Welcome to another episode of Wajeez Online Store Interviews, where we ask some good questions to an online store owner, about how he runs his e-commerce business, and what online tips can share with us. Our guest today is Elijah Solidum, who has the following to tell us about himself, go ahead Eli:
Eli: I am currently attending the University of Missouri and will graduate next August 2016. I graduated with two degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with an Emphasis in Management, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies. During my time in university, I founded three different companies. Two of which are still up and running today.
CoraLife, LLC is one of the companies that I started in the summer before my senior year of college. Profascinate is a website and advertising platform that I launched in February 2014 to monetize the 2.5+ million followers I have on various social media account. Social media has always been my biggest strength. I use those social media accounts to promote my Shopify online store, ShopCoraLife.com.
My other passions include traveling, and I have been to 25 countries across 5 continents, and plan on going to as many as possible during my lifetime. I run a travel blog, thepartyingtraveler.com and a related Instagram @thepartyingtraveler, where I update my followers on my travels as well as provide tips and advice.
Q: What made you start your online store shopcoralife.com?
CoraLife is an attempt of mine to give back to the world and community through the influence I had. I donate 10% of each sale to a variety of charities, nonprofits, and other organizations that seek to conserve the environment and animals.
Preserving the environment and promoting sustainability is a cause that I am very passionate about. CoraLife is a way for me to provide quality products and fashions for people, while also promoting environmental awareness and sustainability through the website’s blog, vision, and purpose.
It is a small start, and makes a very small imprint, but I hope that every little change can go towards a much bigger one. It is my one of my least profitable businesses, but I plan on continuing it as long as I can because of its positive message.
Q: How did you decide on your current Shopify online store theme? Do you prefer ready-made themes or custom-built ones and why?
The free Shopify Brooklyn theme is the best-looking one, in my opinion. Ready-made themes are the easiest, but I have noticed that a lot of new stores are using the same exact theme as my store. It builds more credibility if a store is unique and customized, but I do not have enough background yet in developing themes to create my own.
[Read also: Start your own Shopify online store]
Q: How do you handle storing, accounting, handling, shipping your products?
My girlfriend and I do everything ourselves. An app we use to handle shipping is GoShippo. It prints out shipping labels so that we don’t have to do that at the post office. We ship all our items by post. We have third-party manufacturers creating the products that we design. For example, Kotis Design made our shirts.
Q: How do you deal with returns? Customer’s complains, bad reviews, etc.
The customer is always right, and I make sure to answer every complaint with kindness and understanding. If customers complain, within reason, I will give them the benefit of the doubt. I have yet to receive a bad review, except for one who was upset when we could not restock a certain t-shirt in a certain size.
Q: Share with us your marketing activities for your online store?
Social media marketing is my specialty, and like I mentioned before, I have over 2.5 million followers across all forms of social media. This allows for me to promote CoraLife and give it exposure to millions of people in an instant.
Q: Can you share some figures with us?
Sales vary by month, but a few thousand a month is the usual range. We average 200-300 site visitors daily.
Q: What are your best selling products / seasons?
My personal favorite products are our long-sleeve turtle shirts. They are unique to our store, and are a very popular trend in the United States right now.
Q: What tips would you give to a new online store owner?
Find an audience and really target that audience. Make your product stand out. What does your product offer that other stores do not offer?
I’ve met with a lot of people asking for advice on their stores, and the biggest mistake I’ve seen is not spending money. If you’re a great designer, you’re going to need a great developer. If you’re a great web developer, you’re going to need a great photographer.
Not everyone can excel at everything, and having a proper combination of a quality website, quality designs, quality products, and then a strong advertising campaign will be the best way to grow a store and online presence. Trust me, I’m an excellent marketer and photographer, but an awful designer.
Look above at those never before seen original designs that were awful compared to the ones I had designed by professionals.