How to start a shop

How to find the right location for a shop

How to start a shop, or how to find the right location for a shop. This is something we long thought of in our early years at Vape and Juice and we revisit it all the time as and when we expand our store territory. We thought it would be helpful then, if we made a short tutorial for you. This is our 7 top tips for finding the right shop location.

Getting the right location for a shop can be make or break. If you are a larger business with higher revenues, maybe you can swallow a loss. But for those businesses that are making their first steps in retail, it’s fundamental you get it right from day 1.

What makes us tick

I want to help anyone who follows our blog, to know that we are about adding value. So we put together this short video, to help you find out whether you are onto a winner. So if you are searching online, how to start a shop – then you should watch this retail video now.

How to start a shop

If you found this short info video useful, then we have an expanded version breaking it all down for you coming soon. You can stay on top of new videos we release at our new youtube channel The MOB Show.

In this video coming and the video above we break down our top seven criteria for finding the right location for a shop. These include:

  1. Position
  2. Accessibility
  3. Competitor analysis
  4. Services
  5. Complimentary businesses nearby
  6. Are your customers close by
  7. Lease conditions

These are not all of the factors you need to look at when taking over a new shop for your retail business. But considering these together will definitely put your on the right track. Ultimately it’s about balancing the potential risk reward also. If you have little to lose with a flexible lease and you are the only business of your type, then not ticking other boxes may be fine.

How to start a shop is a series of podcasts and videos that will chronicle our journey of opening a new retail business. If you would rather listen about our journey on how to start a shop via podcast, then check out those feeds here.


How to boost conversion rates

Buy or die.

I was staring at the Lucky Orange heatmap plug in, recanting this to myself, watching the the customer’s cursor travel across the page. Hovering over the proceed to checkout button, while I watch on chewing the inside of my cheek.

Then just like that, the user exits and the reality that I didn’t understand what was going on; dawned on me.

Welcome to the world of conversion rates.

What are Conversion Rates?

So put very simply, the moment when a prospect, or lead, that has arrived on your site and executes the planned course of action that your business is set up for; then you have converted them. If they leave or exit the site before committing to a purchase, an order etc, then that is a failed conversion. That is crudely the answer to ‘What are conversion rates’.

Different industries have different industry averages. For my own business Vape and Juice in the ECig industry, the average is approx 3%. A year back we saw our conversion rates at around 0.9%. Woefully lower than what is expected. It stood to reason, then that if we simply got our conversion rate to the industry baseline, we would see a significant growth in sales. And this is why it is fundamental to monitor conversions.

How do you monitor conversion rates?

As a Shopify e-commerce platform, we have access to a suite of great pre-built apps. These pre built apps or plug ins, allow you to add functionality to your site without paying for unique coding. One of those apps is called Lucky Orange, which is a monitoring app. It creates heatmaps identifying the following:

  • Where users move their cursor to
  • Which pages users visit most
  • The speed at which a user moves through the site
  • When a user bounces off the page and leaves

These heatmaps are hugely valuable for identifying pinch points on your site or points where the user is irritated. Watching like an online shopping stalker, you can spot the moments that the user experience breaks down. We discover broken links that got missed, we discover all types of ways that we can make the journey through our site easier. This is the value of a heatmap.

What can I do to improve conversion rates?

Improving conversion rates is made that much easier by watching the browsing history of those who leave the site. You can spot items such as:

  • Broken links
  • Poor images
  • Unclear product description
  • Poor colour pallette of the site
  • Button size too small on mobile leading to fat finger clicks
  • Price not kept current
  • Shipping information not clear
  • Shipping price not current
  • FAQs don’t answer questions required
  • Page load too slow
  • Page information too overwhelming
  • Poor user experience

There really is a huge amount of information that you can absorb from monitoring heatmaps. And besides offers such as freeshipping, we identify this one app as the key for us to change our conversion rates to industry averages now.

Our next goal is to grow traffic and sales. But by working on the conversion rates at this stage, means the site is more likely to capture more traffic and sales as a simplified user experience makes word of mouth marketing more likely.

We hope you have found this blog piece useful. If you have any questions on this ‘how to improve conversion rates’ post then stick them in the box underneath. If you want to stay on top of the latest podcast from The MOB show, then head here to see the latest episode.

Do Paid Backlinks Work?

Do paid backlinks work? This is something we found we wanted to test this month. Read on to see how we got on and how we ended up at that question. This blog is all about growing traffic to your ecommerce site.

So we recently took the time to view our domain and page authority on a retail site we host on Shopify. News just in; it’s pretty whack.

Our site the guinea pig

The Online vape shop Vape and Juice has been active now since 2014 in some form but has always been a minor part of our business in terms of retail channels. Primarily we operate offline through bricks and mortar locations around the South East of the UK. Vaping online suffers from a common problem amongst ‘vice’ industries with a restriction on AdWords and Facebook advertising. Because of this, we always followed the path of least resistance.

By path of least resistance I am talking about, ‘which is the easiest route to growing my business’. Think about it, in your own business, which route generates growth in a way that you hate your life a little less? For us, it was easier to open a shop on a street, with actual humans with a specific amount of stock, than it was to win an extra customer online. We literally couldn’t do it.

Then someone told us to check our conversion rates.

“Our conversion whats?”

Penny drops


So we were having a 0.8% conversion ratio. The industry average for FMCG* is 3% online, if we could simply tweak the likelihood that someone would buy and not ‘die’ then we would see revenue growth online. We suddenly found a new path of least resistance. The sales were there, we just had to close the deal more.

How to grow ecommerce revenues

So there are two routes here:
1. Improve conversion in your basket or at the point of a browser dwelling on your products

2. Increase traffic to your site.

In this post we are going to cover the second topic, ‘increase traffic to your site’. Easier said than done. so there are a few ways you can do this.

How to grow traffic to a website

  1. Boosted posts. These are posts shared on Instagram and Facebook that are sponsored to reach more people. If you get the right message in front of more people, then you are going to give yourself a greater chance of grabbing some traffic
  2. CPC. Cash per click, is similar to boosted posts, in that they are financially supported traffic drivers. With CPC you can pay to win leads, raise awareness, send traffic to a site. A ton of options really you can do and you can use a host of platforms for this. Including, Facebook, Google Adwords, Bing, even Waze traffic app.
  3. Organic content. This is all about creating quality organic content that is found by search engines that link back to your site and say “Hey, these folks are putting out really good stuff, go there first”. This takes time but is cost efficient long term, as it creates passive traffic. Passive traffic is the kind of traffic that keeps heading to your site via well ranked pages even long in the future.

Lets talk about number 3 which will lead us to the question, do paid backlinks work?

What is organic content?

Organic content and SEO are part of the same stable. SEO means, search engine optimisation, which in essence, is about making your site as search engine friendly as possible. Besides crafting interesting content to do this, there are structural items that need to ticked off also. Such as putting in meta descriptions, the correct page headings, the right spelling and language. You will need to make sure images have alt tags etc etc. In fact there are a ton of items that need to be done to your website to make it search engine friendly completely separate from your actual content.

Let’s imagine you have done those. (If you haven’t check out our blog on site wide SEO for beginners.) So you have crafted a ton of blog posts, you have gone through them to make sure that each has a central keyword it’s focusing on. You have added feature images and you have organised them in a clear way to be found. You have even checked out Google’s keyword planner to ensure you are writing about current trending topics to ensure your content is something that is wanted. Now you might think, now the traffic should come rolling in – but wait, remember the blog title: “Do paid for backlinks work?” Well you need to have a site with a strong domain authority AND page authority.

Do paid backlinks work?

This means Google considers your site trustworthy. This can be a long process and may take many months and years. It is done by ensuring that over the long term your site has got links back to itself from other trusted sources. This is where SEO and organic content marketing becomes a long play. Have you set up a business listing for your company before and Yelp or Foursquare asked for your website url in the bio section? Well that is a backlink. Now consider getting thousands of them. Seems like an horrendous task doesn’t it. Which is why we put together this blog, on do paid backlinks work.

PPH – People per hour

We make a lot of use of the site People Per Hour, which is a great resource for outsourcing design and marketing jobs. We all get a little snowed under sometimes or maybe we have a side project that we want to speed up. When that happens, we use PPH. It’s leagues ahead of it’s rival Fiverr, which markets itself on smaller lower quality jobs and we have used it to find some great long term outsourcers. This website was loaded from one.

A number of the marketing tools advertised on PPH are services that offer the ability to rank your site higher by using paid back links. This means they have tools in place to list your site with a wide number of high ranking sites offering back links back to your own site. If this is done in a haphazard approach, it’s undeniably dangerous to your site’s ranking. Google’s algorithm will destroy you, it will mark as spammy. But done in a slow methodical approach it’s allegedly quite effective. We did some competitor analysis using SEMrush, which is a free tool and we could see the largest players in our sector had a substantial amount of quality backlinks heading to their site. So our test was to see for a $500 commitment if this would change much with an outsourcer.

Who are we using to find out if paid backlinks work?

The project being an important test meant we aimed for a Top Cert member of the PPH community. We used a member called ‘D Green’ who had over 3000 reviews. The service offers:

  • 100% Manual SEO Service
    – All White Hat Work
    – Tier 1: 90+ High Quality Backlinks- 15 Top Social bookmarking sites
    – 5 Blogposts on High Authority UK sites
    – Links from wikis x 5
    – High quality web 2.0 miniblogs(3-5 niche blogposts/blog) x 5
    – 10 High Quality Doc Submissions
    – 10 Press Release Links
    – 1 Video creation+ 5 video submission
    – Youtube video – 2000 views + 5 comments + 25 likes
    – Profile links on High Authority UK sites x 10
    – 10 High Authority UK Business Directory Submissions
    – 10 High Quality UK Citation Submissions
    – 5 High Quality UK Classified Submissions
    – Social Signals: Over 500+ Social Signals – MUST HAVE FOR NEW OCT 2018 ALGORITHMS!

Our domain authority right now

So with this package sitting there waiting to be tested, we thought, lets be guinea pigs. If it works, great, if it doesn’t then it’s tested this for once and for all. This is not to say we don’t believe in the value of backlinks; they are HUGELY important, but we wanted to test if the process could be sped up a touch. After all, not every ecommerce business out there is going to be able to get a write up in the Washington Post or Daily Telegraph online. So stay tuned, we have posted below our current domain authority details:

do paid back links work

Follow us for a future update in 30 days on: do paid backlinks work.