Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Tricky Fingers and how you got started?
I sell magic tricks! While I used to perform magic as a child, I ended up leaving it behind as I grew. Over the years, I kept saying I should get back into it, and I finally did so last year. When I did, I was disappointed with the current websites, particularly on mobile.
As I have a background in web design (focusing on mobile-first design strategy) and user experience, I knew I could provide a better experience to consumers and introduce a higher-end brand to the market.
After speaking to a couple suppliers and realizing that there was indeed an opportunity in Canada for the type of business I wanted to create, I jumped into making it happen.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
In my industry, there is no drop shipping available from the legitimate suppliers (you could get cheap knock offs from overseas, but that will kill you in this business).
I went through the process of registering my business in my Province and setting up my banking in order to fulfill supplier obligations.
After I had everything setup, it was just a matter of getting my accounts setup and placing my first orders.
How did you get your first sale?
My very first sale came from a close friend. He was looking for something to get his son for Christmas and he used to be into magic, so as soon as I told him what I was doing, he was all in!
Beyond that, I spent a lot of time before launch ensuring my site was trustworthy and I did custom SEO work on all my products and collections to ensure the best possible organic traffic as soon as possible.
I also started participating in industry forums and groups before launch to start building my brand and charging the trust battery before I even started selling. This helped to drive additional traffic after launching right away.
SEO is so important, but it can be quite the challenge. Any advice or recommendations in that regard?
Don’t try and hack Google. Google is smarter than us all and modifies it’s algorithm almost twice a day to ensure that hacks and other not-so-legitimate ways of boosting your ranking don’t work for long. Your SEO strategy MUST be targeted to people, not search engines.
Many merchants completely miss doing things like optimizing titles and descriptions for products and collections (particularly the latter). What is in your description that the customer sees when visiting your website most likely is not going to be what you use for your meta description (what is displayed in search engines). This copy needs to entice people enough to get them to click through to your website, short and sweet. Your main description should entice people to actually add to cart.
This is also very important for collections. Google and other search engines will send you to a collection page or a product page whenever possible. You should only see a homepage come up when somebody searches your business name directly (which is not how you get generic traffic; they don’t know your business name, they know what product/service they want).
SEO is time consuming and boring. It also takes time. If you make a change, you need to spend a good 4-6 months to see how that change effects things before making more changes. I talk to people all the time making changes daily or weekly because they’re not seeing results. SEO is a long tail strategy that will bring in traffic for years to come. Don’t try and rush it!
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
One of my biggest challenges, and one that I’m still working on, is ad targeting. I’m in a very niche industry, with a wide range of participants from children all the way to retirees. I’ve been working to try and identify all the targets within my niche and how to best reach them.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
I started my first ecommerce store in 2008 and Shopify was the platform I wish I had back then. It provides me with a one-stop-shop to run my business, along with tons of amazing resources to help business owners at every stage. (Full disclosure - I am an employee of Shopify, but I can honestly say that I would still choose this platform even if that was not the case.)
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
Having run a number of businesses over the years, I had a good idea of what needed to be done that many others overlook. For instance, the importance of having a plan, understanding your target audience and really figuring out exactly what you will need to do in order to achieve your goals.
Many people start a store without a full understanding of what it really takes to create a successful business. If you build it, they won’t just come. You have to market, you have to engage, you have to support. There is no autopilot that will take you from zero to hero; it’s going to take blood sweat and tears.
One of my favorite quotes I’ve heard came from one of the Shop Class events Shopify put on:
“Being an entrepreneur lets you sleep like a baby. You’re up every 3 hours crying!”
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business and why?
Smile.io - I use Smile for customer loyalty. People want an experience when shopping these days, they also want to earn towards future purchases and a good loyalty program really helps drive return purchasing.
Stamped.io - I use this in conjunction with Shopify Product Reviews to add more capabilities, such as automatic review request emails and Verified Buyer tags. Customer reviews really help prospective customers make a purchasing decision.
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
I am using Turbo from Out of the Sandbox. I went with this theme because of the sheer amount of options it comes with and the simple yet elegant layout. This allowed me to set up my site with less code-based customization from my end (though I did my fair share of that too!).
They also provide a Theme Updater app that helps the process of upgrading to the latest version of the theme. This is a very underlooked thing that needs to be done to all stores to ensure you’re running the most secure, efficient and bug-free version of the chosen theme. The app makes this a much easier task.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Tricky Fingers?
I still consider myself in the launch phase of my business, so right now I’m focusing on acquisition and building trust. I’m building awareness through the use of social media and online forums, and solidifying my customer service by providing useful advice and insight in the communities (too many people participate only by trying to sell, and that’s the worst thing you can do in this type of environment).
Almost immediately, I setup a Google My Business listing, which has been incredible for driving traffic and phone calls, particularly locally. Once I knew I had interest from people in my city, I also started offering Same Day Delivery for the closest areas. I almost immediately started getting sales from this too.
I’ve also started the Illusionary Podcast, speaking with Canadian magicians to not only get my name out there, but to showcase and archive amazing Canadian talent. This has been an amazing way to get to know others in the industry as well.
I’ve also recently launched a companion website called Illusionary Canada with resources for magicians too, as I saw an opportunity to fill a gap in the market in Canada for this.
Any issues with the Same Day Delivery service that you’ve had to overcome?
Not as of yet, since I’m doing more business across Canada than locally. I live in a smaller city, so it makes it easier to offer this type of service. Though, if I start getting significant local orders I may have to look at limiting the delivery area to compensate. That said, the customers I’ve had locally thus far absolutely love the service, so it’s been worth it up to this point.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
I have a pretty even balance of Messenger Live Chat, email and phone calls right now. It was important to me to be able to offer phone support, as many people are wary of businesses that don’t offer anything but email communication.
It’s worked out quite well, and I’ve found that I’m getting a lot more local calls than anticipated. Knowing that there is a larger market here has started me thinking about other ways to reach my local audiences offline too.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
Since my initial launching months (end of 2018), I’ve seen a 150% increase in my sales and a 38% rise in traffic.
I have reached a 27.27% Return Customer Rate and a 165% increase in conversions over the same timeframe. Even though some would consider my traffic numbers “low”, I’m really hitting my target market and it shows.
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
There are a number of factors, but it all goes back to the SEO work I did early on and participating in the community (READ: not being the guy that just post products and talks about their business).
My customer service is the reason for the return customer rate. I’ve gotten a lot of great feedback on that from my customers since early on, which has been great.
What are you working towards now?
Right now I’m working on figuring out my content strategy so I can not only participate in the community, but provide additional content that is going to actually benefit my audience.
There’s just not enough hours in the day, and I’m really focused on NOT rushing things, as that strategy never worked in the past, so I’m really pushing to make sure I get it right!
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
I’m a huge fan of the Shopify blog. There’s tons of great content available and being released regularly. Outside of that, I keep up to date on Google Webmaster blog to watch for changes that may affect SEO. I’ve also found that Medium is a great place to find articles on subjects from marketing to user experience from a range of authors.
I also keep up with Wired as they tend to cover a lot of new and emerging technology. It’s interesting to see what’s coming and think about how you might be able to use something new in your business in the future.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
Don’t waste your money on SEO apps, but absolutely spend time to come up with great titles and descriptions not just for your SEO, but for the customers on your website (these should not be the same either).
Check out places like CopyHackers.com to understand how to write better if you need to. It will be a much better use of your time and efforts.
Provide great content that will resonate with your audience. Think about the businesses that you engage with, what makes you drawn to them? Figure that out and emulate it.
Where can we learn more?
~ Kray Mitchell, Founder of Tricky Fingers