If you are are an eCommerce merchant you've probably heard about fulfillment networks or 3rd party logistics (3PLs). Fulfillment networks like Amazon FBA & Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) are incredibly powerful. If you can afford the cost they’ll store, pack, and ship all of your orders for you.
They handle an entire area of your business for you. For a merchant this is 25-35% of your responsibility. So being able to outsource this obligation and focus on other areas of your business can be massively helpful.
But calculating if a 3PL is worth the cost is complex. Shipping costs themselves are a nightmare of complexity. If you have more than 1 item in your store you will probably just understand the range of shipping costs to get several items from point A to point B. Trying to figure out a fair cost for the 3PL on top of regular shipping costs is challenging to say the least.
And there are challenges beyond just costs. You have to order and send in your products according to their schedule and in their preferred formatting. With all of that overhead switching 3PLs is painful and costly.
So fulfillment networks have some serious costs. But they also allow eCommerce entrepreneurs to live that idyllic lifestyle where you order piña coladas on the beach while your business continues to generate revenue. 🏖
Let’s look at the costs, procedures, and the tradeoffs for two of the biggest fulfillment networks: Shopify Fulfillment Network (SFN) and Amazon FBA so you have a baseline understanding of when and how you'd set up a 3PL for your own e-commerce store.
I've written about WooCommerce reporting in the past. And at that time the best solutions were plugins you installed yourself. That's no longer the case. Metorik is a service designed specifically to understand your WooCommerce data.
Metorik was created by Bryce Adams who used to work for WooCommerce. So it's well built, well designed, and it enhances the reporting experience in WooCommerce. And not just a little bit. But a lot.
Most e-commerce platforms let you create orders manually. That way even if you're at a conference or a potential customer calls you you can capture those orders.
While many systems let you create orders manually they don't always let you charge a credit card which kind of defeats the purpose. But even if your e-commerce platform doesn't let you process credit cards if you use Stripe you're in luck. They make processing credit cards really easy.
Just over one year ago I released the WooCommerce Cookbook and I heard from lots of store owners about how much they liked it. And after hearing the feedback I decided to create something a bit less technical and more abstract. Something that would help people understand the fundamentals of e-commerce. Several months later I'm proud to say that I published WordPress eCommerce on Lynda.com.
The course covers everything you need to think about before you build an e-commerce site for yourself or for a client:
Understanding Your Market
Marketing Your Site
Shipping & Orders & Taxes
Securing Your Site
Using WordPress for eCommerce
Testing & Optimization
This is a video course so all of the lessons include me showing example sites and visual aids. It's over an hour long so there's plenty for you to digest before you make your first e-commerce site. Chapters 3 & 4 go into lots of detail about the types of products you can sell and the best way to do it. Ex. How can I sell a monthly subscription box? And which way is best?
I created this course is because e-commerce is no longer limited by technology. You aren't spending your time figuring out technical problems. The technology is relatively straight forward and as a store owner or a developer building a store for a client you have to figure out marketing & positioning problems to make sure that your product solves a need and that people can find it.
Only once you know that people really want to buy your product and you can get them to your site do you worry about the technical problems.
I also cover third party platforms that can integrate in your WordPress site such as Gumroad, Clickbank, and Shopify.
If you're a store owner this course will make you ask questions about your product market fit and what you need to do to sell as many widgets as possible.
If you're a developer you will learn all of the same lessons which you can pass along to your clients and make them successful. Building a $10,000 site is great but it's even better if you can build the right site for $10,000 and get more work next year after your client's product makes a killing. 🙂
If you're detail oriented you might notice that this course actually came out last summer! I held off on the announcement of this post because it came out right around the time of the WooThemes acquisition and I was quite busy with all of that. Not a good excuse I know but better late than never right?
One of the most exciting aspects of working on an open-source platform is how fast things can change. And if you want to make something happen you can just do it. This happened just last week and I couldn't be happier.
Last week I attended a conference and Derek Sivers, founder of CD Baby back in 1998, challenged the notion that businesses need to optimize for profit. What if instead they optimized for freedom? Or something else like fame? Why can't someone choose those instead of profit? And why don't people think about this before they start a business?
I talk a lot about content because it's how I drive traffic to my site. And while it can be a highly effective medium for driving traffic for certain industries it isn't universal. There are plenty industries where it makes a lot more sense to drive traffic through more traditional means like paying for traffic.
Something I've been thinking a lot about recently is how I can help store owners succeed. WooCommerce doesn't have every imaginable feature but it is complete enough for a huge number of store owners. What I mean by that is that in terms of functionality WooCommerce is a very viable option. Newsletters – check, bundles – check, subscriptions – check, tracking numbers for shipping, check; you get the idea.
There's no right answer and no guide that can give you all of the answers. You have to learn how to run your e-commerce business. Learning from other businesses is great but you have run your own experiments and see what works for you.
While I can't give you the perfect e-commerce quick start guide what I can do right now is tell you what not to do.