My failure to build a DTC E-commerce business

My failure to build a DTC E-commerce business
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So back in 2019, I started a DTC e-commerce T shirt store.
Ran it for 3 months, wasted $5000 on fb ads and ultimately shut it down.
Here’s why I failed, what I learned and why you should NOT start a dropshipping business -
First off - why Dropshipping?
It was the coolest thing I could think of at the time.
Me and my wife loved brainstorming creative projects.
We thought we could make interesting designs, put them on T shirts and sell them on the internet.
It sounded so much fun.
Plus all the internet gurus make everything sound so easy and sexy.
I was also able to find companies who could print T shirts on demand and fulfill customer orders.
We didn't have to worry about the printing and delivery of orders.
So convenient right!
All we had to do was come up with the designs, set up a store and figure out a way to sell T shirts.
Easy peasy.
So I watched a few videos, read a few blog posts, listened to “gurus” on podcasts and started building my Shopify store.
Hooked it up with a Facebook page and started running FB/IG ads.
As you can imagine, I failed miserably.

Top reasons for failure -

1. I had no idea of the fashion or apparel industry.
I didn’t know who my user was, and why would they buy 🤷
Was just winging it!
2. Total FB ads newbie, so ended up pouring money down the drain. FB needs so much data it’s impossible to get meaningful results on a tight budget
Have to spend a ton just to learn what type of users will see an ad, how many will click on it, and how many will buy your product
3. Didn’t own fulfillment.
Margins were wafer thin, most of the money went to the company that did the printing and fulfillment.
I made a loss on every sale.
Yea I was naive as sh*t🥲

Lessons I learned -

1. Copywriting and customer service - 2 things are at the heart of every business.
Copy helps bring in customers.
Customer service helps keep customers.
Whatever your core business is, always make sure your copy and customer service are top notch.
2. The power of an audience - FB had the largest audience in the world.
That’s why it was able to command premium rates from advertisers like us to get in front of an audience.
I told myself - Whatever I do next, I have to start building an audience.
3. The power of SaaS -
I was happily paying $30+ per month to Shopify to let me run my store.
It was such a beautiful product, and a brilliant business model.
The marginal cost of serving each new customer is minimal.
I realized real leverage is in selling bits, not atoms.
My next project has to be code or content, not a physical product like T shirts.
Thankfully at the time I had my full time job and could afford losing a bunch of money learning these lessons.
My wife and I call this our own little MBA.
What I learned in this business has shaped so much of what I do now and the kind of business ideas I get excited about.
It was worth it I guess.
But will I recommend anyone else to start a dropshipping business?
Absolutely not!
Especially not as a first project.
Maybe if you already have an audience, then you can sell merch, that’s different.
Or if you already have experience in the DTC indsutry, can import stuff from China and sell in the west, then sure, give it a shot.
But if you’re a newbie like me, then don’t get into it, there are better avenues out there.
That's it for today.
Cheers 🙏
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