Do you want to create your own online store?

I founded Sube in 1996 as an afterschool program to motivate my son and other children in the community to learn Spanish. Raised in a bilingual home to Cuban immigrants, I experienced first hand the struggles and blessings of maintaining two languages.

As a result I wanted to create an elementary language program (starting with my son and his friends) that was comprehensive, multisensory, and multicutural.

How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?

Over the last 17 years, Sube’s Spanish and English Kits have served over 414,338 students in roughly 3,389 classrooms. In addition to the United States, Sube’s Spanish and ESL Kits are now in over 10 countries.

Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?

I decided to make the switch to Shopify just under a year ago for one reason: simplicity.

At the time, I was basically running three sites: (1) sube.com, which featured the product itself, (2) subestore.com, which sold it, and (3) subeblog.com where I posted free resources and articles about teaching language in the 21st century.

Managing multiple sites was a constant struggle. First, it was tough to keep everything up-to-date and remembering exactly what was where was a nightmare. Second, tracking analytics across all the three sites was nearly impossible (most notably, trying to figure out a workable sales funnel). And third, because the backend we used to use was so cumbersome, we ended up with a ton of dead links, old pages, and unused content.

What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?

Shopify simplified everything saving me time, effort, and (of course) money!

My top 4 recommendations for new store owners are…

  1. More than just making your store “look good,” make it easy to use.

Have a clear plan for what you want your visitors to do when they hit your site based on who they are. This means identifying your ideal audiences and building your navigation around them… not your products. Make your navigation bar about them and their needs. Also, never just end a page: always tell them what the next step is. Oh, and use pretty buttons so it’s obvious what to click.

  1. Integrate lead collection throughout your site.

We use MailChimp for our email marketing, and it’s been great. The key is to place collection forms everywhere: not just on your landing pages, but on your sales pages, your side bars, your blog posts, and even in your header (if it makes sense). On top of that, place “buy” buttons and collection forms throughout any long-form pages you’ve got so visitors can opt in whenever the mood strikes them. We’ve been getting a new lead (subscriber) about once a day since we made the switch and sometimes (like during our busy season) two a day.

  1. Create custom landing pages for each of your offers.

Our funnel for acquiring new customers is set up to start with either the homepage or a handful of Google AdWords campaigns. However they “get in,” Shopify makes creating custom landing pages specific to each customer’s starting point easy and incredibly effective.

  1. Use a programmer, but only for the difficult stuff.

We hired a programmer to get us started and we’ve used one on and off since them. Thanks to (again) the simplicity of Shopify, 80% of what we need to do we can handle ourselves. But for the more technical stuff, Shopify offers a whole host of approved vendors. Check out their list, but be sure you know exactly what you want and that, once it’s created, you can modify and multiple it yourself.

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