Craft Beer Hound is the brainchild of Gina Williams – a "beer geek" and serial entrepreneur. Gina enlisted the help of her "retail business geek" friend, Amy Mendez, to help her wrangle the nebulous list of ideas she has for developing cool gifts & gadgets for beer lovers.
Many of the items we sell are designed and assembled in our own workshop. A key tenet of our company's core values is to source as many materials and finished products as we can from small businesses who are focused on quality. We feature artisans who specialize in craft beer merchandise because we believe that our store should reflect the attention to craftsmanship that is exemplified by craft beer brewers.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We launched our store on Shopify in October of 2013. At the time, we had a portfolio of un-tested products and no social media presence. In the eight months since then, we have refined our portfolio based upon Shopify sales and customer feedback and we've built a fan base via Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google+. Our first sales were driven primarily by Pinterest. One of our most pinned and best selling items is a shadow box that is customized to hold beer bottle caps. As we realized that this item was particularly engaging for our customers, we focused more energy and advertising resources to develop and promote it. Facebook custom audiences has been a key tool for us in promoting particular items and in building a fan base.
While Shopify remains by far our biggest sales channel, we have also found that attending beer festivals and selling our products on Etsy are great ways to reach new customers and build brand awareness. Etsy is particularly beneficial from a search engine optimization perspective because they automatically list our products with Google Products at no additional charge. We're also learning to leverage a Shopify app called Retail Tower in order to penetrate other online retail platforms.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Shipping Easy is a Shopify app that is absolutely vital to our business. Because we have our FedEx, UPS and USPS accounts integrated with our Shopify account, we can handle our increasing volume and easily track and manage shipping expenses from our Las Vegas shop.
We also love our Yotpo app for gathering customer reviews. Gleam Competitions is a great app for running contests. The Refersion app is excellent for getting an affiliate program up and running. We use the Chimpified and AddThis apps for managing our email list and encouraging customers to do social sharing. Product Upsell is the app we use to improve our average ticket. We're also experimenting with adding a "MyRegistry" button to our product pages.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Don't half ass anything. If you're going to start a new business, you've got to focus all of your best efforts on it.