How We Built A $600K/Year E-Commerce Platform
Hello! Who are you, and what business did you start?
Hi, my name is Greg Writer. I'm the CEO and founder of Launch Cart - a new, faster, better, higher converting e-Commerce platform to compete in the e-Commerce space. This allows entrepreneurs, small business owners, and brands worldwide to build and sell online in their e-Commerce stores.
Our flagship product is Launch Cart.com - our SaaS platform. We are very fortunate that we have over 35,000 people registered to build a store on our platform with literally no marketing!
What's unique about us is that we also have a "Source and Sell Marketplace" that allows entrepreneurs to source products to sell on a drop-ship, affiliate marketing basis, what we call On-Demand, as well as offer a distribution channel for people who have products they want other people to sell.
What's your backstory, and how did you come up with the idea?
We came up with the idea after managing e-Commerce stores for celebrities and helping them monetize their fan base through e-Commerce. While using the most prominent platform out there, Shopify, for years and doing tens of millions of dollars of business, we didn't like how Shopify worked.
Shopify is an e-Commerce platform with this app community built onto it. And because of this, every time you need a new feature, you have to go to the app store, search for and find a new app, then download/install the app and then pay extra money for each app.
So, if you want to collect customer reviews, you need to go to the app store, search for a review app, decide which one is best, then download and install the app and pay extra money for that app. Imagine doing this for 10-15 features! When we launched our 1st celebrity store on Shopify, our monthly bill was over $800.00!
So we thought we could build a better, faster, higher-converting platform and build these needed features inside the Launch Cart platform - these are the same features that you need and have to pay extra for in Shopify.
And because it's built-in, it loads faster. When a site loads faster, you have higher conversions. We knew we could build a better platform with all the features every e-Commerce seller needs by knowing and understanding the pain points.
The other problem we wanted to solve was the ability to source products to sell without paying upfront for inventory.
If you sell jeans and blouses to women, your customers might want to buy belts, purses, perfume, earrings, or jewelry, but you don't make these items or have access to them without a sizable investment.
That's where the Source and Sell Marketplace was born. A place where a seller could find someone who manufactures products then would allow you to sell their belts, jewelry, and other products along with your jeans and get paid a commission for selling their products.
Also, if you're the person who makes the belts, the perfume, or the jewelry, you can list your products in the Source and Sell Marketplace and have other people sell them on a commission basis.
Take us through the process of designing your MVP
Launch Cart was created to solve the pain points we were experiencing in e-Commerce. Because we were doing millions of dollars in revenues per month we got connected in the eCommerce space. We leveraged these relationships to discuss the issues and pain points people had to help us decide what features we needed to build for the various e-Commerce segments.
We studied everything from Print On Demand, Dropshipping, Affiliate Marketing, and every channel of direct-to-consumer sales we could.
I remember saying, "This is going to be easy, we have the crystal ball." It's software development, and I have a very extensive background in software development. But I have to tell you, it was one of those situations where I underestimated things. If I had the capital to triple or even quadrupled the development team we could have coded things in 12-18 months, but as a bootstrapped entrepreneur we just kept going and had the goal and would not give up on creating a viable alternative to Shopify and other platforms in the market.
When we started the process we also studied other platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce, Etsy, eBay, etc and from there we decided what UI and features we wanted to clone for our platform.
We thought we could get it done in the year. And three years later, we had the product ready to launch. Mainly because in e-commerce, there are so many variables, i.e., colors, sizes, shipping zones, currency, etc. When you consider all those variables on thousands of products, it gets pretty complicated as it's a very in-depth software program.
Describe the process of launching the business.
It was a lot bigger of a challenge than we ever thought. It cost a lot more than we ever thought, and it took us a lot longer than we ever thought, but we finally have a great platform that our customers love. When we launched our MVP most of our customers came from integration and partners in the Print On Demand space, as we were the only free option in the market.
We officially launched a few months ago and elected to do webinars to share the idea of a business opportunity for entrepreneurs and small business owners to start an e-commerce store. We reached out to friends, podcasters, and bloggers to help drive registrations to our webinars as well as doing some advertising on Facebook and Instagram.
No matter where you are, anyone can start their online business in the e-Commerce world with no investment upfront other than their time. It is a unique business in a box.
Imagine wanting to create an e-Commerce store, Launch Cart is where you can find products in the Marketplace that you can sell without any inventory costs or money upfront by using Launch Cart and our Source and Sell Marketplace.
We also launched a certification program to teach people how to build stores for other people. Launch Shops Certification Program is a certification course where we certify people to build and launch stores on our platform. We teach people how to build this as a business, as it is a great way to launch products.
Whether they're making stores for a church, a politician, nonprofits, a Real Estate office, a Social Media Influencer, or a yoga studio, we teach them how to build these stores where the entrepreneurs are the business because they can sell t-shirts, hats, hoodies, and other products in their store.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Since we launched, what has attracted customers to us is how simple and easy it is to use our platform.
Customers tell us Launch Cart is the simplest and easiest to use, especially the seamless integration of our Source and Sell Marketplace and our print-on-demand products. As we continue our journey we will continue to focus on the customer and their experience and I suggest every entrepreneur focus on this as well.
We have over 400 products, including sandals to shoes, t-shirts, hats, glassware, backpacks, and drink-ware. When folks launch their store, they can pick what items they want to sell, upload their logo, or put a design on it, and have it for sale in their store in a matter of minutes; it's that easy to use.
The other exciting opportunity is what we call "revenue optimization" features. The revenue optimization features are starting to get the attention of the high-volume sellers because our platform increases the average order value and increases your conversion rate.
How are you doing today, and what does the future look like?
We officially launched a few months ago, and we think our future is very promising. We have the opportunity to grow throughout the world as we already have customers in 167 different countries, which is impressive.
Our future looks very bright as we can be a viable alternative to platforms like Shopify, Amazon, and Etsy and stake our claim in the e-Commerce land.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
What we have learned that would be helpful to your readers is when you are launching a business, make sure to launch your business in strategic phases - and understand those strategic phases. We have four very strategic phases on how we are going to market.
Phase one targets the print-on-demand, small business, and entrepreneur world.
In phase two, we'll target the distributors or the people that have products that want to sell their products on our Source and Sell Marketplace.
In phase three, we will go after big brands, and in phase four, we'll target Influencers and get the A-list celebrities on our platform.
Another thing for those starting is picking a vertical and owning that vertical. We are targeting the print-on-demand and manufacture-on-demand verticals. Right now, we want to own that in the e-Commerce world.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
The various platforms and tools that we use are Jira and Confluence for our project management, task management, and software development.
Another device that we've been using very successfully is Slackas our communication and collaboration tool. Slack is great because we can organize how we communicate with each other, even with those around the world. Whether it be for our marketing or software development teams or using it for our clients, keeping them informed along with client management, Slack's been a fantastic tool.
We've also been using a tool called MEETn, a new competitor to Zoom, which we like for our online conferences and onboarding.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The most influential book that I've read and one of my favorites is by Darren Hardy called The Compound Effect. The book is about consistency and leveraging that compound effect. Even before he wrote his book, I always used to say, "Small things done consistently over long periods guarantee success." This is so true regarding e-Commerce, e-Commerce marketing, and digital marketing. That compound effect happens with digital marketing and gets you past the critical mass.
Another one of my favorite books is Think and Grow Rich where it's all about working on your mindset.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Advice for entrepreneurs who want to start, I say, "Get started!" Focus on your mindset and beliefs because your beliefs will control your actions.
If you can't believe that you can achieve, you'll never get started. Do small things, build up your confidence, and keep working.
So get your mindset right, work on your beliefs, write your goals down and start taking baby steps to get there. You know that old saying, "there is only one way to eat an elephant: one a bite at a time."
Once you have your mindset dialed in then work on sequence and strategy. Be strategic about what you do and it must be tied into your overall strategy. Do things in the right order and make sure there is a definite purpose in what you are doing.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
Yes, we are looking to hire people as we are in that growth mode. We're looking for everything from software developers to marketing assistance to some operations.
Where can we go to learn more?
You can find out more about us at our website and about me.
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Hey! 👋 I'm Pat Walls, the founder of Starter Story.
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