Just 6 months ago, Bhanu Chimbili was just another entrepreneur trying his hand at e-commerce. He did not know any suppliers. He did not know when the first sale would come. He was taking a risk.
6 months ago, Bhanu Chimbili was ready to put all of his energy into his online store, without knowing where it would take him.
Today, he’s glad he took that chance.
He started out from zero: he’d been a software developer in a past life. He’d started a brick-and-mortar retail store on his own in 2006. He’d even worked in affiliate marketing for a while. None of them worked out.
Bhanu had seen failure. Thrice.
But he did not let failure stop him. He knew he had to try again. And he was prepared to work for it.
Since then, he hasn’t looked back.
This is the story of a serial entrepreneur, who tried and failed, but never gave up. This is the story of a hustler, just like you—who made ecommerce work for them.
This is how he got his first sale, and then many more.
It was the early month of February in 2019, and I knew that I wanted to go back to commerce and business. I had been working in affiliate marketing for a while, but I was itching for more.
Back in 2006, I had a retail store—one that I immensely enjoyed working on. This was my calling. This was what I wanted to do.
But unfortunately, the store did not work out. We had no suppliers. The store was running at a loss.
It had to be shut down.
Right after that, I started working as a software developer, using PHP to develop web applications. The work was interesting—I was creating student forums and had quite a large user base at that.
Things were smooth.
But I knew something was missing. I shifted streams to affiliate marketing. But still, I knew I could be doing more. I could be running my very own business online and getting successful on my own terms. I was just waiting for the right opportunity.
And then, lightning struck. I came across a few e-commerce stores that were doing something called dropshipping. It was a completely new field, and I was immediately drawn to it.
It was the perfect fit! The only problem I had running a retail store—the lack of reliable suppliers, was easily resolved by dropshipping, but I had to find a way to automate orders. I needed a way to control processes and predictably and consistently discover the right kind of products.
I dove into research. I went through YouTube videos and did courses that helped me understand dropshipping. I looked up stores and how other people were managing suppliers. I wanted to be fully equipped before I started building and know what it’d take.
It just made sense: I did not want to spend time worrying about the logistics of the business. Stock was a major pain point for my retail business—I was often left with too little or too much of a product.
Dropshipping eliminated a lot of problems for me: I could easily stock my online store, and fully focus on marketing and building my customer base instead of worrying about inventory and storage.
It removed the bigger risks and allowed me to experiment with the marketing and sales aspect of business, which was super important if I wanted to be successful.
But dropshipping had its own risks.
I had to find suppliers that were trustworthy. I had to make sure products would ship on time. I had to create a system that made order-processing and tracking easy.
You will see later in the article, that my research led me to a solution to all these problems. (Hint: It was Spocket!)
I thought edeals would be a catchy store name, and easy to type in. I did not want to choose fancy names that could be forgotten: E-deals captured what I wanted to convey.
I already possessed this domain from my business venture back in 2006, and I thought a revamp of this website would do great for my new store.
The second thing to decide was the niche.
Now, there’s a lot of advice on the internet about the specific niche you ought to select. However, with single product stores, you always run the risk of trends fading out.
I wanted to create a complete all-you-need store that encompassed products ranging from clothing to home decor, iPhone cases to bath products. I wanted a one-stop shop that included a little something for everyone.
A lot of people advise against it, but I believed I could make it work with the right advertising and strategy.
So I decided to start a general store, but before I could build anything, I had to take one crucial step: budgeting.
This is one part of the process that I believe entrepreneurs simply do not pay enough attention to. I think that without proper management and distribution of your initial funds for different arenas of the business, it is impossible to succeed in creating a high-income store for the long term.
I kept a good chunk of funds aside for the store—because no matter what people say, you need at least $1000 to start, in my opinion. The hosting for our domain cost $30/month, I allocated a about $200/month for applications, $15/day for advertisements and another $200-500 for different marketing channels.
I knew this venture would require patience. A lot of entrepreneurs claim to have made success in a day, in this field. But it takes hard work, and resilience.
I saved enough funds to give myself the required runway to make my store successful, and try different things.
I had done enough research to know that Shopify would be the platform best suited to me: it was pretty straightforward, no coding or heavy-handed processes, just a simple sign-up.
I hired freelancers from Fiverr to touch up the website, and we were good to go. A lot of e-commerce store owners spend huge periods of time on perfecting their store and making it look pretty.
I decided that I wanted a store that visitors could easily navigate, filter out products and make a purchase with the least amount of friction. My store may not be the prettiest, but it did what it was supposed to do: convince visitors to purchase a product.
I made sure visitors could easily move from one product to the next, find all the necessary information about a product and check-out smoothly.
Now came the product selection:
I wanted to start off with products that were amazing, but inexpensive. Products that customers did not have to think twice before purchasing.
As our relationship with our customers and our trust value grew, we would expand to products in the higher range.
Right then, I needed interesting products of good quality, that cost less than 15 dollars.
My audience was limited to the US, as it was easier to control the custom duties and shipping durations with a smaller region than globally.
And so, I needed suppliers based in and around the United States. Most dropshipping solutions I found shipped products from China, which meant a long processing and delivery time frame.
This would simply not do, and so my hunt continued.
Spocket had high quality products that were made in the USA and shipped within the country, which was exactly what I needed.
Plus, I could automate the profit margins I wanted to add to my products before I imported them to my store—which saved me a lot of manual effort.
Most of my products in my store right now are sourced from Spocket, and generate a good amount of sales. Spocket allowed my store to pick up pace.
Additionally, I could easily use the supplier descriptions, with a few edits, here and there, because they did not stuff keywords for SEO and were actually well-written.
With Spocket, I found products under $15 that were of amazing quality, had space for my margins and shipped quickly. I had hit the jackpot!
My product pages included a section that assured the customers that they could trust our store, and the product they were purchasing:
When everything seemed perfect, we finally launched the store, and started our marketing efforts.
I read a lot, and by that, I mean a LOT, about Facebook and Instagram advertising. There were entrepreneurs who seemingly built entire empires based on Facebook ads. You can find approximately a hundred YouTube videos talking about how to optimise Facebook ads for best conversions.
So obviously, I had to give it a go. For two whole months, I relied on these advertisements. I changed the copy, tried different products—all sorts of permutations and combinations to get the results I wanted.
I looked up so many dropshipping stores who did it successfully and tried to imitate what they were doing, but somehow, it simply did not work.
We ran ads with no result for two full months. No conversions. Not one customer.
I was losing money, draining it away, every. single. day. I tried everything, but it just would not work.
I’m not going to lie: it was extremely disappointing. I had a lot of hopes from the store, and when my ads did not work, I was in a fix.
I gave it two months, because I believe it takes time for the results to show. People sometimes clicked on the ads and came to the store, but they were NOT buying. Sometimes the ads were just ignored.
It was heartbreaking.
But I had come so far, and could not just give up: there was so much to try! I could try different marketing channels, try influencer marketing, shake up my products, change how my store looked, tweak how I made ads…the possibilities were endless.
First of all, I decided to switch up the advertising channel.
Facebook was not working for my audience. I had to divert my efforts to a different channel. I went with Google Ads. I quickly learned all about them, experimented with ad formats and ran a few ads.
The results were outstanding.
I received more clicks than I had ever through Facebook and Instagram. A hefty amount of traffic was now coming to the store, and it wasn’t long before it finally arrived.
I’d gotten used to seeing the empty dashboard at this point. It had been two months since I launched the store, and I would wake up every morning and check if a sale had come in.
Until that day. It was a seemingly normal day. Until it wasn’t.
I checked my laptop and saw that somehow the Google ads that I’d started running had finally converted a customer.
The order was for a wooden iPhone case—a product I had imported from Spocket. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was in this moment that I decided: This is it. I’m going to give my 100% to this store and make it work.
This was an achievement that I’ll probably remember throughout the course of my career. I worked faster than I ever had to process the order for our supplier.
The sale went smoothly, and before the product had even reached the customer, we had another order lined up on our dashboard.
With Google Shopping, our store really took off: we’re still in the initial stages of our growth, but the rate at which the sales are multiplying is crazy!
“ My advice to new entrepreneurs, from my personal experience is: Try out different sources for your traffic. Don’t rely on a single one, and find the one that helps your ROI the most. Some things might work for other retailers, but not for you and your audience—find what works for YOU, and then go hard on that medium! “
Post that, we started retargeting visitors who had shown interest in our products through Google ads and email marketing, which have both shown amazing responses for us.
I think the most important factor for the high-growth of my store has to be products that ship from the US. It’s changed what I perceived dropshipping as—and allowed me to cater to an audience that I understand the most.
Make sure you have great customer support on your store—I cannot stress this enough. Without live chat, and readily available support, customers will simply not see you as a reliable option.
I use tawk.to to provide a seamless support experience to my visitors. It’s quite easy to install and operate.
Additionally, the Simple Bulk Price Editor has allowed me to change the prices of products in bulk once they’re on my store. This tool doesn’t sound like it’s game-changing, but trust me, it’s incredibly helpful.
With my store up and running, now I have my eyes fixed on expansion. I have not yet had the time to think of influencer marketing and a strong email marketing plan, but now that we have gained some momentum, I can look into other ways to scale the business.
All I have to say to my fellow ecommerce retailers is: It’s okay to fail and make mistakes along the way. I failed in three ventures, and did not get my marketing right in the first go. Hardly anyone ever does.
If you keep at it, and keep experimenting, eventually, you’ll find a way to make it work for you. Dropshipping and building a successful business out of it is possible. You just have to keep an eye on your goals and go for it!
Isha is a content creator at Spocket. She is passionate about helping entrepreneurs build and scale their businesses. She creates insightful content focussed on ecommerce, marketing and growth.