In this episode, we share the story of Massage Tables Now. Find out how a merchant transitioned from “brick n mortar” to the ecommerce landscape.
What influenced your decision to start your e-commerce store?
I’ve been a business owner for 25 years. Prior to e-commerce, I owned brick-and-mortar businesses, but had sold those businesses and was looking for something less capital intensive and with lower overhead. Part of the e-commerce attraction was the relatively low risk factor compared to the long term potential reward. I also like the idea that I could take what I learned and enjoyed as a brick-and-mortar business owner and alter that to suit my new e-commerce endeavors.
Tell us about your business?
We operate Massage Tables Now, a premium massage supply outlet carrying the top names in massage supplies and tables. The brands we represent include Earthlite, Oakworks, and Custom Craftworks to name a few. We cater to resorts, day spas, and massage therapists regardless of their level of expertise. Massage Tables Now is focused on offering our customers a great value through service, pricing, expertise and an exceptional customer experience.
Do you currently run your store full time or part time? Tell us about the experience.
Massage Tables Now is a rapidly growing enterprise that requires my focus on a full-time basis. Being a full-time e-commerce business owner keeps me in a constant state of learning and evolution as the business continues to grow. We never sit still here — every day, we’re gathering feedback from customer experiences, determining which products our customers are most interested in, and researching new, exciting ways to engage our audience. It’s hard work but very rewarding.
Which e-commerce platform do you use?
We use Bigcommerce.
How did you get your first products stocked?
We started small with a few key relationships and expanded on them. As our relationships developed so did our product offering and pricing structures. We drop shipped initially then eventually negotiated pricing and made arrangements to purchase inventory in bulk. We found it convenient and cost-effective to drop ship first while building a strong foundation for growth.
How do you interact with your customers?
We interact with customers through email, chat, telephone, and our review platform. We also spend time with customers through various social media platforms. Making sure we are available for customer inquiries is very important to me and to our organization.
What are some of the challenges you’re facing now or have faced, if any?
It’s always a challenge to follow trends without disrupting the core business model. We do our best to follow market trends in the short term while sticking to our long-term business goals and values. We are very careful not to sacrifice long-term growth for short-term gains. Our business is one that relies on repeat customers and it is important that our customers know what to expect from us in the long term. They also need to know that our platform will provide them access to the latest tools and expertise designed to help their operations grow. The challenge is to work the trend without becoming trendy.
What apps/plugins are most useful to you?
The most effective app we have used to date is Intuit Solutions one page checkout. It has gone a long way in increasing conversions and vastly improving our customer’s check out experience. I have always felt that when a customer has their wallet out there is no room for mistakes. Our checkout process is now quick and easy leaving customers little room for second thoughts. I’m also a big fan of HootSuite for social media scheduling — it cuts down an on my setup and posting time by about fifty percent.
Are there any personal business strategies you’ve developed with time?
Yes, keep one eye on your customers and the other on your market. It’s easy to get loose your balance so it is important to pay close attention to both. An unbalanced focus can alienate customers or cause you to miss out on important market trends. We are constantly reviewing both.
If there was something you could change about your e-commerce journey so far, what will that be?
I would have launched the operation sooner. We spent a little too much time trying to make everything perfect rather than just getting a solid foundation in place and getting after it. You can spend years in the classroom but if you never get to work it doesn’t mean much. There is no better experience than real participation. In short, I would have launched sooner than we did and placed a little more faith in my past business experience.
Any advice for upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs?
All you need is an idea and a little effort to get started. Don’t obsess over small stuff and keep your focus on what matters to your audience. A good business will attract the resources it needs but you have to stay at it. Be persistent, attentive, adjust your plan as needed and one day at a time your resources will reveal themselves.
About Merchant Stories
Merchant Stories is a blog series by Kudobuzz (a startup that helps you grow your business with social reviews, product listings and AI powered SEO) that highlights the stories of online merchants to give them more exposure and to serve as inspiration for upcoming merchants.
This is the first season in a long running series.
Want to get your story featured? Reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.