We have met up with a range of different ecommerce managers to talk with them about their business, what works and what doesn’t – and to benefit from their knowledge. We will share this golden knowledge with you in a series of blog posts packed with interesting facts, hacks and tricks – and a rare view behind the scenes of different ecommerce shops and how they work. In this blog post:
- Get first-hand tips from an SEO expert
- Read about how to handle newsletters
- Get great ecommerce hacks
Ecigaret is a company selling e-cigarettes and all of the merchandise that comes with it. The founder is Esben Schaarup, who started the company in 2010 with his studio apartment as the headquarter. The business idea didn’t come from a passion, it came after a thourough market analysis. Since then, the company has done nothing but grow.
What is your background?
I have always been into entrepreneurship and have sold things from my home on sites like the yellow pages. Everything from trending caps to flip-flops. I wanted to open a shop but needed to find out what to sell. I found out there was a conference in China through the site amino, and through that I made a friend who I went to the conference with – as he had some experience within the ecommerce world.
I discovered the e-cigarette and realized the potential. I studied language and economy at the University of Southern Denmark, and took my master degree in Ebusiness, while I was running Ecigaret, and then finished university to work full time for my company.
I probably spent 10,000 DKK to get started and got a freelancer to do the design of the web site. At the time, we were only five companies selling e-cigarettes, so the competition wasn’t as big, and it made it easier to grow fast. The turnover increased and the company expanded.
Two years later the turnover was in the million class – I was incredibly surprised by the demand and the pace of which we were growing.
My main competency is that I can focus on what’s important and do a proper research instead of being controlled by a personal passion for a particular area. That is exactly what I did with Ecigaret, and that’s why it has been such a success. Also, I am a hard worker once I have identified what needs to be done – I stick to the plan and can keep going if my initiatives are working. I general, I am curious by nature, so it’s natural for me to investigate thoroughly.
»Two years later the turnover was in the million class – I was incredibly surprised by the demand and the pace of which we were growing.«Esben Siersted Schaarup
Create winning newsletters with Esben’s best tips
Over the years, Esben Siersted Schaarup has experimented quite a bit with Ecigaret’s newsletters and have done some invaluable learnings. This is your chance to learn from the pros and improve your newsletters. Download Esben Siersted Schaarup’s ultimate newsletter tips and tricks here.
What about your technical setup?
We chose Dandomain in the beginning but needed more specific and tailored solutions as the company grew, which is why we chose Magento. We use Hotjar to analyze the user behavior on our site. Hotjar gives really valuable intel on what happens on our site and how it is used.
In the beginning, we had a stock house to manage it all. We decided to handle stock ourselves and had no experience to begin with. We had the products on shelves and wrote the name on the shelf.
This was incredibly time consuming, so we systemized it. Every shelf has a letter, and every product has a number to make it easier to identify the exact position of the product when it needs to be picked. The name of the product is, therefore, the name of its position. We know it is possible to use scanners and systems, but this just works for us.
What is your most important marketing channel?
We are a bit limited because we sell e-cigarettes, so we do not have the option to sell via the bigger channels such as Facebook and AdWords. That makes it incredibly important for us to rank high on Google, so that’s where most of our efforts, money and time are placed.
That is a challenge in itself, as Google decides who ranks where. It is a thing that needs to be done continuously as Google updates very often, and it forces us to think outside the box every time and figure out what Google wants.
The traffic we get from there is for free, and it drives traffic to our site every day. I am also sure it can pay off for everyone, but it is essential for us.
It is tricky to measure the exact effect of the work that has been done, which makes it difficult to find a good bureau as well.
»We are a bit limited because we sell e-cigarettes, so we do not have the option to sell via the bigger channels such as Facebook and AdWords.«Esben Siersted Schaarup
Today it is all about getting strong links, preferably from news medias and sites that are harder to get.
It is hard work to get the links. We call news sites and ask them for links by writing a relevant article or blog. We then write a proper press release on a topic that’s relevant for their readers. Many of them say no. Once, we got a link on computerworld.dk, because we talked about SEO and other things interesting for them and their readers – and it gave us a link. Once it was published there, other news sites took the story as well.
Content is also important when working with SEO. Make sure the keyword is in the headline of the blog post or the site. You can write a blog where you choose one keyword to focus on. That means you have to include the word in the header and the smaller headlines – but also focus on writing a good blog with relevant and useful content, not only written for SEO purposes. You can use videos or sound clips to help you too.
Every product is described thoroughly, we use internal link building and include as many photos as possible. The combination of good content and thought through strategy and keyword analysis can get you a long way.
What is Ecigaret aiming towards?
We try to focus on what generates the most traffic and thereby more sales – and that’s SEO.
Besides that, we want to be more represented in Scandinavia and expand to Sweden. We are currently working on translating the site and do SEO on that.
Also, we want to improve our relationship with the customers and make the customer service better – and we are looking to open a customer club that will make the customer experience even better and increase loyalty. The club will give the customers bonus points, VIP status, they will get birthday messages and bonus points when they do different interactions with us, that can be used for a discount.
The nature of our product makes it possible for us to offer the customers to reorder or automatically receive new products every month or every week without even having to enter the site.
»The nature of our product makes it possible for us to offer the customers to reorder or automatically receive new products every month or every week without having even to enter the site.«Esben Siersted Schaarup
How do you stay posted?
I read about different topics whenever we want to start something new – as mentioned; I base my decisions on the result of my market research.
We look at our competitors, and others in the same industry – what do they do, what works for them and what functions could work for us?
I sign up for a lot of newsletters from different companies.
What is the coolest thing you have seen this year?
DAO deliveries are a somewhat unknown delivery service, which we have used. They deliver letters with track ‘n’ trace at a lower price than Post Danmark. They have next day delivery and deliver before 7 am. That must be the coolest thing I have seen – their system is perfect, and it makes the customers incredibly happy.
Their tracking service makes it easier for customer service, as they can see exactly where the parcel is.
What is the most stupid thing you have done?
We had a massive, expensive one-page advertisement in Jyllands Posten which resulted in five sales – so we won’t be doing that again.
We also had a product called Kings Smoke, and we got sued by the well-known King’s fabricant. It was extremely expensive to change the entire brand.
What is the best tip you have received? And what is your best tip?
I was made aware of SEO by a random guy who recommended us to try it, and I didn’t know it at the time (way back), and that has made our site and brand incredibly successful – it wouldn’t be the same success without SEO.
My own tip would be: Hire people and outsource as fast as you can. I thought I knew everything better and could work 20 hours a day – but really I couldn’t and it stressed me out. The company will develop a lot faster if you gather a team of people to work with you. If you do not have the resources, hire part-time employees or student workers. On the other hand, do not be afraid to let them go, if the employee does not work well in your company.
What are your best ecommerce hacks?
- Consider DAO – they are incredible
- Focus on your job tasks – you will have a hundred things you feel like you should do. Focus on what brings the highest value. Do not begin on anything new before the previous project is finished
- Outsource as fast as you can
- Use your network and ask them as many questions as you can think of
Your time to shine
That was all from Esben Schaarup, who is already working on more exciting ecommerce projects. It is an interesting angle that Facebook and AdWords haven’t been an option! Do you have any great SEO learnings? Share them in the comment field below! You might get a few great tips back.