8 Practical Steps For E-Commerce Startups To Generate First 100 Sales


An innovative business model – CHECK

A spectacular E-commerce website – CHECK

First 100 customers – Ummm, Where are they???

Getting the website developed and launched was the tip of the iceberg, the real mountain has revealed itself now – Generating sales from your store.

Over the past 7+ years, we had the opportunity to develop and deliver thousands of web stores using various CMS tools like Magento, Shopify, WooCommerce, BigCommerce and others.

Even though the web stores we delivered often exceeded client expectations, attracting new customer towards a never before heard of website is a completely different ballgame.

Startup clients weren’t even realizing what’s wrong with their stores until it was too late.

Statistics suggest the reasons for startup failure as premature scaling, running out of cash, lack of market need for the product and much more.

A legitimate plan of action was the need of the hour.

So, we took upon ourselves to research a strategy by utilizing our years of experience in working with successful E-commerce startups.

We began by surveying our existing clients – this time those who got that initial success which eluded many others.

Our goal – To find out what they knew about generating startup success that the others didn’t?

After weeks of research and many client surveys, we were finally able to connect the dots. Our findings helped us devise an actionable strategy that can lift a startup from ZERO to HUNDRED in no time, proving out to be nothing less than a customer magnet.

Why first 100?

Defining a realistic traction goal is the most crucial step for any startup business.

Startups often tend to shift their aim on generating profits as soon as few initial sales come in, neglecting the need to generate more unique buyers.

Successful startup founders suggest, “spend 50% of your time on product and 50% on traction. Aim for generating unique buyers and not on profits right away.”

Traction goals can vary from business to business. It can be 1,000 new users, 100 new customers or 10% market share. For an E-commerce startup, we prefer an initial inflection point of 100 customers.

Now that we know where to begin with, let’s dive into what we are here for.

Your guide, which if followed with persistence will get those first 100 customers and more swarming in.

Are you ready? Let’s begin.

1. Google Shopping

You must have noticed a list of product images with prices linked to different websites every time you search for a product on Google. Many shoppers, rely on these results to search and buy online.

Reasons being:

  1. a) It makes the decision-making easier for the shoppers by showing the available options (Sellers) of a product upfront.
  2. b) Showing images of the product and the price on each E-commerce website in one glance makes it easier to choose a seller.

If a shopper is using these results then he usually has a strong intent to buy the product.

How to target these shoppers?

Sign Up for a Google Merchant Center account and upload your product feed into it.

Follow this guide for step by step instructions. Google’s merchant center accepts product feed in XML (all major E-commerce CMS solutions allow you to generate one).

Store managers who don’t want to spend time in managing the product feed, following are some recommended plugins for major CMS’s that can get you up and running with Google shopping in no time:

Shopify: Google Shopping by Shopify

Magento: Simple Google Shopping by WyoMind

WooCommerce: Wp Product Feed Manager by Michel Jongbloed

BigCommerce: Google Shopping by Yahoo

Don’t see your CMS listed in the list, Contact Us to get a solution.

2. Re-Targeting

Ever visited an E-commerce website to examine a product and found yourself being followed with Advertisements of the same product anywhere you go on the web – Facebook, Skype, Yahoo, your favorite news website???

Credit Re-targeting for that.

Studies suggest that for a startup E-commerce, 97 of 100 people went away without purchasing anything. It doesn’t mean they were window shopping. On an average a customer can visit your store up to 9 times before he buys something.

Thanks to Re-targeting, you can track a prospect’s footprint who went away without buying and can target them with your advertisements on other websites they visit.

How to set it up?

All you need to do is place a PIXEL(Code Snippet) provided by Google to start tracking your visitors.

Follow this step by step tutorial from Google Adwords to setup Re-targeting campaigns.

Take this a notch higher by implementing dynamic re-targeting where the ads served are based on the last E-commerce page visited on your website by the targeted buyer. Push targeted deals/discounts using Dynamic re-targeting and increase the chances of converting a prospect into a customer.

Following are some CMS plugins we recommend for dynamic re-targeting:

Magento: Google Dynamic Retargeting by Scommerce Mage

Shopify: Dynamic Retargeting by Rontar

WooCommerce: WooCommerce AdWords Dynamic Remarketing by Wolfbar Agency

You should also Consider Facebook’s Product Catalog for dynamic re-targeting on Facebook.

3. Exhibit Your Store’s Security Standards

Lack of trust is one of the major reason for prospects to drop the idea of purchasing from a new store. Your prospects are most likely to leave your web-store either on the product page, the cart page or the checkout page.


A startup website often lacks on the security front. A customer will always dread about getting conned by shopping from an unknown store.

One moment of hesitation is all it takes for them to change their mind, especially when it involves making a payment online (without actually having the product in their hands first).

Having top notch security is the key, and make sure to flaunt your security standards at all exit points of your website to assure the customer.

Following are some must have security standards that your webstore must meet:

  1. a) Use Enhance Verification SSL
  2. b) Use multi-factor authentication for Signups and order confirmation.
  3. c) Flaunt Trust Seals issued by 3rd party vendors.
  4. d) Use a Managed DNS.
  5. e) Use PCI and Vulnerability scanning services

4. Pop-ups and Push Notifications

These are great ways of engaging shoppers. You can track their actions on your webstore and provide them relevant content through pop-ups and notifications.

By installing a reliable call to action plugin, you can easily design engaging pop ups that will show up on pre-set conditions.

For instance:

  • When a shopper lands on your website for the first time.
  • When he has spent more than 60 seconds on a page
  • If shopper visits the same product page more than 3 times
  • Shopper adds the product in wishlist or shopping cart but abandons his cart.

We recommend the following Opt-in solutions that also features dedicated plug-ins for major CMS solutions:

  1. a) Constant Contact
  2. b) Optinmonster
  3. c) Mailchimp
  4. d) GetResponse

While well timed pop-ups are a great way to engage the customers when he is browsing the website, Push notifications can give the necessary Oomph to attract the customer to your store.

Even if your prospect has not opened your store, if he has subscribed to your store’s updates then you will be able to show him notifications.

What’s great is – these works on Mobiles as well as desktops (equally effectively).

Use these plugins to setup Push notifications in your Ecommerce store:

WordPress: Push Notifications for WordPress by Delite Studio S.R.L

Magento: Web Push Notifications by Webkul

Shopify: Fire Push by Firepush

5. Product Hunt (The Techcrunch Effect)

Getting a story on techcrunch about your startup product might seem like a dream come true.

Singularly because it can expose your business to the mind boggling user base of Techcrunch. Those who gets featured receive an unreal amount of traction.

Yet amidst global competition, getting your product featured on Techcrunch in your early days might seem unlikely — Unless! you are selling a groundbreaking product and Techcrunch is highly intrigued in your product.

That’s where you can go for Product Hunt which is basically built on The Techcrunch effect. Product Hunt is a community website that surfaces the best new products daily. Products are manually approved by moderators, hence you need to be very careful and honest while submitting your product.

It’s ok if you do not get listed on the website, you can always try for similar product curation websites like:

These websites can not only attract many customers in a blink of an eye, if you are selling a great product you might also attract an investor for your business. The possibilities are Endless……

6. Stalk Influencers, Generate Evangelists

Nielsen research indicates that 92% of consumers trust recommendations from family and friends over every other form of advertising.

There is nothing better than WOMM (Word Of Mouth Marketing) and if you approach it in the correct way, your business will start running on it’s own.

Although WOMM has countless ways to generate the hype, we will focus on two specific ways that yield the best results:

  1. a. Stalk and Approach Influencers

    Connecting to Influencers is considered by many as an arduous task. Influencers hardly seem interested to pay heed to your messages.

    If you ask me, in all its practicality – it is as difficult as how you begin your interaction with an influencer.

    Many startups start firing tweets, comments, and emails to influencers hoping they would get lucky. Newsflash!! That’s not going to work.

    Following are 3 simple steps that actually can:

    1. i)  Start with Identifying appropriate influencers in your vertical. Follow them on Linkedin, Facebook Twitter or Instagram. Do not contact them until you are certain that they are the ones that can help you.
    2. ii) Once you have created a list of influencers, do not pitch to them right away asking for help. Spend some time to read the content that they post, share their content, make rational comments and understand their viewpoint. Engage them in a way that builds you as their regular follower.
    3. iii) After investing some time following them, make a mutually beneficial pitch. Make sure that your pitch should be in a tone of a request.

    For instance: Request them if they are interested to try your product for free and can share their thoughts.

    Remember, we started with targeting influencers within your vertical. So the product should match their interests and most likely they will be happy to try and review it.

  2. b. Generate Evangelists

    An evangelist is a customer who spreads the word about your product through his or her personal reputation and network. They are very much like influencers who aren’t actually aware that they are acting as an influencer for your brand.

    You may find Evangelists for hire on the internet as well but the most organic source are your customers who are actually blown away by the customer experience provided to them by your store.

    We are not going to dig into steps of generating evangelists. There is just 1 core rule you need to follow for doing that – Break all the rules and please the customer.

    Until you get those first 100 customers, keep following this. Do whatever you can to delight your customers.

    Make sure they are bound to do WOMM of your brand. Once your customers start feeling delighted, you will be amazed by how many sales that start coming in.

7. Consider going Global

Fulfilling Global orders might not be applicable for every startup company. Yet, if there is any chance your startup can accommodate international orders – TAKE IT.

Start with making public announcements on Social media channels like – Facebook and LinkedIn Groups within your niche.

One of our own clients “who opened a startup business to sell merchandise for Dogs” gained significant traction when he started accepting global orders. Sorting out the order fulfillment strategy for global shipping was a learning curve but it got sorted out with setting up different levels of shipping.

We started with a flat rate shipping and then created higher plans for quicker delivery.

We used Shiphawk as their shipping provider and created a custom Magento 2 extension for the store utilizing Shiphawk’s merchant API.

CMS solutions provide lots of contributed plugins for major shipping providers like:

Magento: https://marketplace.magento.com/extensions/shipping-fulfillment.html

WooCommerce: https://woocommerce.com/product-category/woocommerce-extensions/shipping-methods/

Shopify: https://apps.shopify.com/categories/shipping

8. Paid Ads

We couldn’t have ended this post without recommending Search engines as a marketing tool. But for a new store it is impossible to get their website listed at the top of the search rankings.

That’s where Paid advertisement can act as a great way to kickstart your store’s marketing.

With as much as $500 Billion invested annually in it, paid advertisement is “THE” way to go for startup businesses.

You don’t need to spend buck loads of cash to achieve customers. It’s a matter of planning it right.

Follow these steps to get the most out of your Paid marketing:

What can you aim for?

On an average, businesses make $3 for every $1.60 they spend on AdWords.

What you must do:

  1. a) Learn the different types of keywords and how they can be setup.
  2. b) Determine which keywords and searches can have the best conversions for your site.
  3. c) Setup effective sales funnels first, then target customers at specific points in the sales funnel.
  4. d) Segmenting and targeting ads in any way is an essential step toward optimizing them and getting the most bang for your marketing buck.

How to manage the budget for paid ads:

  1. a) Understand your business’s CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) by dividing marketing expenses with no. of customers acquired in the same period. Keep a check on your website conversion rate to improve your paid campaign with time.
  2. b) Determine your business’s CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost)/LTV(Customer’s Life Time Value) ratio to track your Ads budget. Make sure it is always balanced. A low LTV is a bad sign for ROI.
  3. c) If budget allows, use paid ads on Social networks and video ads on youtube, and Vimeo as well.
  4. d) Studies suggest that LinkedIn is more effective for promoting a B2B business whereas Google rules B2C promotions.

How to choose Keywords:

  1. a) Don’t only bid on top keywords, go for long tail and related keywords as well.
  2. b) Analyze demographics, affinity groups, geographic locations, and mobile devices, for targeting search traffic before bidding.
  3. c) Use RLSA (Remarketing Lists for Searched Ads), and optimize keywords selection based on the results.


Ecommerce is the same as the traditional brick-and-mortar store model. You really must push hard to reach the right buyers. Unless you understand the targeted consumer profile, generating sales is tough.

Contact our eCommerce analysts today to consult about generating sales online and utilize the above methods to generate your first 100 eCommerce sales.