Lessons Learned from 3 E-commerce Success Stories

June 27, 2019
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We love seeing businesses succeed. Heck, that's what our business is all about. When you see something that works, you want to spread those lessons learned, that wisdom, to hopefully help others better navigate the sometimes murky waters of e-commerce.

With that in mind, we wanted to share three thriving, successful e-commerce businesses and a bit about their experiences to possibly spark a bit of inspiration for your business.

BUSHWICK KITCHEN (formerly MIXEDMADE)

Founded in 2014 by Morgen Newman and Casey Elsass, Bushwick Kitchen’s success story is a perfect example of how a great product can rise to the top on the back of a comprehensive, voracious approach to media outreach and an ability to quickly adapt when unexpected issues arise.

At the outset, their product, chili-infused Bees Knees Spicy Honey, was methodically launched over the course of a year. Starting with a few orders gained from their simple, bare-bones website, they later branched out to friends and family, and then, after achieving their goals each step of the way, executed a full launch, complete with a highly-successful media campaign that included mentions in food-related blogs, GrubStreet and Uncrate, the latter of which gained them over 170 sales in a matter of days.

Overall, their press coverage garnered them over 2000% sales growth leading to a revenue of $170,000 in their first year. It didn’t come easy though, as Elsass personally reached out to all targeted media contacts, tracked all of the subsequent progress in a CRM, and even developed ready-made materials for interested journalists.

Despite their great success, they had some challenges along the way, including PayPal locking their account and one of their suppliers being unable to meet their demands. They quickly found solutions to both and made contingency planning an important part of their business moving forward.

Takeaways:

  • Whatever your industry, target highly-relevant media, blogs, websites, social media accounts, and influencers for coverage, providing them with ready-made materials that make it easy for them to utilize with little to no work required.
  • Be proactive about your product and getting the word out about it.
  • Track your media outreach with a CRM, if possible, keeping tabs on mentions & referrals, samples, communications, etc.
  • Be ready for supplier and sales challenges, finding solutions ahead of time before issues may arise.
Bushwick Kitchen website


BEARDBRAND

Sometimes a product is more than a product. The quintessential example people typically use when talking about this brand-adhesion is Apple. For many, when they purchase an Apple product, they’re not just buying the product, they’re buying into the Apple brand and a certain identity they have a connection to and wish to be affiliated with.

BeardBrand, founded in 2009 by Eric Bandholz, is very much in that same mold, nurturing a business through brand identity. What started out as a blog and YouTube channel, featuring content about, you guessed it, beards, transformed into a business seemingly overnight when Bandholz was contacted from the New York Times regarding a piece they were doing on beards.

Knowing the traffic they would ultimately receive from the article Bandholz and his team decided to quickly launch an online shop that capitalized on their enthusiastic base, propelled their message, and helped fill a gap in the marketplace.

Since then, BeardBrand’s “urban beardsmen” have access to not only ample supplies of select men’s grooming products, but resources that aim to “foster confidence through grooming”, providing knowledge, expertise, and more. This approach has paid off to the tune of $20,000 worth of sales each day.

Takeaways:

  • Build a strong brand and let it help develop your business from the inside out.
  • Inject your brand throughout your marketing communications.
  • Work with your community! Create “brand ambassadors” by providing highly-relevant content curated specifically for your audience.
  • Stand for something and consider using that to narrow your focus and build out your niche.
BeardBrand website

ARGENT

Launched in 2016 by Sali Christeson and Eleanor Turner, Argent offers sensible and functional workwear for women. Upon launching their e-shop, Christeson and Turner wanted to bring their clothing to a retail space, but opted for something a bit less traditional.

Partnering with WeWork, a business that provides co-working workspaces, Argent launched its first retail space in a variety of WeWork’s locations across San Francisco. Their intention was to connect directly with their target demographic, young female entrepreneurs, freelancers, and professionals, and felt this was a perfect opportunity to do so.

By doing so, they not only got their product into the hands of buyers, but also helped cultivate and nurture a burgeoning community of professional women. This was largely accomplished through events they organized at their locations, hosting networking parties and career coaching events, among others.

Over the past few years, Argent has seen amazing growth, culminating in a recent 4M USD investment by Peter Thiel’s venture capital firm, Founders Fund, which has a portfolio that includes many tech giants, including Airbnb, Lyft, Facebook, and Spotify.

Takeaways:

  • Think outside the box to find creative ways to get your name out there.
  • Bringing people physically together is a great way to nurture a community.
  • Make your business represent more than just your product, providing value-laden, highly-relevant knowledge, advice, etc. along with it
  • Start with a very small audience and nurture them to establish a strong base and drive growth
Argent website

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