I do believe that taking small but smart steps is the most effective way of finding your path toward achieving your goal. That’s what the most successful people do to bring their most daring plans to life. And that’s that what many of X-Cart customers did as well. Even if there were a lot of bolt-from-the-blue obstacles. And even if they thought it was not a very good idea in the first place.
We made up our mind to discuss this case with Marino Primozic, president and the moving spirit of Elite Trimworks Corporation. He had been working in marketing for 20 years when he finally realized he could merge his marketing superpower with love for architecture and coding into a single eCommerce business.
His business has exploded in the past year, and he’s had a lot of plates spinning in the air — from upgrading his eCommerce store to the freshest version of X-Cart to optimizing it for mobile devices.
For this, I have to give full credit to the programmers at X-Cart as we had very little to do with it other than change some content on the homepage.Marino Primozic,
president at Elite Trimworks Corporation
However, in spite of being engaged with a world of things every single day, he generously invested much of his time to jot down his thoughts on his smartphone so that I could create this in-depth case study (alas, I wasn’t able to meet him personally).
Ready? Dive in.
Starting From Scratch
What is the first question that comes to your mind when you think of starting an eCommerce business?
Let me guess. You think about the way you can jump-start your ideas in the most natural way possible. Here. Right now. Probably, without much pain and investment. You are weighing up the opportunities, calculating the first steps that will help you get on the eCommerce ladder and… sure thing, you feel so uplifted about the upcoming changes.
Btw, to help you stop second-guessing your decisions, we’ve created a step-by-step plan on how to start an online store. You will find out how to sell online and how much $$ you need to build an eCommerce website, get the basics on payment processing and understand what sales channels you need to explore.
Marino’s story started in his youth when he was passionate about architecture. At that time he couldn’t even imagine that several decades later he would launch a successful eCommerce site with two partners to whom he is still grateful for their support.
Helen: Tell me your story. Why did you choose this niche? What inspired you? Where did you get the idea of selling architectural products online?
Marino: In my youth when choosing my career path, I was conflicted between a career in architecture, computer programming or marketing.
I chose to work within marketing, and after twenty years of it, I decided to go into my own business that involved my other passions being e-commerce and architecture.
Helen: Did you manage to handle the launch all alone? Or did you get by with the help of your family and friends?
Marino: I started the company with two others who I could not have done without. To this date, I am still thankful for their assistance.
Helen: How did you choose the brand name? Why Elite Trimworks?
Marino: We initially started with Elite Mouldings, but as we continued to branch out into more product categories, we felt we need a name that described a more extensive range of products. Elite Trimworks seems to have fit the bill.
How They Boosted Organic Traffic by 253% After Upgrading to X-Cart 5
The process of upgrading an online store to a new shopping cart, even if you migrate from X-Cart 4 to X-Cart 5, is no joke.
To properly switch over to a new eCommerce platform, you have to create a clear plan, move all your data in an SEO-friendly way, see to it that the design template looks splendid on both desktop and mobile devices.
No doubts about it, the whole process will take time, patience and probably a bottle of wine to cope with stress. Luckily, our support team can handle all the hard work. And that’s what they did when transferring Elite Trimworks eCommerce website to X-Cart 188.8.131.52 shopping cart.
And you know what? They got a 253% organic traffic boost right after they switched to the new shopping cart platform. And that’s quite explainable. Besides making the site more user-friendly, they installed a fully-responsive design template that brought additional 33K of traffic from mobile phones.
Remember we told you Google loves mobile-friendly sites? Looks like it is true.
We asked Marino what he feels about the new changes.
Helen: So, what made you come to the decision of upgrading your eCommerce platform to X-Cart 5?
Marino: Although we did look at other platforms, our 15-year history with X-Cart made the choice very easy for us.
Helen: That makes sense. What makes X-Cart 5 better than X-Cart 4?
Marino: There are many changes from version 4. And we have spent considerable time and effort in learning and modifying version 5. In the end, the increase in traffic was worth it.
Helen: Yes, that’s what I’m interested in above all else. Your organic traffic shot up to 45K users a month in January 2017. Is it because of XC4 to XC5 upgrade?
Marino: It must have been, that’s the only element of our site that changed. All the content remained the same.
Helen: Great! What exactly was changed that helped you increase the traffic?
Marino: We have noticed a large increase in our mobile traffic, which I attribute to mobile optimization.
For this, I have to give full credit to the programmers at X-Cart as we had very little to do with it other than change some content on the homepage.
Helen: It’s a pleasure to hear that you are satisfied with our support team. Do you think there’s something that they could do a bit better?
Marino: The team was able to implement most of our requirements. However, a faster programming time would have been greatly appreciated.
How Customer-Centric Strategy Helps Them Drive Sales
The guys from Elite Trimworks do care about their customers.
Their 15-year experience has taught them what people prefer in terms of design, practicality, and pricing. So they are committed to making shopping experience not only a feast for the eyes but also easy on the wallet.
And they do not neglect to educate their customers, too. One should understand the philosophy of the brand, after all, to make an informed decision.
Helen: Sooner or later, every business owner comes across a problem of misunderstanding. Do you have to educate your customers and explain to them what is what?
Marino: Educating our customers and even our employees is the ongoing progress that our business cannot survive without. We find that online shoppers like to shop 24/7 and they want answers to their inquiries in the same time frame. We feel that the better job we do at educating our customers on: how to determine what they need; how to take their own correct measurements; choose which of our products best fits their architectural style; how to order; and how to install it, the better we will grow our business.
Helen: I see that more than 70% of your customers are from the US and only 18% percent of them live in Canada. Are there people from other countries?
Marino: We do get inquiries from all other the world, mostly from North America and the Caribbean but due to the high cost of shipping, most of our sales are within North America.
Helen: Do you remember your first customer?
Marino: Yes, I do remember how he found us (with the help of Google), what he ordered, where he lived, but I forgot his name.
Being Different from Others Is More Important Than Being Better
Being on the lookout for the new digital marketing trends (and following them!) is a job half done. This will help you make your message geared to your target audience — fast, smart, sassy, and relevant.
However, that’s not enough. Differentiating your brand from your competitors is more important.
The guys from Elite Trimworks knew that and focused their attention on the new, unique or hard-to-find to differentiate themselves from larger brands. They also prioritized faster delivery and low shipping rates within North America. That’s what makes them stand out from the crowd of competitors.
Helen: You have got competitors, aren’t you? What makes your products different from their products?
Marino: Coming from a marketing background, I understand the importance of being different from others. From the beginning, we focused our manufacturing efforts on items that are new to the market and difficult for consumers to find in brick and mortar stores. Our main difference is that we offer more variety, faster delivery with low or no shipping within North America.
Helen: How do you generate ideas for promotion? What is your secret marketing weapon?
Marino: Simply by observing the success of others in different industries all over the world and applying what I feel will work for our company.
Helen: What about social media and email marketing? Are you getting orders from Instagram, Facebook, and by email?
Marino: We do get traffic and orders from Pinterest and other social media.
I feel this is a growing trend and that we should be working hard on social media to build our customer base.
The Path to Success is Always Paved With Obstacles
I cannot say that running your eCommerce business is a cripplingly hard challenge.
Nope. It’s more like an adventure. It can be both risky and exquisitely breathtaking at the same time. And you will probably have to deal with lots of tasks (like an octopus, who has eight arms!), especially if you are running your eCommerce business all alone, or together with a friend.
That’s the way things looked like when Marino was just launching his eCommerce business. One was taking care of manufacturing, the other was working with the online store.
Yes, there were sticking points on his way to success, but what he learned the hard way was that every obstacle he stumbled upon was worth his efforts. He is sure that a stronger desire to succeed, a clear vision of what your customer is looking for, the willingness to accept the risk and work much harder than others will overcome all and any obstacle in the long run.
Helen: What obstacles did you have to overcome in your long journey to success?
Marino: As we manufacture most of the items that we sell online, one was figuring out how to manufacture our products and what machines we needed to purchase in order to do so. The other was all the content writing, SEO work, product photography and web design work that me and my team had to learn ourselves. If I had to hire others to do all the work, we may not be where we are today.
Helen: What moves you forward and makes you go on doing, no matter the troubles?
Marino: Troubles make all our lives interesting, no matter what path or direction you take, there will be some “troubles”. I figured that the troubles moving forward are better than any troubles that I would encounter moving backward, so I choose to go ahead.
Helen: What are the top three qualities a business owner should have? Describe why.
Marino: I find that a stronger desire to succeed will overcome all and any obstacles in business, but if I had to price three, they would be: a clear vision of what your customer is looking for; the willingness to accept the risk; and willingness to work much harder than others at the beginning for the better lifestyle in the long run.
Plans for The Future
To sum up the story, I’ve asked Marino to share his plans for the future and give recommendations for those who are still new to eCommerce world.
Helen: Now that you’ve achieved a lot, there should be some new plans. So, what’s next?
Marino: Surviving the first five years was hard work. At this stage of our business, we just want to keep perfecting our products and improving the manufacturing process. We feel we have to resist the temptation to get involved with adding unrelated product lines and instead concentrate on our core business.
Helen: What can you suggest to those who are just starting off?
Marino: There are many things to consider before starting your own business. I suppose the best advice I can give is “make sure you do what you love doing”. As your starting budget may not allow you to hire as many experts as you need, and the company will require many dedicated hours of your time, make sure to spend all that time doing something that you enjoy doing. If you wake up every day and do what you enjoy doing, that alone will be a success to many of us. If you experience great financial rewards in the process, that would be a bonus.
Working on this story, I did my best to make it as authentic as possible. I touched upon real human problems and emotions to show how our customer felt launching his online store, what solutions he found, and, of course, how X-Cart team managed to solve his problems and take his small business to the next level.
I’m not going to chase rainbows, flattering myself with the idea that this example will help your site conversions shoot through the roof and bring crowds of mad customers standing on their knees near your front porch begging for more. This would be too quixotic to expect such results.
But I really hope that this story will at least give you a spark of inspiration that will transform your inside sales efforts from ‘Ho Hum…’ to ‘Heck Yeah!’. And who knows, you may wake up tomorrow, ready for the action.
If you feel like your eCommerce business also deserves a shoutout, don’t be shy to email us about that. Just remember to tell us why you think so.