From zero to hero selling online (Part 2)

The next step was to set up a website and an online store. The website that I created was not meant to be an online shop, but rather a showcase of the products that talked about the concepts behind and educate visitors about alternative diets. The reason why I didn’t try to sell directly from my website is that existing marketplaces offer visibility to a much larger audience, so instead of investing my time getting potential customers to find out about my website, I could just upload the products on a marketplace and start selling right away. As I was working at my own informative website I realized that I could have added flavouring to the chips. So I made variations with herbs and chilli. I then had 3 products to sell. I took plenty of nice pictures of the products and even created cute mascottes for each flavour.

Once my website was up and running, I opened a store on Lazada, one of the most popular marketplaces in Southeast Asia. There I started uploading my initial 3 products. To my surprise, I received the first order within a couple of days from opening the store. That is the big advantage of working with an existing marketplace. Immediately after, I started looking for other keto-friendly snack recipes and I came across almond flour-based keto cookies. I perfected the recipe and maximized the space in my oven. Run through the same cost calculation and applied profit. So I had 4 products to sell.

Within a week I was receiving daily orders for all of the 3 types of chips and the first orders for cookies too. I realized that it was essential to participate in the Lazada marketing campaigns because their marketing efforts were amazing at driving traffic to all the individual stores. At that point in time, when searching for keto products on Lazada, my snacks were the only cooked products. The other “competitors” were keto powders. I needed to rush to seize a larger share of the market, so I decided to start frying dried anchovies and added flavour to them. In Southeast Asia it is called ikan billis and it is a traditional Malay snack. But I rebranded it in a “hipster fashion” riding on the popularity of the keto diet. I started with the plain anchovies, then added two flavours on top of the original one: herbs and wasabi. My inventory was now at 7 types of products and about 10 orders per day.

As the Lazada campaign approached I started promoting for free on Facebook, but frankly it did not matter very much because all of the clients who came across my products were through Lazada, so I focused on that channel.

At the second week mark, I was heavily occupied in preparing the products, packing them nicely and shipping them with an attached handwritten thank you card to the customer. I could have taken up to 4 hours of my day. By the 3rd week (on the 22nd day to be precise) the Lazada campaign finally started. To my greatest surprise, I received 44 orders in 1 single day. It was amazing. I spent nearly 8 hours overworking my oven, printing labels, packing and going back and forth to the post office.

[Stefano Virgilli is a member of the International Press Association]

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