Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Lil Tracker and how you got started?
We offer consumer electronics that help prevent people, pets and objects from becoming lost or missing.
Our Kids GPS tracker watches are our most popular items. These watches are actually mini mobile phones that can make and receive real voice calls, but they also sync with an app parents can download on their smartphones. Parents can call or message their child, find their location on the in app map, as well as a host of other features such as a panic button for the child, an electronic fence where parents get an alert if the child exits a predetermined area, alarms, voice chat messages, and some models are waterproof and can provide an alert if the watch is removed from the child.
Besides the watches, we also offer GPS pendants for seniors, GPS pet trackers, the SIM cards and data and voice plans that allow the devices to communicate, and Bluetooth trackers for tracking misplaced objects such as your keys, purse or phone.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
It took over two years to develop our first watch. We had a fabulous partner develop the software, but the hardware presented challenges. The battery needed to last the entire day but this made our device larger than we wanted for a child. There was also aesthetics to consider. My daughter, six years old at the time, was our official tester. She didn’t like wearing the watch at first, the first versions were rather bulky. When we finally found a mixture that she enjoyed wearing, we knew we had the right combination.
I noticed you have both a US and a Canadian site. Were there any challenges to setting up dual sites like that? Any advice?
At first I wasn’t thrilled that Shopify didn’t allow checkouts in multiple currencies. We tried some currency converter apps, but they just gave the illusion the customer was being charged in their home currency. Customers were complaining and we were losing sales (we know this because we called people who abandoned their checkouts and they informed us).
Turns out, it's the best thing we ever did! We can now tweak each site to appeal to that country. For instance, we now offer the SIM cards and data plans in Canada. It would be confusing to offer different services to different areas on the same website and we like to keep them clean and simple. Bonus: it does wonders for SEO. Having the separate .ca and .com sites, we notice we appear higher in searches in both markets.
How did you get your first sale?
Since my daughter was testing watches long before we were ready to offer a final version, we had a waiting list. Her friends would see the watch and I’d get calls and emails from their parents, inquiring about getting one for their kids. We had a modest pre-sale list from the beginning. It was very encouraging. We knew we were onto something before we even had a final concept.
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
For us, since it was a new product, the biggest challenges were conveying on the website exactly what the device was, what was required, what it could and could not do, where it could work, how it all worked together with the app and the parents personal cell phones, etc.
In the beginning we spent a lot of time talking to potential clients and users. We’d mark down all their questions and constantly update the website with answers to the most common questions. We made a news blog and couple of videos to offer a visual effect.
To some degree we’re still doing this all the time. A website is not a static thing. It needs to change and grow with your business.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
I liked the apps, the themes, the support, the payment processing, all the options that were available. In the end, it came down to how Shopify could help us offer the ecommerce site we wanted fast, and with the least amount of friction.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
We use an upsell app, a country redirect app, an app for our reviews, and apps that link our website to our social, sales, and digital advertising accounts. They are all important, but the main one’s we use are:
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
We began with the Jumpstart theme. Simple, free and fast. We have since upgraded to a paid theme called Icon.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Lil Tracker?
You have to try every strategy and see what works best for each business. You can have assumptions but you’re going to be wrong a lot of the time. Amazon works for only some of our items. Facebook ads and Google keyword advertising have their place, as well as social media, SEO, influencer marketing and so on. We’ve had some degree of success and failure with each method.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
If you make a great website, you’ll need less interaction, but there are always customers who prefer to ask questions directly. Email and messaging has its place. Emails are good for sending files and messaging is great for short, easy questions. If it’s bad news, I always get on the phone. Digital words have a lot less tone than real voice communication. Now we’re looking at a chat bot.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
I like to look at monthly sales, and now we do year over year comparisons. Daily/ weekly sales are just too volatile. Don’t get too caught up in the short term numbers. As long as we grow each month compared to the same month last year, I am happy. So far, so good.
Everything is relative. If we notice a year over year increase of 30% in Father’s Day (June) sales, but only a 15% increase in Mother’s Day (May) sales, we examine what we think we did better with the dads or wrong with the moms. Now we have the two websites so we do the same thing: back to school sales were up 35% on the US website, but only 26% on the Canadian site...why? There is usually an answer. Did we send out the US email earlier, how is it different, etc.
In terms of measuring our success, we are very close to hitting the million dollar mark for annual revenue, so that's exciting.
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
Fucking hard work. Sorry there isn’t a secret sauce. Ecommerce has its advantages but if you think you will build it and they will just come you’re going to be very disappointed. It’s a combination of good product, a clear and communicative website, customer support when needed, and utilizing every avenue you can think of to bring in those eyeballs to your website. Then you work even harder at where you see some success.
What are you working towards now?
More devices, upgraded. Watches with cameras that support the newest and fastest telecom networks. Accessories. Once you have clients, it’s a lot easier to sell them more product than to find new customers.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
I used to try and read everything, all the experts, and there was just way too much content. Now, that we have our direction, I sort of wait until we have a problem, and then I’ll search for 2-3 articles from sources I trust. Then we digest their advice and decide what’s best for us. Each situation is really unique.
Guys like Neil Patel and Gary Vaynerchuk and the Shopify bloggers. You can always find your topic with the big guys because they have so much content, any you know they have too much to lose by steering you in a completely wrong direction. It’s a starting point.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
Believe in your product, don’t expect overnight success, and try every avenue a little and focus on where you see success.
Where can we learn more?
Liltracker.com, liltracker.ca or [email protected]. You can also find us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.
~ Adam Dorfman, Founder of Lil Tracker