The year is closing in once again, dam does time fly. Been so busy in the many aspects of developing a viable online business, I haven't had the time for much else. If your thinking about an online store, first pro tip, 99% of all the videos you watch on how to build a business, are bullshit!
This has been an incredible learning experience.
First, grasping and understanding marketing and the concepts of social media, from FB, to Instagram, Twitter, Google and more, how they relate, how to market on those sites and all the necessary things you need to do for just that, takes a tremendous amount of time to understand. For example they are certain days and set times during the day when its best to post to a site (otherwise things get lost in all the information being posted). The related interconnections to each marketing platform and the analysis reports the platforms offer, all are incredibly complex.
Developing the website, is at the same time a complete evolution in itself which is constantly changing as you improve the flow and customer experience on it. Everything you see on the site or even an ad has a certain psychological impact on how easy the customer reacts to all this digital information. Besides a website, you need other applications (I use about 7) that all interrelate to make the site smoother for the customer or provide additional experiences like social justification and improving shopping experiences.
Product design, selection and incorporating it all into the site is the third consideration. Sourcing products, implementing processes and careful analysis in an effort to keep prices down and give the customer value is a very important. My main market, those who work in the Merchant Marine, who've gone to sea or still do is a very small niche yet there is a wide range in the demographic profile. There is a big difference between what a Chief or Captain buys to what an AB or a QMED might buy and in that, you have to try to consider every customer.
Of course, there is also another critical aspect of running the business. Like paying taxes to the state, budgeting, and satisfying customers when there is a problem. Fortunately, I have always believed the customer comes first, no matter what and having this attitude ( and being sensitive to it) drives me along.
My goal is still to be the best maritime related shop to go to for tees and more, offer more products, keep the prices as reasonably low as possible and grow my customer following. It all takes time, and I suppose that is why my days are so busy!
I remain excited having so many things to do and "on the fire". All takes time, but the customers drive me along to keep on keeping on.
Finally, I want to say thank you to all those who have supported me in this process, whether its buying a product, or liking and sharing my FB page, or making suggestions it is all appreciated and drives me to keep my head down to the grinding wheel.
Fair winds and following seas.
PS While I give myself a low C or D plus on understanding all of this. I give my wife Lucia, an A plus for putting up with me and the hours upon hours on the computer!