In 2007, Steve Chou and his wife Jennifer were unhappy with their day jobs. After Jennifer got pregnant with their first child, she finally decided to quit, and the two budding entrepreneurs started an e-commerce business that has flourished greatly. Since then, Steve has grown 3 six-figure businesses, including his popular blog “My Wife Quit Her Job,” and a course called “Create a Profitable Online Store.” He is here today to share some of his e-commerce experience and expertise.
Thank you so much for speaking with us Steve. We’re thrilled to introduce you to our e-commerce community. Please, tell us a bit about yourself and your site.
When my wife became pregnant with our first child, she wanted to quit her job so she could take care of our child full time.
But with the added expense of having a child, she also didn’t want to place a major crimp on our lifestyle or our finances. After researching different business possibilities, we ultimately decided to start our online store, Bumblebee Linens, in 2007.
Even though things started out slowly, our online store managed to replace my wife’s salary of $100K within one year, and it has grown in the double and triple digits since.
Having our own business allowed her to stay at home and take care of our child while running our online store at the same time.
What a great success story! Your experience with the e-commerce world is not just proven by your own successful business, but through the expertise you pass on to up-and-coming business owners through your blog and course. What advice would you give to any new online shop owner reading this today, someone just starting out?
My number one recommendation would to be to make sure that you validate your products before you purchase anything in bulk. With marketplaces like eBay, Amazon, Etsy etc., it’s very easy to generate some sales without a large initial cash outlay.
And for our experienced online shop owner audience—what can you share about the state of e-commerce today?
For experienced shop-owners, I would recommend going towards a business model of selling your own unique branded products. With large online behemoths like Amazon.com selling anything and everything, it’s becoming more and more difficult to make a profit selling other people’s products.
And because comparison shopping is so easy and prevalent, it’s very easy for a consumer to make their spending decisions purely on price.
That’s great advice. What do you consider the biggest challenge, and conversely, the biggest opportunity in e-commerce right now?
The biggest challenge for e-commerce today is standing out in the crowd and keeping up with all of the various marketing platforms out there. E-commerce is evolving so quickly and you really have to keep up.
I think the biggest opportunity at this exact point in time is Pinterest ads and mobile payments. Soon enough, there will be a bunch of social media platforms offering 1-click checkouts which will make mobile sales skyrocket.
You’ve certainly navigated many such challenges to get where you are today. As a successful online business owner, what are your top three tips for running an online shop?
My three best tips are:
1. Start collecting emails early and often
2. Consistently email your customers and prospects on a regular basis and don’t feel squeamish about it
3. Take advantage of social media to express your personality and your business’s, and create a loyal customer base. Especially if you sell products with a lot of competition, it’s more about your brand than the actual product itself.
Those are great points! To close, let’s look ahead to 2016. What should an online shop owner be focused on now?
Going forward, every shop owner needs to be focused on implementing ways to capitalize on increased mobile traffic. As I mentioned earlier, lots of social media platforms and mobile payment companies are going to be launching services that make mobile commerce much easier. There are a lot of changes on the horizon.