Meredith Bolek, The Baby Bum Store
With three children under the age of 5, Meredith Bolek knows a thing or two about baby diapers. So when she was exploring work-from-home opportunities, she naturally gravitated toward going online to sell the very products she uses every day.
Bolek, owner of The Baby Bum Store, is practically a living billboard for Happy Heinys, FuzziBunz and the other natural baby products she offers on her site.
"I am knee high in diapers right now," she laughs.
"I had no background in e-commerce, and I had no idea what to do at first," she says of her decision to launch an online store. "It was overwhelming, but I just kind of jumped in. Once I got started, it was easier to set up than I thought it would be, and it's gone really well."
After opening on Auctiva Commerce in October, The Baby Bum Store took off quickly, and has been successful beyond Bolek's expectations. By the end of December, she'd already racked up sales of more than $1,000.
Much of her immediate success can be attributed to offering a product that's in high demand. But there's also a lot to be said for having a focused advertising strategy.
Though Bolek says her advertising budget is "miniscule," and she hasn't had time to market her business on Facebook or Twitter, she reaches a specific customer audience by posting ads on cloth diaper forums and uploading her Google feed to Amazon, where her ads are shown to buyers who are interested in the types of products she carries.
Having used Auctiva before, I was comfortable with the process and I trusted the source
"On Amazon, I knew that people were looking for exactly what I had, so that was money well spent. And on the forums, I knew that everyone who came on there was a potential sale," she explains.
"I've gotten a lot of hits from Google searches, and I think people have responded well to the way my Web site is set up," she adds. "I use Google Analytics for tracking, but I get most of my information about what works best just by looking at the referring source on the order summary page."
A natural transition
Despite being a relative newcomer to e-commerce, Bolek had been a casual seller on eBay for several years, where she used Auctiva's eBay listing tools to make creating and launching listings easy and convenient.
But when her second child was a toddler, an experiment with cloth diapers sparked an idea to transform her occasional eBay sales into a bona fide business.
"I started using cloth diapers with my son, just to see how I would like it," she explains. "It was partly a way to save money, but there were also environmental reasons.
"I had read an article about how much room diapers take up when we put them in landfills, and how many kids go through before they're potty trained. Also, one of the chemicals that's still used in disposable diapers has been banned in feminine hygiene products, so that was a turnoff," she adds.
"The combination of all those things just made cloth diapers the way to go for me," Bolek continues. "As I started getting more into it, I discovered I could become a retailer for the products I used.
"Auctiva Commerce was my way in," she says. "Originally, I looked for something I could sell on eBay. I had wanted to do an eBay Store because everything was all set up and easy to get going, but as I was reading the contracts with the wholesalers, I realized they didn't allow for selling on auction sites."
About that time, she received a 30-day free-trial offer from Auctiva Commerce, and decided to give it a try. "Having used Auctiva before, I was comfortable with the process and I trusted the source," she says. "Because I'm dealing with people's credit card information, I wanted to make sure I was with a reputable outfit."
The store's theme is both visually pleasing and relates to the products
Like Auctiva's eBay tools, Bolek found Auctiva Commerce's basic store setup easy to do. "It made it really easy to get rolling," she says.
She's chosen a store theme that is both visually pleasing and relates to the products she sells, and has kept her store design simple and uncluttered. Having no prior experience in Web design, her choices stemmed purely from personal taste.
"I hate going to places where I have to look through a bunch of type before I can find what I'm looking for," she explains. "I like to get right down to business."
Hoping to build on the sales momentum gained during the holidays, Bolek is looking to expand her product lines this year. Recognizing the growing awareness of how products we use every day touch babies and children, she plans to offer a wider variety of natural products for the home.
"I'm getting ready to launch a product called Soap Nuts. It's a natural laundry detergent that's actually a fruit that grows on a tree in the Himalayas," she says. "I'll be looking into adding more natural products like that."