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Jonathan Ng – OXG Media – eCommerce Interview

How did you start your eCommerce business and what do you do?

This is Jonathan Ng, I run OXG Media, a social media marketing agency (SMMA) helping ecommerce shopify clients scale their revenue through paid advertising – be it facebook, google search, google shopping etc. We are also an official facebook marketing partner, and this is proof of our agency account spend (at time of writing).

How did you get into the shopify eCommerce space?

I first got into the shopify space by creating my own ecommerce brand (as I would think a lot of people do). It was really the 1st time I ‘started a business’ with my friend out of the military and I created and launched my own private label brand and we chose Shopify just because of its ease of use.
Because I was doing some commercial photography and videography back then too (yes i took these photos) – I used those skills to create the professional photo/video content for the actual store. We were selling sunglasses and bought the inventory upfront (big mistake) – not knowing what we were doing obviously. Then I realised the model of dropshipping, shopify ecommerce and how easy it was for us to actually NOT buy inventory in the first place. By then it was a bit too late and settled for a partial refund of our sunglasses with the supplier and you can see the purchase order we made on alibaba as well.
By then, around ½ of our startup capital was burnt by a mistake, and we were left with about $3,000 left to spend on marketing – then I stumbled across facebook advertising, since that was what everybody online was suggesting to do. That was really when I spent my own money to learn this skill of paid traffic – and through the process of cash burn, I knew what it felt like to actually burn through cash and on unprotiable ads. I eventually transitioned into the agency model because I realized I really like this world of digital marketing and not really so much the product side of fulfillment and shipping and handling orders/customs etc.

As a store owner – what are/were the biggest challenges that you had faced in the past? How did you overcome that?

There are really 2 things here – 1. Marketing profit 2. Working with great suppliers One of the biggest challenges I faced was actually understanding how to scale our ad spend and whether the ads that we were pushing out were actually responsible for the sales that are generated on shopify. Often on high spend (anything > $2k per day), it is scary to see for example $5k in revenue and 2k spend then the next day your revenue plummets to a 3k revenue day on the same spend amount. This is especially scary because when you are shipping physical products, the product costs and supplier costs to fulfill and ship have to be considered. Because everything is bootstrapped – there are no mistakes that you can make and being able to know EXACTLY how much profit you are generating from your ad spend is something I see an issue. The second issue is probably actually being able to find reliable suppliers. When we ordered our sunglasses for the 1st time – it was all fine and dandy when we put in the purchase order and transferred the money through alibaba. However, when the samples came over – the product quality was not fantastic to say the least – and something we could not accept. Hence if you are already doing some sort of volume with your ecom business be it >10 orders per day – try and negotiate with your supplier for lower prices and higher quality products. Usually if you are a priority customer that can show that you can bring in consistent business, your supplier would be more willing to work with you in the long term and give you the A-grade quality products. They don’t want to be working with short term dropshippers who don’t treat businesses seriously. They want to be working with businesses who are in it for the long haul.

What marketing strategies have worked for you so far?

My agency handles the actual creative ad that is being put into the market and video editing is done in-house so we create highly converting video ads – that combine a lot of social proof, product demos and education style videos. These tend to work very well because Facebook/instagram are social networks and people like to see the special features of e-commerce products when they are seeing what their friends/families are up to too. We also run a LOT of paid advertising through facebook and instagram and they are still the dominant paid traffic platforms just because people are still heavily using these apps to engage and connect. Additionally – because we drive so much traffic from facebook itself – we have also ventured into google search and google shopping, supplementary marketing channels that are very profitable and work very well too. The next frontier that I personally am tackling now is Tiktok and looking to wechat too just because – if you didn’t know – Shopify recently opened up an office in China too.

What was the 1st breakthrough/defining moment for you with your shopify sales?

I realised that because I was always going at a 100 miles – and moving really quickly and taking massive action, I felt the pain of running ads and accelerated my learning curve. The first breakthrough for me was when after studying how facebook works for so long – watching many videos, learning the terminology and getting my hands dirty in ads manager – did I really get to see breakthroughs. One of the 1st clients I had ever gotten – they were selling a high priced $400 product at the time. And because I had audited their website – saw the type of traffic they were doing and not spending on ads at all to expand the company – the stars were aligned.
During the 1st 3 weeks or so, I spent about $600 at the time (a lot for me at the time because I never ‘handled’ someone else’s marketing budget before, I only spent my own money to that point) – and generated about $15k in sales – which was a 25x ROAS. When that happened – although looking back it’s such a small amount of money – it was the 1st time that despite client pressure, that I told myself – ok i know how to do this and I can do it. Consistent practice and hard work breeds confidence in your ability.

What books do you read and who do you follow for advice?

One of my favorite books is Principles by Ray Dalio. Anything that Ray dalio says, be it a CNBC interview, his books or TED talks, I would watch those videos during a lunch break or whatever and try to learn how he looks and dissects problems. Although Dalio is in finance and runs a hedge fund, I will like how he runs his company and organisation and the ‘principles’ behind how he makes decisions as well. Highly recommend.

How do you see what you’ll be doing with Shopify and eCommerce in the future?

I think shopify as an ecommerce platform will be around for a long term, and e-commerce is a booming industry that anyone can really get into. Its not hard to understand the business model. I guess because I started with it I really understand the landscape very well now – but also think its a great foundation for anybody who wants to start a business.
You get to learn everything from the ground up – from incorporation, forced to learn marketing, handle suppliers and shipping, customs and taxes, brand positioning. And it is definitely very tough. You’re competing with the world here but also forced to be creative with how you market your products/services. I will still be in the e-commerce space and will be helping scale our clients stores in the meantime.

Where can people find you?

I will still be in the e-commerce space and will be helping scale our clients stores in the meantime.
If you are running your ecommerce business now and not experiencing the type of success you were looking for – just keep pushing your limits and trying new things – just keep throwing things at the wall. Eventually 1 thing will stick and you would have learnt a lot at the same time.
You can find Jonathan at https://oxg-media.com

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