When you’re just getting started in ecommerce, it is not easy to know which steps to take. Mastering ecommerce isn’t as straightforward as learning one skill – you need to know all aspects of running a business to succeed.
It’s no wonder that it overwhelms many beginners to the point of quitting.
One thing that can help newcomers navigate the world of ecommerce is having the help of a mentor. These are people who have walked the same path as you and faced the same challenges. People who can help you avoid the mistakes they made and find success faster.
But finding a mentor can be difficult, which is why we spoke to a six-figure entrepreneur who wanted to help.
These days, Suhail is eager to share tips with beginners that he wished he’d known. A passionate believer that ecommerce can be a life-changing experience, Suhail shared his story with me and dropped a ton of advice for those new to online business.
Read Suhail’s story below and don’t miss his tips at the end.
- 100 Hats and a New Passion
- Putting in the Time and Seeing Results
- Social Media Boosts Suhail to £112,000
- Helping Others to Reach Success
- Suhail’s Tips for Ecommerce Beginners
- Jump in and Get Started
- Want to Learn More?
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100 Hats and a New Passion
Suhail Nurmohamed started making money online when he was 16-years-old. After spending hours researching ways to make money during his study period, he discovered AliExpress and saw an opportunity. With winter about to hit, he purchased 100 hats, sold them on eBay, and made £1000.
Excited by how much money he had made – and by how much it had helped his single-income family – Suhail was determined to continue with ecommerce.
“When I saw how much it helped my father, I was like, ‘whoa, a normal person who comes from an average background, can do extraordinary things just by utilizing their laptop and wifi.’ So I was blown away.”
Although his hat business has been fruitful, he couldn’t help but think it would’ve been easier if his supplier could handle the postage. And after looking online to see if this was possible, he discovered his idea was already a business model called dropshipping.
Putting in the Time and Seeing Results
Suhail dedicated himself to setting up a dropshipping store. This was before apps like Oberlo existed, so he had to manually import all the items into his men’s clothing store. It took hours of dedicated work, but eventually, his store, AyWear.com, was ready to go.
With his store ready, Suhail needed a low-cost way to attract his first customers. He was able to find an Instagram influencer who had around a million followers and paid them for a product shout out. With the influencer catering to an American audience, Suhail – based in London – went to sleep and was awakened in the middle of the night with fantastic news.
“I remember it being 3.00 AM, I woke up to notifications and I made £300. I literally went into my mum and dad’s room and woke them up. And they go crazy because in my household it’s only my father that’s working – my mum’s got a disability, so she’s unable to work. So we were like, ‘Let’s take this seriously.'”
After seeing those first results, Suhail put in hours and hours of work on his store, and soon enough, more money started rolling in. It was pretty overwhelming for a teenager who was still studying.
“I was literally in school, I would be in class, and I would have £1,000 days in class, like £1,500. It was pretty crazy because I don’t come from a rich family. I come from a normal working-class family. For them to see those types of figures, it was pretty good.”
Social Media Boosts Suhail to £112,000
Suhail worked hard to establish the AyWear brand and built up an excellent social media following. At first, most of his sales came through his Instagram account after targeting specific locations and age groups with boosted posts. But soon a lucky break saw one of his Facebook posts go viral, and then rapper, Jeezy managed to rocket things even further.
“I actually went viral on a Facebook post. And then what happened was, one of my jackets was actually on a famous rapper’s YouTube video – he’s got like 4 million followers. They had a music video, and the guy wearing the clothing was the main actor in it. So that jacket got me so many sales.”
While Suhail sold the jacket for $51.99, it cost him around $22 to buy, leaving a very nice profit – especially after the jacket’s music video appearance. But this wasn’t the only time it captured customers’ attention.
“People were making memes about that AyWear jacket. Like, ‘You guys are getting AyWear jackets, but you can’t afford to take your girlfriend out.’ Just funny memes and stuff. So, it just naturally grew.”
Over around 18 months, Suhail grew Aywear to over £112,000 in revenue. It was an amount that he couldn’t have imagined when he first started the store. Having put so much time years into the business, in 2018, he decided to take on new challenges.
Helping Others to Reach Success
Over the last two years, Suhail has been experimenting with the stock market and investing, as well as mentoring upcoming entrepreneurs. And despite a worldwide pandemic, 2020 hasn’t slowed him down. With more and more people losing their job or having their hours reduced, Suhail is determined to help others see the potential ecommerce has to offer.
“Right now, it’s our duty as entrepreneurs especially, to educate people on how they can get started by working from home. I’m going to be teaching people how they can start their own online businesses. That’s what I’m going to commit to because people are in need.”
Suhail’s Tips for Ecommerce Beginners
Throughout our conversation, Suhail dropped a ton of valuable knowledge useful to anyone building an online store. So, if you’re at the beginning of your ecommerce journey, here’s some advice from a pro dropshipper.
1. Do it for the Right Reasons
Before you spend time learning about ecommerce and making a store, Suhail suggests making sure you’re doing it for the right reasons. After all, entrepreneurship isn’t for everyone – and it isn’t easy.
While AyWear had a lot of success, it was also hard work, and the store only flourished because Suhail was willing to put in time and effort. On the other hand, when he built stores for family members, only one of two managed to make any money, because not all of them had the same desire to start a business as Suhail.
“If you don’t have the passion within yourself and you don’t have that drive, that fire, that fuel you won’t have success.”
2. Commit to it for a Year
So now you know you’re starting an ecommerce business for the right reasons – and that’s great. But don’t give up too quickly. Suhail believes that if you genuinely want to try ecommerce and see results, you should commit to it for a full year.
It can be easy to get enthusiastic about a new project at the start, but committing for a year means you’ll work to improve your store continually. Make use of your time working on your store, and be sure you’re delivering what your customers want.
“What these guys need to do is put themselves in the shoes of their customers and then think from that perspective. Would you buy from that store? How has that store treated you? What was your journey like when checking out? Was it smooth? Was it easy? Were they engaging with you after your purchase? Did they check up on you?”
3. Make it Look Quality
When starting a store, it’s all too easy to import listings from AliExpress and just use the supplier photos. But Suhail thinks that to build a good brand, you should invest time into making sure your images and assets are all excellent quality and uniform.
An easy way to get good results is with a Canva account – you can even get a free version. Use it to make amazing graphics for your social media, banners for your website, and add watermarks or logos to your product pictures. If you have a bit more cash to spare, order your products, and do a photo shoot. The result will be unique, high-quality product pictures that will truly make your items stand out from the crowd.
4. Use Those Around You as a Test Market
While big brands might pay for focus groups to test out new products before they go to market, Suhail created a free focus group out of his group of friends to test potential new items.
“I would conduct my own mini market research. So, like my cousins, my friends. And once you ask them, ‘Bro, would you wear this?’ And if they’d laugh, I would be like, ‘Okay, cool. Definitely not that one.’ And if they would like it, I would be like, ‘Yeah, yeah. All right. Cool.’ So it’s knowing what people would actually wear, what people would like.”
While Suhail’s store sold men’s clothing, you could run market research for any product – as long as you can find people roughly in your target market, that is. After all, your dad or brother probably won’t give much useful feedback on your nail jewelry products.
It’s also worth mentioning that conducting market research with friends or family isn’t a guarantee of a winning product. However, it could be a simple step in the process of identifying hot products to sell.
5. Low Starting Budget? Use Influencers
Check any ecommerce blog or vlog, and you’ll quickly find that Facebook ads are generally regarded as the best way to get customers for online stores. But, as good as Facebook ads are, they can be costly – especially when your store and Facebook Pixel are brand new.
Suhail’s recommendation is to get started with influencers, which can produce significant results for a one-off price. He suggests finding an influencer who can create an image or video that hypes up your product, making the post much more than just sponsored content.
“For example, an influencer is unboxing a jacket, and then they’re recording it naturally. And it doesn’t look like an ad, but they’re like interacting with it. Because when it sometimes doesn’t look like an ad, it will psychologically make your customers think that these guys aren’t trying to sell me, and it would pique their interest to look into it further.”
When searching for an influencer on Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok, you’ll need to make sure the account has excellent engagement, is open to collaboration, and can create the right type of content for your particular store and brand.
6. Make Sure Your Store Stands Out with Service
Anyone can start a dropshipping store, but it takes quite a bit more to make that store successful. Suhail is a firm believer that to be successful in ecommerce, you need to add value so that your customers have multiple reasons to choose your store over others. This is especially true with dropshipping where your product is unlikely to be unique – you need to work around this by adding value in other areas.
“You need to have your unique value add. And when you provide that value add – give your customers that extra experience – I think that’s where you kind of create a relationship with your customers.”
One way Suhail did this was by being totally customer-centric. He made sure he replied to emails quickly, engaged with followers on social media, and gave shout outs to customers who posted pictures wearing AyWear clothes. This sort of engagement showed a level of care for people no matter where in the buying process they were. Even if someone was only browsing, seeing excellent customer service meant that they’d remember AyWear when they were ready to buy.
You can also add value to your store with additional content, such as blogs. Think about the product you sell and then write articles on topics related to it. You could also cultivate a great community on social media. People will want to be involved with your brand and buy things from your store in support.
Jump in and Get Started
There you have it, six fantastic pieces of advice for beginners to follow. These tips will provide a tremendous foundation for your store so you can start to build long-lasting and sustainable success.
Suhail didn’t build his menswear store overnight. It took hours of struggling and a lot of sacrifices. However, he created systems that then helped him make sales numbers that most other teens can only dream of. But the thing is, he firmly believes others can find the same success. It won’t always be easy, but the first step is committing and getting started.