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ECommerce Intern Case Study – Month 2 – Day in the Life – Goal Setting and Website Improvements

This marks the 2nd month of the ECommerce Intern Project. 

You can see Annie’s first update here

Or her Weekly Vlog Here 

My hope was we were going to move really quickly but like most things, there is a pace to the work we need to work within. The first part of the 2nd month really revealed a bunch of structural issues with the business such as the conversion rate etc. We need to fix these (new site, photos, video etc) before we can ramp things up again. BUT… what is great is that with the help of Annie we have opened up new products, tested paid traffic and have a clear path on what needs to be improved. 

I believe her hard work that is going to go into the current period of improvement will result in some solid results near the end/busy period of Q4! 

Plenty of challenges Annie digs into in detail below!

Vlog Number 4 – A Day In the Life

Vlog Number 5 – Google Shopping Ads

Annies update…

Personal Update:

I have returned to Birmingham, AL. It has been very nice to return back to a more normal life. My life in Collingwood was nice but it was completely different than what I am used to. It is different here in Birmingham than before Covid hit but I am enjoying being able to play beach volleyball and interact with friends in small groups. My life here basically consists of going to volleyball practice, going to weights and then spending the rest of the time working on this job or my schoolwork. I also now have a bit of a social life where I am hanging out with friends in small groups and luckily all of my friends are fellow student athletes so they are all like me: getting tested 1-3 times a week for Covid. 

View of Birmingham

When I flew from Toronto to Birmingham it was quite a shocking experience for me. In the Toronto airport there were only 2 flights leaving the terminal I was in for the entire day. I had a connection in Charlotte and the first plane I was on I did not have anyone sitting right next to me or even that close to me, the plane itself wasn’t entirely socially distanced but it was pretty close. So overall still scary (since I hadn’t been around other people for months) but I didn’t have to get too close to anyone and was never in a space filled to capacity. That changed immediately upon touchdown in Charlotte (welcome to the United States), I got off the plane and the terminal was absolutely packed with people. People were all wearing masks but there was basically no ability to properly social distance and in general, there were just too many people in a small space and my fellow travelers did not seem nearly as concerned about socially distancing as I did. My second shock came when I went to check the board to find my gate and there was a man collapsed on the ground. It appeared as if he was having a heart attack and airport staff were rushing around giving him CPR and attempting to resuscitate him. I hope that he was okay but I did not stick around to watch. So overall returning to the United States was pretty shocking. But now that I am here and in control of my environment I am able to properly socially distance and am lucky to be a student athlete because we get tested regularly and are more careful in general than others. Although in general the Covid situation seems to be getting worse everywhere: in Canada and the US so that is frightening. 

Business Updates: 

As mentioned in my first blog post I started running a Google Ads campaign for one of the businesses. This campaign proved as a form of trouble shooting for the website and was very valuable and informative because it showed us that we are getting plenty of traffic to the site but our landing page and web design is not leading to conversions. Previously, we were not sure if the website was not making sales due to lack of traffic or conversion rate. The best solution for the low conversion rate is to overhaul the website so that’s what we are in the process of doing. I did a lot of research on the key features needed for an effective landing page and passed that on to our writer and website developer. 

Key Takeaways from Successful Landing Page Research: 

  • FAQ’s: include the answers to FAQs routinely throughout the website (utility of information)
  • Reviews: provide incentive for customers to write detailed reviews to endorse the product
  • Testimonials: have video testimonials/endorsements on the site
  • Call to action buttons in colours that pop
  • Mission Statement/endorsement video with product information 
  • Add a pop up to the website
  • Compelling Headline: grab readers attention, encourage them to seek more information
  • Fast as possible less than 1 second delay (greater than 1 second leads viewers to close the webpage or navigate back to the previous page)
  • Product videos: include detailed videos 

I am really excited to have an updated website that will follow the key’s from my research and think this website upgrade will be essential for increasing that Businesses conversion rate. I have been working on Google Text Ads, Google Shopping Ads and Facebook Ads and am really looking forward to launching those once the website has been updated. For now I am holding off on making those paid trafficking campaigns active because of the poor conversion rate of the existing site. 

Example of a strong landing page: 

Key Takeaways from this example: 

  • Call to Action (sign up) as accessible as possible
  • FAQs visible in different spots across the page
  • Colours that pop
  • Endorsements by individuals and esteemed companies 
  • Multiple locations of endorsements


One of my biggest challenges in these past weeks was setting up Google Shopping Advertisements for one of the businesses. It took a really long time to set these advertisements up, I had a lot of bumps in the road and just general tech issues with Google. Since I am not the most tech savvy it took me a long time to figure out and resolve each issue. There were a lot of different steps in the process and it seemed like I hit a bump in the road at every single check point. But I have finally set these Google shopping Ads up and upon further reading I have found that many people also struggle to set these up and that it can be quite an arduous process so I do not feel as bad. However, I wish that it would have taken me less time to perform this task. I am waiting to make these shopping ads active until I have the updated website finished so I do not have any results from these campaigns yet but I am really looking forward to launching these campaigns and seeing the successes they bring. 

Another failure that has occurred is one supplier who has by far the best quality product at the lowest price has essentially ghosted me. They have misunderstood our website and think we already were supplied by another supplier for the one product we want from them. However, this is not the case. They came to this conclusion because on our website we list the product already but simply set the inventory as zero and then once a certain product starts getting attention and clicks we start to source the product. They jumped to many conclusions about our site and simply stopped responding to my emails when they had previously been very responsive. This situation was pretty annoying to deal with at the time, at first I was not too upset about them shutting communication off because I started to look at other suppliers’ sites and establishing relations with them. It quickly became quite clear to me that any other supplier’s price for the product was about $100 more than we were willing to spend. I continued reaching back out to the original supplier but continued to hear nothing back from them. It was also frustrating because they are located in a completely different time zone and phoning them became complicated due to the time zones and long distance charges. Luckily, my boss and I realized that we were just putting so much energy into this one situation and that perhaps it just wasn’t the right product after all. My boss did some more research and found another product that is actually more popular than the previous product we were trying to sell. So now I have sourced that product and posted it up on the website. Putting this new product on the website took a few hours and the process was very simple compared to the original product. With the addition of this product and another one that has been sourced and added, we have completed our product line for the time being and appear as a more legitimate store. 

Both businesses had been doing very little to no sales and experiencing a “September Slump”. It was pretty frustrating as the one business has been doing pretty low sales regularly but the other business does pretty solid regular sales and the first few weeks I started was doing strong weekly sales. So when it started to take a turn for the worse I was a bit surprised. I had been running email campaign emails but they werent contributing to very high sales or any sales really. For that business we have just started paid trafficking but mostly have been relying on organic traffic to the site. Email campaigns are our primary form of marketing and have had lots of success in the past. So I decided to look at some older email campaigns and see which ones were successful. Unfortunately, this business has gotten to the point where customers expect there to be sales every so often and so they just wait for those instead of regularly purchasing what they want to buy. Since email campaigns have been the primary form of marketing the business fell into this pattern and it’s a little annoying that there aren’t more regular ongoing sales without there being a promotion going on. But once we get into paid trafficking with this business I think we will be able to maintain more consistent sales and also still run promotions every so often. So in order to boost some sales in the past few weeks and get out of the “September Slump” I decided to run a flash 20% off the whole store sale. This sale was pretty successful and so far not even halfway into October we have had 2400 in sales. This business also started selling a new product and I ran a promotion and advertising campaign for that product which contributed to 12 units being sold. So a lesson learned from this failure/success is that there is opportunity out there, you just have to create it for yourself sometimes and look at situations in different ways. That’s something I have learned from Jon as well is: he is very good at looking for alternative solutions when one door closes. 

Another issue that I have run into is that as previously mentioned we are overhauling the one website. We wanted this to be done really quickly and on me and Jon’s end got everything done for it within 2 days. However, we are working with other people who are on their own timelines and don’t feel the need to expedite the process as much. We hired a web developer and set the deadline to finish his job in basically 48 hours. He kept needing more time and then became super unresponsive. We had to start looking at other developers and then finally he got back to us but the quality of his work was not what we were looking for. So now we have had to hire a new web developer, send all the information over to them and basically start from scratch. This process has taken way longer than expected and I am holding off on running any paid trafficking until the website is updated due to the conversion rate issue with the current site. It sucks because I am just “on-hold” on a lot of things with this business and it’s out of my control for when exactly it will be done.

Another issue I have run into is hiring a photographer/videographer/actor. We have a group of products that we want photos and videos done for but we do not have the products in our physical location. So we started to look at options and found a photographer in the area of our warehouse that could pick the products up, source an actor and produce the content required. Unfortunately this photographer quoted us with a price that was just a little bit out of our price range. So instead we are shipping the products to a friend of Jon’s who has provided a lower price for us and we have worked with before so have guaranteed the quality of the content. The upside of this option is that the overall outset price will be cheaper but the downside of this option is that the process will add more time until we finally receive the output of content. 

Administrative work: 


As we are now in quarter 4 we had some company based goal-setting to execute. The way we establish this is by using OKRs. OKRs are a framework for growth for defining and tracking objectives and their outcomes. I have never used the OKR framework before so it was all brand new to me. I had to spend some time learning about OKRs in general and then I spent some time creating some OKRs for both of the businesses I am running. The purpose of OKRs is to set slightly out of reach goals with key objectives that are accessible by everyone in the company. Every worker no matter their position views the OKR goals and therefore everyone is on board with these goals and working towards them from the bottom to the top of the organization. I set the goals for the two businesses that I am running and then reviewed them with Jon. At first I set the goals a little too unspecific and Jon reviewed them and told me that the key with them is to write them so that if something were to happen to him and I in the next week someone could read the OKRs and understand what was needed to be done by the end of Quarter 4. It was really interesting to get to participate in the goal setting process and I was able to learn a lot by doing that so I’m glad that Jon provides me with the independence to do so for the projects that I run. 

Here are some of the OKRs that I wrote: 

Business A: 

Business B: 

Those are all the updates I have to give for now and an overview of what I’ve been working on the past few weeks. In the next post, I will provide an update of the analytics for the businesses to do a check-in and track the progress so stay tuned for that. Thanks for reading!

About the Author Jon

I am a 33 year old husband, father of 3, engineer and a huge fan of developing systems to build useful and profitable websites. The reason I build online businesses is to provide financial independence for my family and yours AND so I can spend time outside skiing and biking with my family.
Jon Gillham, Online Entrepreneur

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