If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re already thinking about starting your own Ecommerce business.
You want to finally quit your job, work on your life-changing business and sell fantastic products that would help make your target market’s lives easier.
But you still haven’t taken that defining step yet.
You’re still working your 9-5 job. You’re still wasting precious hours aways in commute. You’re still secretly browsing your Facebook timeline even when your boss explicitly told you to give him your report by lunch time.
Why? Why haven’t you taken action yet?
If you haven’t started your own Ecommerce business because:
– You absolutely have no idea about what product or service you want to sell;
– You already have an idea but you don’t know what the next step is;
– You try to be everything all at once; or,
– You’re scared about failing.
If any of these sounds like you, you’ve chosen the right article to read today.
Today, I’m going to show you 5 Ecommerce case studies – 5 real and actionable case studies that actually happened. And in this post, we’ll also talk about the key insights that you can learn from these case studies.
Company Studied: Finch Goods Co
Finch Goods Co is an Ecommerce company involved in the curation of extensively-researched selection of high-quality fashion finishings and lifestyle products for men.
Just about six months into the development of the business, Richard, the founder, decided to share his documentation of how the startup is evolving as he wanted to provide enough inspiration to motivate you to get started.
His main challenges during his startup phase were:
- Time commitment involved in curation: Finch Goods Co is a business that curates the best men’s accessory products, so Richard spends a lot of time curating and selecting pieces that are the top in style, quality, value and accessibility.
- Managing and maintaining solid relationships with suppliers: As a startup, Richard has to personally contact his suppliers, ask for details, arrange his orders, do multiple followups and make inventory decisions – all by himself.
Richard likens his Ecommerce store to a bucket. As mentioned, his biggest challenges were the time and the effort he needed to personally use to “fill up his bucket” and increase visitors to his website.
As such, he doesn’t want to lose everything he’s put into the bucket, so he developed several solutions to plug the Ecommerce bucket holes by devising a solid marketing foundation such as:
- Sending cart abandonment emails: With everything he’s invested in his website, Richard surely didn’t want customers to just come in and go without purchasing anything. He uses the app Klaviyo to send cart abandonment emails and track his email marketing campaigns.
- Incentivizing customer transactions: As a part of his Customer Loyalty Program, Richard makes it a point to give points (see what we did there?) to his customers every time they complete actions such as account creation, customer referrals and purchases.
- Delighting his customers: He believes in the “law of reciprocity” which states that if you do something nice to someone, they’ll have an intense psychological urge to do something nice in return. What he does for his customers doesn’t need to be extravagant; as he states, it can be as simple as “handwritten cards with an order, a small additional gift with larger orders, and sometimes, I just send our best customers a gift at random just as a thank you.”
- Keeping minimum inventory: Richard ships from his home office and carefully packages customer orders (with his high-end matte black coffee bags or standard size box filled with crinkle paper) while keeping his inventory as little as possible.
The most important lesson in this case study? Product curation is the starting keypoint in building your Ecommerce business. This way, you can get a feel of what your market is looking for and you can use the products you curate to help your visitors discover products based on their personal preference.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help. You’ll never know if you never ask. So go ahead and ask but in asking, always tell the other party how they’re going to benefit from giving you your request. Remember what Richard did?
If Richard didn’t ask his suppliers to help him out…
then, he wouldn’t have gotten an (affirmative!) answer:
Building a successful Ecommerce takes time – but you’re never going to be successful if you never get started.
Company Studied: Beardbrand
Beardbrand is an Ecommerce store that sells beard oil and beard care products and that prides themselves in leading the movement for all the “urban beardsmen” of the world.
Eric, Beardman’s founder, decided to create a post and share everything he and his team did in order to develop a solid brand and go from $0 to $120k in monthly sales.
During brand development, Eric found out two main challenges:
- More expensive and more exhaustive efforts needed: Eric recognizes that building a reputable brand for your store takes more time and more money because you’ll be investing for the long-term. It’s not an overnight success.
- Staying true to your brand by maintaining consistency: Beardbrand chose not to put ads or not to put products on sale because they want their brand to be as consistent as possible in providing premium customer experience.
As an entrepreneur who acknowledges the importance of building a brand, Eric lays out several actionable steps that he and his team started with to start with Beardbrand’s brand-building.
Here’s how Eric and his team does it:
- Focusing on the target audience who the brand should appeal to: To start with the branding process, Beardbrand defined who their target market is: an “urban beardsman” and focused all their branding efforts to meet their target market’s needs.
- Optimizing the website content (both in print and in video): To promote authenticity and create a compelling story about the brand, Beardbrand created their materials with the goal of storytelling – just look at their website, vision page and
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(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3eKg9GdDpQY). Visual branding is just as important as storytelling branding. In this regard, Eric and his team invested on their brand’s overall design such as in logo, website, merchandise, advertisements, emails and business cards, among others.
- Competing on premium quality, not on price: Eric focused on offering premium customer experience by using high-quality oils for beard care, high-end packaging, one-business-day shipping and offering no discounts on products.
We can learn from this case study that if you’re passionate about the brand that you’re building, your audience will see its appeal and recognize all the effort you’ve put into developing a story behind it.
Naturally, passion is important but it isn’t enough to build a strong brand such as Beardbrand’s.
Commitment to consistency is key. If you’re not willing to be committed to uphold your brand and your company’s culture, then you’re not willing to develop your brand. Eric says it best when he mentions that “you will want to commit to building a brand, and all the challenges that presents. You will have to be prepared to say “no” and stick to your guns.”
In brand development, slow and steady will surely help you beat speedy. It’s about learning to recognize the value of your investments for the long-term. Yes, you may spend more on your PR kits, your business cards and your brand development, but the loyal customers, the solid brand awareness and the significant boost in sales will make it all worth it.
Company Studied: Envelopes.com
Envelopes.com sells a rich variety of envelopes which comes in every size and style imaginable. As an online store which attracts different types of market – from individuals to corporations – it’s a challenge for the business to attract customers who visit and leave the website multiple times before buying.
(for some reason, I can’t connect to their homepage so I couldn’t take a screenshot?)
Their biggest challenge is:
- Multiple-visit shoppers: Because these shoppers visit the Ecommerce website and leave it without buying anything, the cart abandonment was a staggering 51.18% last 2011
As mentioned, because the website tries to appeal to different audience types, several steps had to be taken in order to make sure that the right cart abandonment email would be sent to the right audience at the right time.
Here are three solutions that Envelopes.com used:
- Subscriber segmentation: Segmenting the cart abandonment email into three types ensures increased effectivity because the email is personalized according to the stage that the abandonment was done:
- Product category abandonment: abandonment happened while customer was browsing on different products
- Shopping cart abandonment: shopping cart abandonment happened as customer adds an item to his cart
- Checkout abandonment: abandonment happened as customer fills in his information in preparation for checkout
- Email personalization: Of course, segmentation of the subscribers would be useless if they all received the same content, so Envelopes.com also invested into revising the content of the emails that they would send:
- Product category abandonment: Email is sent on the day after abandonment and contains a product image, a “thank you” message, a “shop now” call-to-action button and three different shopping options
- Shopping cart abandonment: Email is sent 48 hours after abandonment and contains a header, headline, a call-to-action copy, and the list and product images of the items left in the cart
- Checkout abandonment: Email is sent 24 hours after abandonment and contains the lists of products left in the cart and a call-to-action copy to shop.
This simple case study on Envelopes.com focuses on the importance of sending cart abandonment emails to your shoppers. It also emphasizes the fact that merely sending is not enough – you should revise your emails so that what you’re sending and who you’re sending it to are both appropriately matched.
To increase conversion and encourage customer loyalty, send followup cart abandonment emails. Envelopes.com did, and their decrease of cart abandonment from 51.18% to 30.95% proved that it works.
Company Studied: Diamond Candles
As an Ecommerce company with a wonderful love story behind its production, Diamond Candles prides itself in offering scented, soy-based candles with an amazing surprise at the end – a ring which can give the customer a chance to win a fancy ring ranging from $100 to even $5,000 in value!
Because Diamond Candles started from humble beginnings, Justin, the company’s co-founder, had this single valid challenge that he and his team needed to overcome:
- Insufficient funding to implement social media marketing for the company: Diamond Candles did not have the luxury to use advertisements in their social media marketing tactics. They needed to rely on word-of-mouth marketing to create a buzz and attract customers.
Everything started with the product: Justin and his team knew that for the marketing to be effective, they needed to have an enticing product that they could promote.
Here are the top three solutions that Diamond Candles used in order to build a stable social media platform successfully:
- Selling a unique product with a unique value that can’t be found anywhere else: For word-of-mouth marketing to be effective, the team decided on selling a product which plays as a “conversation-starter” – candles are used whenever there’s company and rings are considered as women’s best friend so it’s a product that most women love to talk about. Additionally, as Justin noted, the average Diamond Candles customer tells three people about the brand. The excitement that they may win an expensive prize just adds to the thrill of buying.
- Promoting user-generated “Ring Reveal” photos and videos: Diamond Candles believes in the power of user-generated content. As such, the company collects product photos and even videos from their customers and optimizes them so these can be used for their website development and social media marketing efforts. Diamond Candles believes in “showing”, not “saying”. As such, instead of them explicitly pressuring their customers into posting photos, they would frequently re-post photos of their customers and implicitly engage with their customers to do the same.
- Using automation to make the shopper’s experience more personalized: To save on costs and on the time commitment allotted for photo collection, the team uses a third-party software to keep track of photos and videos on Instagram with brand-related hashtags such as #diamondcandles. The software can also automatically display these photos in the company’s website with no additional effort on their part.
This case study on Diamond Candles can inspire you that you don’t need to be a multinational corporation to do well on social media – you just need to think outside the box and add intangible value to your customers without adding to your marketing expenses.
Focus on engaging with your customers, giving them an incentive they can’t refuse to try out your products, and take advantage of social proof and the power of word-of-mouth marketing.
Company Studied: Belay Shades
As a rock-climber, Daniel started his company by solving his own problem: he wanted to purchase cheaper glasses that make his neck hurt less.
Because Daniel was in the business of working as a postal carrier, the idea of expanding and growing a sustainable business seemed intimidating for him. Here are a few of his challenges during his start-up phase:
- Lack of focused goal: Daniel didn’t have an idea as to what financial goal he was working for. Yes, he wanted to produce glasses to solve his own problem, but he didn’t know how much money he needed regularly to proclaim his business as sustainable.
- Slow business growth due to conventional marketing methods: Daniel marketed his products by paying for Facebook ads to gain more likes and by cold-calling rock-climbing gyms.
The journey of producing the glasses started with browsing suppliers on Alibaba. Once Daniel screened the suppliers by finding out their track record and their minimum order requirements, he then proceeded to validate his idea by asking for pre-sales payment.
After product validation, here are the top solutions that Daniel used in order to create a $4,000 monthly muse:
- Figuring out his monthly sales goal: Using Tim Ferris’s lifestyle costing, Daniel figured out that he needed to produce $4,000 in monthly sales. It was then that he discovered that he needed to target 5-6 pairs of glasses a day in order to reach his dream of travelling Thailand and rock-climbing as he pleased.
- Using the Quant Marketing sheet to promote his product and gains sales: Daniel resolved to do at least 1-2 marketing activities per day using this Quant marketing spreadsheet as a guide. To take advantage of personal network and referrals, Daniel personally messaged his Facebook friends and asked if they were interested in purchasing rock-climbing glasses from him. In order to get started with offering his glasses to gyms and online stores, he also spent a few hours adding the founders to LinkedIn, emailing them, sending them a Facebook message and mentioning them on Twitter to get their attention and get the ball rolling.
- Hanging out where his target customers are: Daniel promoted his products and answered question on several forums and blog posts. He and his partner also promoted on Reddit and posted this thread to sell a few pairs.
Based on the evaluation, majority of the sales happened due to reaching out to his personal network and wholesale retailers. At the end of the marketing timeline, Daniel got an email from a large online site named Sierra Trading saying they were interested in the glasses.
He was able to get this result because he initiated the contact, spent hours in researching about the recipient and made the email focus on what would benefit the other party instead.
The best take-away you can learn from these case studies?
You’ll never know until you try.
So in marketing your product and in growing your business, try different options and focus on evaluating the results. Afterwards, work on the technique that managed to give you the best results.
Which of these case studies are you most interested in making your benchmark? Let us know in the comments!