Shivani Dhamija, Founder of Shivani's Kitchen interviewed by Dean Dutro of Worth eCommerce in this episode of Relationship Commerce where they feature Top Business Owners in Ecommerce, their stories, struggles and strategies that are working. They focus on a series of brands who have (or soon will have) broken the 7 or 8 figure mark.
Shivani Dhamija shares her tips and tricks for successfully entering new markets with e-commerce products. She explains how learning the culture of your new market can help build your brand, the challenges she faced growing her cooking classes and her business, and how e-commerce has led to more traction.
Why You Should Listen to Your e-Commerce Customers
To create and run a successful e-commerce business, you have to listen to your customers. Talk to your consumers, find out what products they need, and then use that insight to come up with quality products that will serve their demand.
When Shivani found out that young professionals were looking for meal delivery services in her area, she opened a Facebook page and started delivering food to her customers. It was when she started offering cooking classes that she learned about the (great) need for quality spice and sauce blends in the market. She couldn't find good suppliers for her classes, so she decided to create her own blends—and a whole new revenue stream.
But it’s not just about starting the conversation. You should also maintain consistent communication with your customers. Whenever you can, meet your consumers in-person (or virtually!) and talk to them about your new products or improvements to your existing products. Share samples if you have them. And most importantly, ask them if they like your products. If they don't like what you’re offering, this is an incredible opportunity to find out why and make improvements to your products that’ll fit their needs successfully.
Why You Should Understand Your Community's Culture
Before you start producing any e-commerce product, you need to conduct thorough research and understand your target community's culture. What do they like? What do they hate? How do they spend their time? In Shivani’s case, what do they like to eat? If you intend to produce food products, make sure that the ingredients you plan to use are desired in that community.
While working on her cooking classes, Shivani interacted a lot with her students. In the process, she learned a lot about Canadian culture, like the fact that Canadians don't like having too much salt in their food. She took note of this and made salt-free spices and salt-free sauces part of her product line. This made her products more appealing to her market and gave her business more traction.
It’s also important that you understand the laws and regulations that govern your industry. Research as much as you can to get a clear picture of what you are allowed to do and what is restricted. Make sure to use the right processes to produce your e-commerce products and adhere to all policies put in place, to avoid any legal issues—and expenses—later.
How to Leverage e-Commerce to Enter a New Marketplace
Before COVID-19 hit, many new businesses could approach retail stores and pitch their products to have them sold in the storefront. However, the limitation on physical meetings has greatly impacted the growth of new businesses, who now have to find creative ways to sell their products.
One of the best ways for you to enter a market in a foreign region is through e-commerce. E-commerce gives customers from different areas, and even different countries, the opportunity to buy your products from the comfort of their homes.
Shivani had been selling her products in Canadian stores but when the pandemic struck, she couldn't move around to pitch her products to more stores. This affected her business and forced her to find a solution quickly. She decided to make good use of her online presence and promote her products online, mainly through social media and her brand's website. The result? Not only was she able to stay afloat—she even started selling to customers from regions she hadn’t been able to enter through physical stores.