This past Thursday we hosted a networking event and panel in our office space with our friends over at Parkfield Commerce. Together, we offered our advice to a room full of ambitious suppliers and retailers seeking to launch successful e-commerce businesses. It was a night filled with wine, cheese, schmoozing, and business insight!
The panelists included Tracey Wallace from BigCommerce, Evan Hakalir from Andy & Evan Industries, Melissa Gonzalez from Lionesque Group, Jocelyn Teece from Gwynnie Bee, and our very own founder and CEO of Modalyst, Jill Sherman! Each offered their own unique perspectives and spoke from their individual backgrounds and experiences in the business, giving our audience a very holistic view of the industry.
The primary focus of the panel was the fast-growing dropship model in the world of e-commerce. Dropshipping has cut out the need for large warehouse facilities, staff, and distribution costs, proving to be very profitable for both the suppliers and retailers.
Here are some of the highlights from the panel discussion.
What are the benefits of dropshipping?
EVAN : It eliminates the need for online retailers to buy inventory upfront, essentially allowing them to operate at higher margins and increase their revenue. The reach is tremendous while not significantly adding to your internal workflow.
MELISSA : Retail businesses can do a lot more in a smaller footprint when they’re backed by a dropshipping infrastructure.
JOCELYN : Brands can make custom-size apparel for us on demand. It allows us to test products and react, and work with smaller designers we otherwise would not be able to.
From left to right Evan, Melissa, Jill, Jocelyn, Tracey, Thor
How do you build successful supplier-retailer relationships?
JILL : Keep your retailers updated on any inventory, stock, or price changes.
EVAN : Stick to your lead times and have open lines of communication!
What are some of the biggest mistakes you see in this industry?
JILL : Stores that add thousands of random products to their storefront at once. The stores that have a specific niche and personality with like-products will build their own audience and be most successful.
MELISSA : Embrace the technology at your disposal. Technology allows us to work in real time and better plan for the future – invest in it! Also, not being on the same page as your co-workers. Not communicating with your team can waste your time.
EVAN : Working with unreliable brands that reflect negatively on you will damage your customer relationships and reputation.
What are some ways to increase traffic on your site?
MELISSA : Find your target customer. Figure out what is relevant to your product and customer – where else do they shop, where do they spend their time, what shows do they watch – and launch a campaign from there.
Launching campaigns can be time-consuming, so focus on two strong platforms from which you can build a strong following and dominate those spheres.
JILL : We believe that curating your products is extremely important. Don’t try to be the Amazon of the world. Look for products that fit a demographic you can target easily through ads and around which you can create strong branding. Also, work hard at distinguishing your store through high levels of customer service.
How do you maximize what you learn from data?
MELISSA : Always approach data with a strategy. Data can be overwhelming, so understand the questions you are asking and what questions are worth your effort. Know how you define success.
As you contextualize data, adjust this strategy once a month based on what you’ve learned. Don’t get discouraged if your data leads to a dead end!
At Modalyst, our philosophy is to facilitate relationships rather than get in the middle of them. Our goal as a company is to have an integrated network between suppliers and retailers that allows both sides to prosper, and we firmly believe that dropshipping is a thing of the future and a key component to attaining such prosperity.
We would like to extend a big thank you to our sponsors of the event as well as everyone who came to listen and learn – we hope you took away something new and valuable to help grow your businesses. If you could not attend the event; however, don’t worry! See below for the link to a live recording of the panel and Q&A portion!
Feel free to comment below with any questions you may have for the panelists that were not already answered! We would love to hear your thoughts!