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Project Verum: The Foundations is now available! projectverum.org

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So I thought it about time i registered on here 🙂  and to begin with I thought i'd copy over my 'story' post about setting up a site from scratch, so for those of you who are on fence, want to start can see some of the things I do, Some of the pitfalls, but also you can see the store develop as i progress... 

NB This is a post for post copy, and bear in mind this is a work in progress, but im happy to answer questions, talk about it, and take on board suggestions (sometimes multiple eyes are far better than one)

So on with the story.... 😄

Opening Day

Ok some of you will know me, some wont, and no doubt some will hate me 1f603.png😄 but i thought i'd do something different.

This post may help new-bro's who are serious about their business, it might even help some of the longer ones with ideas (or not, im also open to suggestions lol)

So whilst I've stopped my primary (in terms of shopify) site due to my supply chain but also my primary selling regions being on lock-down. I have decided to start a new site, this site will be selling lingerie just into the UK market so wont have to worry about any lock-down issues.

So the plan is i will post an update on what i have done over the last few days in building my site right upto the date i plan to release (currently thats on for the 1st of the month when the trial shopify expires) (this has moved as you will see below, but having extended the trial i now have another 50 or so days to get it right) ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY

So to begin with the website is https://www.ardentlingerie.co.uk/

Done in last 24 hours
Sourced a supplier (who i have already used in previous times)
Register both .com and .co.uk domains of same name, and put a redirect on the .com to the co.uk
Created a very basic site with basic logo (i will be creating a real logo when site is close to release, but what i have will do for now)
Sourced some images for my shortcuts
Created a cloudflare account and set it up for speed / cached website (this will take time and updated regularly as products and changes are made.
Created all my legal pages full T&C / Postage / Returns etc (this was easy as i copy all my info from other sites and just modify their websites)
Created a basic product template and how i want it too look (this might change as i go)

Added a single product for use on testing
Created my Trust badge format
Contact supplier about XML feeds etc

To do next 24 hours.

Hopefully get XML feed so i can begin that arduous journey of sorting through the products to choose my products - i expect to have about 250-500 products in total
Create relevant menu shortcuts these will include Collections, Designers and Colours(i not sure about colours)
Work on footer to create a similar one to my current sites so its almost the same format.
Compress all images, look at best way with images, to either host external or even on a sub-domain or just on my site

So biggest thing will be sorting through all the products and going through what sort of description i want.

I am not worried about Facebook ads, having run a lingerie business before (not big numbers ) but i know what FB like and dont like, so unless there has been a big change i dont see the ads being a problem.

so thoughts / ideas are always welcome, but i hope at least a few of you will find some titbits of info, I will also try to answer any questions in the comments

Cheers Gary

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Day 2 -

So if you read day 1 and your still here, fair play its a wall of text I know....

So like most DSers until their shops have an income of about 500k a year usually also do so with a job. So was chaos in work today working in IT and sorting out home working for the rest of the staff.... but hey ho....

so got home to find my supplier had sent me a CSV of products with links to images etc, they are playing a little bit of hard ball with the XML which is a bit annoying in that they want a downpayment thats returned after a meagre £5k sales, so for building the site and maybe for first month im considering running directly of CSV but of course this means i have to dust of my excel skills to manipulate the data to match shopify fields, or i be lazy and get an addon, so tried a couple of addons (who quite frankly are a rip off ) and even then they didn't do what they said on the tin, But what they did was give me a few more products to play about with.
So with my supplier wanting me to foot the bill to spend money with him, i went on the search through some old contacts and found another supplier who doesn't want anything upfront to sell THEIR products, so dropped an account on their site and waiting for their call back on monday to discuss where I am at, and my experience (the later bit is a doddle being in this damn game for about 8 years) .
But the new supplier does have some interesting other products like beachwear which gives me an avenue to look down for another project im working on ...(yes yes yes i do try to keep 2-3 live sites at any one point and at least 2-3 in design stages.. this game changes quick you cant live of one sucesful site and think you made retirement...)

So back to what i said i would be doing today ...

"1 Hopefully get XML feed so i can begin that arduous journey of sorting through the products to choose my products - i expect to have about 250-500 products in total
2 Create relevant menu shortcuts these will include Collections, 3 Designers and Colours(i not sure about colours)
3 Work on footer to create a similar one to my current sites so its almost the same format.
4 Compress all images, look at best way with images, to either host external or even on a sub-domain or just on my site"

So 1 well what can i say that i didn't above except to give people an idea the csv is 9800 lines so you can see thats some work, ....
2 - i did do, and now have my menu's in place and pointing to the correct URLs (that are SEO friendly ofc)
3 -Footer is about 80% done, I have all my policies up and live and some hot links, but im not really happy with my choices, will review this tomorrow after a morning of rest, think i might change this up.
4 - Well the images i have my products are not hosted on shopify site but currently on my suppliers, but ive looked into the cost of just running a quick server hosting solution , and will trial this over the next few days... to give you an idea, the product images are about 3gb in size and over 13000 in number..... assuming i do sell all the products, but as i said im going to try and focus on a hot/key 500 or so (heck i might just be lazy and dump the whole lot)

so tomorrow

Rest, thats key, have a nice morning off maybe browse some sites, maybe even game a little, - one lesson ive learnt dont burn out, its easy to work 18-20 hours a day but you need ot break away get a fresh perspective...
Then ,
1 continue to refine my sites, one thing im not happy with is the product page i dont like feel of it, might have to play with this and find something that sits well when i view it.
2 - Do some work on my checkout page etc,
3 - Try a few random products check that my product rules are working (when you work with high volume products you need them to auto import into the correct collections )
4 - brush up on my excel skills if im going to be data manipulating this lot (would be a lot easier if i was a coder, but alas im not)
5 - start thinking more seriously about my color schemes and logo, this is a 3 day job , i will be hitting lots of lingerie sites to get some ideas , feel how they look (my missus will give me weird looks if she was my browser history for sure)
6 - Get my exit sign up sorted out so i capture as much email as possible, maybe look at a few other addons,

So for time being im not too worried about speed of site as i haven't really started my data import at time before i do that then i will ensure i can get it as fast as i can so once data and images are on its fast as it can be.....

So thats todays update, i do hope some of you guys like reading my wall of text and even see some value in it.... I will try where physically possible to keep going and keep adding updates right up to the point i start my adverts, and make first sale .....Obviously as i get down to the finer points of my site then clearly they wont be updates after all who the feck wants to read about how i sat and read and edited my products for 8 hours ...... (nb each product really should take 10-15 minutes to edit and update to look professional)

Day 2 money spent in today £0.00 still on trial thats 90 days now, and nothing else.... (see how little it can cost if done properly)

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3RD Update 

So didn't put an update yesterday as wasn't much to put all ive been doing the last 36 hours is playing with excel, So far I must have imported / exported about 30 times trying to get my data to match shopify headers, This is proving a real ball-ache to get it too match and be correct..

Now i also seemed to have mis-calculated the volume, my spreadsheet is actually 9500 lines long, problem is unless i pay the £250 quid to my current supplier its all im going to have to work, but then the other issue is the limitations of shopify, stupid things like you have to keep recreating lines for EVERY variation and EVERY color but probably most annoying is images... Try to import more than a single image and basically your shit out of luck.... more lines... a new line for each image. Some of my products have 6-9 images probably an average of 4 images per product, thats over 40000 lines of products to import...

So today was on hunt and looked at excelsior and might use this as it has more options, little things like you cannot import from CSV to different collections, at least with excelsior you can. For the convenience of importing more information im happy to pay their $20 for a month, after all once product has been imported i will then cancel the subs

So i have also been looking at how to maximise my website speed tests, currently running at 93 on website but annoyingly its 63 on mobile so seeing how i can speed that up, ideally want in region of 80+

Another note , i have a phone call incoming tomorrow from another supplier who are also in the lingerie niche if everything goes OK and they supply proper XML feeds i might just ditch my first one, its why im not rushing to import products.

I have also been considering the pros/cons of moving completly off the shopify platform for this project I have experience of OpenCart and have been considering my options with that platform as they have more facilities to maybe handling this sort of volume of products..

Something for the new-bros just because a supplier has agreed to work with you, don't rush in, one thing ive always believed is dropshipping you should NEVER pay for a supplier access, remember we are earning them big money for what they do so why pay for the privilege..
Think of it this way, do you pay to go into ASDA/Wallmart to buy their products, so why should this business be any different.

I have also started a very very early project in a completely different niche again but this is very early but have already spoken to 2 suppliers who seem happy to work with me, but with everything going on in the world it wont be the right time to release these products as they are more a luxury brand.

Obviously tomorrow its back to work so will have less time, but im looking forward to see what the new supplier has to say and getting the account set up but will update on that tomorrow 😄

So again thanks for reading if you get this far hopefully offers some insight into the pain of setting up a large volume website..

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4th  Update

So here we go again 😛

So the last 48 hours have been a little more interesting, as i stated in my last post i was waiting to hear back from a possible new supplier on monday, low and behold, gets an email from the account manager that says and i quo
"I’ve had a look at your websites provided and happy to approve your account."
So I have a new supplier, well my original one has gone out of the window, I may well use some of their stock later on, but today and tomorrow and forseable future that wont happen

So what will change, well clearly the branding, my collections and possibly a slight focus chnge, the new supplier supplies Swim and Beachwear as well as lingerie, (they also supply more x rated stuff) So that will be a nice focus in coming 2-3 months when weather starts to warm up and people need swimwear for holidays
(free tip guys, when all the covid is done with lot of people will be looking to go out a lot more, and as its coming summer the focus on holiday wear will be a nice summer target)

So with a lot less lines, but nicer stock i then proceeded to consider what was best way to get their products into my store... and again i was faced with Excel and Data manipulation.. Which bring up to my current...

I spend the last 36 hours trying to get my head around the intricacies of Excelify https://apps.shopify.com/excel-export-import
So i have lost a lot more hair trying to figure out what their error messages mean and which columns i have either populated or not populated, but just before i wrote this post i finally imported a stack of 10 products for the 1st time without an errors so have i finally got it.... well practice makes perfect.. and damn im perfect 😄

So whilst im an advocate of "you can start dropshipping with $0" this time im going to have to break it, i think i will be subbing to Exc for 1 month well worth the $20 to get all my products imported. Then once products in, i will see how well Shopify export/import works for stock updates, run a few tests etc... If that doesn't do it, then it might be a rolling sub, for time being until i need to worry about 3x a day stock updates im only expecting a month.

One thing i did do, (which i normally dont) is i have enabled sizing and colours where there is only 1 of either, for me this important because some of my products are "One Size - UK 6-16" this is important because a bigger (or smaller) girl might come along and then moan that it states 1 size but actually isn't so trying to foresee and fix problems before i have to pay ut of my account

So onto tomorrow..... Well work from home is fine and dandy, at least i can play with data whilst pretending to work (nb if boss reads this, yes im working hard)
Then back to my store design, obviously need to redo my home page to suit my new products and the shortcuts, also as ive played around must admit im not super happy with my featured collection, I like EVERYTHING to be the same line on home page, and unfortunately with 2 or 3 line products this doesn't happen, so that might go....
Let see, but im expecting things to move quicker the next 48 hours than it did the last 96...

One last thing, I would recommend anyone who has created a trial prior to 1st March and still in trial, to contact the support about the Covid-19 extension, its not applied automatically you have to request it... I did and now i have a trial/free account until 1st June (could have been 16th but i prefer my billing on 1st day of month for accounting purpose)
Im also umming about upping my sub to their £299 plan once i go live especially if its in the trail stage might as well save every penny i can eh??? Then once live drop down the suitable level assuming im not bringing in £10k a month lol..

So guys hope you like, care or even just read this comments and will keep you updated at the regularly intervals.. so for now.. cioa.

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5th Update

Ok this post will give it away as to why i haven't tried to update over last few days..

1 - Frustration.... so i truly believed that excelify would help with my product import... oh how so so so wrong was i... The formatting required to get it too wor
k was talkign almsot 5 minutes a product (multiple that by the 400 products from just my basic products i a lot of time)

So off i went to find more products, and yes there are probably 3 or 4 that can do this, and all suffer the same fate..... formatting... so its clearly that shopify cannot handle much in terms of data unless the feed has been specifically created to work with shopify..

So i then found a new one .... stocksync.. this seemed to work , but it just had same issues, couldn't handle the varients and images (all my images are hosted externally which help your sites webspeed no end)

So today fi you look at site you will see 2 products that i have been using as test subjects.. yes im still working on the back end, but i am at an impass

I have decided to just either 1 pay someone on fiverr to manipulate my data got quotes for about 40-80£ depending on what i want.
or (and this was most likely) im going to enter them all manually... now...
I have a spreadsheet that ive formatted to fit with shopify and i have keyboard that has lots of macro keys... so ready to simple click 1 macro key to copy and 1 to paste with formatting so its simple a case of clicking 3 times on mouse to fill in, i reckon i can get this done in about 12-18 hours (its taken me longer to try other shit out lol)

But, then i hit a shopify problem... .i am (and they recreated the issue) unable to import the 1st image to product via url.... it just hangs.. so since 200am on Saturday morning i have been waiting for shopify tech support to fix or contact me .....

So whilst i was waiting i decided to see if importing would be better in bluepark / ekm or shopwired... and damn no lol..... but ive not given up on bluepark as i used them for my furniture store and loved their site EKM hands down had the best hteme but OMG their back end is shit...
Shopwired was crap all around except their load speed of sites.. but the fact they dont allow desktop full screen view without code changes and even basic additions like currency converters cost £25 put me off..

So bluepark is currently my other hope but for some reason my sheet isn't importing and will speak to their techies on Monday because with a dummy store their website speed results are 90 for mobile and 99 for desktop.... nothing ive seen can touch that..... so there you go, once i get moving again and get into the nitty gritty of whats coming like ads / final formatting and testing ill update again (probably be about Thursday i reckon when all my products HOPEFULLY) will be live and on site.

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so thats where i am upto, but i have a fairly large update that i will be typing up today that will bring everything right upto scratch 😛

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I've been reading your story and was wondering why you quit writing. I find it interesting as a beginner with drop shipping!

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On 4/22/2020 at 3:46 PM, DutchGoose said:

I've been reading your story and was wondering why you quit writing. I find it interesting as a beginner with drop shipping!

Sorry I have not been well, and had real life, that actually coincided with covid 🙂 so will give a latest update by the end of the week, and how things went for the couple of weeks that we were running prior to covid killing me temporarily 
So please keep an eye open, 🙂 thanks for the comment.

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