9 Insights Into Online Retail & Business from Ecommerce Pro Richard Lazazzera

Richard Lazazzera, or @RichardABLS if you have trouble with all of those z’s, is an entrepreneur by nature and has worked his way up to becoming an influential voice in the ecommerce space. Launching his own brand Finch.co in 2014 as a self-challenge to build an ecommerce business in 24 hours, is just one of the projects Richard has under his online retail belt.

After recently completing a contributing writer-stint with Shopify, he is ready to work with ecommerce entrepreneurs and figure out ways to contribute to the ecommerce community. If you have ideas, connect with him on Twitter. I did from @bluestout, and that’s how this interview came about!

With that introduction, let’s get into the questions:

Richard Lazazzera’s Insight Into Online Retail & Business

1. First of all, for our readers who don’t know who you are, can you give us a bit of introduction into who Richard Lazazzera is? What interests do you have outside of business and ecommerce? And, how did you come to make a name for yourself in the ecommerce space?

I’ve been an ecommerce entrepreneur for nearly 5 years but I’ve been an entrepreneurs to some capacity since I was a kid. Outside of ecommerce, I enjoy good food, whiskey, traveling and playing with my dog.

I started blogging in December of 2012, mostly just to journal my thoughts and experiences in ecommerce. I immediately got some good traction, mostly thanks to Reddit. This encouraged me to devote more time to my blog and helping others. As months went on, I started getting emails from people that started their own online businesses because of my writings. This turned out to be the most powerful motivator for me and started altering my course so that I could inspire and educate more people.

In 2014 Shopify asked me to join their team. In the year and a half I was at Shopify, I was able to further build my brand and scale my impact to hundreds of thousands of readers each month.

I’ve since left Shopify but still steadfast on the same path of helping entrepreneurs build, launch and grow their online business.

2. What does your typical work day look like? Do you use any favorite tools to help you have a productive workday?

Because I’m managing multiple businesses, I spend most of my days and much of my evenings working on them. There’s no 4-hour work week in my schedule but that’s alright, I love what I’m doing and building.

As for productivity tools, I use Evernote extensively to manage ideas, tasks, lists and notes. I can’t imagine life without it at this point.

3. What ecommerce brands do you have your eye on right now and why?
Beard Brand ecommerce content strategy
[image via urbanbeardsman.com, a Beard Brand magazine]

There’s a few companies I’m following closely. Beardbrand is one I’ve been watching for a while. They have done such a great job with their content strategy in order to break through and stand above all the other urban beard grooming brands.

.@thebeardbrand is doing a great job to stand above other urban grooming brands
Kauffman Mercantile Ecommerce Product Pages
[image via Kauffman Mercantile]

Kauffman Mercantile is doing a great job and a business that’s helped inspire me with Finch Goods. Kauffman curates well made products from around the world, but where they really shine is in their product pages. They usually never even mention the brand in the title or description because they focus so much on writing truly helpful, meaningful descriptions. In short, their sell the product on the quality and telling a story, not the brand.

For good examples of well-executed ecommerce product pages check out @KaufmannMerc
Bellroy ecommerce product page
[image via bellroy.com]

Finally, Bellroy, the wallet company, does probably the best job at creating engaging and informative product pages. It’s hard to still have a question about their wallets after viewing their product pages and everything is so well put together. They just might have just figured out “the perfect product page”.

.@bellroy might just have the perfect product page @RichardABLS

4. As the owner of a growing ecommerce business, what is the biggest challenge you see today? Is this a big difference from the #1 challenge you had when you first launched?

The beginning of any online business usually centers around two things. The first, is finding product/market fit, the second is getting relevant and qualified traffic.

A year into Finch Goods I have a much better understanding of my customers and what they want. I have begun altering my product lineup to better fit that audience.

I will be focusing much more time on my curated product offerings for the rest of the year. As I approach 2016, my target is going to shift to scalable marketing channels like Facebook Ads and Google Adwords which I have been avoiding up to this point.

Related: How My Ecommerce Startup Got Featured In WIRED & the LA Times, and Acquired Our First Customers

5. Choosing a platform is one of the most important early decisions for an ecommerce business. Why did you choose Shopify? Knowing what you know now, would you make the same choice, and why?
shopify ecommerce platform

Shopify always had a friendly brand that jived with me, I also had a few friends that were using it and recommended it years ago when I was still new to ecommerce. It’s now the platform I’m most familiar with.

Ultimately, there’s a lot of great options available for entrepreneurs now. Shopify is still a great option which I regularly recommend, however, there are some other platforms that have popped up in recent years which are better suited for digital products (Gumroad), subscriptions products (Cratejoy), selling to other businesses (NuOrder) or taking pre-orders (Celery).

Related: Open Source or Full Service Platform: Which Is Right For Your Ecommerce Business?

6. What is your advice to “non-technical” founders? How should they go about making decisions regarding the technical components of their business like choosing a platform or choosing the best back office solutions for inventory management, shipping, accounting, etc.?

These are all important pieces to running your online business so they are important decisions. The good news is that these pieces have been really simplified over the years so even non-technical founders can make the right decision.

My advice is to start with one decision at a time. Your platform is the most important and will partially dictate some of the other components based on integrations. That’s the other thing to be mindful of. Which apps and tools integrate with your platform choice. You want all these systems talking to each other as much as possible to make your life easier and streamline operations.

 My advice for non-technical founders: start with one decision at a time @richardABLS

7. I’m sure, with Shopify, you’ve seen many people successfully launch their own online store. What are the key differences between launching a successful store and maintaining your online retail to become an established ecommerce retailer?

Launching and growing an ecommerce business are two different things. I think the biggest difference between successfully launching an ecommerce business and long-term growth for the majority of businesses is figuring out how to make a scalable channel work for your business.

You can launch successfully with the right partner, endorsement, media spot, even a strategic post on reddit or Product Hunt. However, long term growth for most businesses will come from a paid channel that you can maintain a ROI on and scale, like Google Adwords and Facebook Ads.

Long term growth for most businesses will come from a paid channel @RichardABLS

8. You often hear people say that it’s impossible to compete in ecommerce against giants like Amazon. How can small businesses expect to compete in today’s market?

Giants like Amazon aren’t doing small retailers any favors, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to compete against them. I personally try to differentiate myself by adding value through curation of select products, as well as a branded and custom unboxing experience. http://bluestout.com/blog/building-an-ecommerce-business-richard-lazazzera/ http://bluestout.com/blog/building-an-ecommerce-business-richard-lazazzera/I think the unboxing experience sets the scene, gets the customer excited and leaves a lasting impression on them.

Related: How To Generate High Customer Engagement Like Birchbox & Bevel

9. What resources or experts are YOU following/reading today? Who are the best thought leaders in the ecommerce space?

Not necessarily restricted to ecommerce, but I really love Brian Dean’s work at Backlinko. Super actionable content and very authentic. I really love Brian Dean’s work at @backlinko – actionable & authentic

Keep Up With Richard

We’d like to thank Richard for taking time out of managing all of his projects to take part in our interview. We hope you’ve found some useful information within.

If you enjoyed this interview, you can sign up for our newsletter here to receive more interviews like this, articles, and in-depth case studies all focused in the ecommerce space.

To learn more about Richard you can find him on Twitter, visit A Better Lemonade Stand and check out his company Finch Goods Co.

We’d like to thank Richard for taking time out of managing all of his projects to take part in our interview. We hope you’ve found some useful information within.

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