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Interview: Grafomap on getting started with ecommerce and running an online store

By Elina Bumbiere on December 28th, 2016 - Reading time: 3 minutes

Website: grafomap.com
Store’s age: 1 year
Platform: custom
Payment system: Braintree Payments

It all starts with an idea. Then, mapping it out and getting started. Some say the first few steps of a new business are the most difficult to take, but in fact, isn’t it more difficult to maintain what you’ve started? To not only be average but to reach new heights, set new goals, grow, strive and put your name on the map? Rihards Piks, the creator of Grafomap, knows everything about mapping out a new business idea to achieve a goal and actually uses maps to do it.

Why was Grafomap created?

Ever since I started following some e-commerce podcasts I’ve been thinking about creating my own e-commerce operation. I didn’t see the opportunity yet because most of these podcasts I followed only spoke about marketing digital products (which didn’t inspire me). Once I learned what OpenStreetMap was, I realized that in combination with print on demand service such as Printful I could create beautiful map posters and sell them. In a nutshell, that’s how Grafomap was born.

Who are the people behind Grafomap?

It’s the four of us who are behind Grafomap – me, Kārlis – our lead programmer, Jānis – the designer and Rūdolfs – the second programmer. At first, it was just me. I created an alfa product by hiring some freelance programmers. Once I had something to show I started looking for other team members. I can’t even remember where I found Kārlis, Jānis and Rūdolfs. All I remember is that for several weeks I asked everyone and everywhere to introduce me to someone who can program or design.

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What was the most difficult thing about getting started?

Each stage of your project comes with its own set of possible issues. So there are some things that are difficult when you’re just starting out and completely different things when you’ve been at it for years. In our case, the development stage while you don’t have any sales was particularly difficult.

It wasn’t easy to stay motivated, mostly because we didn’t know if it would work out. Maybe we’re doing all of this for nothing.

Is managing your online store a full-time job?

For me, it is a full-time thing. We are still in the early stages of our business which means I am a wearer of many hats. I manage our social media, PR outreach, online adverts, and photo shoots. That takes up a lot of time and is definitely a full-time gig.

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What is your biggest day-to-day challenge individually and as a team?

For me personally the biggest challenge is micromanaging everything – taking care of 100s of little tasks every week requires hardcore discipline (still working on this one). As a team, our biggest challenge is to manage the website development while working remotely.

How do people find out about your store?

There’s definitely that word of mouth effect that helps, but when it comes to something we can actually measure, we use digital adverts and influencer marketing to tell about ourselves. SEO is also starting to bring in more and more traffic so it can be a good long-term strategy.

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How did you decide to use Printful for your order fulfillment?

We checked all of the top print-on-demand services. Although Printful services are more expensive, we liked the consistency in product quality. There are other services that use a network of 3rd party print houses (aka they’re outsourcing their fulfillment) and you never know what the end customer is going to get in terms of quality.

Finally, what would be your advice to people who are considering starting up their own online store?

Simply put – make your first sale as soon possible!  

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  1. Rana Sabeh

    I love that you are interviewing Printful customers but I am sorry to say this falls way short of being useful (if that was the intent of the post). If not nevermind. I hope future interviews have a lot more depth and actual content us newbie store owners can use in our stores.

    1. Nora Inveiss

      Thanks for your feedback! We’ll keep it in mind for future interviews. What kind of information or questions would be of interest to you?

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