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Sol Lee, a 21-year-old entrepreneur, started his journey in ecommerce during high school when he stumbled upon dropshipping business. Despite facing initial challenges and not making any sales, Sol Lee eventually launched D8 Super Store during COVID-19 with the last $250 he had, which generated $10,000 in its first week.
D8 Super Store is now a leading CBD ecommerce for hemp-derived products, focusing on providing ethical and reliable solutions in the industry. However, one of the challenges D8 Super Store faced was finding reliable server hosting after migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce.
In this case study, Sol Lee discusses how migrating to Cloudways hosting has impacted the performance and user experience of D8 Super Store, including improved load times, increased scalability, enhanced security, and the flexibility to customize the hosting environment to meet their specific business needs.
Cloudways: Can you tell us about yourself and your background? What inspired you to start an ecommerce store, and what is your business about?
Sol Lee: Growing up in a financially unstable household, I knew I had to take matters into my own hands. In 2018, during my sophomore year in high school, I began my search for ways to make money online. Although I knew I was not predisposed to make in-person sales, I was confident in my knowledge of the internet, which was my childhood escape.
Eventually, I stumbled upon Shopify dropshipping and became deeply inspired by other young entrepreneurs achieving financial independence while living a “laptop lifestyle.” For the next 8 months, I immersed myself in absorbing as much information as possible through free YouTube videos and testing the knowledge on my stores. Despite not making a single sale during this time, I knew I was enjoying the process, undergoing expedited personal growth, and, most importantly, discovering my true passion.
In 2020, during the pandemic, I launched an online store with the last $250 I had that generated $10,000 in its first week. This marked a significant turning point in my life, and I knew I could never return. After graduating high school, I received a full-ride scholarship to attend Vanderbilt University. However, during my sophomore year, I dropped out to pursue my passion for ecommerce and co-founded D8 Super Store with two business partners.
As a cannabis enthusiast, I wanted to create a safe space for those struggling to find reliable hemp-derived products, particularly those using Delta-8 THC medically. We were frustrated with the lack of ethics in the industry and wanted to provide a solution. Today, D8 Super Store is the leading online platform for hemp-derived products, and we continue to strive for ethical and reliable solutions in the industry while curating a tight-knit community of fellow hemp enthusiasts.
Cloudways: How has the migration to Cloudways hosting impacted the performance and user experience of the D8 Super Store?
Sol Lee: The biggest pain point of migrating from Shopify to WooCommerce was finding reliable server hosting. We actually went through four different platforms before we finally landed on Cloudways.
We sometimes experienced extremely slow loading times and server crashes with the other platforms. We knew we had to find a new platform since extended wait times and downtime are terrible for user experience.
After being on Cloudways for almost a year, we’ve never experienced downtime, and everything is so easy to use. I think the best part of Cloudways is that their customer service is available 24/7 and always fixes our problems.
Cloudways: What are the performance metrics you used to measure the effectiveness of Cloudways hosting, and how have they improved over time?
Sol Lee: The performance metrics we look at when determining the hosting effectiveness are auto-scalability, load times, and security. We’ve grown more than 10x since last year, so having a platform that can provide us with the resources to support hundreds of thousands of visitors every month is paramount to our success. Having enough server resources to support high traffic is only one piece of the puzzle.
Load times are as important as customers hate nothing more than waiting for pages to render. We can easily view how our server handles traffic and add more resources in less than 5 clicks.
Lastly, we take security very seriously, considering we’ve had breaches with other platforms in the past. Cloudways does a great job of ensuring all of our work is protected while providing tools to mitigate attacks in the rare case they may occur.
Cloudways: In what ways has the flexibility of Cloudways allowed D8 Super Store to customize its hosting environment to meet its specific business needs?
Sol Lee: This year, we’ve added another Super Store to our network of websites. Cloudways makes adding new servers and applications to our account seamless, making it easy to view all of our projects in one place. I like how much freedom we get with our hosting environment, whether it is accessing SFTP or databases. We’ve been with other platforms before that would not let us access FTP or make it finicky.
Cloudways: How has the collaboration between D8 Super Store and Cloudways improved the performance and functionality of your ecommerce store?
Sol Lee: The short answer is that Cloudways just works. Our team is more efficient because we are not fighting against our tools. This saves us so much time, energy, and resources in the long run that I do not think we can return to a different solution.
Since Cloudways is built for WooCommerce, we no longer have to use sketchy or broken third-party solutions. It all works seamlessly together. Improved load times, higher bandwidth, more resources, and easy scalability have also been factors that have helped us generate over $1 million in sales in our first year of operation. We are projected to generate another $5 million in revenue for 2023, and we will not have to worry about whether our server can support our growth.
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Cloudways: How did Cloudways help D8 Super Store to reduce its website downtime and improve its search engine rankings?
Sol Lee: We have actually never experienced downtime with Cloudways, so we cannot comment on reducing downtime, but we can say that Cloudways has cut down our load times by approximately half. This is huge for us because SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is our main traffic source, and Google prioritizes site speed and experience when determining search engine rankings.
Due to the fast loading speeds, we’ve also noticed a jump in our conversion rate. We are currently sitting at around 6.5% CVR on our store, and we know that having a better conversion rate further increases our SEO effectiveness.
Cloudways: How does using Oxygen Page Builder, WooCommerce, and Cloudflare on the Cloudways Platform contribute to your store’s success and growth?
Sol Lee: I mainly decided to use Oxygen Page Builder, WooCommerce, and Cloudflare on Cloudways because of flexibility. My main gripe with Shopify was limited in making the changes I wanted. With our new stack, however, we can implement any changes we want, at any time, and how we want. This also means our workflow will scale as we scale. Whether it be more complex code or crazier designs, we are confident that our technology solutions will be able to keep up with our growth.
Cloudways: How did Cloudways’ staging feature help D8 Super Store to test website changes and updates before implementing them on the live site?
Sol Lee: Honestly, one of my favorite parts of being on Cloudways is that their staging interface is built into the dashboard. We used third-party staging solutions with other hosts and ran into issues that almost compromised our entire website.
Fortunately, Cloudways makes creating new staging URLs simple, testing out changes, and pushing those changes to our live sites. We have not experienced issues with staging, but if we do, we know that we can use their rollback feature to get back on track.
Cloudways: What are the cost benefits of using Cloudways as a hosting platform for D8 Super Store, and how have they impacted the business’s profitability?
Sol Lee: I like that Cloudways is a pay-as-you-go service. This means that we can scale our server budget as a business instead of paying outlandish fees for resources we do not need. You only pay for what you need and what you are using, so in terms of profitability, Cloudways has actually reduced our overhead when you look at the percentages on a larger scale.
Cloudways: What are the key differences between Cloudways and other hosting platforms, and why did you choose Cloudways as your hosting provider?
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