Shopify – how to start an eCommerce in 2021? With Ian Ng, Ex-Founder of Koyara

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Okay, so we are live. Oh, good luck Ready. Yeah. Finally, yeah once again live and blinking, you know. the Stop blinking zero people in here. Okay. Let's see if it's if it's sharing Are you ready? Ian Are you ready to rock it as well? Yeah I Go. you go nuggets your stories so yeah this this. this should be interesting. I'm not done this since last year. Last year, yeah, actually the last time I did was with you guys as well. Oh great. Oh yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Hello. Hello. I'm at okay. Feel free to quiz. put in your questions for Ian then we can que him. it's going to be starting. Hello Charlotte it's going to be starting at 630, not seven. sorry so it's so in this meantime, that's the to chat a little bit sure maybe. Maybe what's what does Charlotte and all I say. Jajajaja. I think I just. Yeah, you know what do you guys do? by the way it is about a time of five three to 5 seconds, You know three to 5 seconds. Okay. Yeah. So they might take a bit of time to reply so in the meantime.

How is it like you know being stuck at home? When he disappeared to. Yeah, I'm not sure missing Ian. our start is missing. our guest for today. Our start is back. I'm sorry I can't log in because I'd rather I can't. I can't. I can't comment anything at all. I see I see so how how how have the whole MCO be keeping you how the MC have been treating me? Well? I mean, I mean it's a new one again. now. it is a new one. There's a third one this time well, I started appreciating my home A lot more started doing a lot more decor. You know just because I feel like I'm using I'm really using my house now before that, you know you go to office and then you come back home and you're like you know what I just want to watch TV have dinner and that's it. but but now you wake up. You're like you know what it'll be nice to have some plans so I started you know getting into you know plugs into like decorating my place.

I've spent a lot on. on on on on home decor. Yeah. This room not yet though you can see it's it's quite bare. It's quite bare. Yeah there will be plants here soon. You know I'll be getting shelves so we'll see we'll see nice. It's nice. And then. for me, it's the same old same actually. yeah, I don't see any difference, though, like we've been working from home since last year, Okay Fair enough fair enough.

Yeah. Yeah. But this plant thingy I know like everyone like the first thing they go to when they're stuck at home is plants. Yeah see nobody's like going and get a pet or something It's it's the one behind you is that is that fake or real, that one is fake. Look at this this baby wow. Wow this one there's like a few days I go to plant it and everything that's there.

And then I call a lot of water and then it come back on live again. Oh, I see I think I should take my my whole laptop. I'm bring it to the balcony I do have some stuff there. Yeah. you see that. Yeah, I told you so yeah. but I mean work wise. I think I feel what's stretching a lot more because you're I think it's the same last year like like like you work a lot harder because. Sometimes you don't know that oh, like time has passed so much Where is the office? We have colleagues who have a bit of distraction. You're like, Hey, you know, let's have a coffee and all that kind of thing. I think when it comes to, I think one of the things that you you also feel that what stretches a lot is because there isn't a time where you really cut off like back, then you're in the office and then when you want to go home, you actually drive home as you walk home or something.

That's that's a fun time for you pick up and go but over here you don't pick up and go right right right. so it's quite sucky. I mean I don't miss the commute at all like I'm I'm happy with this this this this this will come home arrangement. But I do meet some people. Yeah. definitely, I think I think the people and the and and the colleagues I think that's one of the thing that makes a company great like the people and I think lacking that I mean you're doing you're doing you're doing good like like work.

That's fun and all. but but yeah, I mean part of part of work is the people that you're working with. so yeah, I do miss that. yeah all social animals after all. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Well probably so you know why I why I contracted. Last year as well. It's not good, but that's another story. Okay, but in the meantime, just I mean before we start, we can just share a little bit that our dear Ian here he's going to be running the Shopify class with all of like with the next Academy. so if you guys are interested. in in setting up a Shopify store, you know feel free to reach out. I think it's going to share that link in. in the chat. So, but yeah, I mean I people and people wonder why why do we really need to put this off for Shopify class or anything? actually you can do it yourself? It's no problem. Also. but I guess at the same time. sometimes there's so many options over there that even for me when I first, you know started trying to use Shopify, I was like what are these buttons and I started calling Ian He was the go to guy for me.

I called him Ian. What what am I supposed to do? What am I supposed to face this? What's this thing? What pages want? Have you know he was the person who actually showed me the way. so yeah the lightning was supposed to show you the light right because he because I mean he. by my profession, he is not a Shopify developer or Shopify store builder, but he built his store on Shopify and he didn't really extensively so he knows a lot about Shopify guys and he you know he was.

But he's Shopify. He is a so he he's a he's a WiFi that as if I own it. That he has done this to this user experience like they didn't think they didn't think so much about it. They didn't they thought about the customer a lot and that is the business owners and how to make life easy for them and it's it's so beautifully done. Yeah. I Can you imagine you say that okay guys like we are 1 Minute 1 minute to start. Are you ready? I hope you guys ready I am ready I am ready as well. Nice. So I'm not doing a countdown by ten at. 19 and it's a long so well guys in the meantime, please do share for whoever who seems to be. Oh okay. This is a very good question are coming up. Yeah. yes, yes please so the questions in bring the questions in Are we start that's right away. Yeah. Yeah we.

Oh. So now it's time for me to introduce okay ready. set go. Okay Welcome back guys once again to this first day well it's Thursday Thursday NEXT Academy Webinar, so we've are pretty much doing it every week. so please follow us. Stay tuned with us. click Share click Like click subscribe and follow us for every Thursday or almost every Thursday Webinar and today we. A very special someone and his theme is called Ian right and Ian Ian So with me here is Ahmed and Ian some he's a part of NEXT Academy and you know he he put this whole thing together today for for all of you guys.

So it's very exciting and with Ian Ian is such a good friend. I've known him for years right now and yeah, yes and and what is the most exciting part like the reason why one of the big reasons why we brought him on here today is because we want him to be able to share his experience on how. He actually didn't stop and even one of the most amazing or mind blowing thing is that from ZERO visitors a day to fifty K visitors a day like how many websites can have fifty K visitors a day a day.

Okay guys a day so I'm really excited to be able to have you on board with us Ian Thank you very much so maybe Ian tell us everyone tell everyone about yourself your experience and how you got started with eCommerce. Alright. Hi guys. so I think she's done an introduction of who I am to go to go a little bit back right so I've I've always been. I love building things up right, so I started my career in the digital marketing space and later on, I realized that oh eCommerce is I think about 2014 2015 around that period, eCommerce started booming the rise of the the shop Lazarus they started coming on. so I thought hey, you know what this might be a good opportunity to. To go into the ecommerce space right, but then the thing was to figure out what to sell. Alright So again, I was looking at different different things that was pets. I was looking at electronics and eventually II thought. Hey, you know what I think health products right. That's something that everyone everyone buys and like I mean you gotta you gotta step into a pharmacy at one point in time right so I thought yeah, I'll I'll visualize that everyone seems to be creating stores that sell everything right so that the laws are selling.

I I mean this on fashion and there's a maza. they sold everything the shop again they sold. Everything and II was thinking you know what there is a space where people wanted to visit a store that specializes in one particular vertical right. So again, I went through a different verticals and the one that really stood with me was was health because it reached a very wide market and also it was scalable right. so there's a lot more products I could keep adding the store growth was there. and that's what got me excited so however the With with me setting up a health store was that I did not look anything like the person who would set up a health store. I was like ten kilos. like you see the like a Fat CEO of a health store trust me you're not going to buy from the store. You're not going to believe it right but but yeah, that was actually one of the one of the challenges he was not exactly really exciting or like passionate for me, but I did see an opportunity there but. But yeah, so that was room for growth right so so yeah I started off selling actually just purely organic products.

That was that was paraben-free like like like so that that had no. like toxins in it and things like that. But then I realized that Maca is really small and therefore. my co-founder and I decided okay, you know we're going to expand it to to other things right so we saw things like. Groceries to things that you find in pharmacies from personal care body care hair care all these things right So basically we we were starting up a space where Watson's guardians stuff that you see in a pharmacy. we we basically Online and these guys were not online yet at the time, so it was it was a good first mover for us and yeah, that's basically how we came about with with Koyara. I'll I'll tell you a little bit about the name like Koyara like so he actually I remember when we came up with it, we took a we actually took the name out of a.

Page from Lozada and Zara, so we wanted a name that regardless what race you were regardless of what language you spoke, you could pronounce it right like right. It's it's three three three alternating between consonant vowel consonant vowel right, so that's what we wanted. so we thought okay. We we went through a whole list of different ones right La Jolla and all different. kind of rolled off the top of that. I was like, yeah that could work you do you do know that a lot of people can pronounce our right. so you see. Yeah. exactly. Oh yeah.

Exactly so that we have a lot of Chinese people, especially the right. I did not. I mean we completely forgot about that. So yes, Oh, it's a so there's a yes. This is Koyara. I was like, oh sorry. Yeah, I mean. yeah something I have changed, but yeah, I mean that's that's the genesis of how we started. Yeah. definitely. So this is a question that someone asked like personally, let me just see okay I can show it up.

Okay so someone posted this question in previously, you know why not just focus on marketplace right? Why? why do you even bother to even start a website in the first place right? You see the thing with with shopping Lozada and I'll I'll start by saying we actually were listed on both Lozada and Lazaro Shoppe. I think it's that's gem five and. that's that's what 11th Street. Yeah. Oh. yeah. It seems like so long ago, but yeah there. II don't think both of them are. I don't think they're both around anymore right.

Yeah. Yeah. So we we listen for all the places. there And then, of course we have our own website, but the reason why we actually listed and those are actually where we would charge. About ten to 15% higher on these platforms and what what happens is that we actually because we don't really have control of the customers we don't have control of. who we are starting to have no idea who these guys are how old they are male or female, you know we don't have any of the details right and that's that's that's that's the disadvantage when you're selling on the marketplace, you don't have control of your customers. You don't have control the whole customer experience, but we had controlled the box right now.

we're going to send out so what we did was that we would put like a little flyer in there we printed flyers. We had like a promo code there and say, hey, you know what if you go to, you could actually buy this for like 1015 percent cheaper right and we drove a lot of customers from the marketplaces to our website from that right. so I think one of the so so so to to reinstate the point where I think. You you you, I wouldn't say, stay off or compete against the the marketplaces because you're not going to win it right. It's it's it's really difficult They've got a lot of money and the the way they spend on marketing is ridiculous right so but there are ways to use these guys to to to to take advantage of your own store and promote your store right. so that's what we did right take control of whatever that we have in this case, we have control what we put into the box right so we can put fly.

Samples you know things like that anything that you've got them to come over to our store. So yeah, I mean why why why I would suggest for you to build your own website would probably be. because you want control over the customer experience right you want to know who your customers are right you want to do retargeting you do remarketing you know knowing who your customers are right what their pain points are talking to them reaching out to them asking them. What's. how they feel about you know your website or your whole shopping experience things like that right you don't. Control over that when you're on the marketplace, I see I see there's a question that just came in by Kevin Chang are you just a pure online retailer or do you have any agreement or exclusivity or your product in Malaysia? You know if I use us locally. or overseas and if you're online with you know what's your Usb right? so we are an online retailer. The thing is that we do not own a single. single product on.

Right so we were literally a marketplace for health products we had again all the top brands from the Scots or even the so I think Johnson Johnson all these guys right here They're our platform and we went directly to them to actually work with them to do the marketing I remember even going to PNG like Procter and gamble we work with and all these kind of products right so but again at the end of the day, we don't have control over any of these products. so what we do. That's we we we will go to them right and say we want to sell your products right and they will ask what's what's what is your Usb right again for us because we are vertically focused website right we are able to identify our customers a lot a lot better than let's say the marketplaces right so if if we if you want to target someone with a particular health problem or a health condition, we would know who to go to right because maybe this person has bought Dandruff shampoo in the past in the in the.

To the 3 months right and therefore, maybe you have a new Dandruff product or you have a new product for eczema or whatever it is right, we would be able to actually target these guys right and it's and and you know health is something that I'm sure you don't want people knowing what the what kind of problems that you have right. It is something that is of of extreme privacy right so and the great thing about like I said we've we've doing this digitally, which is what the retail guys are not able to do is that we are able to of course to target these guys. Tell them Hey, you know what I think these products might work for you right and we know that because you have this particular problem right and we're not we're creating like an eczema like like like a living that we just know that if people who have bought items who have previously solved this health problems. we're targeting these guys and send it out to them and it's all done dynamically right so so, yeah.

Okay. I think we're going a bit off here, but yeah, no we don't really have we do have some that are exclusive to us. We for those for those who say that we would not only. sell it on our website, we will handle the entire online. online marketplace for you as well. So even in the shop is we actually even we we we listed it there for them as well right.

Now we've most of these things are already sourced locally. The one thing is that we've products overseas, they need to be registered with KK right so if health products. it's not so easy to bring them in like everything needs to be registered. So if you bring like a like a house like a protein shake, for example, they would scrutinize every single ingredient in there right and just to register these products it cost so much money. It's cost so much time so we'd rather work with distributors right. We've already done all the registrations and we handle what we're good in which is. The website, which is a selling online. Yeah, So yeah, which is an online retailer. So so guys what's happening. can someone just off the my voice? Sorry now I'm hearing my own voices now. Are you hearing your own voice? Yeah. I'm sure it's your voice. Okay, a really quick one guys the so a few things that I just said that you go Nuggets is number one when you're when you are having your own website you have the oblique you Also cans to say that if you're going on marketplace, you see the marketplace, Cannot build branding that is very true.

It's very tough to branding on marketplace. So what I did is that he still put his items in those marketplace in Lazar, but he find a way to get them to come to his website and he did that wire his box and wire the and and he also put flyers inside the box as well to get people into his website. So that's definitely one of the ways that. The the potential customers. fast and and yeah, that was that was that was one way for us to do that Are you able to answer this question in a really nice nice We chop chop. Nice and simple. Yeah. we try doing some importing with stuff in the US and things like that at the end of the day we we we we try to few products.

We ended up just parallel importing them, which is illegal right. It's not enough to do that because. We want to test the market to see how things how things were performing by the end of the day if you really want to to to to do it, you have to go through a process to pay for every ingredient to be scrutinized with that it could take between three to 9 months just to register one product and if one ingredient gets rejected, the whole product gets rejected.

So. IIII would I would say, look at the look at what it's about before. Trying to bring these health products in yeah. Nice. So okay, I think I think you know. the story for Koyara has been you know pretty pretty amazing. I. There are some other questions that people just ask you know is number one is why should a person you Shopify? Let me see some of the questions that just came in right like on what's the difference? Oh, what's the speed difference? I think for speed difference between WooCommerce and WooCommerce and "Shopify. We also have. Another person who is asking. is asking hey, you know, should you use WordPress wigs or Shopify right? so maybe the first question that we can start off with Is you know why Shopify you know what's the difference between Shopify Wix Weebly and WordPress so on and so forth right well? Okay.

So. with WordPress right so WordPress is a most of. So what's it like? I see you with self hosted that means and when. buy your own service to host it and and you managed to hosting yourself right so the great thing right about our weeks and Shopify is that they are hosted on the CDN. Alright so a CD in is almost like a server that is distributed all around the world. So imagine like if you're browsing your website from Singapore you would and let's say this is the the nearest server in Let's say in Singapore right. Your customer would download the website from Singapore right and if it's in the US a customer or US comes the server that's in the US would load your website right. so, therefore, it's a lot faster. so that's that's that's a speed limit that you get in and shop my handles all of that for you right so for WordPress, it depends on the silver that you are hosting it in right so if it's if you hold your website is hosted in Asia the people in Asia, of course, be able to access your website fast, but however, the people is in the states will find it a little bit slow so there are CD.

So that you can actually subscribe to and manage it yourself but it gets a little bit technical so unless unless you're looking to. to dive into that and really take control of that I would just recommend. yeah. go go go straight into. into services that are already do it for you right so one thing I said about about Shopify and what was the question in the I don't know the. Difference. Just just speak, but what's the difference between Shopify weights, Weekly and everything else right? right? I think so with Shopify right, so I think they're eCommerce first right whereas we've we we've we we've.

These websites so wicks in particular, I'm I'm I'll be honest. I'm not familiar with Wicks but based on what I've experienced, Wix is definitely much more for freelancers for individual sellers. They are and they're creative freedom on the website is amazing right so you can change banners You can customize a lot of different different things and. Started off as a website builder right so for personal websites for individual websites, but eCommerce was something that they just say. yeah, you know what I like they'll add in.

But it's not something that they're they're focused on same thing goes with WordPress. They are a blog first company right, and that's what they start off with sure the WooCommerce and all that stuff coming in and this amazing stuff right but I would still say at the end of the day, the people who focus on the most on the whole eCommerce experience is definitely. Right and for them they are just small things right, how you add a product into the. how you add a product into your into your website. That whole experience is is amazing right like go try adding a product out across all three platforms right and when you start realizing that you've got thousands of products to add in then, it becomes a bit of a hassle and then you'll realize why the whole what you're paying for right so she is definitely the more expensive the premium one but for.

As serious about ecommerce and saying that eCommerce is going to be the way to go IIII focus on my customer's experience when they shop. I'll definitely go to Shopify for. Yeah and then again it depends on on on where you're at Yeah. so in a way you say it depends where you're at maybe the big question is if someone does today just decide that maybe I want to try eCommerce right for the first time in my life.

Would you suggest for me to just jump straight into Shopify? I mean Shopify is not exactly the cheapest, but I'm just trying to test things out Instead, right, I think you're testing so I mean go for the free ones I mean or even the much cheaper ones localized ones like the easy stores there is. Again, the whip press as well, I think that's that's that's that's a good place to start then focus on building something very simple as simple as possible, then work on your marketing because I say a lot of. In Malaysia, especially right, I realized the design and look and feel of your website is very secondary compared to let's say in the states you go to a really crappy website. You're you're going to feel like it feels a bit dodgy. I'm not going to buy it but not the case in Malaysia.

I mean you look at look look at the marks. I mean Shoppe has like a amazing experience. The is very cluttered and you lay on right where it looks like it's built in 1995 right. so it's it's the people. Still, III still purchasing there right people are still spending on the buddhas and all that so I mean so I'll say, let's say design would be very secondary. Go ahead and start like I said on the on on on on a cheaper more cheaper solution. get a feel of it. Then, of course, you know you can upgrade later on my migration. It's not that hard these days from one platform to another so so, when is the point of time where you know like when do someone decides like it's time to go do Shopify at what stage of my business would I would I be at to say that I should consider Shopify right now right? Alright, so you see we see we've dot com right II like you see.

I'm a I'm a I'm a person who loves building right. I've built a lot of visual products and the first thing that came to mind when when when when I when I got to is that hey, you know what I think we should build the website from scratch right. but then I realized how. how much work that is right just to build an ecommerce site from scratch right because I'm a person who is obsessed with user experience and user interfaces like I love design.

I really appreciate design so. So for myself, I didn't run through all the different eCommerce. I think we started off in Magento first right so Magento is again one of the first guy I think they were they were. the the the the the first guys who did who did eCommerce eCommerce well before Shopify existed right and we will we'll be magento right and I was looking at. Oh my god like this. This whole experience is horrible. It's not just for my customers, but even for the users who are for uploading products and managing the sites on a daily basis right so. For me is that when when a business owner wants to take control over the whole website experience for their customers, as well as also for the for the for the people internally right, that's when you you start considering using a platform like Shopify right, I would never suggest you can build your site from scratch.

I've done that before for other companies where we build it from scratch it cost over $100000 and there's no way even near what any of the solutions are offering today. Until you've reached a point where you've done millions of dollars of sales and you realize that you know what like small things like a button is is is is is is is dropping it's causing people to drop out things like that. right now, there's something in you can't have control over like the checkout page then think about building your own website from scratch and things like that, otherwise honestly, I mean why why go through all that hassle people like Kylie Jenner, who has. Done like like millions in sales a month that they're still using this platform like Shopify, right, so it makes things easier.

Yeah. Okay, I think I let's see let's see what are some of the questions? Okay So Kevin and also I use magento. It's terrible. I know what you mean, but how much technical knowledge and expertise as a business owner need to manage a Shopify store efficiently. Alright. technical, I would say, let's say magento technicality was is on a scale of one to ten right, I'll say. Require maybe like a seven right Shopify is like a three alright because it's again they made everything so simple like the smallest things that even calculating the margins of your products right they do it there for you.

It's it's so idiot proof right, like like. II wouldn't want to use an example of who could use it, but but yeah, it's technically it is it is one of the most simple. Platforms I've ever come across what eCommerce and I'm just so amazed with the I'm. I'm so amazed by the by the front and it's the back end that I'm so I'm so impressed by.

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And the community is so huge as well. so you've got plenty of support He also have question like do you say Malaysia? How do you see your focus and how efficient Shopify is for other countries? currency logistics and so on, Oh okay. so I don't we did we did try selling, especially like the Singapore neighboring countries and all that the problem with that is not so much as selling selling was. The problem of our e-commerce is the logistics part of it right so it can get expensive as we want to subsidize. cost of logistics for our customers and that could be expensive part on our end as well. So we decided to win Malaysia first rather than go internationally. but I do know again. I've got friends. I think like if you look at Jeremy's vape clay right, so he sells internationally like globally and he's using one Shopify account for for that right to manage currency. And logistics, I think he works with. I can't remember the logic of what's with, but but yeah, I it's it's really easy to to localize the currency or even localize the website depending on who comes in right so if someone from leisure steps into your website, you can localize it for them like show Malaysia flag like.

And it's posts and things like that if someone from it's coming in from Germany right and you somehow is have a localized Germany. Germany website. You can do that as well, right, There's a like a there's an app for that so the app store. Is one of the best things the community is so huge, so whatever you can think about some of most likely would have built an app for that.

So so guys click on like if you guys are interested in building the Shopify Store Ian is going to be running how to build a Shopify store and that's happening on the twelfth of June. So let's just pop that into the chat you guys can find the link there So do come by and you know and Ian's going to be guiding guiding you guys on how to be a star and he's going to be able to share a lot of very interesting insights as well.

Let's see. okay. so that's one question. How do I like Strawberry? I'm not sure Strawberry is a brand or you're talking about the fruit but regardless. how to be parallel imports. Well, I mean at the end of the day, I mean why do people want to shop with your website right? I'll shop with you right so if you're competing on a price thing, I mean you're you're not going to win in the long run you can win in the short run, but I'm telling you that it's. It's it's going to be tough right so again for eCommerce, it's not just about buying a product the entire experience from discovering the products all the way to receiving the product right, the whole unboxing and things like that that's that's that's the whole customer experience that. that eCommerce we should be focusing on right how fast they get the products you know things like that. So I mean you you can't you you you can go and compete on a on a pricing pricing war, but I'm going to tell you.

It's it's not going to be a long-term game for you in the end. You don't want the people to be known to know you as the place where you can get cheap stuff right so. you want to be known for like maybe maybe maybe that's why your brand represents right like we look at a pharmacy. The big pharmacies you go. Okay. You know what I'll buy. pharmaceutical products at cheaper and and and they'll throw prices right because that's what their brand is known for for us. I'd say it's about we. One thing we did to stand ourselves out is that we had actual pharmacist with actual doctors that you can consult on our website via the live chat. so you know just things like that right. It's part of the entire experience, which is why people want to shop with us and come back to us.

Yeah Oh, by the way if you guys want to know like like if you guys try to access, it's it's it's normally there the business has been sold so just letting you know the that you can find articles of of it online but yeah it. It's it's it's it's no longer live anymore. So speaking of Koyara, So what was some of the mistakes that you made with Koyara was there any like? And anything that you feel like okay, it was a mistake and then I had to like fix it. right for any problems that you are facing with the business. Of course, I think one of the biggest things for us is.

Again we were selling products that other people own right and not having control of the product that you're selling. can be a bit of a problem again you're in the mercy of someone's hands if they decide to not want to sell you. 1 day you're cut off, you're completely. And you have nothing to sell right and imagine if that product is something like like 40% of your of your total revenue right and and it does happen like we've we've large retailers again. I'm talking talking about the the pharmacies where they sell products, they're owned by others. It does happen with a bulk of a certain bulk of brands would contribute to the most of your sales right The problem is is that when that happens you're going to start competing on price and therefore you don't make much on these big brands, you'll make much.

Probably having or maybe maybe having some perhaps they were more something that we make right, not something that's that I hate the idea of selling something that I don't know. Yeah. I can't control the price. I can't control the quality. Yeah. second thing I probably that's. I think we've we've we're hiring right. I think that was something that was very tricky for us as well. Some things that are you're thinking like hey, you know what like like packing for you know that could that's that's so simple. We'll do it ourselves right and we'll save money there Instead of you'll say you know we spend the nights packing and things like that But little dare. I realized that again this is grow. Yeah, business grow because of people right the people that you're with so you you don't want to. to sting on that right like that that that two or 3 hours that we spend packing things on our own right as as as as founders and owners of the business, we could have probably use that to figure out how to grow a business and and outsource that to someone else right.

So we stay on a lot of a lot of different things and and we try to make everyone wear different hats and in the beginning. I remember because of that that really stunted our growth. in fact, we are losing even more money than. the way we started to hire a much much bigger team to. to to have to handle these these mundane tasks So so, yeah, I mean that's these are probably things that are probably change. Right, okay. There's a question Are you using Shopify plus or Shopify? I mean when you're using Shopify plus or Shopify will Shopify plus we we we didn't really see the benefits of going in there and I think we did explore going to Shopify plus. where they had a lot of automation stuff that that they would be used. but the benefits wasn't that much you could get like a dedicated account manager that responds to you within 24 hours, which is great.

But but you pay like something like a $1000 a month just for shopping by plus, so I wouldn't recommend it. I mean I it probably has changed a little bit more now right now, I think even the the the $79 plan I can't remember what it's I think it's called Shopify. I think there's a middle tier plan. I think that's more enough for businesses that live in the group. Right there's another question do you think the distributor might start competing with retailer and shop those other platform in the future. of Let's see yeah we saw it happening with us as well, right, not just with the shop and Lozada platforms, but the brands themselves in fact, if you look at if you buy things like that all right, you see PNG, right, which is the. the the distributors themselves are starting to go on these platforms, as not as like like like Uncle Chang's. Start and that but they're going as PNG themselves they are starting to to create promotions themselves so they are going to B to C right.

They are going right in the B to B. so so they themselves realize that you know what what's what's the point of going through this is where we can do it ourselves Online. So so yeah, I mean definitely that is that is a problem and again this is why I said selling a product that you don't own or don't exclusively distribute. it could be very challenging. Oh, yeah. now here's the juicy question. So give us some tips on how you're going to get it's not. It's not something that's going to go. You're going to get like right away right. but we spend a lot on the marketing fight right so. One one of the ways right, I said it was we did some a bit of gorilla gorilla. I think I said things that using the marketplaces to drive traffic to our website, But the other thing is also that we're very cautious. so we're not a big company.

We don't have that much cash flow to spend on marketing. so we're very careful with what's we've with how we drive traffic to a website right so things like Google shopping That was that was one of the ways. we work. I think more than eighty but in more than 70% of our marketing spend was a lot of search ads. so we wanted to be so we did target. things like like shampoo right shampoo is just too big too expensive to target right so you want it for people who are searching for a specific brand right or specific health problem right so these are things that people will we were solving and we're solving problems for people and we when we market we write, okay, people are coming to us because we help them identify.

We were doing man. Tagging right, so we would tag all the different. personal care products that we have right or even things like like Apple cider vinegar right, There's a lot of health benefits. We will tag every single one of these benefits in there to make sure that people who are searching for, let's say indigestion or even searching for solutions for. what's this like like like like stomach pains, you know all those kind of things we would target We would target those things and that's why we did very differently compared to everyone else. So this kind of. Was a lot cheaper because no one else did it right so try and find the space that is that that there's not there's it doesn't have that much competition right.

So if you're not if you're selling a weight loss product, for example, if you if you if you go to Google ads and you're going to spend money on the the search the keyword weight loss Trust me you're going to be burning at like $10 per click, $15 per click You're going to burn out right so try it indirect way of trying to to. And indirect way of actually. I'm targeting these guys. So, for example, maybe you're targeting people who have just was about to get married right so that's one way you can say, Oh, these guys most likely might want to lose weight right or maybe someone that just had a baby right chances are they might want to lose weight as well. Right. So again you see it's about trying to be more creative with your marketing right now, then eventually we realize that the digital marketing spend we started moving a lot to its organic growth so.

Well. While while we were spending about. What's this, we're spending a lot on the on the on the search marketing eventually that started shifting into more organic. so we start focusing a lot more SEO and things like that right so SEO was was fantastic and it's one of the most brilliant things that I dived into. I'm in in fact today something I'm I'm really passionate about. and we can see that that the results are there right so we no longer need to spend money on on on on on on certain keywords, we were ranking first all the time for for the so SEO is something that we spent quite a lot of. Time on It's definitely something that worth it Audrey like disappear Audrey Yeah, he disappeared for like 5 minutes.

He really back. so, yeah. sure sure okay great. so there are some questions in the chat one is asking at what point did you make transition from paid media to se right there? Hi Blake. well for Seo so we started. I think that so I think I think SEO works well when your traffic is is high right so one of the one of the key things that that Google tracks your score is are people your website. Are they bouncing off your site and we had a lot of we use a lot of digital marketing spend right to push that a lot, but eventually when we start ranking so again when we when we looked at our marketing markets across the different keywords across the bear in mind, there were like thousands of keywords that we're we're we're working at at at any moment.

Right let's say, give you an example, let's say it was a It was a health problem, not right. Let's say Dandruff right. and we want that we we were targeting and like, okay Dandruff products in Malaysia right, so we start as well as we are spending the ad spend on these things, but then later on, we realize Oh, we're starting a rank a a little bit higher. Then we start reducing our ad span and that eventually we realize that you know we're we're constantly ranking within the top five.

Then we can start turning that. A little bit more and then we would drive that to other keywords that we're not performing as well. Yeah so SEO or something that really drove a ton of traffic right and we really spend a lot of money on that right right. so II think you started off your career as a practitioner as well. Right are you doing a show for this? So it's something like that that I actually really really love. Yeah. Nice. Okay, but you're doing it in house at Koyara. I think that's why I'm asking if people are asking if you are doing it in house or you hired an agent for a Seo right. I'll be honest right now, the the the agents like I think about eighty to 90% of the agents and people that you see online are offering SEO services.

They're **** right. They'll tell you like. Oh, you know I'm going to do an SEO score on your page and let me show you all you got 60% and you know I can drive it. 80%. I see a change of meta tags and all that trust me like it's it's it's. Right you want to test an SEO person right, ask them what they have something like what they're backing strategy is right backlinks are one of the number one. in fact, I think it's still is the number one way to to to go with EO so if you're engaging engaging with these guys, ask them what the strategy is because they should be spending about 60% of the time trying to figure that out right.

How to get links back to your page If they tell you they're going to change your page and make it more, SEO friendly and mobile friendly. you can do that **** on your own right like you know like don't don't pay someone to go and do that. Trust me I scrutinized a lot of all these SEO experts are you such such SEO Services, Malaysia. I guarantee you like 7080 percent of them. They don't know what they're doing. Yeah true true actually the Seo the on Page SEO If if you learn it a bit, you will be able to do it yourself right when it comes to back linking 20% off of your ranking, eventually so I mean the the the guys who I say who are who are really good at it like I mean, I'm I'm I've I've looked at some. Some of these gurus that are doing all these ES are like.

Okay, Let me look at the question There is some questions coming in Tina is asking how much do you spend online advertising a month. So yeah, I mean, I'm not sure if you can answer that. but if you cannot can you just like tell us how much did you spend on eso? how much on Facebook ads on different kind of ads that you have okay? So so the way we calculate how much you should spend was basically a percentage of our revenue so depending on the on on on on our revenue so in the beginning when we're doing something like like 50 thousand.

It could be between 5% to about 15% of our total revenue. by by then I think it was the most I think we spend was something about close to about 5050 thousand a month, but there's more to the latest stage when revenue is actually a lot higher than that. Yeah. Yeah. So which which channel do you guys spending on mostly Facebook ads or Google ads. No with Facebook. Not so much. Facebook. We use it a lot more for branding purposes so digital marketing was split between from branding to conversions to.

Most search ads or SEO and things like that, so we had we had depending on how we're performing for the previous month, we would adjust it accordingly. But I would I would say it changes it changes. It depends on it depends on what yeah it. it really changes all the time. Yeah. So I can't really say which one we spend most on. Yeah. Right right? Okay cool. So there's a lot of questions coming in about SEO SEO. I think there's a lot of SEO fans here. Oh, wow right asking you about how to create tackling. That's it. Okay. Okay. So it's not something that you spend money on like I said to John Kingston's. How much money you spend on SEO I first started. bear in mind. SEO is something that is a long-term game right. It's something that you're you're you're investing in for the long term. You will not see results within one or 2 months we only saw results after 9 months right and that's something because it takes time on Google to recognize that hey, you know what these guys are something that is worth worth.

Recommending to my customers right so think about it right? What is Google in for right so Google is in the business of providing the most relevant such as to their customers right so how relevant are you to to them? So? when again, like Again something as simple as like like Dandruff products in Malaysia, that could be thousands of results of that? How do you stand out as the one right? so making sure that people don't bounce right when they land on your page? They're not going to bounce so we don't spend money on this thing. We just make sure that it's it's it's in place right one of the key things that is going to make this relevant to our customers that have that they're searching for the and products in Malaysia right, we also identify how how many people are actually so there's a lot of tools out there refs SEO malls like all these tools you can use right, so that's something that I would say spend money on because these tools are what help with SEO.

It's a lot better that you spend money. These tools then to spend money on like an SEO expert. it's I can tell you it's not going to you're not going to see results there. Yeah take time to read There's there's tons of articles out there. Yeah. Yeah. true true I mean this is what we always say like SEO is a long-term game if you're planning to get any customer any anyone from Seo just just in long term short term, you'll be like Facebook ads and all those things I think, okay, let's let's switch gear. Let's switch back to. ECommerce We're talking about eCommerce earlier sure so.

What was the top mistake you made at the beginning of your journey and then you are creating your eCommerce right anything that you can think of like share with someone who is just starting out. Okay Well for me. it's a product mix right. so what are you selling right making sure that there's margins to work with on average, our margins are close between fifteen to 30%. I can tell you it's so little because I've been. 1530 percent, which is what most retailers have unless you're doing. We realize that we cannot be doing revenues of fifty 1060000 a month like like it's not going to get us anywhere. In fact, everyone the ones who make money most is probably the. Your retailers right you and you yourself as a as a the brand owners right now you as a retailer, you're not going to be making much from there. I can assure you so. choosing the right product to sell making sure that there's a decent margin to be made.

I think that's going to be. That's very very key. The second thing is a turnover right realizing that you don't need to make money from everything that you're selling right. So I'm talking with this from a perspective that of a retailer. Has a large product mix right if you're if you own a brand you owned the product. I would say that this property doesn't apply but a little bit maybe right so turnover is going to be very key. You don't necessarily need to make money from everything right if I buy if I buy 100 products of of shampoo, for example. maybe 60% of it, I can make money 40% of it.

I would I'll I'll I'll probably want to lose money from it just to make sure that's constant turnover right to make sure that the products are keep are turning in and out. You're your warehouse so. so yeah. turnover is definitely one of the most important thing as well. Yeah again, then the third thing is probably hiring right Don't sting on on on hiring hiring the right people is Key IIIII wish I didn't. sting on that in the beginning towards the end, I realized yeah, you know what it's business I built by people not to hire right people at the right time as well, You know right right great stuff like having a good margin constant turnover of your product and don't be stingy. When it comes to hiring right, yeah, Oh lastly. sorry, I think is the brand that you're working on. like focus on long term right so focus on building your brand spread the word of what you're known about you know focus on what you've controlled on.

What do you have actually control things that long term right things like SEO and I don't I mean it's think about the long-term. Don't just think about. Yeah I need to make money within the first month or the second month I like you're building a business right it takes time. Think about what's think about the long term? Yeah? Okay. So I actually you think you think is asking the same question. she's asking. Could you share what are the mistakes you made that you are starting off if you could change what would you do? Yes. Yeah. Okay. Yeah, I mean. Is there anything you want to add what would you do? What would you change? I think I think the the four things that II spoke about were based on mistakes that I've made, like I said in the beginning we didn't think about we thought that you know every product that had to make money right.

So we're making sure that we made money on every single product but eventually I started learning the ways of how the grosses the big supermarkets the for the AA pharmacies and the watsons how they are turning over stock and why is it their revenues are so much higher. A lot higher and a lot that the volume is just ridiculous right so then I started realizing like hey, you know what it's it's about. It's about moving your stock right bear in mind the the net margin, so I was trading at a net margin of something, but we didn't eight to 12%, which is considered a lot higher than industry average The net margins at Watson's and Guardians are trading. It's about 2% right so it's but however, they have the revenue. volume was at maybe 1020. What what what what we were doing? So? so? yeah, I mean it's something that's that that that I realized that Oh, I'm in a game of actually making sure that stuff is constantly turn over.

Yeah as a retailer. Yeah, right right? Okay? Yes I don't 8020 rule. Yeah. Oui. Viens. So okay, Audrey is back. Hi Audrey Yes he's back LadyBoss. I was listening so I think II think it's very exciting to hear what you've shared right. I think from here you hear about your story and how you started your website how you started your business Also talking about why are you Shopify and of course you do share about SEO A lot of people ask like the the 1 million dollars question. How do you get so many people to come to your website right? there was some people 1000 people coming in a month or so struggling already you know so being able to.

Fifty KA day that's pretty insane and I think you have dropped a lot a lot of nuggets to to pretty much everyone. so thank you so much Ian for everything I think II think maybe one of the big questions. really wanted to ask you is you know because by the end of day, we are also talking about Shopify here right so how do you think you know? Shopify actually help you accelerate your business. I know that II know that the couple of times, he told me like you know you are, I think there's a few times.

He just told me that hey, Shopify is not the most SEO friendly the platforms. That is really good, It helps you know, reduce a lot of headaches and so on, so I think you know one of these things you can actually share with everyone right. I sound like the the ultimate Shopify Worshiper. Yeah, you are the ultimate Shopify worship where every day as you eCommerce you like we'll just do Shopify, please We'll Shopify it is true. I mean I do recommend that I mean I love you as a whole and I think I think I say is probably the easiest way to get into ecommerce. Right to start something and to really start selling something so that's you know you don't lose our customers and things that and then slowly grow your way up or even grow out of Shopify 1 day right.

I think because of a lot of the let's say I talk again about the whole user experience Right I talk about about the things that that would need right so. The tools that Shopify offers as. a laurel, it offers a lot of automation right. There are things that you can you can you can schedule and and this is where it stands out across a above the the magento or even the WooCommerce and the easy stores. and the other platforms that they that they offered in the for eCommerce is the whole app store that they have right because of the if you think about because they open.

It up to everyone right. if you're if you're facing a problem right like let's say there's not a particular kind of discount that you want to offer the customers. and it's not available in in Shopify. chances are some we have probably made an app for that and you can just pay them to help you do that the integrations that they have right so if I if you're using an accounting service like zero or.

One of those cloud-based accounting accounting services chances are there's an integration there for that and therefore all you need to do. Just click once and it sings all your accounting information there. you just need to set it up once. I mean we save so much time on that and that time we can use it to spend on other things while growing our business right. So I think that's one of the key things why I recommend Shopify so much I have IIII. I'm I'm not II am biased to its Shopify and I've checked out all the other platforms that there is and like I said III.

Still, I still stand by saying that. it does offer the widest range of. Again, it's not for everyone again. It's for businesses that are really looking to take control of the whole website and customer experience. These are people who want to use a site of Shopify. That sounds great well guys you're going to be wrapping up soon. really. thank you so much for you know tuning in today guys and Ian Thank you so much once again if you guys want to hear more from Ian do join our Shopify workshop and he will also he also do a lot of nuggets during that period of time because I mean people who is going to be learning how to do the Shopify because they want to start a business or they want to bring their business online right so he's going to share a lot more during that time as well.

So you know what guys do come by and do check out our Shopify workshop. In the meantime, stay safe, stay healthy. Stay well. stay at home. Please don't go out guys and be happy. Yeah, so they know how many I think today not interested to know anymore, but I guess you know it is in four digits. so I guess you can get back already. Yeah. yeah. Thanks everybody. Alright guys getting in and hearing my stories. Thank you so much Ian for everything once again do come by for our Shopify workshop guys happening on the twelfth of June. it's going to be about a four-hour.

It's going to be 4 hours you only need to take four of your life. It's not very long. Okay. See you soon guys. Oh if you guys need if you have any questions and things like that you want to reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram wherever on LinkedIn. just search you can find me there. Oh, yeah. chat with Audrey and me as well. I'll be happy to share about anything. Alright guys. Thank you. Alright. Thanks Ian. Thank you guys. Alright. Thanks everyone. Bye.

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