Here is a revealing interview with the founder of The webstore was launched in 1996 to sell window blinds online and today earns $50 million in annual revenues.

And all of that with zero debt, and zero inventory. Remarkable!

My key take aways from the 7 page interview are –

  1. “We focus on customer experience while buying from our website. 42% of our customers are repeat and referral customers”.
  2. “We have a lot of content on the website that talks about the product and provides education. I knew, from the buying process, what questions people would ask. I would provide answer to the questions that I knew they were asking”
  3. “I patterned my company after Car Talk, the show on National Public Radio. You had two really smart guys who loved their business but had fun doing it.”
  4. “We have also found that in many cases people did not know what product they wanted, but they knew what results they wanted. Specifically, they wanted to cut the glare in their room, or they had a kid’s room that they wanted to make dark. That led to the ‘I Want To’ section, which is on the left side of the page under other buying options.”
  5. “We have formed partnerships where major retailers outsource the entire department of custom blinds to us. We have done a cart-to-cart integration. You don’t even know it is us. We handle the phones, the customer service, and the fulfillment. We have no inventory because it is all drop shipped from our manufacturers”

Great insights. I believe that most of these ideas can be employed by small online retailers in their early phase of growth.

What can you do today?

Evolve your site into a destination for remarkable content. If they can do it with something as simple as window blinds, you can definitely do it with niche speciality products that many small e-commerce merchants specialize in.

To provide remarkable content, you need to be fully involved with your business, your customers, their needs, and their preferences. You need to get into their minds and answer their questions before they even ask them.

Understanding your customers deeply will also allow you to provide features such as the ‘I Want To’ section mentioned in the interview.

And finally, forming partnerships with existing sales channels is a great way to scale up quickly and efficiently. To form good partnerships, you must –

  1. From the beginning, start building business relationships with your vendors, your customers, and with other sales channels in your space
  2. Establish credibility by boosting sales through organic growth, and prove to the vendors that you can run a successful business

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