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How I learnt how to build an automated e-commerce in one month

#6 — Sixth month of my challenge: 12 topics to learn in 12 months

A silicone keyboard protector, read the story you will understand why!
This is me with the keyboard protector, sorry for the quality of the pic!

Preparation

  1. Finding a mentor
    This month Carlos Bernabeu is my mentor. He was a colleague in my previous company and he has experience on building e-commerces.
  2. Defining the scope of the topic
    I want to learn what are the alternatives to build an e-commerce and how to set one up.
  3. Choosing a learning resource
    I first did a Google search and found out this article that I used as the main base for this topic: https://www.shopify.com/blog/50559813-how-i-built-an-online-t-shirt-business-and-made-1-248-90-in-3-weeks#
  4. Defining a project
    As you could read in the introduction, I want to build a running T-shirt e-commerce at the end of this month.

Learning about e-commerce

I started Googling around to find resources and I found a lot of online courses about how to build an e-commerce (and a lot about online marketing that I already learnt during my studies and not that interesting to be honest). I ended up finding the Shopify article of someone who created an online T-shirt business and he explains everything. I also read a few other articles and had some calls with my mentor.

Solutions

There are many different solutions to build an e-commerce, here is a short overview of each of these.

  • Disadvantages: You need money to pay the fees in advance since you need to order and stock the product before your sell it to their warehouse
  • Disadvantages: You cannot really create your own brand
  • Disadvantages: You cannot fully customize the website since they host it, you cannot always set up a custom domain name
  • Printaura — https://printaura.com/
  • Advantages: Everything is customizable, domain name fully customisable, don’t need an inventory
  • Disadvantages: Takes more time to manage, you need to pay the service or the hosting, plugins and theme can be expensive

The building process

Here are the main steps suggested by the articles, those are quite generic and reusable for many projects.

  1. Look for existing similar products
  2. Define the list of products to build
  3. Find how to build the product, in my case how to print the T-shirts
  4. Design the products to sell
  5. Find a business name (you can use things like — https://www.shopify.com/tools/business-name-generator)
  6. Create a logo
  7. Set up the store
  8. Define the pricing strategy
  9. Soft launch on social media
  10. Create social networks account (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter)
  11. Post on the subreddits
  12. Post on facebook and specific groups
  13. Collect emails to give discounts and remarket — send new offer to your subscribers
  14. Moving to paid advertising
  15. Grow followers in instagram
  16. Pay people in Instagram to promote your product
  17. Pay Facebook ads

Other takeaways

After reading this guide, I understood that the Facebook and Instragram ads are quite expensive and it’s better to focus on free advertisement.

Sales source from the article I read — https://www.shopify.com/blog/50559813-how-i-built-an-online-t-shirt-business-and-made-1-248-90-in-3-weeks#

Building the e-commerce

Now we will learn how to build and what are the steps. Let’s try it!.

My e-commerce idea

Here are my requirements and ideas for my e-commerce:

  • Want to give $1 for each T-shirt sold to plant a tree
  • Minimalist design and Typography
  • Custom domain name
  • Available in XS size (otherwise I cannot buy it 🙈 hehehe)
Not 50% but 100% Cotton, Organic and 100% Awesome

Understand reddit

As I am not very familiar with Reddit, because it is not very used here in Europe, I started by researching about it to understand it better.

How to take advantage of reddit

That is why I searched in google “how to promote content in reddit” and I found a couple of interesting links.

Where to promote my e-commerce

It’s now time to list a few facebook groups and subreddits that may be interested about my e-commerce.

  • r/comicsans
  • r/fonts
  • r/TShirts
  • r/shamelessplug
  • r/promote
  • r/design_critique
  • r/shutupandtakemymoney

Checking similar products

I typed queries like “Arial T shirt”, “Helvetica T shirt”, or “Comic Sans T shirt” and I found a few results that looked a bit like what I wanted to do. Good to know that there is some similar products, therefore a market. Also it can be an inspiration for my designs.

Some inspiration I found using Google Images

List of product to sell

I then started to build the list of my future products:

  • Helvetica T-shirt — Because all the designers love it
  • Comic Sans T-shirt — Because everyone hates it
  • Roboto T-shirt — Because I love it!
  • Design / Programming related (font size, colors code, font weight).
  • Maybe some jokes ? 😇

Technical solution

From my requirements I had only two solutions:

Designing the products

Once I found what are the products I was about to sell, I designed them following this simple rule “Making a T-shirt that I would buy for myself” and I started to make the Roboto one that of course, I bought for myself.

Here is my T-shirt unpacked!

Creating the logo and branding

I quickly found a name: Typster a mix between typography and hipster.

This logo is made with love!

Creating the website and the e-commerce

Once the logo and the branding were ready I created the website. Since I couldn’t integrate Teemill with any e-commerce solution I just made a simple website to show what the products are and what are the key features like every tech website does with their tech products:

  • The t-shirts are made of organic cotton
  • The designs are minimalist

Defining the pricing

Regarding the pricing I was a bit stuck, in order to changes the prices of your T-shirts (or the currency) you have to pay Teemill pro for £10 a month. Since I need to sell between 3 and 6 T-shirt to be able to make profits every month I decided to stick to Teemill free.

Creating social networks and posting on it

I decided to create a Facebook page, twitter page, and instagram page for the brand Typster and also only post on one of them and automate the posting on others through Buffer to go faster. Since I am not very good at social networks and community management I will probably take one other month to learn about it and be better at it!

Promoting to the list

Once the social networks were ready I started to promote on the subreddits I found and also on the designer groups I joined on Facebook.

The final result

Here is the final result of the e-commerce: https://typster.learn.uno/

You can see here the future best sellers (I hooope 😁)

Feedback from this learning month

What went well

  • Understanding what are the different e-commerce solutions
  • Building the website using Jekyll-wepack-boilerplate
  • Using knowledge from the previous articles
  • Defining a different T-shirt concept using only an on demand T-shirt provider
  • The collaboration with my mentor Carlos
  • Teemill support was useful to answer my questions

What to improve

  • The solution didn’t meet all my requirements
  • I didn’t focus fully on this project because I had other side-projects at the same time, managing time was a bit complicated
  • I started the communication quite late (around the 7th of October) so I will have to continue a bit in parallel of the next month

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Sandoche ADITTANE

Hello, I’m Sandoche Adittane. I learn about one topic every month and write a post about it!