Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
It all started from my own experiences with my senior dogs. As they aged they began struggling with mobility and incontinence issues, but when I looked for solutions my options were very limited. I knew I couldn't be the only one looking for ways to improve the quality of life for our senior dogs. In the beginning we sold other people's products, but very quickly saw an opportunity to develop better quality and more effective products. From then on we have only sold Dog Quality products.
As of right now we have 3 product lines which include our Dogger stroller for dogs with mobility issues, Grippers dog socks to help provide dogs with traction on indoor surfaces such as tile and hardwood, and Washable Wonders, a line of dog incontinence products such as diapers, bands and pads. We use a combination of overseas manufacturers and in-house production.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were earned through a combination of PPC advertising and social media. When you first start out it takes time to get word of mouth moving, so sharing our products and videos across social media channels really helped spark things for us. Facebook is by far our most effective social media channel followed by YouTube. We make and share a lot of videos that really get people talking and more importantly sharing. Then as our customer testimonials started pouring in we started posting these with great results. Nothing beats customers raving about your products and the impact they have had on their lives and the lives of their dogs. As a result, word of mouth has become instrumental in our growth.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
By far the app that has made the biggest impact for both our Shopify stores is Product Reviews. Having reviews is critical for e-commerce businesses. Customers skim your product info, but will read reviews in-depth. We have been very fortunate to have earned mostly 5 star reviews on all our products. Another very useful app for us, but something I wish was built into the Shopify system, is Quantity Breaks. We reward customers with discounts when they buy different volumes of our diapers and bands and this has helped us increase our average order value for these products. The third most impactful app that we rely on is Upsell which helps us inform customers of complimentary products they may not have noticed, and gives them a chance to add them to their shopping cart. For our main site we handle all the fulfillment in house, but we use Shipwire for our UK site (www.dogquality.co.uk). We use Shipwire's UK warehouse to store our inventory and Shipwire integrates with our Shopify site for easy fulfillment allowing better service to our UK and European customers.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
So many things, so little space :) I think for us the secret to our success has been our ability to remain genuine in our efforts, in our marketing, in our customer service, in everything we do. I built this business to truly help make life easier for older dogs and their families. In fact our key philosophy is Dogs First which guides all our decisions. If we always aim to help our customers' dogs then we will inevitably help their families. Sometimes this means losing money on an order, but in the end it is so worth it. Not only do we feel amazing about the difference we are making, but it blows our customers away and creates unbelievable loyalty and referrals. So my advice is keep it real and don't be afraid to lose a bit of money in the name of great service.