I wish I’d knew this when I started my own webshop – 5 important learnings

October 4, 2022 |
By Juha Sulkakoski
Running a webshop is harder than you would expect. The only way to learn it is to do it, so I did. There are so many different things that You have to solve and streamline. As in any business especially when You are a startup. This is my story from 2013-2016 running my own learning experiment, import / e-commerce venture.
So, it started as a hobby, and soon I found out that I had a small business in my hands.

After some consideration, I contacted the manufacturer and inventor Anders Johansson in Goteborg to start importing these products to Finland. After meeting a few times, the deal was done to get exclusivity to import and distribution in Finland. The first year I sold them to friends and others who had heard about them but realized quite soon that I needed a better sales channel. So, www.ledx.fi started.

Here are my top 5 learnings from running a webshop:

 

1. Getting the product data correctly, including texts and photos

It is a lot of work! To be intreating and that person would buy, you have to be a copywriter. Takes time! From early on, processes and automation help. Product data has to be in order from the start. Otherwise, you find problems later when using feeds for example Google or Facebook ads.

2. It is so hard to build traffic, so use images to promote your business

It is so hard to build traffic and get visitors. Both orienteering and Enduro are marginal sports in Finland, and the brand was unknown. First, it took time to figure out, what advertising channels to choose, and how to reach the right people. What I did was that I chose LEDX ambassadors to promote the product and was able to build organic traffic. I had Marko Tarkkala, multiple Enduro World Championship medalist, Kalevan Rasti, a famous Finnish orienteering team that has been on top podiums in Jukola several times, Miika Kirmula, Youth world champion Hugo Svard, Young Finnish enduro Star, Daniel Hubmann, a Swiss world star of Orienteering. That built a strong brand, and people started to recognise it. Also did promotion in events and to both Enduro and Orienteering clubs around the country.

3. Sales live chat is better in B2B where the average purchase is way bigger than on webshops

Conversion from visitors to someone purchasing the product is an issue. To get 100 people to the shop, You get only a few purchases. You need to push the sales. To sell this rather expensive product, I hired the Upseller chat sales team to do the sales to chat with potential buyers. What was great in chat was that we were able to upsell, get them to buy a higher price product and cross-sell, and get them to buy additional products such as extra batteries etc. Good results but it was really difficult to make profit with that volume. A human chat is too expensive on a webshop. For 1200 negotiations, You need one full-time chat salesperson, which easily costs 3500-4000€ a month. You need to sell quite many lamps for that cost. Found out that live chat is better in B2B where the average purchase is way bigger than in webshops in generally.

4. Shop maintenance and development take time and money

I did not realise at the start how much knowledge you need to build a successful shop. Luckily I found a super skilled freelancer to partner with, who helped me with this. Knowing it all yourself would be great, but to get started it is good to find a reliable partner who can do it right from the start. Spend some time choosing what platform You use. That is a big deal later on when you want to get add-ons and applications in it. My advice is to rely on the most common platforms such as Woocommerce and Shopify or some strong local platform. No need to code it from scratch.

5. Customer service, delivery and returns are time-consuming

Answering endless specific questions takes time. Luckily, the product was of pretty high quality I did not have to handle guarantee cases too much. To pack and bring packages to the post office was too much for me. So much work, but with that volume, I did not have any other choice. If you choose to do this, be prepared to spend Your evenings with this.

What can I say other than learning a lot? Running a webshop is fun. Selling online is intreating. It is fairly easy to start. It all ended. Happily, I sold the business with a webshop to www.suunnistajankauppa.fi who had their shop already.  What I found out was that they took the products to their shop and ended ledx.fi. If You want to take a look at what they look like, go to www.ledx.se. Today, I’m happy to have this understanding and experience when helping SME webshop owners by building a tool that is a solution to most of these problems.
Check out by-products from www.upsyshopping.com.
Happy selling!