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Season 1 - Episode 11

from markets to millions, online store success with jodie minto

Season 1 - Episode 11

This week's episode is the first in my new mini series about the 5 steps to launching your online store.

We are talking all things product this week and how to get sorted when you are just starting out in your eCommerce journey.

Tune in to hear all about finding and/or manufacturing your product! 

Show Notes:

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Take a look here: iland co. 

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This episode is brought to you by my 12-week course and group coaching program Online Store Success which opens again very soon.

Online Store Success is for those looking to triple their traffic and skyrocket their sales on their online store. My speciality is fashion, lifestyle and childrenswear stores but many of the strategies I teach apply to all types of ecommerce businesses. 

Online Store Success is my signature program and the only way I currently work with coaching clients. It couples small group coaching with weekly calls and a private Facebook community as well as a jam-packed learning hub with over 50+ videos covering everything from branding, to social media marketing, to getting your products made, taking your own product photos, to Facebook, Instagram, Google and Tik Tok ads!

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Show transcript

Hello, and welcome to this episode of Online Store Success with me Jodie Minto. I hope you're having a great week so far, I'm really excited to let you know that the doors for my signature programme online store success are currently open. If you head over to online store, you will find out all of the information there. Like I said, doors are open right now they won't be for long. So if you have been looking to make this your biggest year in your ecommerce business, and would love some straight talking advice, tips, strategies from someone who has built their own seven figure online store, this is the programme for you. So be sure to go over there and take a look at that. 

All right, so today I am bringing you the first episode of a mini series of the five steps you need to take in order to launch your very first e commerce business. I know a lot of people that are tuning in, and a lot of people that follow me haven't yet launched their eCommerce store and so they are at the very beginning and need some help around getting their products made or sourcing products, which technology to use, how to build their audience, and so on and so forth. 

So this is the first episode of a mini series where I'm going to take you through five steps of what you need to do in order to launch your very first store. So today I am talking about all things products, how to source products to sell, or how to manufacture your own products. Hopefully you have a bit of an idea around what it is that you want to sell. You have maybe already created a prototype or sample or something like that. So what I'm going to do today is start by first of all talking about manufacturing because manufacturing is not for the faint hearted. It’s very rewarding, but it's also quite time consuming, and expensive and frustrating. So first of all, I'm going to chat with you about how to get your own products made, whether you're a designer, whether you have got a creative vision. Either way, generally speaking, I have a fashion business and I'm not a fashion designer, you don't have to be designer, you don't have to be an inventor, to get your own products made you need to have an idea and a vision. And then the rest, you can work together with a manufacturer in order to bring it to life. 

So like I said, I'm going to start with manufacturing which is very meaty. So we're going to start here today. Now, like I said, hopefully you've got a burning idea or passion for a particular idea or concept and you believe people will be excited to buy it. The first step in having your very own product manufactured is to find a manufacturer who is making something similar for example, denim jeans. You see manufacturers specialise in different garments or products, not one manufacturer can make all of the things. They often require specific technologies or equipment and skills in order to make different types of products. So obviously I have a fashion business so I will use all things fashion as my example. So a denim manufacturer, so a denim factory who produces but denim jeans, denim jackets, anything cotton denim, is going to be very different in the skills that they use in sewing the stitching, in the technologies that they need versus say a swimwear manufacturer who specialises in stretch fabrics like lycra, which would need different techniques used in order to stitch it together. So what you need to first of all do is find someone, start researching manufacturers who are already making something along the lines of what it is that you want to make. So whether you weren't making denim, or maybe it's ladies garments, resort wear, swimwear, activewear, you need to find a manufacturer that ideally specialises in that and already produces those garments for other clients. Now, there's a few different ways to actually find one of these manufacturers and the first and probably you know in an ideal world would be the easiest way is to ask for suggestions for others if they're willing to share. Now, ideally, you'd have a generous friend or a good relationship with a colleague that is either in the know or has experience in using particular factories and is happy to introduce you.

However, not all businesses are willing to share this information. There's a few reasons why. Like I said, manufacturing is not for the faint hearted, everything generally runs late, they're generally always very busy and there's always a lot of delays. So if, for example, my key manufacturer is already really late with my own things, my orders, and you know, it's frustrating for me, I'm not necessarily willing to share their details for them to sign on new clients, which might then slow down my own production. So that's one reason why people don't want to share. 

Another reason is it takes a really long time to nurture relationships and find great manufacturers. And there's a lot of work that goes into it, and they just may not want to share, they might just want to hold those cards very close to their chest for their own reasons. So if you do have someone that you know, that has a relationship with a manufacturer, and you ask them, it's 50/50, they might share, they might not share. So don't be surprised that they have, they would have their own reasons for not wanting to share and you would need to respect that because like I said, it's not easy. I mean, even in my seven, eight years of business, I have had many manufacturing relationships, some that I no longer work with and some that I'm just getting started with. It's not necessarily something that you want to just jump in and share all of those kinds of industry information. Side note for my students that I work with my members of online store success, I am genuinely happy to share and introduce them to any of the suppliers that I either use or know that can help them that is something that I do for my my, like I said, my members, my students, it's not something I do just for strangers off the street but for people that I know and know what sort of business they have and what sort of products they have, I am more than happy to then connect them with the right people. 

So let's say that that option isn't available to you. The next option is to get familiar with Now I know it's got a pretty bad reputation of having lots of just junk on there. However they the listings on there are factories, they're manufacturers that would specialise in certain garments. It's a great place to start and to create a shortlist of manufacturers that you can reach out to. Now a really important note, when you start looking on, many of the photos you see on there for product listings are ripped off from other brands and it's not something they themselves have made. They're using those images illegally mind you and unethically dare I say, in order to say and bring in clients and say like we can make things like this. So it's really important when you start narrowing down a list of potential options that you ask them, Did you in fact, make the garment in this listing? Sometimes it's really obvious that they didn't you know, if it's a designer brand, I've seen plenty of spell collections and whatnot, spell designs on there. And I know that they wouldn't be, you know, making their products. So you need to ask them specifically, did you make this product? If not, can you show me some photos of recent work that you've done, because you will probably find that that will help narrow down the list a little bit more once you see the type of products that they make. Once you have got a shortlist it's worth, it's really important to ask them what their minimum order quantities are because often they can turn around and say you know, it's 100 minimum per colour per style, which is a lot when you're starting out, I don't even do that now with new products, I will for tested proven products, I will go you know and make hundreds but in the very beginning I like to do if I can do 30, I'll do 30 If I can do 50, that's where that's kind of my starting point. And so for anyone starting out, I would not recommend going all in on 100 per colour per style. Because what you'll find is you think it'll be easy to sell 100 of that same dress. But in reality, if you're a new business, it isn't that easy. And you might find yourself 5 and then you have 95 sitting on the shelf, which is really depressing. So that's really, really crucial because you might find a great product, a great manufacturer and their prices look great, but they might turn around and say but you have to make 1000 of these things and that's not uncommon. So that again will help cull that list to find someone that suitable. And also, by just chatting with him on the Alibaba platform, you will get an idea of how responsive, they are their communication skills, whether they seem like a good fit for you. So I would absolutely recommend starting conversations with at least three to five different manufacturers, the more the better, really. So that you can get, you know, narrow that down and once you find someone that you like, either order a sample. Ideally, if you have an idea for a product, you have some sort of design, sketch, or picture or image, if you've got some measurements, great, you can have them straightaway make a sample for the garment you want. 
If you don't yet have that, what you can do is order a sample or two of their products that they have available that they've listed on Alibaba, so at least you can see the quality of their work, see how long it takes to get to you. check all the stitching and things like that. So that is the best way to get started, I know it can be really time consuming and again, it's a lot of work, which is why some other business owners aren't willing to share because a lot of work goes into building these relationships. But it's you've got to start somewhere. So that's a great place to start. And if you have a physical sample, if you've perhaps had a dressmaker, make up a sample of what it is that you want in that particular size, as you say you want to have it made up in a size of a medium, and you want to send that physical item to them, that's even better, because they will just copy it from that sample you've sent them and then you'd have to look at grading the sizes, you know how many centimetres in which areas would change for a large and extra large etc. So if you have got a physical sample, in my experience trump, a tech pack or a spec sheet, any day of the week, they always love physical samples. If you can have then a supporting tech pack or specification document that says right, these are the exact measurements for each of the sizes, it definitely helps when it comes to receiving that bulk, where you then can go in and check and go have they followed the instructions carefully. 

Because what you will find is more often than not, they don't follow the instructions. Or they will offer the sample and then the bulk comes, it's a bit of a disaster. So the more information you can give them the better but if you have a physical sample, it will definitely speed up the process. So like I said, manufacturing is a lengthy and complex process, expected to take three to six, even twelve months from the initial concept and sampling to getting that bulk order. And if you're starting out, that might be more like six to twelve months. Because what you'll find there'll be a few variations of samples, you know, you have to wait for it to be shipped to you. And then you've got to send feedback, they've got to make it again, send it back to you, so on and so forth. So like I said it's a lengthy and complex and sometimes frustrating process. However, it is really rewarding and you will have much better profit margins when it's time to sell if you've manufactured it yourself, plus you're opening up the opportunity to be able to sell wholesale to other brands and other stores. So they will have enough margin to be able to do that, hopefully. 

Okay,so let's say that manufacturing sounds like it's all far too much work. And right now you have a concept, or an idea of an online store that you want to launch that sells a curation of products and other people's brands rather than manufacturing your own. It's definitely easier. There's always pros and cons for both but perhaps you want to even test the waters with say, for example, so you want to start a business selling. I don't know, let's say candles, for example, you maybe don't want to go all in and on manufacturing lots and lots of candles, you first want to test the waters by selling somebody else's brand. So finding different ways and different brands to sell, there's a few different ways you can do this. So you can reach out to brands directly perhaps you follow them on Instagram or on Facebook. You're on their mailing list so you can reach out to them directly and say ‘hey, do you sell wholesale to other businesses?’ A lot of brands like myself like iland co. do, but there will be a set of criteria that a wholesale customer needs to meet in order for us to sell to them they need to order a minimum amount of dollar amount of products they obviously have to have a shop. They're reselling and we often have rules and things around you know you can't go and undercut us with the price and splashed all over the internet. 

You know there's so there'll be set certain rules calls and terms and conditions around that. But it's a great way to start out and often they already have photos, which is super, super helpful. You can just get their photos and upload it straight to your website, you don't have to look at doing photo shoots and things like that. So that's one way reaching out to existing brands that you like, reach out to them directly and ask them if they do wholesale? If so, do they have a lookbook, or an order form? And what is the minimum order that you've got to make with them in order to get that, that wholesale discount, 

Other options are attending trade shows. So we are attending, we're exhibiting at a trade show in Melbourne this year at the reed gift fair, that's our very first trade show. These trade shows are where other business owners, boutique owners shop owners go to source and buy new products to sell in their stores. So I'm really excited about that it is a huge investment from a brand. For us to get down there to Melbourne, there's four of us, we're gonna fly down for a week, plus the cost and whatnot. So we're really excited and hopeful that it will, it will definitely pay off. But you just never know. But from the other side of it, if you're a buyer, they are great, 
they're often free to get into. And you can go and all under one roof, there's there's hundreds of brands and businesses selling products that you can sell. Aside from that there are also wholesale agents and platforms. So in fashion, there's a wholesale platform called holla spelt, where they sell lots of fashion brands, we iland co, are on hola as well. And there's even agents where you can make appointments and go in and see what you know, the brands they represent and have a look and whatnot, there's lots like in Sydney, and Surry Hills, in Alexandria and then aside from that, you'll find their wholesale or fashion district. So again, Surrey Hills in Sydney is has got a couple of blocks of just all there mostly fast fashion. But if you've got a business card showing that you are a real life business, you can go in and purchase packs from them. So there are lots of different options where what you can look at. Also, if they're a smaller independent brand, they might also be open to a drop shipping arrangement, where you can list your products on their site without actually buying them up front. Where what happens when we've done this in the past iland co. we've had a few different brands on our site via drop shipping arrangements. So we do the marketing and make a sale for that brand and when then we flick that sale through to the other brand that we've sold, and they will then send the order to the customer and then we will make a commission that that brand will then send us an invoice for whatever the arrangement is. And then we pay that to them. And then we make a little commission and we didn't have to buy all of that product upfront and hope that we would sell it. So some smaller independent brands might be open to doing that. And it's definitely worth it's definitely worth asking.They might say no, but it's worth asking. 

So over the years, I've done a combination of all of these things I've done manufacturing, I've done other brands on my website where I've purchased it upfront, I've done drop shipping other brands on my website. So there are lots and lots of different ways and maybe you're going to be a combination of both, or maybe you'll start reselling, and then move over to manufacturing. But there are definitely lots of options and it's I mean it is great fun, particularly when products are selling and flying off the shelf. So yeah, so there are two options regarding getting products ready to sell for yourself. It's either manufacturing or reselling another brand. I hope that was helpful to you. Like I said, my Online Store Success coaching programme group coaching programme is currently open for enrollment where we go even more in depth in this thing in these different areas of launching and scaling your online store. Like I said, for members in my programme, I happily introduce them to relevant manufacturers if I've got someone that I know can help them. So be sure to go over to and take a look at that. I cannot wait for the next episode of this little mini series and where I'm going to talk to you about building your brand and your audience. Thanks so much for being here today. I look forward to chatting with you again next Wednesday. Bye for now.

Tune in each week to learn how to build and scale your own online fashion or lifestyle eCommerce store.

My mission is to help other emerging fashion entrepreneurs crack the code of eCommerce success for a life of uncapped income, flexibility and fun.

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