Creating a Successful E-Commerce Business & Fulfilling Gift Boxes

After being featured as a speaker during Arival, on the Tourpreneur podcast and in numerous publications, I’ve have heard from fellow tour operators and small business owners asking us to create a class for you to learn how to grow your own business. So, we’ve done exactly that! We’ve put this workshop together to answer all of the questions that we wished we had received advice on before we began down this path, and to share with you key considerations you should be thinking about as you begin to set up your e-commerce business.

Meet me first HERE where I share our thoughts on some of the most frequently asked questions about shipping boxes. Afterwards, be sure to register for our class to take part in a series of three, 30-45 minute self-study workshops that can be viewed at your convenience. Learn how you can generate a revenue stream in 2021 with an e-commerce business. As a bonus, I’ve include free of charge a 60-minute consultation to discuss your business plan and ideas more in-depth, as well as to answer any remaining questions you may have after viewing the workshops. The three workshops are outlined below; the 60-minute discussion will be scheduled at a mutually agreeable time after you have completed the self-guided workshop. Register for the series HERE and begin to pivot and grow your own operation.

How did we get here?

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we faced a 100% loss of revenue. I thought we would go out of business when COVID hit, but we pivoted and now I am revealing how I did it. Ten months later, we rarely see a tour come to fruition; even when a group intends to attend a tour, other factors such as restaurant availability and government regulations stand in the way. I knew our business required an immediate pivot in business operations to not only sustain payroll, but also to continue supporting other small local businesses, for the duration of the pandemic. In less than a year, we have developed a sustainable e-commerce business, fulfilling orders that are being shipped worldwide, and allowing us to continue to fulfill our mission of shining light on Milwaukee and Wisconsin’s many food producers. I would love to share with you how I sold $250,000 of gift boxes from March – November, and more recently launched a marketing plan with Facebook ad spend and in 10 days, sold out of 3,000 gift boxes and resulted in more than $350,000 in revenue. By the end of the year, we had sold over 10,000 gift boxes and surpassed previous year tour revenues.

Workshop 1: Product Development & Pricing

Initially, we launched care packages featuring hyper-local foods for Milwaukeeans. These products were being sold around themes such as Easter, Mother’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, and Father’s Day. We were delivering all boxes ourselves with our team of tour guides and bus drivers (not using outside carriers such as USPS) and only selling products that were highly perishable (think custard, cheesecake, flowers and popsicles). After several weeks of hearing customers say, “I wish I could send this to my friend / colleague / parent in so-and-so state,” we realized that there was demand for creating a product with nationwide shipping and reach. To date, we have now shipped 10,000 boxes to all 50 states, numerous countries and APO’s.

In this workshop dedicated to Product Development & Pricing we’ll cover:

  • Listening to customers and market demand to develop a gift box collection that taps into your skillset
  • Working with partners to determine their ability and interest to supply product for gift boxes
  • Securing wholesale pricing from your vendors
  • Understanding profit margins in the gift box retail space
  • Developing a budget and pricing your gift boxes appropriately
Carrying our signature color of bright green into our gift boxes has allowed us to continue branding boxes while not always investing in custom boxes.

Workshop 2: Packaging & Fulfillment

Packaging is not glamourous and requires a committed space, physical labor, and a base of employees (or friends and family!) as proven by THIS VIDEO. We are by no means experts in the world of fulfillment, but we learn something new with each and every gift box shipped, and have built a team of mentors with more experience than us that we can lean on to guide us as we grow.

With experiences learned by shipping or delivering over 10,000 boxes in 2020, our Pricing & Packaging workshop will cover:

  • Sourcing shipping materials such as boxes, crinkle, tissue paper, packaging tape, and ice packs
  • Creating a branded product with custom boxes
  • Using an online shopping cart such as Shopify to sell and fulfill orders
  • Evaluating USPS vs UPS vs FedEx vs local deliveries
  • Mapping out delivery routes and other considerations for local deliveries
Bundled up and fulfilling a corporate order as snow flurries begin falling in Wisconsin.

Workshop 3: Promotion

I’ve long been a believer in “sell it, then figure out how to make it happen” and the pandemic has brought that philosophy front and center. When we sold our very first box, it was still just a concept that was then proven by the swift sales that followed.

During our third workshop, we’ll cover this concept along with other promotional topics including:

  • Thinking outside of the box with strategic partnerships that create the sales funnel for you
  • Working with corporate clients to create custom boxes to meet their goals
  • Turning past tour attendees and buyers into your greatest cheerleaders
  • Laying the groundwork to turn your new gift box customers into your next tour customers post-pandemic
  • Using paid ad spend to reach new customers and knowing when to outsource that task
A strategic partnership with the Wisconsin State Fair allowed us to ship 1,300 boxes to recipients in 42 states – and deliver 750 dozen cream puffs locally too.

Are you ready?

After registering for the class, you will receive a password-protected link that allows you access to view the three, 30 minute self-study workshops at your convenience. As a bonus, I will reach out to schedule a 30 minute Zoom call with you to discuss your business plan and ideas more in-depth. Start the process of growing your operation today by registering for the series:

Is shipping too much work for you to take on?

We know. This is a LOT of work. We have the set up and process in place, so if fulfilling orders is too much for you to take on, consider hiring us to fulfill your products instead! Reach out to us at theresa@milwaukeefoodtours.com or at 262-853-5239 for more details.

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