A number of years ago my wife actually started a company called MyGiggles. She was selling finger puppets but not through an online store. They were great hand woven puppets from Peru. The margins were tough and she was trying an offline approach. She didn’t have a direct contact with the manufacturer and the middle man made it very difficult for her model to work.
But today things have changed and reaching consumers online has become easier and easier. You can reach buyers on multi-channels with ease. Had she launched that business today, things probably would have turned out differently. But life teaches you things and keeps you moving forward. She is now the owner of an incredible online fashion jewelry store. I’m proud of her achievements.
But today I wanted to talk about someone who actually is successful selling finger puppets online. Using inventory management software, Robby has expanded his finger puppet business to numerous sales channels including Amazon, eBay, StorEnvy, Rakuten and Shopify.
Today we hear from Robby Sorensen, CEO of Finger Puppets Inc, and an experienced online seller. Robby shares with us how he has increased sales by selling on more than one channel and how he continues to spread the word about his brand.
Robby Sorensen, CEO of Finger Puppets Inc.
“The future of retail is ecommerce, people are living busier and busier lives and have to stretch every dollar as far as they can. Shopping online is a great way for people to find the best deal without running all over town.”
“Of course with over 1.2 billion websites and new ones added daily, how does anyone ever find your product?”
“I feel that creating the largest digital footprint you possibly can is imperative. Listing your product on all these different marketplaces helps with discoverability and ultimately search engine optimization so that your goods can be found.”
“More and more people are becoming connected all the time, devices are getting better, easier to use, and in more hands. Ecommerce has become more and more sophisticated and more and more accessible. It’s become common place to shop online, it’s not a fad and it’s not going away. And it’s growing by leaps and bounds every year.”
“Ultimately marketplaces drive the most traffic and command the trust of their customers, so you have to go where the shoppers are. With all these different products, categories, online sellers, it’s crowded; how does anyone get found?”
“On any channel or search engine, the overwhelming majority of shoppers don’t click past the first couple pages of search results (many not even past page 1).”
“First step: Start with lots of money. It’s critical to get your product in front of the shopper. Each marketplace offers some sort of CPC (cost per click) advertising option, this is a process by which you load an advertising account with money, set a budget for how much you will spend each day and then load it up with keywords. Keywords are search terms people type when looking for something online. it can be a word or a phrase, for example: “Buy kids toys online” or simply “finger puppets” I want to come up first when someone searches theses keywords, so I have to be competitive with my bids to ensure I win the top spot each time someone searches.”
Starting Somewhere is Better Than Not Starting
“That’s the “in a nutshell” version. Sounds easy, but it isn’t. You need to know the right keywords, this process takes a long time and never really ends. You also have to figure out how much you can afford to spend for the click with the understanding that not every click will convert to a sale. There’s a big learning curve and it can be expensive. At first it felt like throwing money down a hole.”
“Amazon drives the most traffic, has plenty of shoppers actively online at any given moment 24/7 and is the #1 place to go when shopping online. For me, it was the logical place to begin. If you are the brand owner and not a re-seller you can sell your products directly to Amazon through something called Vendor Express. In this scenario, Amazon will list and sell the product for you, however your success will be determined by an algorithm and its not always the most efficient way to sell the product. Many people get a better result when they run their own CPC campaigns as they have more control and see opportunities the algorithm overlooks.”
“Optimizing your product detail pages is critical and will give any seller an edge! You must have accurate product titles: the bullet points are really important and should be chosen carefully, and you should have detailed, keyword rich product descriptions with as much information as possible. Don’t overlook the importance of product photography! Professional, properly lit, clear photos with a high resolution so people can zoom in is important. Everyone wants to know what they are buying.”
“Next, perhaps even more important, customer reviews, and good ones! This can make all the difference on Amazon (or anywhere,) these help you rank at the top of search and build trust. Social proof is also very important. The average shopper now turns to their favorite social media channels for advice and recommendations constantly. Having a robust social presence and following will help close the sale when you finally get a customer’s attention.”
“Each channel is a little bit different, so you have to consider the options available to you and the budget you have to work with. Basically there aren’t “cheap tricks” or shortcuts that will get the job done. Thorough keyword research, strong product listings, positive customer feedback and social proof will help you on all channels. I listed my product on all the marketplaces I could find, but barely had any sales until I began engaging with the platforms and their tools.”
It Takes Time For Your Seed To Grow Into a Tree
“I saw almost no sales until I began running CPC campaigns. I didn’t have the budget to advertise on all channels, I tried, but money just didn’t go far enough. I decided to focus on one at a time, for me I started with Amazon, found success, then worked to duplicate that experience on the others. In my opinion Amazon is the best place to start, master that, then move on BUT (this is important) list your product everywhere you can! Even if you don’t invest money to promote it, it’s important to be there. These listings may just bring 1 or 2 sales per month until you become active, but they all count because they all contribute to market share and brand awareness. The more people you expose your product to, the more likely you are to get mentioned on social media, shared, reviewed and purchased.”
Roll Up Your Sleeves and Learn Your Business
“The best advice I can offer anyone is this: Do it yourself! Don’t hire a third person or an agency. No one will know your product and customers like you will, and that special inside knowledge/understanding will guide you and help you succeed, but only if you know how to execute.”
“Business owners must master cost per click – it’s not going away. In the beginning it’s overwhelming, not to mention totally confusing! The first time is the hardest, but the good news is that the basic concept is the same on all channels. Start with one marketplace and get really good at it, then start working on others one by one. But don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to advertise everywhere all at once.”
“Once you are up and running on a marketplace, each campaign will need constant attention (there’s no set it and forget it option) so it’s a full time job. Be prepared for that and don’t stop learning. Each channel offers webinars, training video and tons of information… There are also many companies that offer free online trainings and webinars… take advantage! Don’t stop learning and accept that you absolutely must get good at this. Eventually there are subscription services that will manage all of your channels and funnel all of the orders to one place, but these are very expensive and you first will need to be successful on multiple channels then these tools can help manage the workload.”
Selling on Multi-channels
Selling multi-channel can hugely benefit your business because it creates more sales opportunities and increases profits. Although it sounds complicated, it is worth the extra effort. With the kinds of software available today, you can easily handle it, whether you’re selling on one channel or ten. Robby uses inventory management software. If you are selling multi-channel or thinking about it, you may want to take a look.
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