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Business Tips

Tax tips for new print-on-demand drop-shipping entrepreneurs

Disclaimer: this article includes generalized tax return tips for entrepreneurs and does not replace professional advice. We strongly recommend contacting your accountant or legal counsel for professional advice or instructions regarding tax returns.

If you started an online business in 2020 (congratulations!), you may feel lost when it comes time to file your taxes. While it’s always best to contact a tax professional, we have some tips that can help prepare you for filing your taxes and alleviate some tax-related stress.

Know your deadlines

Tax deadlines vary between country and between the entity filing the tax return.

The deadline for Canadians to file and pay their taxes in 2021 is April 30, 2021. However, if you are self-employed and are expecting to receive a tax return, your deadline is June 15, 2021.

The deadline for U.S. citizens filing federal income tax was extended in 2021 but the extension does not apply to state and local tax returns.

Our advice? File early so you can avoid any surprises and always contact your tax professional to ensure you’re filing correctly.

Claims, deductions and expenses

Setting up a print-on-demand drop-shipping business is typically low investment but there are some start-up costs to consider when filing your taxes. Make sure you keep all your receipts as a record to accurately file your taxes.

Take a look at the below list of expenses. These items may be eligible to claim on your tax return to lower your taxable income. Items, like computers or tablets, used for business and personal purposes could be eligible to claim at a percentage.

  • Contractor costs (freelance designers for any custom artwork)
  • Home office equipment (desks, chairs, computers, laptops, etc.)
  • Phone and internet bills
  • Web hosting and online store themes
  • Online services (Shopify!)
  • Advertising costs
  • Product sample orders for online store photography

Bookkeeping and record keeping

If you’re using an e-commerce platform, like Shopify, it’s simple to keep a record of your orders, sales and payouts.

To keep track of your online store’s revenue, Shopify populates an exportable “Finances” report under the “Analytics” tab in the left navigation side bar. You can also download your order history for the entire year under the “Orders” tab by applying the filter date from January 1 – December 31, 2021.

Your profit is the income you’ll need to claim on your taxes. To keep track of your profits, it will depend on how you set up your payments. For example, if you set up Shopify Payments, you can view all your payouts for the year in the “Payments” section of your Shopify settings. If you’ve chosen PayPal or a third-party provider to receive payments, you’ll need to pull the payment information for the year from your chosen provider.

If manual isn’t your style, there are plenty of bookkeeping software services available for subscription fees. You can create an automatic process between your online store and the bookkeeping software to keep track of your order details and payments.

Keeping a record of your finances, including previous years’ tax returns, will help verify the legitimacy of your income and can ensure your eligibility for tax credits as a small business. Also, these records showcase the financial position of your business and illustrate any business trends or performance as your business grows throughout the years.

If you are about to file your taxes, we recommended organizing your records and reaching out to a tax professional to ensure you’re filing correctly. No one likes a tax surprise.

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Business Tips

Your print-on-demand drop-shipping checklist for Shopify

Do you need a checklist to make sure you’re on track to launch your new print-on-demand drop-shipping store or clothing line? We’ve got you.

1. Sign up with Slaite

Before you can get into the fun stuff like designing and promoting your new custom products, you need an account with Slaite. It takes less than 5 minutes and there is no financial commitment. Click here to start the process.

2. Select and design your custom products

Review our catalogue and select products for your store. Once you have a list of products to design, it’s time to bring your artwork to life.

We dive deeper into design steps and design hacks in this blog if you need more help. Or you can always send us an email – we would love to help you!

3. Order samples

Seeing is believing. Order a sample to test – and photograph – your product. While our free product mock-ups and other free mock-up tools such as PlaceIt do fine in a pinch, it’s beneficial for your online business to have final product images.

4. Download the Slaite app in Shopify

Click here to download the Slaite app for your Shopify store.

5. Publish your products to your Shopify store

In Slaite, navigate to “My Collection” and select “Publish” on any product you want to start selling. When the status is reads “Published”, you know you’re good to go.

6. Set up shipping profiles in Shopify

Setting up shipping profiles for your products is essential. This step will assign automatic shipping rates for your customers based on their geo-location.

We have an entire Slaite Library post and video showing you how to set these up, click here.

7. Edit and publish your product listings in Shopify

Once you’ve published your products to Shopify, you can edit your product listing before the product is active on your site. You can change your product title, description, image alt-text, mock-up image and price.

You can also add your products to collections to organize your clothing line by design, product type, season – whatever works for your brand!

Don’t forget to add tags, image alt-text and ensure your description is optimized for SEO. No one can buy your product if no one can find it. If you’re new to SEO – don’t panic. Shopify wrote a great help center article to give you an overview of how SEO works and how you can use it to gain sales, click here to read.

Once you’re happy with your product details and product locations on your site, you can set the product status to ‘active’ to begin receiving orders.

8. Plan to promote your products to build customers and sales

You don’t need a big advertising budget to start promoting your products. You can begin to organically promote your products with free social media tools, social media engagement and SEO.

It’s important to post consistently at a frequency that makes sense for your brand and engage with your audience. Another tip is to share your product reviews on social! You can screenshot and use free editing tools, like Canva, to post an aesthetic, on-brand version of the review in your feed.

9. Set up your social catalogue

If you’ve ever seen tiny shopping tag icons on a brand’s social page that bring the user from the app to a company website to purchase a product, that means a catalogue is in place for that company.

It may sound daunting but it’s a simple process. All you need is a Facebook Business Manager account (which takes minutes to set up) and create a catalogue in your business account that syncs to your Instagram or Facebook account. The set-up time depends on how many products you have but once it’s live, you can create a more direct path for your customers to purchase.

10. Incentivize content sharing

If your customers have an incentive to share and interact with your products and content, your engagement and exposure will increase.

Typically, companies will use giveaways to promote content sharing and engagement. If a giveaway doesn’t make sense for your brand, consider simple tactics like asking your audience questions in social posts or stories and ensuring you respond to queries quickly.

Don’t forget to add a branded hashtag to unify your posts and any customer-generated content. Encourage your customers to share posts of their new gear and use your branded hashtag. This community identifier will help you see all your customers engaging with your brand and it bridges the gap between your customers and the company they love.

If you’d like more support, have more questions or just want to share your final designs with us, we would love to hear from you. Send us an email or DM us on Instagram. We’re listening.

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Business Tips

ART STUDENTS: How to sell custom clothing online this summer

Unpaid or low wage summer internships got you down? We’ve got a solution for you to help you earn extra income over the summer.

Like summer 2020, summer 2021 will be different. In previous years, students might land a summer internship (unpaid or low wages) to gain experience in their field but also get a side gig to earn extra cash.

Pandemic uncertainty has limited the supply for part-time student jobs this summer but earning extra cash is not impossible with a print-on-demand drop-shipping business. Plus, it’s 100% remote.

Print-on-demand drop-shipping business models help you sell your own clothing line without holding inventory or purchasing expensive equipment. You can make money without clocking into a typical part-time job while creating your own online business.

The best part? It’s paid exposure for new and emerging artists. You’ll earn recognition and profit simultaneously!

What you’ll need to get started:

  • At least one design to customize a clothing line
  • A small investment to set up your store (typically around CAD$35/monthly)
  • Time and commitment to promote your business

Another bonus? You’ll gain real world experience for marketing and promoting your artwork and earning income.

Once you’ve set up your online store and designed your custom clothing line, you can begin promoting your products on social media and interact with your customers to create a loyal customer base.

If you want to learn how print-on-demand drop-shipping businesses work or have any questions, send us an email or DM us Instagram. Your vision is our mission.

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Business Tips

Use print-on-demand to expand your side hustle

Looking to explore other revenue streams to make your side hustle more profitable? Print-on-demand is one the best ways (and it’s super low risk) to elevate your side hustle and increase passive income.

Let’s break down the benefits of print-on-demand for people with side hustles.

Quick & simple set-up

Print-on-demand businesses are easy to set up. Check out this blog to read the 5 easy steps to create a print-on-demand business.

Low risk

With print-on-demand, you can set up an online store with a low investment, making it low risk.

Traditional businesses require a large upfront investment which makes starting a typical business high risk. Your upfront investments include e-commerce platform costs (usually between CAD$20-30 per month) and product sample costs (Slaite sample products are as low as CAD$12.55).

If you’re outsourcing your designs, that can also add to your investment but compared to traditional business investments, your upfront investment is thousands of dollars less.

And, with a free to use service (ahem, Slaite), no minimum orders, no inventory costs and no warehousing fees, you save even more money than a typical retail business.

Full creative control

With print-on-demand, you can design your custom products with your own creative artwork.

Hot tip: A print-on-demand drop-shipping business varies from a typical drop-shipping business because with print-on-demand, you have much more control over your product customization. With drop-shipping alone, you are usually limited by the products already available by the supplier.

Quality printing

Print-on-demand providers are typically experts in custom printing (Slaite has over 20 years experience) and can replicate your beautiful designs into a final product.

Not only are we experts but our technology helps save you money. Using direct-to-garment printing decoration keeps costs down when compared to screen printing decoration. For more on the differences between DTG and screen printing, visit this blog.

Sustainability

If being eco-conscious is something that’s important to you, print-on-demand drop-shipping will certainly align with your goals. Instead of ordering bulk inventory that may never be used, print-on-demand produces orders on-demand so there are no wasted textiles.

Room to grow

With print-on-demand drop-shipping, you can scale way up because you rely on outsourcing production and shipping to experts and their equipment.

Typical businesses have to be careful about growing too fast and not be able to keep up with demand. With a print-on-demand side hustle, you are less restricted to exponentially grow your business.

24/7 sales

If you’re hosting your store on an e-commerce platform like Shopify, your store is basically open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Orders can be placed and processed immediately.

Shopify even has automated emails that are sent on your behalf during each phase of the customer’s journey. So all you have to do is create your store and the rest is virtually on autopilot.

Have more questions about print-on-demand or drop-shipping? Drop us a message by sending an email or DM us on Instagram. We’re always available to help.

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Business Tips

How to build a brand for your print-on-demand business in 6 simple steps

If you’re starting your online custom clothing business with print-on-demand and drop-shipping but need help with creating your brand, we’ve got you.

Bringing your creative passions to life can be easy (with Slaite print-on-demand) but building a complete brand identity can be a daunting task. If you’re new to the business world, you may have aversions to branding and appearing corporate – we get it.

But, branding is an effective tool to indirectly communicate with your target audience and improve your non-verbal relationship with potential customers simply through visual appearance and digital presence.

Online businesses require a proper branding playbook because without a physical storefront to meet and greet your client base, your digital presence represents your entire business.

But don’t let this discourage you: having an online presence means you can reach more people at any time! Another plus to having an online brand: e-commerce grew exponentially in 2020 and it’s projected to continue to grow in 2021.

We scoured marketing and branding guides to simplify the process for creating a brand into 6 simple steps. Let’s break down what elements you need to create a brand and how to carry out each task. If you want to read more, we’ve included several resources at the end of this article.

Do your homework

Researching your target audience as well as your direct and indirect competitors will provide insights into the market (example: custom apparel with artistic designs). These insights will help you understand who your customers are and what will set your company apart from the competition.

Research is the most time-consuming component of building your brand, but the findings are priceless. You can use free tools to research including Google, social media platforms, competitor websites and industry forums or subreddits.

Define your company’s values

After researching externally and understanding the market, turn inwards to identify what core values and principles will define your company. Your values and principles help guide your mission statement. With this framework in place, all future brand communications can build out of this foundation. If you need help, or want an extremely thorough brand strategy guide, check out this article from Column Five Media with free templates.

Choose your personality

A consistent brand personality throughout your website, email and social media communications will improve your audience’s ability to accurately define your brand without being explicitly told the personality traits.  Try answering the below questions to begin curating your brand personality:

  • What makes your company unique?
  • What are some personality traits you want consumers to think of when they encounter your brand?
  • What separates your brand from the competition?
  • What unique solution do you provide to your target audience?
  • What words would you use to describe your brand?

Let’s get visual

With your newfound understanding of the marketplace and your defined brand values, mission and personality, you can start to develop your visual branding elements. These elements include your colour palette, fonts, logo and any graphics that will accompany your branded messages.

Need help with your visuals? This Shopify blog includes a colour psychology infographic and a resource to help you select your fonts.

Put it into practice

With your established brand personality and visual elements, you can begin implementing your brand elements across your website, social media channels and customer communications.

Evolve with time

As your brand matures and grows, it’s important to keep an eye on how your brand is performing in the market, with your customers and in relation to your competitors. While a complete re-branding is typically not necessary, refreshing or modifying minor elements in your brand identity will help keep your brand relevant and will continue to enforce strong branding across all communication efforts.

Extracurricular Learning

Here are some helpful links if you want more in-depth reading to help establish your brand.

How to Start Your Own Brand From Scratch in 7 Steps

7 Principles To Building A Strong Brand

The Basics of Branding

How to Develop a Unique (& Memorable) Brand Identity in 2020

How to build a brand in 5 days: Tips from a designer (Infographic Included!)

How to Build a Memorable Brand in 6 Steps

How to Create a Powerful Brand Identity (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Build a Personal Brand that Stands Out (Without Selling Out)

How to Build Your Own Personal Brand

How to Build a Brand from Scratch: Your Complete Guide

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Business Tips

5 Steps to Setting Business Goals in the New Year

Goal Setting: The Key to Success in 2021

Establishing business goals is an essential component to growing your success. Although the year 2020 threw a serious curve-ball into most businesses’ goals, creating an actionable plan for your business is one of the best investments to grow your creative business – no matter where you start.  

Plus, with a print-on-demand drop-shipping model, your business is on the right path!

The print-on-demand and drop-shipping industry has made waves for a few years and continued industry growth is expected for 2021. The new year is the ideal time to take your creative business to the next level and begin working towards your business goals.

Need help getting started? We’ve got you. Here is a five-step plan to help you become a goal setting pro. Check it out below!

Step #1: Determine Your Future

Begin thinking about your business aspirations. This helps you create a vision for your business and helps you during goal planning. Your business vision should be one sentence in length and should express the overarching business goal. The purpose of this step is to build a business benchmark to develop holistic plans and goals based on your vision.

When developing your business vision and planning for the future, try to avoid planning for the short-term only. You can think one year, five years, or even ten years into the future!

Pro Tip: Ask yourself questions during this process to help you figure out what you want to accomplish. Start by asking yourself: where is my business currently and where do I want to take it? What are my current priorities and what will my priorities be once I begin working towards my vision? By thinking about the changes your business will go through during growth periods, you can begin to imagine goals at each checkpoint.

Step #2: Write it Down

Writing your goals down engages you with your ideas in a physical realm (a piece of paper or your computer screen) and reinforces the importance of your aspirations in your brain. Research shows that writing down important information, such as goals or plans, helps you not only remember important events or details, but it helps your mind become more efficient and focused.

Whether you choose traditional pen and paper or a digital planning tool, documenting your goals contributes to a 1.4 times higher success rate.  

Step #3: Create an Actionable Roadmap

You’ve established your business vision and you’ve begun writing your goals, plans, and business ideas down. The next step includes defining a tactical roadmap to reach your business vision. Your roadmap should include sub-goals to level up to your overarching business goal to achieve your vision. Defining each sub-goal will help break out each step to reach your goal. Make these goals specific, timely, attainable, measurable and relevant to your vision.

For example, here’s what a simple goals roadmap could look like:

  1. Q1: Reach $1000 sales and grow newsletter subscribers by 5%
  2. Q2: Reach $5000 sales and grow newsletter subscribers by 10%
  3. Q3: Reach $20,000 sales and grow newsletter subscribers by 15%
  4. Q4: Reach $100,000 sales and grow newsletter subscribers by 20%

Step #4: Commit & Hold Yourself Accountable

Check in with the progress of your goals – whether that’s daily, weekly, or monthly is entirely up to you. Choose what works best for your business to track your success at pivotal business moments. Observe any obstacles or opportunities, whether internal or external, that may impact your business goals. If you identify any obstacles or opportunities, write them down ahead of time to avoid guesswork when you’re measuring success. This is always a great time to give yourself the boost you need to get motivated and keep working towards your creative goals!

Step #5: Measuring your success

Measuring business goals varies between each business and each initiative. Your sales report will differ from your social campaign measurement or your advertising report. Reporting on your progress helps illuminate effective business initiatives (or ineffective) and allows you to adapt your plans to reach your goals.

Extra step: Celebrate!

Finally, enjoying your goal milestones and achievements. You’ve invested time and energy into your print-on-demand business. You deserve to celebrate your accomplishments.

If you have more questions about print-on-demand, drop-shipping or Slaite, check out our other blogs and FAQ section or send us a message. We are always ready to help Creators realize their creative vision.

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Business Tips

How to Start a Low Investment Side Hustle

If having limited financial resources is preventing you from starting your side hustle, you need to read this article. You can begin your online business today with a small investment and from the comfort of your own home.

How? Print-on-demand and drop-shipping!

We’ve talked about print-on-demand and drop-shipping in previous blogs so check those out if you haven’t already.

Today, we’re sharing free or cost-efficient tools to minimize the cost of running a print-on-demand drop-shipping business without sacrificing the features you want. Let’s get into it!

Select a free print-on-demand drop-shipping supplier

If you’re familiar with Slaite (and if not, welcome!), you’ll already know it is FREE to use. Designing a custom collection is simple with print-on-demand.

All you do is sign up, add your creative designs to any of our products, set your product names, descriptions and margins and finally publish to your online store. We take care of product sourcing, production and shipping directly to your customers.

Design and sample your custom products at a low cost

If you’ve got your own designs or can easily make them, you’ve won half the battle.

Slaite is free to use and the only additional cost is buying samples (which we encourage because it’s always good practice to see before you sell). Sample costs are as low as CAD$12.65 and you can also use your samples for photography (another money saving tip!).

If you’re looking to outsource your designs, it can get a bit pricier for upfront costs. However, there are online resources where you can hire a freelance designer to meet your design needs at your budget. If you need design help, check out these popular freelance sites:

Sign up with an e-commerce website

You’re ready to start your online business. Right on! Using an e-commerce platform and paying for a monthly subscription is likely the most investment you’ll pay for a print-on-demand drop-shipping business in the beginning.

Shopify offers free trials so you can start setting up your online store while paying absolutely nothing.

Monthly subscriptions start at USD$29 and plans increase based on additional features. We recommend starting with this plan and scaling up as your business grows.

And, with Shopify, you can build your business website and sell your products using customizable (and free!) templates.

Download free or inexpensive Shopify apps

Shopify has over 4,000 apps in the app store. Some are free and some require payment, but we’ve found some of the best free or cost-efficient apps for online businesses to elevate the side hustle.

You don’t need to download all these apps but choose the ones best suited for your business.

  • Shopify Email: Email marketing is an efficient way to build loyal customers, but email service providers can be expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Shopify Email has a free plan you can begin using today. Click here for a helpful tutorial on how to use this service.
  • Plug in SEO: If you’re not an SEO expert, it can be challenging to get your store on search engine pages with relevant search terms. The app is easy to use and takes you through the process step-by-step, plus it has a free plan available.
  • Product Reviews: Testimonials provide new customers valuable information when shopping for a product. Product Reviews is a free app to help gather customer testimonials, increase sales through peer credibility and improve your SEO results.
  • Replay Live Session Recordings: This free tool shows you live recorded sessions of how your customers interact with your store. If something is working (or isn’t), Replay will show you these immensely valuable insights so you can evaluate and repair your site or promotional efforts. Best of all – it’s totally free for up to 5,000 sessions per month which is great for new businesses!
  • Friendly Accessibility Tools: Your customers are unique and have unique needs. This app helps you improve the accessibility of your site to ensure anyone can come to your site and find what they’re looking for. Best of all? It’s free!
  • Change Commerce: If you’re interested in bringing social causes and donations into your online business model, Change Commerce supports over 1.5 million non-profits. The first twenty donations are free. Afterwards, a 0.5% transaction fee on orders with donations.

Upgrade your imagery

Photo-shoots, video production and video editing along with social media graphics can become pricey and time-consuming. Adding these free tools to your arsenal will cut the cost and time for creating your branded imagery.

  • Another free Shopify app: Promo.com. Engaging video content elevates your online business. This app takes imagery from your website and products to make a promotional video for your storefront – simple and free!
  • Need help with creating social posts? Canva is an amazing tool where you can create and edit social posts! Of course, there is a paid version with more features, but the free subscription is still a great option while you’re starting out!
  • Want to elevate your product shots but don’t have the time or money for a photo-shoot? PlaceIt allows you to place your artwork onto a mock-up of various items, including shirts, sweaters, hats and masks. There are several free templates for you to choose from and you can download these images for your social channels, website or emails.

If you have any side hustling hacks we didn’t cover, get in touch and send us a DM on Instagram.

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Business Tips

Measuring Black Friday Success in 2020

Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM) are on the horizon. You may already be activating your sales campaigns for this annual sales event. You probably have plans to increase your brand’s awareness, sales and engagement with your audience during this annual moment in retail sales.

But, have you thought about how to measure your success and use these findings to help you in future campaigns or even next BFCM? If not, no worries – we got you. Even if you have a plan, take a look at our suggestions for additional inspiration!

First, the disclaimer: measuring something is always better than measuring nothing. Data analysis can be overwhelming for some but starting small and tracking one metric is better than tracking nothing.

These example metrics may not be in line with your brand goals or maybe they’re outside your wheelhouse to measure – that’s okay! The guiding principles we want to share is to write down what you’re doing for BFCM, identify the overall objectives and the specific goals for each initiative, capture the data and analyze it to help you grow your business. Let’s get into some of our top measuring tips.

Write it down

Before you measure, you must know what business and marketing tactics you’re measuring. Maybe you’ve added additional social posts driving to your sales items on top of your regularly scheduled programming. Or maybe you’re pivoting your regular content to drive awareness and conversion for your BFCM schedule. And maybe your business is so new that this is your first sales campaign (yay!). Whatever the case, write down what you’re doing to make comparisons in the future.

Here’s an example list of business and marketing initiatives:

  • Regular non-BFCM social posts
  • Extra BFCM social posts
  • Regular non-BFCM ads (and retargeting!)
  • BFCM ads (and retargeting!)
  • BFCM discounts
  • Regular non-BFCM discounts
  • Regular loyalty discounts
  • BFCM website promotional banner
  • Best-selling product sales pre-BFCM
  • Best-selling product for BFCM sales
  • Website traffic pre-BFCM
  • Website traffic during BFCM
  • Repeat customer discounts
  • Best-selling collection BFCM sale
  • Black Friday special reminders

Define your objective

Now that you’ve outlined what you’re going to do, what is your ideal outcome? During BFCM, you likely want increased revenue and conversions but by how much? Your objectives must be time-restricted, specific, measurable, attainable and relative to your store. All your business and marketing initiatives should scale up to your overall business objective.

Make sure your objectives are appropriate for your store. If you are beginning your online business journey, don’t place all your measuring efforts on sales alone. Measuring other performance data such as website traffic and customer drop off points during the sale journey are extremely valuable to increase your store’s long-term profitability.

Identify what you can measure and make goals

After identifying your objectives and initiatives, it’s time to figure out what you can measure. This is where things can get overwhelming – especially if data looks like quantum physics! If you’re new to sales or even to e-commerce software, start where you’re comfortable to keep your data measuring momentum.

  • If you’re measuring the success of your Facebook or Instagram social posts, view the insights per post and per page on each platform. These snapshots will tell the story of how well each post performed and your page’s health during a specific period. Some helpful metrics include reach, impressions, engagement rate and clicks.
  • If you’re measuring your online store sales or other sales data, Shopify Analytics is a built-in reporting software providing valuable information about your store, your customers and your product performance. All Shopify plans have access to sales reporting but some have limitations so make sure to check what data is available to you based on your plan. Check out this Shopify Blog Post to learn more about how Shopify Analytics can work for you.
  • If you’re more advanced and have set up Google Analytics to track your BFCM campaign success, make sure your goals are set up correctly to accurately capture user behaviour and overall data.
  • If you’re using Shopify Marketing regularly or trying it out for BFCM, make sure your campaigns are set up properly to track your performance. If you’re interested in learning more about Facebook Ads through Shopify, check out this helpful blog and video tutorial.

Now you know where you’re getting the data from but what data is important to track? This goes back to your objectives, initiatives and setting your goals. The data you should track will reflect the goals you have set for your initiatives. Don’t place a lot of pressure on setting the “perfect” goal and simply set goals based on existing data or what makes sense for your stores. As you continue to measure your success, you’ll increase your goal setting skills.

Here is an example of how to link your business and marketing initiatives to specific and measurable goals:

Initiative: BFCM website promotional banner outlining the sales details runs from November 21 – 27, 2020.

Goal:  Increase online store conversion rate by 3% from November 21 – 27, 2020 over the previous week.

Method of measure: Shopify Analytics reports on online store conversion rates and has time comparison features.

Conduct this exercise for each initiative to identify what you’re doing, what your goals are and how you’ll track the performance. It will provide you valuable information on how to improve the longevity of your online business.

Additional resources

If you haven’t already, check out these helpful Shopify articles to prepare you for BFCM:

The 27-Point Checklist to Prepare Your Store for Black Friday Cyber Monday

Three Trends That Will Shape Black Friday Cyber Monday 2020

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Business Tips

Black Friday Success in 2020

What does Black Friday and Cyber Monday success look like in 2020?

We’ve already told you how e-commerce is trending up in 2020. Earlier this year, experts predicted an increase in overall e-commerce performance and online sales. With COVID-19 and restrictions in place globally and consumers shifting behaviours to online sales, e-commerce outperformed the experts’ predictions before the year has ended. We break down how a print-on-demand drop-shipping business can take advantage of this historically in-store annual consumer spending spike opportunity without typical in-store mania. 

Setting the groundwork 

With the in-store limitations and restrictions for COVID-19 prevention, many retailers will turn to a digitally-focused approach. Translation: the competition will be strong and standing out will be important. However, consumer online shopping habits have increased in 2020 which means more online retail sales will be strongly met with an audience hungry for catching a deal.  

Your advantage: a print-on-demand business offers customers a custom, unique and exclusive purchasing experience. Understanding and leveraging your unique position as an e-commerce retailer is paramount to standing out during the sales. But if you need more help to plan your strategy, we have other tricks on how to stand out and make a profit during Black Friday and Cyber Monday. 

Expecting the unexpected 

The 2020 anthem is: expecting the unexpected. This does not translate into throwing out strategic planning and data collection. Whether you’re a novice or veteran online business owner, it is crucial to establish a tailored plan for your business and measure the success to help better guide and inform future sales and collect consumer data.  

Early bird gets the worm 

Historically, brick and mortar retailers announce Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales the day before or on Black Friday to create a sense of urgency and excitement. The best deals usually run from Friday through to Monday with various discounts across product offerings although some retailers extend sales or change discount details daily (or hourly!) for variety.  

Experts predict consumer holiday shopping will occur earlier in 2020 because of potential delays or safety precautions. According to a Visa study, a mere 20% of U.S. shoppers plan to purchase their holiday gifts in-store. Retail companies are wise to this consumer trend and some companies have begun advertising Black Friday discounts in October.  

To differentiate your online custom apparel business from the competition or other retailers, consider planning your Black Friday discounts to begin a week or two before. Planning your Black Friday and Cyber Monday after the U.S. Thanksgiving is unwise. Consumer excitement wears off and you’re unlikely to get your customers’ attention. An early sale helps you stand out from the crowd of retailers without targeting “shopped-out” customers.  

Extra, extra! 

Announce your sale across all your channels: website, email, Instagram, Facebook, TikTok or wherever your brand is visible. But, be warned: according to Bluleadz, multiple offers on your landing page may decrease conversion by 266%Translation: advertise your sales without clutter. 

Consider temporarily changing the banner to outline your biggest discount and dedicate a specific sale page to outline any additional sales you may have. If you’re considering one site-wide sale, consider temporarily changing the landing page of your website to detail your sale.  

Homepage promotions are certainly important but do not neglect the rest of your customer’s journey. In each stage of purchase or viewing your website, make your sale and promotion visible and understandable. 

Other popular Black Friday promotional tools include a countdown clock on social or your website, a Facebook event or an Instagram Live to announce the sales. Wherever your business is active and engaged with its audience, you must advertise your Black Friday deals to reap the benefits. 

Bullseye 

Segmenting and appropriately targeting your audience are important when promoting your sales. Before you announce your sales, segment your list and target each list member based on products they have already purchased. You can find helpful information about your customers in the Shopify behaviour reports. Using helpful – and readily available – consumer data can not only tell you information about your customers and target audience but it can also help improve your marketing and promotions strategy. 

Some segmenting strategies include personalized discount codes or rebate programs for your loyal customers. A personalized email delivering the good news and thanking your customer for their business is an excellent tactic to increase sales and brand affinity. 

Popularity contest 

If you’re leaning towards select items for your Black Friday sale, choose your most popular items and advertise them as just that – the most popular items. Customers who are new to your site are likely to peruse the most popular products – after all, they are purchased and loved the most.  Consider creating a holiday gift guide, featured collection or a best-seller list.  

Technical difficulties  

Like we mentioned before, expect the unexpected. This mantra applies for all technical components of your Black Friday sale. After you’ve designed your strategic plan, complete technical testing as well as a test run of your tactics.  

Not sure what to look for? Consider the following: 

  • Test your website load time and reach out to your hosting provider if the website needs an upgrade. If you’re website is hosted exclusively with Shopify, click here to check the stress status of Shopify. 
  • Quadruple check if your online store is mobile-friendly for various phone providers and web browsers (example: Apple or Android and Safari or Chrome) and is viewable in default or dark custom display settings. 
  • If you are measuring with any analytics tools, ensure the goals are precisely set up to capture all data. 
  • If your customers are using a discount code, try testing an order with the discount code to ensure it is working and is applying to the correct items. Click here for Shopify test order instructions. 

Honesty is the best policy 

Display your return policy in clear and understandable terms. You may have new customers or guests purchasing a holiday gift for their loved ones. As a print-on-demand business, it is imperative to display your return policy during a Black Friday and Cyber Monday sale to keep your customers informed and happy. 

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Business Tips

2020: The year of the e-commerce entrepreneur

We did the research, so you don’t have to.

At the beginning of 2020, e-commerce was predicted to represent 16% of total global retail sales and reach $4.2 trillion in global sales according to Statista. However, COVID-19 shifted consumer behaviours drastically around the globe, with Canada seeing a 146% growth in online retail orders and the U.S. seeing a 129% year-over-year growth in e-commerce. The e-commerce industry’s rapid growth translates to more supply and demand. We’ll quickly go over what the experts are saying about consumer and e-commerce trends in the COVID environment and how you can use this information to launch your successful online business and realize your passions.

Consumer trends in the COVID-19 era

Increased online shopping

It’s no mystery that the global health crisis and quarantine protocols increased online consumer shopping. Most industries saw more than 10 percent growth in online customers. In addition to overall increase in online customers, research shows that consumers plan to continue to shop digitally even when physical stores re-open. This demonstrates the increase in demand for trusted online businesses.

Transient loyalty

The beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic presented consumers with product or brand scarcity because of supply chain disruptions. A brand loyalist may have trialed a competitor product or retailer and either switched loyalties to another brand or have no brand loyalty for products.

Mindful shopping

Mass layoffs, product scarcity and consumer sentiment towards the global economy demonstrates the shift to a more mindful consumer. Shifts from optimistic, neutral or pessimistic are closely tied to each country’s current COVID-19 statistics and national health official statements.

Home is where the heart stays

With populations remaining at-home due to health concerns or activity limitations, consumers are spending more time in their homes. Most consumers claim they do not feel comfortable resuming “normal activities” and will look to medical professionals for guidance on resuming out-of-home activities.

What does this mean for e-commerce?

More demand means more supply. Companies are capitalizing on the consumer behaviour shift to digital shopping and many businesses can create online stores almost effortlessly with e-commerce platforms, like Slaite. The saturated market means businesses must stand out and we have strategic tips on how to begin your online print-on-demand drop-shipping business journey.

Find your space

With the increase in supply and demand, it’s important to build an online business that speaks to your passions and is marketable to an audience. For example, if you are a musician and you want to sell band merch, you can market to your fans or music lovers of your music genre. It’s important that your business space represents your passion project, your creative talents or a communal identity to intrigue your audience and build an authentic space.

Foster a community

With the increase of digital communities in the COVID-19 era, developing online connections and building a digital community is a sound tactic to build engagement, loyalty and digital word-of-mouth marketing. Consider beginning your journey with an online Instagram community and engage with people with similar interests to you. As your community grows, introduce customized merchandise and begin collecting customer feedback from your community. This will help build your print-on-demand online business foundation.

Understand your role in sustainability

Sustainability is seeing a huge trend in recent years. Specifically, with the onset of COVID, consumers are concerned about their purchases more than ever and the impact on their community. Running a print-on-demand drop-shipping business means you are not wasting unnecessary product by oversupplying inventory. As a Canadian owned and operated company, Slaite is dedicated to ensuring sustainable practices, optimal working conditions and green initiatives. Consider advertising your orders are made on-demand to reduce textile waste.

Use available free tools

Beginning an e-commerce may seem like it costs an arm and a leg but there are several free resources available to help you monetize your creativity!

To leverage the unique e-commerce environment, consider checking out free resources to help you get started:

Slaite is a free, no hidden fees print-on-demand and drop-shipping solution

Google Digital Garage offers free courses (sometimes with certifications!) to help small businesses learn digital marketing

Canva is offers a user-friendly and helpful graphic design tool with a free plan to create social posts, infographics, flyers and much more.

Hootsuite is a social media scheduling tool with a free plan to manage 3 social accounts and add free apps to your dashboard

Facebook Ads is a cost-efficient way to advertise on Facebook, Instagram and other social media platforms

Google Analytics offers free web analysis of your online store

Have more questions?

You know we’ve got you. Check out our FAQ page or send us an email to help@slaite.ca and we will happily help you through your business journey.