Our latest Shopify succcess story is Kevin Reid. I first knew of Kevin when we were both blowing it up with Teespring way back in 2014. Whilst having never spoken much previously, we have now become friends that will probably end up working together in the future.
I never really get into reading many interviews, however, occasionally one will catch my eye and I find myself reading the whole damn thing. This is one of those occasions and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
- Name: Kevin Reid
- Company: SKEcosse Ltd SKEcosse.com
- Number of founders: 1
- Number of employees (excluding founders): 1
- Location: Scotland
- Start date: December 2014
Shopify Success – Kevin Reid – £171,212.49 in April
Q. Firstly, Your App Stack. What is it and what are your favourites?
That’s a tough question but I use these everyday or they make money everyday.
- Both Klaviyo and Mailchimp. We have smaller sites that MailChimp is perfect for. Bigger lists we use Klayvio as more options. But MailChimp is perfect for ecom if done right. (Check out our article MailChimp vs Klaviyo)
Q. Where are you based? Do you have a family? What do you do for work and fun?
I am based in Scotland in a town called Gourock which is situated right on the water's edge and with a view, most people think of with Scotland :).
This year I'll be getting married which I am very excited about. I have a daughter who is turning 25 this year (yeah I knowI’mm old hahaha). When I am not in the office or working from home I enjoy heading up to the city (Glasgow) and going out for a few drinks with the guys or going for something to eat with my better half.
I will say in this business if your better half isn’t supportive of what you do you will struggle for sure.
Pammie has been there right from the start when we were paying for ads on a visa card and getting into debt but she had more faith in me than I did and without that,t we certainly wouldn’t be where we are now.
For me, my success is my UK store which has done really well over the last 2 years and only now are we expanding to other countries as we feel we have done enough to show we are trustworthy and also we can commit to fulfilling orders abroad.
I also run 2 other stores which are predominantly dropshipping stores. These I run with my Partner Stefan who I brought into the business last year after trying to persuade him for months to quit his job. Now he works with us full time.
We both now also run a company SKECosse Ltd which helps local companies in Scotland learn Facebook ads through training and also small events we hold, we also build Shopify stores for clients as well as run Facebook ads for some companies and help with their email marketing.
So we have our hands full most of the time but I really wouldn’t have it any other way as I get bored very easily.
Q. What did you do before getting started online?
Well for me, I had a few different jobs over the years. I used to drive taxis which was a long time ago and so much different to what I do now.
But I have always been of the thinking you must work no matter what it is to ensure you have money coming into the house. My last job was a windscreen fitter. I actually liked this job to a point.
The guys I worked with were really good guys and sometimes you miss that kind of thing when working for yourself.
Having dabbled for years online and trying to make something work I have tried many things. I used to run a large BitTorrent site back in the day but we won’t get into that hahaha. My goal was to always get into working for myself be it online or off, I just had to find something I liked and was good at.
I started selling t-shirts while still working fitting windows and that was tough. Up at 4 am to check ads before an hours drive to work then drive all day in a van then back to house to work till 1 am and up to do same next day.
Q. What do you sell on your store? Who’s your target audience? How long have you been selling online?
We started selling t-shirts on our UK store that we had originally been selling on Teezily and soon realized there was a whole niche here we could get into. So we opened a store around March 2016 and started to sell some T-shirts.
We have an amazing fulfillment partner in Alloverprint.it who has been with us since that very first day and has helped us not just with our products but advise on the business as a whole.
Q. How often do you launch new products?
This is something I am trying to change. I have a very unique item we sell so I have really been scaling that for 2 years now with some POD items as well. We had a point where we lost focus and we were not launching how much we should be but now we are back to 2 new POD designs a week.
The reason for this low amount is the niche we are in could not cope in the UK with many more, but now we are branching out into new niches on our store and slowly but surely we are getting some traction on things.
Q. Where do most of your customers come from? Google search? Social Media? Other sites?
So we use Facebook ads mostly for all our stores. Yes it is getting harder and harder to keep the cost’s of your ads down but I am a firm believer if your product is good enough and you know how ads should be run then you shouldn’t have any issues except for the gremlins we get when Facebook updates things and we all get hit with the high CPM etc.
We run 100% video ads for all our products whether that is still images we build a video for or we have someone wearing our stuff for video.
For the UK brand we have used Google AdWords on the shopping channel to great effect and at times saw it come in at a lower cost to Facebook, but you cannot beat the viral effect on Facebook and that is one of the reasons that and Instagram are king and will be for a while yet.
We use email marketing all week every week 365 days a year. Without email marketing, we would definitely not have hit the numbers in which we have.
We don’t just have sales campaigns but we have follow-ups and flows for a number of things but the two we see most out of are welcome series and win-backs.
We email our customers some campaigns 1-2 times a week depending on what type of items we have that week released. This is a must for any store and I myself know of a lot of dropship store owners who don’t email or can’t email as their customers hate them as they have only focused on money on the front end.
Which in the long term is bad for all drop shippers as we can now see with rising costs and customers not trusting stores.
Q. How do you scale? If you have a product that’s going off, what action do you take to make the most of it?
Here is the thing. As I said earlier I have a unique item I sell. I have sold over 45000 of these up till now in the UK and only now am I branching into Europe and rest of the world.
I needed to be very very creative when I was scaling to keep this going and still make a profit in the long term. God bless the duplicate button in Ads manager is all I will say.
For me, lookalikes are where the money is at. I haven’t used an interest in over a year in the UK store. Facebook gives you so many ways to build audiences you can’t help but make money from them.
Email lists which may be discontinued in the current climate, or building custom audiences for View content, Add to cart etc and set them up for specific periods so one for 180 days then 90 days then 60 days 30 days 15 and 7.
This way has helped me build audiences over a 2 year period using right up to the 10%. Facebook also released new ways for custom audiences like the Instagram CA and video views or even engagement from your page.
Every one of these will help you scale the hell out of your campaigns. Never stop testing new audiences, you may think “Oh I won’t use initiate checkout as it is like add to cart”, don’t just use it. Use all at your disposal.
After a month and campaign is dying off delete all lookalikes and rebuild them then test them again i have seen this work many a time.
Q. I’d love to hear more about your ecommerce successes to date. What great things have come to you through building your success and growing your store? Would love to hear a story.
I started my Shopify store March 2016
I started it mostly just to run POD items but realized we needed to expand.
Around April we started to look for new items that would compliment our t-shirt designs to add to our store. So after adding some items we very quickly realized we had found a very hot product.
From the start of April to end of may we sold in excess 6500 of this one product. This alone brought so many headaches that I had never encountered.
Our supplier was really struggling to cope with the demand as he had never had someone dropship his products before. Quickly I hired my nephew to do customer support and we worked day and night to serve our customers.
Those days were crazy but we learned so much in such a short space of time that has helped us over the last few years. We moved into an office and we were then able to cope with the returns we were getting as we were dealing with all returns ourselves and we still do as this helps build our relationship with our customer.
Uygar at Alloverprint.it was always on the phone helping us with how we were going to ship that many items as nobody we were working with had dealt with these number and for that, I am forever grateful.
We were such newbies at this at that time that I could hardly sleep at night worrying about my customers as I knew now we could build a brand and do it well if only we could iron out teething problems.
It took to around August for everything to be how we wanted it. We started to brand our t-shirts we had inserts with a thank you note and discount inside every package sent out. We got a customer support phone line put in to get the customer to trust us more and to know someone is there to help them if needed over the phone.
After all the headaches were ironed out and we worked our asses off we then started to build the company as a brand in the UK.
Just to note we still have the same supplier and fulfillment partner. This I feel is crucial, as all of us work hard for the business and the guys know the brand inside out and work for its benefit not just their own.
If I was to start again I'd tell myself to enjoy it more and not to sweat the small stuff. All the problems we had encountered was to ensure we built a better experience for our customers.
Since starting this business I have become friends with so many people that I feel are part of my family. Yousef my brother from another mother is crazy with a heart of gold. When I was starting out I couldn’t sell anything and lost a lot of money. He wouldn’t let me quit and took me on and helped me. Without that help, I don’t think I would have tried again.
I have traveled all over the world meeting people. Just last year I flew to New York to do something a lot of people dream of doing. We drove from New York to San Francisco in the name of Tasskickers FB group. We were meeting friends and companies along the way. An experience I will never forget. And no I wouldn't drive that again hahaha.
Q: What platform/tools do you use for your business?
For me, Shopify is number one. It is so easy to use. For me that is essential as I don’t want to worry about customer data.
Two pieces of software are essential to the daily running of our business.
- Zendesk for customer support. The macros it has is a must to have set up. Once you are scaling and you're receiving more emails your customer service must be able to answer them efficiently and quickly. The integration to Shopify is perfect as right next to the customer email is a link to their orders to help things just flow so much easier.
- Shipstation is a godsend for us. We still export orders manually into CSV files and PDF's for our shipping labels. This also includes our pick lists for our supplier. This way we can control that part of the process easier. We do our own returns Ship Station allows us to receive and send out replacements within their app.
Q. What’s your number 1 tip for new dropshippers getting into the industry?
Be different where you can. Don’t just steal a video and run an advert then come back complaining that you can’t get any sales. Build relationships with your suppliers so that if any issues arise you can work together with them to solve things.
An example is we just sold a new product in Europe last month. Within a week we had sold 1200, yeah awesome. Actually no they started to arrive broken and ones that weren’t were being held at customs.
Due to the fact we have a good relationship with the supplier we are able to work through it together. So be aware that things can go wrong. If they do please do not run away from them like some dropshippers do.
Work with the customers and be transparent and open about what is happening. Through this, we actually have some customers who had issues coming back in the last week. Working closely with them they are now buying again from us.
Q. Where can people find out more about you? Is there anything else you’d like to share?
- Website: skecosse.com
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kevin.reid.501598