New Jersey-based online seller Jorge Bustillo has been in the eCommerce business for 9 years. After working at an eCommerce company in New York City for three years, he broke out on his own to specialize in selling jewelry through his website and online marketplaces. Jorge talks to us about his eCommerce business and his favorite time of the year: the busy holiday selling season and how he plans for it.
I’ve been working directly with customers and then in the eCommerce business for years. I started off at an online retailer in NYC, where I learned about international logistics, creating and running a website, and working with diverse customers. After realizing how much potential there is in eCommerce, I became interested in entrepreneurship and started my own company. That was 6 years ago! I was lucky that Amazon gave me the chance to work with them, along with eBay and Etsy. Amazon approached me early on and said, “you’re a good seller, you have such strong reviews.” They encouraged me to start selling on Amazon UK and Amazon Canada as well, and gave me help along the way, including recommending that I work with World First. I’m so proud of my small business and how it’s helped me grow as a person and as a boss.
A jewelry business is born
You know, I was never a jewelry person. I was the kind of guy who only wore a watch. But while working in NYC, one of the fashion capitals of the world, I learned about the great jewelry houses making incredibly intricate pieces and I started appreciating jewelry as an art. There is so much labor and creativity involved in creating jewelry. And from a business-perspective, it was a great choice. People really appreciate a quality jewelry piece and they like to invest in jewelry for special occasions. In the retail business, jewelry does pretty well.
An always-open storefront through eCommerce
eCommerce provides so much more visibility than traditional retail. As a business owner, it also gives you flexibility. Traffic in brick and mortar stores is limited and you have to be there in the shop on a certain schedule. For example, if you’re selling in the malls, you have to be there on the weekends, because that’s when people go. But online, you have your store open all the time. There’s unlimited traffic because you’re there for all the world to see. When you work on your website, marketplace listings and social media, you get a lot of exposure for the time you put in. My number one advice for other small businesses is to be online! Again, selling jewelry was a great fit for eCommerce. The stock doesn’t require a lot of space and you can keep your inventory without a lot of warehousing expenses. That was a huge plus for me.
“The most wonderful time of the year”
November and December in the retail industry are the two months when you get to make profit – big profit! The entire holiday season, with Black Friday, Christmas and other major shopping occasions, are when things get really busy for my business.
Preparing for the holiday season
I generally start preparing for the season early by redesigning or optimizing my website. And because visual is everything online, arranging the best possible shoots for my jewelry leading up to the season is especially important. People get sold by pictures. But descriptions are also really important. Amazon and other marketplaces have requirements for product listings, and you have to make sure you’re meeting those requirements and using the best keywords, with an appealing title and description. We also worked on discounts to get more customers. And while it’s not easy, we offer free and fast shipping, which really helps draw in more buyers at this time of year.
Images, listings and inventory are key for holiday preparation
Managing inventory is crucial. You’re running an online business and that means you’re getting exposure to the entire world. Especially at this time of year, you never want to be out of stock. Start forecasting your inventory and how much you will need. Forecast weeks and months in advance. The marketplaces are always helping. For example, Amazon tells you about the minimum inventory you’ll need and what to expect month to month. Make sure you utilize those resources to plan for the holiday shopping season.
Grow, grow and grow
My number one desire is to keep growing my business. I’m very interested in designing my own collection and seeing my products in fashion shows. I also want to continue selling internationally. From the very beginning, I offered my products to be shipped internationally and those customers have driven a lot of my sales. It’s very nice getting feedback from different parts of the world.