a free shirt or something like that. That's all exciting to me. But, so, but they have different connotations, right? This is a product, think about shipping. You got to think about, you know, delivery options, and how returns from those goods. You know, if you sell shirts, you think about the returns on that.
Brian Krogsgard 28:05
A couple of things on the physical goods side, you know, if it's a digital good, there's really not a significant gap or space between the order occurring in the order being completed. Essentially, soon as they order. They're there, they've got access to whatever you're offering content or download or whatever else. But the physical good, the space in between the customer ordering online and the customer receiving their package is much more significant and therefore could impact what you choose to use as a tool. Because there could be different shipping options that cost you a lot more money depending on what's enabled on that platform. Like if you want if you have to charge shipping for certain types of stuff, for instance, what if you sell something really big and you need like freight type shipping on your website? Well, that's something that you really need to consider when you're choosing your platform to make sure that You can handle FedEx Freight, or whatever you're using to ship your goods. If you're just using free shipping across the board, you're building your shipping price into your product, then it's a little less important. But there are those types of things that are really important. Another that's really important to consider is the roles of people on your team. Now, you're a brand new eCommerce store, you don't have employees necessarily something like that, well, maybe the roles aren't so important. You're the person that's making the product, you're the person that's fulfilling the product, you're the person who's managing the website, you're the only role that matters, you're the you're the head person. Well, if you're say that brick and click scenario where we mentioned before, you may have a business with employees and you know, you may have a warehouse or you may have an order be made online, but then someone in your retail store is fulfilling it. Well, there's routing and stuff that goes into that. And when an order is made, someone needs a notification by email or by your system that that order has been put into the system and then it needs to be changed to complete it. Why That's actually been, you know, packaged up and shipped and maybe some notes may need to be made, that's going to impact your decision in terms of what tools or platforms you use. And if you're trying to get into something really quickly and easily, you could have maybe said, Okay, well, I'm just going to use a form with a Checkout button. And I'm going to integrate directly to PayPal or something, well, that's going to be a lot more difficult. If you have those in between scenarios, that gap of fulfillment. In those scenarios, you're really gonna want to use something like WooCommerce or Shopify, that really understand physical products and get the flows and the user roles and those things that you encounter when you're delivering physical products. And I think that that's often overlooked. Most of my physical goods experience was in the realm of consulting and usually it was with these kind of brick and click type of stores. And a lot of times the businesses that we worked with, we had to spend as much time talking to them about the process of selling online then we did actual building a store for them. Because they have years and years of experience of doing business in person, someone walks in the store order and go away. And we're telling him Well, it's still like that. But it's all online and everything's different enough. So that's a really important thing to consider when you're choosing your platform that you'd pick an appropriate platform.
Cory Miller 31:21
Yeah, and I think another principle that we didn't really talk about Brian, but is that for most people, I think in our audience, a Commerce Journey, is start with something that's simple enough for you to get going, you know, businesses, I look at it as all an experiment, you know, if you're selling fudge to your, your neighbors and friends and like, you got to commercialize this, you need to go scale it and everything like that. Just testing theories, your test testing hypothesis, and I like to get a product or service out there fast enough where you can get, I mean, no one no vote, to me in the eCommerce space is better than $1 Someone pulling out their credit card and going, I choose to buy whatever this is. And so, to me, if you think about this as an organizing principle for a second think, how do I get your service or get online in the simplest way, but with the view and i'd love your feedback on this, Brian, but with the view of, I need to, I want to this thing to grow. Like, if you start for instance, in your example, I think I'm gonna butcher this Brian, but like a form and it's a PayPal button. Well, then how are you storing user information? Is it all locked in this form and stuff and you think maybe downstream, I'm gonna, you know, I hope this to be a really fluid eCommerce operation. Well, you're gonna have migration issues, you know, so I think start simple with flexibility to grow. You know, like, you don't have to have all of the complexity, maybe day one because you're testing concepts and seeing what the market your customers will buy, and at what price point but having the flexibility to grow, you know, That's why one of the reasons we I'll say it for myself is I encourage instead of just building on another person's platform, I think you should use their platforms Absolutely. Be growing back in your own online HQ is absolutely critical. So Brian, I'm eager to hear what your thoughts are is like, simple enough, but with flexibility to grow, what are your thoughts around that as like a principle to think through as they choose their eCommerce platform?
Brian Krogsgard 33:28
I think the biggest thing to differentiate is what you were just hitting on, which is, there's, it's one thing to say, Okay, here's a cart or checkout process that you're enabling for your customers. That's where you could come into a PayPal button or maybe, you know, some other type of like, easy third party payment solution. And the other option is a store and the store is where you have this full eCommerce database. And that's where you enable a lot more because not only do you have this checkout option, For a customer one time, but you also have this database of all of your customers over the life of your store. And the easiest customer to sell to is the customer that you've already sold to. So when they've already bought from you on your store, will you enable a whole lot of other things that are going to make, you have more power in your hands to sell to them again. And that's where you get into this idea of having a, a store the full database of the customer profile and all that stuff, rather than just an option for checkout. Because if it's just an option for checkout, it's going to be hard for you to capture that customer another time in the future or, you know, send them marketing emails because they bought from you before all the things that you do, thanks to the fact that you have a full all encompassing store solution. And I think that's the biggest reason to consider a full on eCommerce platform rather than say, like, check out with PayPal and just you know, click this button or something like that. And that's going to be really important. And one other thing I have Want to highlight those? I'm not trying to say this all needs to be so complicated, you know, I have, say two retail stores and I now want to, I need a centralized place for all my online stores. So it's like a whole different building or a whole different, you know, process. I actually know a public company, I'm not going to mention them because their name because they are public, but it's a public company. And they got to eCommerce late, but they had hundreds they have hundreds of retail stores. And in order to avoid the whole concept of like a centralized warehouse order fulfillment, all this stuff for their eCommerce store, they actually decided to fulfill their orders from their retail stores. So I thought that was a really creative solution. And one that you would think like a new beginner type of eCommerce store would do, but this was a big company. And it actually worked great for them. So it's kind of this hub and spoke concept right where it's like, they try decided not to centralize that process. But what they did is they just had to route it the right way in the first place. So if you get an order, you have to assign Essentially to the store, but after that, it was just somebody working in the store that day that goes and grabs it from the store packages it up and sends it out and that's how they manage hundreds of millions of dollars in eCommerce sales. And I thought that was a really clever solution. And the type of thing that you know if you overcomplicate it so I'm trying to bring that balance right. If you if you make it too simple, you lose this ability to have extra power extra sales, record keeping everything else but you don't necessarily have to like you know, build the cathedral and hope they come like you can you can try to make do with the things that you already have in your possession.
Cory Miller 36:37
Yeah, and step into I love incremental steps, you know, and we tried to share that some of that today is incremental steps to get where you want to go like week one I want to get my business legitimate my LLC while I'm maybe in background, still formulating about my product, you know, we to buy my domain name, we three or you know, establishing an online hub and starting that whole conversation. And that's why we say, Commerce Journey. Everybody has their own journey. And we're gonna share examples from our own experiences and then pull in other guests like I can't wait for you guys to meet Ana from thevidabars.com and her story, and so many takeaways, but so many inspirational like aspects of what her story is. So under this choose your your eCommerce platform, by the way, we're going to have likely whole mini courses and courses and webinars on just this aspect. When we were outlining this a couple days ago, Brian was like, Hey, you know, this is like five hours of content, right? Just right here, like, okay, let's give him enough. So I want to give that caveat to, and I want to get to our central considerations real quick after this. And then take your questions, as we're going to do an every webinar at Commerce Journey, but the last is a big question. It's like how are you going to price it? How are you going to offer it? Those are nuanced questions and how are you going to deliver it? So just like Brian was saying, you know, are you going to deliver it for Your retail store to ship it from there? How are you going to price it bundle it with other things? What are all those nuances? having built by the way, my team previous about six years ago, we built our own eCommerce solution and offered it through WordPress. So I've got I know how many variations of eCommerce there is out there like and it's dang near infinite. But these questions really matter. How are you going to price it? Is it going to be in a subscription form? Is it going to be in a trial like $1 trial and then $30 every month afterwards? All of those nuance you really need to have in front of you. How are we going to offer it, you know, and how are we going to deliver it? Is it going to be through is it just going to like live at bars, we had to make a decision. We said we're only going to sell to the United States first, because we needed that was our market right now. And so we said basically, we're not selling right now to anybody else, but you need to come through those type of questions. Is it a one off sell? You know, is it a recurring subscription Brian, we talked about a couple of things like from drop shipping another product. We talked about omni channel, which is I know a lot of your forte and background too. And can you walk through a couple of those?
Brian Krogsgard 39:13
Yeah, let's touch on a few things. And especially because some of these are ways, eCommerce store owners have found that they can make more money and do better and really set themselves apart. One is subscriptions and bring up subscriptions. Because this really helps you make a choice. If you're doing subscriptions, the most powerful and dynamic platform to do so is definitely with WooCommerce subscriptions. That's one area where Shopify really hasn't stepped forward in terms of being able to make the same type of competitive offering, especially in terms of the different types of subscriptions setups that you can do, like whether you're doing, you know, monthly or, or yearly or quarterly, and, you know, free trials are all these different structures that WooCommerce subscriptions Which is an extension for WooCommerce, which is owned by the parent company of WooCommerce. Like, that's just the cleanest setup. And vice versa. I think Shopify probably has the most diverse suite of drop shipping solutions. So if you're really planning on doing drop shipping, whether no matter which choice you're planning to use, Shopify has a lot of different options for drop shipping and a lot of drop shipping. Third Party systems, they do have support for WooCommerce. But I think Shopify really made that first, you know, a first class solution before WooCommerce did. So those are two where I would say like, if you're considering those, maybe consider that as part of your your decisions. But there are a lot of other things as well. Cory, are those good enough for getting started?
Cory Miller 40:52
Oh, yeah. I want to make sure we have some time and space for questions. And I think that kind of segues into our central considerations. Just real quickly in queue up your questions, please we're ready for you. We're here for you. Part of the eCommerce, you know Commerce Journey. webinars are so we can do live help help you make progress in your journey. But here are some of the central considerations to of course we got costs in there. You know, one of the platforms we haven't mentioned today but I think about a blend between a Shopify and WooCommerce is also big commerce. That's actually what we chose to use for thevidabars.com and cost factors in I didn't want to pay a transaction fee on top of the credit card fees. And so that was a nuanced thing. So cost is big, but payment processors and the two biggest and fault that I think about are stripe, and PayPal. Now we use Stripe at Vida Bars because I what I like coming from my days in the past where the bulk of our transactions came through PayPal on them PayPal might have this now but stripe where would automatically dump into your bank account every couple of days. I love that because I didn't have to manage. Why is all this money sitting in PayPal over here I want in my bank account where I can manage it, I cash flow better. So payment processors, shipping, like we've alluded to, if you're shipping a product, you know, we need to make sure you have all the avowal extensions and all the platforms. We talked about how they add ons, extensions, integrations with the major shipping things, but also taxes. So if you fill it, this is one thing I didn't even know Brian, you remember this conversation with leaderboards? I was like, okay, we probably need to remit sales tax. But how do we do that? And I had just been in the online space where for the longest time, it was virtually a kind of a wild wild west. We paid our state income taxes of course
Brian Krogsgard 42:44
… and who do you have to charge sales tax to do you have to charge it to people all over the world? Or do you just charge it to people in your home state. This has been a big, big discussion and the world of people who sell on Amazon as well because a lot of the law is real. Not only settled, like it's in dispute in different in different cases and stuff. But one of the things is where do you have like physical origination? And if you have a physical presence in a state, typically you have to pay sales taxes in that state. Yeah, well, if you are fulfill, for instance, if you're on Amazon, if you're fulfilling orders, and your orders come from a warehouse in, say, Alabama, even though you're in Oklahoma, well, you may have to charge sales tax for that. And there are actually solutions like avalara that help you figure that stuff out. And that's the biggest thing to remember about this is that you're not the first person with this problem. And there's probably been whole companies that have been built to help solve some of these problems. If you have a very simple solution, and that's always the best. Second to that. It's probably not going to have to require something super custom. There's probably going to be someone that's helped you, you know, take care of this more for you. One thing on shipping, no shipping is free, even if it says it's free. It either costs the customer money or the business money or it's built into the price. So that's something to consider there. And then with regards to payment processors, one thing that you didn't mention Cory was if you already have a payment processor for your physical goods like a point of sale solution, you may want to see if they have an online merchant processing solution as well that will combine your efforts and so that it's one flow of income coming from one place and everything's kind of synced together in your business reporting and everything else that you have to do there. A lot of people if you're using square in person, well square has a WooCommerce extension to so that it actually will sink that and it actually, they will even do your inventory stuff for you. So sometimes you get some win wins if you're already using a solution, but another thing there is if you're using something obscure, well, there may be an obscure payment solution to help you do that as well and it may be the differentiator to make you choose a certain a certain solution. Out of the box though brand new store stripe and PayPal great choices square, great choice, Shopify and WooCommerce. Both have in house payments now so that you can actually use their payment solutions. So if you're if you're Greenfield like a brand new store, you have outstanding solutions. If you have kind of a legacy payment system, then you need to do your research and try to see, hey, what does my system have available on these different platforms? And that might be what tips the scales for you to choose one platform versus another?
Cory Miller 45:27
Yeah, hey, two notes real quick, what you're referring to about the warehouse. Now the states or I'm sorry, the Supreme Court. It's I believe it's called Nexus. But it doesn't. Now that isn't even mattered. This is why at Liquidweb, the company I was part of about two years ago, we had to go through all that Nexus stuff because it didn't matter if he had an employee or warehouse because of that issue. Now, having said that, this is a Valera. I called them or I signed up for the account and they real quickly put me in to, you know, an appointment with one of their reps. That was one of the most helpful things I've done this year related to eCommerce by the way. So avalara will help you nuance that because there's certain like states, you only need to meet a certain threshold of selling into that state. Before you start to think about remitting sales tax. They were so good and skillful, go way deeper with those nuanced things like Nexus and stuff. And so I'd highly recommend you get avalara and book an appointment with one of the reps. And then real quick on the stripe and PayPal. There's all kinds of, you know, payment processors out there, we're telling you the two most popular and easy to use, at least in the US. The war story have real quick, fast story is we used the new payment processor, this is over 10 years ago, and then we but we had a history with PayPal and we use this new payment processor and this is a war story. We sell 24 grand of subscription It was a new thing on a new payment processor and guess what? They held her money because I didn't know all the fine print, we're just trying to get going. And they held her money for six months $20 so you better believe you know what I had my calendar, I had reminders and everything of that day when they were released that money that was a hard lesson. So be careful with that. One reason why you need to get legitimate get your LLC get your EIN number, get your payment processors started up faster rather than sooner so that you give all the detail to them. So they know if for chance you hit the hit the jackpot and you know, because there's just really like Shut up. I'm gonna pay you I want your stuff now that those payment processors are set up, you have enough history, so you don't get dinged here.
Brian Krogsgard 47:43
Couple one, one extra thing one. I mentioned this in an article on the website about tips for checkout. But sometimes it can be advantageous to actually give the customer options for multiple ways to check out. Some people may trust PayPal more than they trust you and some people may carry a PayPal balance and they Consider their fun money. So if you have non essential goods that you sell, and it could benefit you actually to offer PayPal as a choice for people to buy, because it comes from their fun money account, not their, you know, regular bank account. And that's, I know that sounds weird, but I promise you is true. There's just a group of people that love using PayPal versus like a credit card input. Yeah, so true. And another another one would be ease of use, especially on a mobile experience. People on Apple phones may check out with Apple Pay. People with androids may check out with Google pay. And that's just like a two click automatically puts your information in automatically has their card stored, and if you just increase the speed of Checkout, so don't be afraid to offer multiple ways to pay. And then one final thing that that enables is, in that case, where a merchant processor held your money for six months, well, what if that's the only way you took money? That's a big problem. But if it's one of say two or three ways that you accept money, you're not so burdened by the fact that you You know, get in a pickle with one of them. Now, you never want to be in that pickle. But you always want an out, you want a way out because most businesses don't have enough cash flow, you know, to let $25,000 just sit out of their reach for that long. And you want to prevent yourself from having those types of issues. So having multiple options is not the worst thing in the world.
Cory Miller 49:22
Through an options for the customer, like you say, with the paper stuff, it's great. So design is another thing you need to think about, like when we looked at big commerce, there's some templates. You know, with WordPress, you got literally hundreds of thousands of theme options out there. But with specific WooCommerce specific ones or question, look at the Shopify stuff, whatever platform you use, make sure you're considering the design to have your site and that you have appropriate tools if you're going to do it yourself specifically to do that. I'll tell you mobile first is the thing that Google algorithm prioritize. I think they delayed it a little bit. But as far as search and finding your site mobile first is a key consideration. But also, I think what you told me earlier, Brian was mobile experience like, you know, for instance, and the Vida Bars. Her audience was on Instagram. And but we were designing the site. And then she goes, she was on her phone. She was like, Hmm, this is broken what we were three fourths away into building the site. And I was like, Oh my god, I forgot mobile first, particularly with her audience too. But that's why you want to be a data hound to as always have analytics to see what your audience is coming to. But if it's primary mobile, that's even more shift to make sure man, this thing looks perfect and beautiful and easy to use on mobile. And then real quick, we want to make sure we get to the to the questions is, you know, if you have an existing site, maybe it's on Squarespace. Maybe it's on Wix, or some other thing that's not maybe WordPress is just evaluating that to you know, Shopify, big commerce can come alongside existing sites like Squarespace. those particular offerings also have their own ease. commerce options like Wix Pacific specifically, and also Squarespace don't know about have eCommerce options, making sure you filter through that, you know, maybe it's like we saw talked about start simple and then have flexibility. What if that's the case, and he started one of his other solutions, think about how do I get my data out and data into something else? Maybe you have to upgrade downstream to WooCommerce. That's a good consideration to think about.
Brian Krogsgard 51:25
One of the things I like to think of is, is your eCommerce portion of your business. Is it bolt on? Or is it the purpose of the website, bolt on eCommerce, it could be at a subdomain, like store dot, like if you're in a band, you could have merge, right? And your merchandise could be you know, it's bolt on it's bolt on to whatever you're trying to do with your site primarily, which might be marketing your band or highlighting where your shows are going to be. So your merge store might be different and you might be able to get away with making it a sub brand. Does it need to be standalone or does it need To be fully integrated with your existing site, and that's where there's a big difference, I think between say Shopify vs. WordPress. In that scenario, Shopify, really your site needs to be an eCommerce website, for Shopify to be the appropriate solution. However, if your website is a corporate website with all your corporate marketing materials, and you also have a store, or if it needs to be integrated in some, you know, some way or like different content structures, like maybe you have a portfolio or a news blog, or some of those types of things are really important. WordPress may offer easier solutions where WooCommerce can be a fully integrated solution, but still kind of strapped into the rest of your website. For instance, like what if you're a nonprofit with a bookstore, right, like, well, the nonprofit elements, all the stuff you do as a nonprofit is a really important component. So Shopify might not be the right solution. But if you're like, you know, Korea's cool t shirts Calm is just about selling Korea's cool t shirts. Well, your eCommerce first in that presentation of your store being, you know, first and foremost Shopify or big commerce could be really great solutions for that. So a lot of it depends on what is the angle that your store is coming from, relative to the visitors that you're trying to approach? And what else are you going to do on that website in terms of what you what you choose? And Cory? We've had a couple of great questions here.
Cory Miller 53:26
Yeah, let's get to them. So that that's kind of the I mean, as best as we can pack in even in 15 minutes. So Patrick has a question here. Smaller new retailers need a lot of education, how much free education Do you give them before telling them to do some research on their own? And I think, Patrick, are you asking specifically if you're like a freelancer and agency helping the the retailers get online, or
Brian Krogsgard 53:53
so I'm just while Patrick clarifies that my learning story, I am a habitual learner, and I over research everything when I get into it, I dig and dig and dig. And at some point, I have to make a decision. And I think that's an important consideration anybody that's going through this and trying to figure out how to make all these decisions to get started. You can research until your eyes bleed, but eventually you got to make a decision. And you have to go with it. And I think one of the things that Patrick brings up here is like, when do you just let them loose to let them go for it versus continue to walk them down the path?
Cory Miller 54:34
So he clarifies, he's talking about if you're a freelancer and agency trying to help a retailer or somebody new. I tend to think in most of the conversations that I've had, it's more prescriptive. It's asking the questions we've asked here, okay, what are you looking to sell? How do you need to deliver it? And then saying, okay, I'd highly suggest this solution for this cost. Most People I've ran into and talk to want someone a guide to lead them in that journey. Even the B2B manufacturing side. In fact, my friend asked me like three or four years ago what I should do, and I said, I really think you probably need WordPress and WooCommerce. And they went with another solution for a couple years. And then just about six months ago, were returned back to WordPress and WooCommerce. We'll see how that goes into the year. And we'll give some updates on that. But I think prescriptive mostly is better because you as the freelancer agency know how these things work, versus the retailer who just wants it to, to work. So I think it's an education in, you know, you're the eCommerce expert to hopefully that's backed up and I know you project Patrick, personally, and you are the expert. So that's some of my thoughts on that. But you know, they will research and I still have, what about this, you know, this fancy new insert fancy new technology, right? You're like okay, let's stick to basics. One is we We need to sell, we need to get your stuff going now sales coming through new metrics and all that we need data. You know, are they coming more from mobile? How are they interacting? What are the most popular products on the site? Is there things we need to amp up? What what channel converts? Does Facebook convert? Well, does Twitter does email? I know the answer to that one. But, you know, get that data going versus insert fancy new technology thing that came out and you're like, cool. I like to, by the way real quick, and Brian, I want to hear your thoughts is, as graduate people, let's start here, let's do these things. Well, then let's graduate and then we'll start talking about cart abandonment, potentially or some, you know, scaling the infrastructure, or this advanced like way to bundle stuff. I want to graduate to where the need meets that particular level.
Brian Krogsgard 56:52
Yeah, and I think one thing to consider there is, you know, if someone's interested in and building something, you might just want to hand them a script. Driver first, like, you don't necessarily need to throw the entire toolbox at them because it could overwhelm them full of 15 tools. And you know, half of them, they have no idea how to use. But you can guide them with that with the screwdriver, right and teach them how to use the one tool because you don't want to overwhelm them. At the end of the day. running an eCommerce store is easier than it's ever been. And that's why we want to open up this opportunity and share it with as many people as we can, because we know that the potential is there. And you need to make the choices but you can start a little bit slow and take your time and work your way into this process and experiment with what am i selling? How do I sell it? And can I figure out how to sell it well, versus trying to build that whole Cathedral and then hoping someone comes in like you want to be able to develop a product that you can put out there and see how well it sells and hopefully today we've helped answer some of the questions to put your concerns aside and kind of figure stuff out.
Cory Miller 58:04
Yeah, if you have any questions, we got a couple more minutes we'll stay here a little bit longer for you. We're here for you to answer your questions. And as always, we got the CommerceJourney.com/Facebook, you can get in the Commerce Journey Facebook group. It's just started last week and is already getting really good comments and questions. Please post your questions there. I have
Brian Krogsgard 58:25
a question for you, Cory, which was how did y'all decide for the Vida Bars to manage shipping? In particular, did you do free shipping, or did you do paid shipping? What did you decide there?
Cory Miller 58:38
That's an excellent question. We decided to do flat rate. So we really when I say we, I mean Ana had, you know, taken the bar in the container she wanted and matched it with the United States, USPS States Postal Service, and we knew flat rate would be I want to say $4 and something So we elected to do flat rate shipping for the first I think because we felt the value was there in the cost of the bar and didn't need to the demand was there, she had already been sending bars out to influencers and giving feedback and we felt like it was like the Shut up, take my money moment. And it also we didn't want to introduce complexity into it. So we said we're gonna do USPS we know we'll get there within X amount of days, it'll be a flat rate, so we can figure that out. She had her workflow with I believe that stamps.com to do the shipping labels and everything. And so from then on out, I was like, okay, we don't need this. Here's a nuance of this, Brian, so as every eCommerce businesses an experiment to continually test, so I did not check correctly a box in big commerce. And so instead of when people had multiple orders, they got charged $5 for every order, over a threshold, which I thought I had done correctly, they bought anyway Brian, which was really interesting, a great experiment for us
Brian Krogsgard 1:00:05
almost like an AB test on accident.
Cory Miller 1:00:07
on accident now we didn't like it. We had one or two people say Hey, is this always gonna be the thing, but what that showed us is we weren't trying to take advantage of anybody that was a mistake on our part and we corrected it. But was people value this enough that they would pay and we had several multi, you know, I mean, a couple of people bought over 100 and $200 and still paid $5 shipping on every one of those. So that was great. And that we've got value here we've got something of substance to sell. Also the bars each batch we bought, or rolled out sold out within the first batch like 300 sets or in a 50 set sold out in 72 hours. So we kind of use that too, isn't it that's a long way around saying how the VAT we understand value in the experiment but we chose just the flat rate. We thought the value was there people would buy shipping on that. Reasonable At a $25 price point, by the way, let me give that example to you.
Brian Krogsgard 1:01:03
Yeah, and you never know when, you know, if people are willing to pay the shipping, it's not gonna affect your sales then go ahead and put that in there and make it up front because it makes your price more competitive on the front end when you actually say the price of the bar up front and doesn't scare them away. Hey, Korea, I think we've hit our hour here. So we should probably call it a day but we really appreciate everybody joining us. And you know, join our Facebook group, go to Commerce Journey, comm slash Facebook, make sure that you get plugged in there and ask us questions and embrace that community because it is there for you to share and enjoy. And then also go to car sharing comm slash go dash webinar, check out GoDaddy Pro, our exclusive partner on all things Commerce Journey. We're so thankful for them, and the partnership that they provided with us. Thanks for being here today. We hope this answered some of your questions on getting started with your eCommerce store was a lot more like it over the coming months. And this is really just a starting point to go out from there. All right, we'll catch you all next time.