It was that first “PING!” that did it. It was a notification announcing his first online sale, and Steve Lewis of MyCoffeeCapsules has been hooked on online retail ever since. He knew his new venture was going to need a website platform that could help turn his idea into a reality, which is why he chose Rocketspark. Now he sells thousands of Caffesso capsules (Nespresso-compatible coffee pods) a week without even having to leave the house.
Playing it safe
Steve calls MyCoffeeCapsules an “accidental business”. Hailing from the UK, Steve moved to New Zealand from Portugal where he ran a pool table business, and he was originally going to make a similar business his top priority. In fact, the reason he chose to import coffee capsules was because they could easily fit in a shipping container alongside the pool tables. But Kiwis must love coffee even more than they love pool, because now 80% of Steve’s revenue comes from the coffee capsules, selling up to ten thousand pods a week to dozens of local businesses and five-star resorts throughout Fiji and Samoa.
How has Steve done it? In a word: carefully. By his own admission, Steve likes to play it safe. “All the decisions we’ve made have been quite constrained so if it didn’t go well, we didn’t lose the shirts off our backs”. Growing the business incrementally has allowed Steve to minimise his risk while trying something new. “I don’t like to waste money,” explains Steve. “I’m always looking to do things cost-effectively.”
The early stages of the business were characterised by this conservative approach. Steve chose a product he wanted for himself so that, if it flopped, at least he could consume it. As mentioned above, he imported the coffee capsules by piggybacking them on the pool tables. And when it came to market research, he just rounded up group of young mums to try the product and offer feedback. MyCoffeeCapsules is proof that you can have a successful online business without taking huge risks.
Steve has some advice for entrepreneurs on the look-out for opportunities. When scouting around for import possibilities, Steve asked himself this simple question: What’s expensive here but cheap overseas? The answer to that question is potentially an opportunity to make a healthy margin. Once a possible product has been identified, Steve recommends trying it out on a small scale. He started by bringing in four thousand pods. When those sold out in a matter of weeks, he knew he was onto a winner.
Getting the right website
True to form, Steve was careful about how he went about setting up his website. He really appreciated the free trial offered by Rocketspark, which let him try his hand at building a website before making a commitment. He liked what he saw. “The Rocketspark website looks like I haven’t done it,” quips Steve. “It looks like I’ve paid somebody a lot of money to do it.”
Steve also cites Rocketspark’s ease-of-use as a real strength, because he doesn’t consider himself a computer wiz. This is especially so when it comes to the tricky business of search engine optimisation (SEO)—tweaking your website so that it ranks highly in relevant Google searches—which can be a daunting undertaking even for tech-savvy users. Steve points out that a lot of businesses pay top dollar to appear on page one of Google, but thanks to Rocketspark’s guidance, “we rank really well for some of the keywords without spending any money”. Make no mistake though: Steve puts plenty of effort into SEO by blogging and seeking links from review sites, which are time-tested techniques for boosting search rankings. As a result, search queries like “coffee capsules” and “nespresso” have MyCoffeeCapsules ranking near the top—a real accomplishment for a DIY website.
The last major selling point is the low cost. “It’s a very cost-effective way to get a 24-hour way salesperson selling your product,” says Steve. So impressed has Steve been with his website, he’s even turned a few friends onto Rocketspark. “I’m a great advocate of Rocketspark”.
Conclusion: Get hooked on online retail
Steve loves the lifestyle that having a thriving online business affords him, giving him a passive income and maximum flexibility. If that sounds appealing, take a leaf out of Steve’s book: “Start slow, limit your cost exposure right at the start, and find something that gives you a decent margin.” Follow his advice and—PING!—you might get hooked on online retail yourself.