New contributor Rik Snuiverink examines the rise of Shopify stores and highlights examples of how it is best being used
The word ‘entrepreneur’ conjures up certain images in our minds. Cheeky East End chappies with a glint in their eye and an instinct for a nice little earner such as Lord Sugar or Sir Richard Branson, ducking and diving from one market stall deal to the next and coming out of it five years later with a multi-channel business and a yacht in every marina.
Sugar and Branson are, however, the last of a disappearing generation. Today, there are more entrepreneurs than ever before, but almost all of them start off their careers in cyberspace – and some of them never leave.
The Shopify phenomenon
Anyone can set up a Shopify store in the space of about 15 minutes. But of course, the fact that you can do something is not the same as saying you should. Inevitably, Shopify is a crowded place and the biggest challenge is standing out from the two minute wonders.
Those who succeed take more than a few tips from those entrepreneurial dinosaurs of the pre-digital age. There is no substitute for a solid business plan, and diving in without making the basic financial projections and covering off business essentials such as Shopify inventory control and a coherent marketing strategy is certain to end in tears.
Taking care of business basics is one essential and having a business model with a unique message and a brand that stands out is another. Here are three Shopify entrepreneurs from different corners of the globe who have done it right.
Endy Sleep (Canada)
There are some things that you want to try before you buy and these would not seem ideal ecommerce candidates. Mattresses are a perfect example, and high-end $1,000 mattresses even more so. Yet this is the market Endy Sleep targets, and it is a company that generated $20 million revenue in 2017.
The secret to their success? Endy Sleep offers a three month free trial, after which it will take the mattress back and provide a full refund if the client is not satisfied. Not only does it leave customers feeling there’s nothing to lose, but it demonstrates the company’s confidence in its products.
Thrive Causemetics (USA)
The online beauty sector is even more crowded than most, but Thrive is more than just an ecommerce store. It is a movement with a mission. It was launched by makeup artist Karissa Bodnar after her close friend Kristy passed away from cancer, aged just 24. As well as selling natural beauty products, Thrive works closely with charitable organisations. It generates around $3 million in revenue every year, and has already donated more than $1 million to charity. It attracts more than half a million visitors per year, first and foremost because they are touched by the back story and want to contribute to the cause.
Online food sales is another area of ecommerce that is big business. The sector as a whole is worth around $3 billion per year. Brisbane-based YouFoodz has achieved exponential growth – in 2015, it was growing at between five and 10 percent every week, which head chef Christian Andrews worked out equated to sales growth of 3,846 percent in a 14 month period.
The secret ingredient for YouFoodz is referrals. The company uses ReferralCandy and is generous with its rewards, giving away free meals to those who provide referrals.