A Grand Experiment

The first order and beyond

Admittedly, I feel quite guilty that I haven't updated this blog (about Metorik's Grand Experiment: to run an actual WooCommerce store and grow it using Metorik) since I first wrote about building the site 10 months ago. But I knew from the start that finding time for such an endeavour would be difficult, so I'm not really surprised (and perhaps neither are you).

But Metorik's experiment store - Pet Light - has been live for almost a year now! And while it hasn't received much attention in terms of marketing and content, it's still managed to get some sales and I've been enjoying the process of using Metorik to run it.

After putting the site live back in July, I didn't really do anything but just leave it. Of course, a brand new ecommerce store doesn't magically find customers from day one. So months went by and no sales were coming in.

Fortunately, and perhaps magically, a sale did come through early in December! It was for 3 collars, and definitely came as a surprise. When setting up the store, I used the WooCommerce Checkout Field Editor plugin to add a 'How did you find us?' field to the checkout. It's very simple and looks like this:

That first customer was kind enough to fill the field in, so when looking at their order in Metorik, it was easy to see where they came from in the Custom Fields area. But even if they hadn't filled it in, since Metorik has built-in source tracking, I was able to see the site that sent them to Metorik (google.com.au):

Going to the post office to ship the first order was a truly valuable experience. When I arrived there, I had to fill in the customer's details on the envelope. Rather than try sift through my emails or log in to the site's dashboard, all I had to do was open up the Metorik website on my phone and there it was! But in doing so, I realised that the mobile-design of Metorik's order pages was a little unintuitive, with the Custom Fields coming before the Customer Details.

Since then, I've improved the mobile layout of all order & customer pages. That's the kind of insight I was hoping to get from running a store using Metorik, so I was quite pleased!

Over the past 4 months, we received another 7 orders, bringing us to a grand total of 8 orders!

Of course, I'm very happy with this, especially since we haven't really done any marketing, but it also demonstrates how difficult it is to get your first few customers.

Going forward, I'm planning to try some Google ads, as I think we'll have more luck finding customers through there since they're already finding us there organically.

I think some resources should also be dedicated to content marketing. I'd love to produce some relevant blog posts for the Pet Light website like "Best spots for night-time walks around Australia" or "Things to keep in mind when taking your dog for a sunset walk".

One of the interesting things I've found is just how little I'm using the site's WordPress dashboard. I'm sure that I've logged in there a couple times since setting up the store, but only to perform plugin and theme updates. I don't recall ever looking at actual orders in there, so that means every single order has been fulfilled using Metorik (since you can update order statuses and add order notes directly from Metorik).

Before I finish up this post, I want to talk a little bit how I've been using Engage - a new tool coming to Metorik very soon - for sending automated emails to customers. As the store is obviously a small operation with limited time available to it, sending automated emails enables me to communicate a little more with customers without having to spend 5 minutes writing an email for each order.

I've set up 2 automations. The first one is sent immediately after an order is created, and has the following rule:

So the moment an order matches the above rule (having been created in the past 6 hours), which a new order will match instantly after being created, they receive the following message:

Which ends up looking like this:

I then send another email 2 weeks after the order has been created, checking in to see if they received their order or had any issues, while offering a coupon code for their next order. The rule for that one looks like so:

As soon as it's been more than 15 days since the order was created, it would match the automation and receive the following message:

A unique coupon is automatically generated in the WooCommerce store at the time of sending, providing them 25% off their next order.

Even with such low order volume, I've gotten a couple replies to this automatic email, thanking us for the product and promising to order again in the near future.

The only other thing I wanted to add is a message to any readers also building software products. Use your product. If you don't have a need for it, create a need. It's undoubtedly one of the best ways to learn more about your product's strengths and weaknesses, while also giving yourself an unparalleled amount of joy from using something you built.

Hopefully next time I post, Pet Light's orders will be in the double digits! πŸŽ‰