It was a chill, but insightful event.

Although that’s the general consensus after the event, the learnings for both sides were more than insightful. Now to those uninitiated, Shopline’s 茶座會 is a recurring event where Shopline invites its merchants to a sit-down sharing session where we share industry tips and the best E-commerce marketing tactics while merchants share their stories along their E-commerce journey. These stories could be insights, tips and tricks, or any difficulties or problems that they encountered. It’s a very open group-sharing session from all parties.

Every 茶座會 has its theme and topic, and this one is about product-market fit, traffic, and trust. So I’m going to jump straight into the learnings from this event and not bore you with all the details. Let’s go!

Shopline Marketing Manager – Randal’s Sharing Insights:

If there are 3 things that would make or break a online business, what would those be? If you can only focus on 3 things to establish a profitable and successful E-commerce, how would you decide which ones to focus on?

In Randal’s sharing, there are 3 main ingredients to a successful E-commerce store: great product, good traffic, and trust.

3 main ingredients to a successful E-commerce store: great product, good traffic, and trust.

A great product doesn’t mean that you need to have an awesome and non-boring product. A great product means that you have achieved product-market fit and have actually validated that people want/need your product. Next, good traffic. Seems kind of weird? Is traffic good as long as you have lots of them? No. Just like how a gram of carbohydrate from Coke is different from a gram of carbohydrate from vegetables. Good traffic means people are genuinely interested from your acquisition efforts. Good traffic means that people are likely to engage with your site and later on convert and become a customer. Naturally, the cost of good traffic should also be very reasonable (ROAS-positive) for it to count as good traffic. This is especially true for E-commerce stores where a “purchase” is the ultimate metric of success and return on ad spend the number 1 deciding factor. The last ingredient is trust.

Trust is something hard to quantify unlike web traffic because you can’t just determine the “trust factor” of a website and compare with others but this is also very important. Let’s take Uber or AirBnb as example. They had 1) good product-market fit (there’s an actual demand for their product/service) 2) good traffic (they push heavily on referrals and word of mouth where the quality of traffic has a baseline guarantee) but what about trust? Take note that they also dedicate a lot of resources in ensuring that they get the last key ingredient of “trust” by guaranteeing that all users of their platform get a good experience. (Riders and drivers protection for Uber and host and traveller protection for AirBnb.)

It’s not that you can’t be successful without getting all 3 aspects but the point here is that if you manage to nail all 3 things, then your likelihood of succeeding is dramatically higher. Next, people generally have 2 approaches in achieving these 3 things: 1) product-driven approach and 2) customer-driven approach.

95% of people choose the product-driven approach and 5% choose the customer-drive approach. What’s the difference? With a product-driven approach, you start with an insight or any spontaneous idea about a certain product then you try to develop it and then you find customers for your product. This is how 95% of people start their online businesses because it’s actually the easier way to go. On the other hand, you have the other 5% of people who try to understand a certain market first, make small experiments in the uncertain market, and then build the product from that point. Running experiments to validate if there’s a demand for your product in an uncertain market takes a lot of work to do and this is why not a lot of people do it. And this is why most people fail with the first product-driven approach. It’s the easiest to start but also the easiest to fail with since you don’t even know if there is a market for your product. 

Although both approaches have produced successful cases but the thing here is that both approaches need all of the 3 aspects in order to work: product-market fit, good/valid web traffic, and trust.

Merchants’ Sharing Insights:

Although merchants are at different stages of building their online store, most expressed a common problem: how do we get more people to visit our website? Some who own physical stores shared: with physical stores, traffic is not really a problem as you get natural foot-traffic. But with online stores, it’s basically a deserted island without active acquisition efforts. This was the recurring topic all throughout the event.

Another feedback that we got from our merchants is that they don’t know where to start. Should I create a Facebook page first? Will likes bring me orders? How do I run AdWords ads? SEO seems like a promising thing to do, it’s free traffic!

There are so many things a merchant can do when he wants to get the first sale from their online store. There are a lot of things that seems worth the time to learn and do, but where do I start and how do I do them?

These are the 2 major feedbacks that Shopline team got from our dear merchants and it sparked a serious reflection within our own team on how we can help our merchants more. We try our best to provide the best educational material to our merchants with our blog, seminars, and workshops. But without such qualitative and in-depth feedback, we couldn’t have gained more insights into the real problems our merchants are facing.

Action from Shopline

What does it mean for Shopline? Merchants’ success is Shopline’s success. This our our mantra since the beginning and it’s something we try to keep up to with real effective action. Stay tuned as we will revamp our educational materials not just in terms of format but also ways of finding those content.

Action from YOU

After knowing about all of the above, if you also resonate with the sharing from our merchants, what should you do next? 2 things.

1) Subscribe to Shopline blog and pay close attention as we have something new coming up!

2) One sneak peak of what’s coming up is an all new Shopline Video Academy where we not only reproduce all our content in easy-to-digest video format but also brand new marketing tools and tricks delivered in a step-by-step easily actionable form.