Did you catch our most recent session, hosted by our CEO Bejay Mulenga on how to grow an e-commerce business and increase sales? 👀 We have got you covered! 👍

We had an amazing range of speakers, including Zlatko Turkalj, Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, Sophie Baron, founder of Mamamade and Andy Hooper, CEO of Global E-Commerce Experts!🤯

There is so much insight in just an hour of their conversation, so here is a run-down of the best bits! If you want to watch the whole session, head over to our YouTube channel to find out more. 📹

From this run-down, you will learn more about:

📚 Brand awareness

📚 Target audiences

📚 Using your customer knowledge for effective marketing

With ‘Black Friday’, ‘Cyber Monday’ and Christmas sales right around the corner, this festive period is important for all businesses, so take note of our amazing tips from our guests.🛍️

Our first guest is Zlatko Turkalj who is the Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify.

His journey started at 24 with his own distribution company when he found a niche in the market and built his own e-commerce solution. After his previous career experience and currently working with Shopify, he has some tips and tricks on growing e-commerce businesses.

Zlatko will teach you about:

✅ His daily routine and why e-commerce could work for you

✅ The driving force to success

✅ Being clear with who your customer is

How you can transform your current day-to-day by starting an e-commerce business

Firstly, let’s dive into what a day in the life of Zlatko is like.

Zlatko says his average day consists of, “sitting with or onboard meetings with founders and high level executives that are determining vision and strategy for their international growth and understanding what their scope is, what their ambitions are, what their goals are and support them the best he can using both his own experience but also data that Shopify provides”.

He tells us that e-commerce has a really low barrier which “allows everybody to take a shot at producing something, to bring it up to the world and start working on their dreams.”

“From the technology side,” he says “it's the best time ever to start an e-commerce business because there are a lot of platforms out there that make it super easy for people to get their shops up and running in no time,” he says.

“Within 24 hours without any coding skills, you can upload photos, descriptions of your product, pricing and you can start accepting payments like the very same day. That's the world we live in and that gives opportunity to so many people”.

With many more advantages of starting an e-commerce business, here are just a few that could swing you round to start one today!

The secret to success

“Passion is the key ingredient,” reveals Zlatko.

You will be spending countless hours working on your business, so having the motivation and drive behind you is key to keeping yourself on track.

The more focussed you are on the passion behind your idea, the more successful you will be.

“There is unlimited potential,” he says.

Be confident in your own business and know your target market

Believe in your business, confidence is infectious.

“Make sure that you know what you have to offer to the world,” says Zlatko. If you know your product and the value it has to your perfect customer, you will be able to sell it to them purely from understanding these factors.

If you “know your audience and understand who they are” and “know where they hang out online and how to reach them”, there is no reason why you shouldn’t succeed.

Our next guest is Sophie Baron is the founder of Mamamade which started off as “an Instagram hustle”.

“It was only sort of out of the necessity of needing to manage everything that we set up a Shopify site with a subscription plugin so, for me, I'm kind of coming from the perspective of having made every single possible mistake first and then taking every learning that way the hard way,” she says.

“We are so much different than the very disciplined approach that Zlatko has just put forward, which is extremely helpful, but there are certainly lots of learnings that I'm excited to share,” Sophie acknowledges.

From her section you will learn more about:

✅ The process of developing products

✅ The feedback loop

✅ Why customer opinion is like gold dust

Being agile is a strength

“When we think about growth and how we grow at the same time, the product needs to be able to keep up with it and that's something that I certainly never considered before,” says Sophie, reflecting on the earlier stages of her business Mamamade.

“Mamamade started in my kitchen, it started with me making everything myself from vegetables purely just to get something out and start testing”

Sophie was able to do this from her house but soon learnt that she would have to keep up with demand and be adaptable.

“It's been a constant process of iteration, so even now I'm not satisfied with where our product is versus where we know we can be”, but she finds comfort in “speaking to the real experts which are the customers”.

“Every product we sell to some element it's open for change based on the feedback that we get from our community from the people using it and to stay agile like that I think,” she says.

“Maybe our secret sauce is because we're able to turn things out quite quickly, improve really quickly, get rid of products that aren't performing, put in products that people tell us they want to buy and just keep pushing forward,” she concludes.

Feedback is your friend, use it to keep your customers close

Nurturing the audience you already have and adapting from feedback can be crucial in retaining a loyal customer base.

“In the beginning, you're so focused on getting as many people in as you can '' so they know and use your brand, says Sophie. “But,” she continues, “once you've got them, how do you make sure that they're staying with you? How do you make sure that they stay loyal?”

She says that as well as reaching new customers, you should “focus on how much growth can come from focusing on retention”.

“That was a real learning process in terms of tightening up the funnel that we have now,” Sophie admits.

Keeping an audience and community-engaged is how you will see stronger growth in the long term than in the short term, because you create reliable, repeat customers that are invested in your brand. Plus, the more feedback you act on, the stronger your community will be.

Take advantage of free marketing

Sometimes it’s hard to reach customers with certain products or services in person, especially in these past 18 months, so make use of free marketing channels that will get to your target market.

“Mamamade started as an Instagram business and it's continued to be our top traction channel. I think a lot of times people look for that kind of silver bullet when it comes to digital ads or display or whatever it might be but actually just going to where your customers might already be which very likely is a social media,” Sophie explains.

It’s not all about finding new ways to reach customers, but by knowing your audience, as Sophie spoke about before previously, you will know where the majority of them are active - so use your logic and go there!

Our final guest is Andy Hooper, CEO of Global E-Commerce Experts.

In this run-down section, you will find out more about:

✅ Education

✅ How small movements can make a big difference

✅ Why knowing is power

Educate yourself as soon as possible

Knowledge is power, and the sooner you learn skills, the sooner you can use them, build on them to grow and develop as a person.

“The number one thing I wish I'd done sooner was to educate myself,” says Andy. “Whether it's being on a webinar or whether it's listening to a podcast or reading a book. To be honest, it doesn't really matter what it is as long as it excites you and you're willing to listen, you're willing to learn!” he says.

“What comes off the back of that is further ideas, further information, further guidance, further confirmation”.

He continues on the reality of education after school, “education isn't about maths, English, science, history, geography - that's just not life! And whilst some of those core skills are very valuable to life, the majority aren't. The big thing is what you learn after school, so it’s how you educate yourself after that”.

“It doesn't matter whether you've got a business now or you want a business in the future or whether you have no inspiration to start a business, but it’s the value you can offer your company or your business because you'll be a better version of you tomorrow than you are today by educating yourself even by the smallest of margins”.

Little things can mean a lot

“I come from a British sailing background,” Andy explains, “and you know, everything's about marginal gains, and e-commerce really is no different. It's about what are the marginal gains that you can get for your business whether it's half a percent on currency conversion half a percent on this half a percent here”.

And where small changes can be made in your business, even though it may seem a very minute adjustment, over time it could be the very thing that makes a difference and for your business to have the edge on your competition.

“It's looking at taking everything you do and looking at all the different areas where you can make those marginal gains that make the difference, not just the big things”.

When looking to grow, look to your target market

When looking ahead, you want to look for your target market. Not who you could cater for, but who you actually cater for right now. Know who you are serving, how you are serving them and why. If you aren’t solving their specific problem, you aren't doing your job right.

Andy highlights that being specific and honing in on your customers is key, “niche, niche, niche,” he says.

“The best brands that we see that are successful right now are those that have a community, those that have a following and those that give value to their audience, and it's about understanding who they are, where they're hanging around and the best lead magnet for it,” Andy concludes.

Thank you for reading our run-down with our favourite bits from the discussion! You can actually watch the whole episode on our YouTube if you want to watch our panelists give away even more insights about successful e-commerce businesses and how to grow them.