By Shelley Widhalm
E-Commerce businesses are growing at an astonishing rate. This is the first of three stories talking about Loveland, Colo., e-Commerce businesses that are thriving with their online sales.
Loveland business owners have found clever ways to turn the online shopping trend into profitable business ventures.
Three such businesses—Aroma Outfitters that provides accessories for doTerra essential oils, Beau and Belle Littles that makes swim diapers and Wild Zora Foods that manufacturers meat and vegetable bars—have the appearance of instant success with high sales numbers. But getting there took trial and error, fine tuning business and marketing plans and keying in on what works and doesn’t work with e-commerce to thrive in the world of online sales.
Story #1 – Aroma Outfitters
“About two years ago, we knew that we wanted to jump into e-commerce,” said Charity DeVries of Loveland, who owns Aroma Outfitters with her husband, Ben.
The DeVries first founded TechKnow, a consulting digital marketing company, in 2009 to help businesses with their websites and social media outreach. In 2015, they decided to employ the online marketing techniques they developed for other small businesses to market their own products.
They did some research and found a product gap—Charity uses essential oils but heard about a need from other customers for accessories to store, blend and travel with the oils.
“We find where the problems are, and we design and manufacture accessories to fit the market,” Ben said.
Ben and Charity took an online e-commerce course and started selling doTerra accessories on Amazon. After a year, they branched off to their own website at aromaoutfitters.com and other online channels, such as eBay and Etsy. They saw an exponential growth of 500 percent in the last 18 months and expect to generate $2 million in gross sales by the end of this year, in part from applying TechKnow strategies to their business.
“It has allowed us to grow as massive as we have just doing it on a daily basis,” Ben said.
Three Pillars of Successful e-Commerce
The DeVries identified the three pillars of a successful e-commerce business:
- Have a website
- Have a social media presence
- Develop an email list
Aroma Outfitters Currently has 22,000 Instagram followers and 12,000 followers on Facebook and actively participates in influencer marketing, working with other businesses to cross-promote each other’s products and services in order to expand the audience base and create traffic back to their website.
“If you have those pieces and work on building those pieces out, anybody can have a successful e-commerce business,” Charity said.
The DeVries found success by starting off on Amazon, which already has a customer base, and generating enough interest in their products to bring in buyers to their website.
“They’re putting a lot of money into building their customer base, and we want to leverage that,” Ben said. “It’s an easy way to go up and go fast without having a lot of overhead. … But don’t build your house on a rented lot. Start there, then diversify.”
Success, however, comes with its difficulties—the DeVries initially found it challenging to make inventory projections, knowing how much to order of a product without running out. They have to be careful with their cash flow, realizing that it may take eight to nine months to recoup their investments.
“It has been an up-and-down rollercoaster. It’s not all been easy,” Ben said. “If you look at the big goal of everything that needs to be done, you won’t start. Start with the small, easy things as steps to see yourself succeeding and winning, then it’s easier to keep going.”
Charity will be teaching a workshop, Strategies for E-Commerce Success, at the Loveland Business Development Center on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, from 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The cost of the class is $30, with pre-registration. Register: http://bit.ly/2yH2AnP. This workshop will be offered again at the LBDC in 2018.