Why These Entrepreneurs Went Undercover to Understand Their Customers

Why These Entrepreneurs Went Undercover to Understand Their Customers

wurkin stiffs shopify masters

Secret Shopping is a market research practice that involves going undercover to a store to observe how it operates and how its customers behave.

Our guest on this episode of Shopify Masters is Jon Boos of Wurkin Stiffs, the innovative accessories brand bridging the gap between fashion and function that appeared on ABC’s Shark Tank.

Find out how he employs secret shopping at his customer’s favorite stores to learn more about their shopping habits for selling online and in physical retail.

Listen to Shopify Masters below…

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"I had 350 specialty stores—independent stores around the United States and Canada—but couldn’t get a major one to pick it up. And then Amy and I started doing some secret shopping..."

Tune in to learn

  • How to approach meeting with a buyer at a retail store
  • What you can learn by becoming a secret shopper
  • Why you want to start as small as possible when selling into big box retailers

    Show Notes


    Felix: Today, I’m joined by Jonathan [Boos 00:00:53], from Wurkin Stiffs. Wurkin Stiffs is the innovative accessories brand bridging the gap between fashion and function and was on ABC’s Shark Tank, and was started in 2006, and based out of Sarasota, Florida. Welcome, Jonathan.

    Jon: Hey, Felix. How you doing?

    Felix: Good, good, so excited to have you on. Tell us a little bit more about your store and what are some of the more popular products that you carry?

    Jon: Yeah, so Wurkinstiffs.com, we carry what we consider men’s essentials. It’s actually men’s accessories, but we put it like an innovative twist of things, so there is that function and fashion like you mentioned at the beginning. The product that we’re known for, and I have a utility patent on, is the magnetic collar stays. That’s the product that put me on the map and started the whole journey, but we do [our FID 00:01:38] block and wallets. We also do a silicone [D-Bag 00:01:41], as we call it, the only D-Bag you want to travel with. It allows you to wash it out so if anything explodes in the bag it doesn’t get all over your luggage. These are the types of items. We do tie bars, and cuff links and different things like that, but these are the type of items we bring to the table.

    Felix: Do you have a background in this industry, in this fashion industry, or how did you get started into this?

    Jon: That’s a loaded question. Going back, my family … I grew up in a family owned business and my grandfather was a farmer. My father did a lawn maintenance business, so I have an identical twin and two older brothers. Growing up we were [as 00:02:23] very strong work ethic and I always the kid that came up with ideas, very entrepreneurial as a kid. I kind of was the black sheep of the family. I went the automotive route because I loved design and creativity. I started doing … went to a tech institute to learn collision repair and painting. I used to do a lot of custom motorcycles and cars and all these things, so that’s kind of where my career path started actually, as an automotive paint technician, which evolved into an insurance adjuster, to being a general manager at some collision centers, to the men’s fashion industry.

    Felix: Wow. Big jump.

    Jon: Can you connect the dots?

    Felix: That’s funny, so how did you decide that this was a market or industry that you wanted to get into?

    Jon: Yeah, so what happened was at the time, I was managing two collision centers for a franchise down here in Florida, and I was running late for a dinner that we had, my wife and I’d come home. She threw a shirt at me and as I was putting on the shirt, and it was a collared button up shirt, the collar was so huge and spread out, and I’m like, “Oh my goodness. This thing is horrible.” My wife’s like, “What you don’t like the shirt?” I go, “No, I like the shirt. It’s the collar.” Literally, in the mirror, I had this aha moment of, hey! If I just pin the shirt down, the collar down, if the collar was here and not out here … man, this would be amazing. Right then and there, it came up to my head magnetic. If I could make the collar stay magnetically, boom that was it, and that’s how I kind of entered with a product and a product idea.

    I actually had brought it to my twin brother the next day. I said, “Oh my goodness, I have this idea,” and he goes, “That is the simplest and stupidest idea. If you don’t do it, I will.” So, he gave me the fuel to go ahead and pursue it, but it came from a very innocent place.

    Felix: Yeah, so you obviously had this need. You stumbled across essentially, or you came up with a solution for it, showed it to your twin brother. Did you go out and test it any other ways? What motivated you to actually take those steps towards creating this product at scale and creating a business around it?

    Jon: Yeah, so it was very interesting. You start going down the path of how do you get this thing manufactured, and is there going to be interest and all these things. What I did was very archaic types of prototypes. We would sand metal down, and because of my background in metal and sheet metal, I had this stuff laser cut. I’d sand it all down for smooth edges, and I was giving it to my twin brother. He had clients that were wealthy people: attorney’s wives, and doctor’s wives, and stuff like that. I said, “Hey, show it to them,” because these are people that are going to be in the men’s industry that’s going to care about the way they look. It was like an immediate reaction, right? They said, “Oh my goodness, where can I buy these?”

    My brother would say, “Well, they’re not out yet. My brother invented this product.” That kind of spun off right away to get it patented. Then we went down that rabbit hole to get it patented, which took a few years, but we did … our utility patent had published probably about 3 years later. What I did was I did go to market a little early before the patent published. When we got the response, and then I had to find out real manufacturing, and work all that out, that whole process took about a good year. Maybe a year and a few months. Then it was, I’ve got 12,000 units sitting in my garage. What am I going to do with these things? I designed the packaging and the boxing, and all the stuff. We didn’t have a clientele for this stuff. We just knew that it was a viable product. Literally, what had happened was, one day I had quit my day job, and came home. My wife, at the time our son, was 10-months-old, and my wife says, “What do you mean you quit your job?” She’s like, “What are we going to do?” I said, “We’re going to go sell those collar stays.” I said, “Go get dressed up.”

    Like any entrepreneur, I literally strapped my 10-month-old in the car seat, she jumped in the car, drove to a men’s specialty store here in Sarasota called The Met. I sent her in to do the dirty work, and she sold them and right away came out. She says, “The gentleman inside, he’s the owner of the store and he says, ‘how did you get this job? This is an amazing product.’” She said, “Oh, my husband’s the inventor, and he’s out in the car,” and she brought him outside. That was the beginning. I mean he basically said, “Oh, you need to go see this one. You need to go see that one,” up in Tampa, which is about an hour drive north. We literally, from there, went to Tampa.

    Felix: So, you were just sitting on this inventory for a while, while you had your day job and just not sure exactly what to do with it. What was going on with the products at the time prior to you quitting your day job and trying to go out and sell it?

    Jon: I knew when I talked I went way forward. I’ll rewind a little bit. I was managing two collision centers as this whole idea came. I’m perfecting prototypes. I get with a manufacturer to start kind of making the product to sell. My wife was pregnant at the time, and when she had my son [Aidan 00:08:29] she was all intentions to go back to work and then didn’t want to leave the baby, so you’ve got this whole family dynamic. You know, our first born, and I went ahead and had the inventory made because I knew I need product to sell. If I don’t have anything to sell, what am I selling? Air? So, I needed to invest in product. The whole beginning of this was very … it came from a very honest place. All it was to do was, you know, maybe we’ll sell some collar stays and supplement income Aimee that you left your job. We’re going to supplement some income.

    But, what had happened was, at the time we had a one-page website and a buy-now button. It was something that I designed. I’m not no webmaster. A one-page website, buy-now button. We’re getting like one click a day, trying to get exposure, trying to get anyone, a magazine to pick us up: GQ, Men’s [Vogue 00:09:27], Men’s Health. Anything right? It was all falling on deaf ears. It was kind of weird because we’re like, well, we feel that this product’s amazing. What had happened was, uncrate.com picked us up. Didn’t even let us know that they … because you’re basically throwing spaghetti against the wall just to get someone to write about you, right? Literally, I’d come home every day, “Aimee, how many did we sell?” “You sold one.” The next day, “How many did we sell?” “You sold one.” This went on for about two weeks.

    Then, I come home from work and I go, “Hey, Aimee how many did we sell?” She goes, “I don’t know. Take a look at the website. You probably sold one.” I went to the website, and it was like … back then it was all about PayPal, right? So, it was like “You’ve got money. You’ve got money. You’ve got money.” And, I’m like, “Huh?” It was over 200 orders. I literally was like laughing and crying at the same time because I’m like … it was so painful to process an order back then. We obviously muscled through it, but we knew to kind of get the scale it had to get to stores for us. Back then, there was no Facebook or Twitter. It’s not like it was. It sounds like I’m talking about the 1920s or something.

    Felix: Yeah.

    Jon: But, yeah, it was a little bit of a different time on that end, so we knew … I knew I had a viable product because I just had 200 orders. People were starting to e-mail us like this is amazing. We started having stores e-mail us, how do I get this in my store? That’s kind of was what prompted me to quit my job and kind of go all in. I had a good gut feeling that if this is resonating, if we can get it into some stores, and that’s kind of where the bootstrapping went in. Now fast forward, I quit my day job. I was having just like any working guy or gal promises made, promises broken. You stick in there. Promises made, promises broken. I was like, “I’ve had enough. Look it, I’ve got 12,000 units sitting in my garage. If I can sell these things and focus on it. I’ll be fine. Me and my family will be fine.” So, that’s kind of … it just came from a very honest place. So, it started as supplementing income. Came to let’s conquer evil collars around the world.

    Felix: I see, so you already knew that there was a demand for this. You just knew that if you had the time to focus on it, you could really scale this up and you knew that at the time the channel for it was to go directly to retail. So, let’s fast-forward to that point. You approached the first store, or your wife approached the first store. They were really excited about it, which made you realize, wow, this is really a viable avenue to go down. What was your plan then, moving forward? Was it just hit up as many stores in Florida as possible to carry your brand?

    Jon: Correct. My family is originally from New York, we’re from Long Island. From Florida, we kind of went through the rounds here. You’ve got to understand, we didn’t know men’s specialty stores. I’d never even step foot in some of these stores. They’re very higher end. They can be a little, you know scary because you’re dealing with price points that are way above my pay grade, at that point, and so we knew the next step would really like … hey, if this is working in Florida, we need to get to a bigger market. So, I went to New York, to where my family is and literally started doing the same thing. We went and we got a lot of nos. In Florida, it was yes, yes, yes, yes. In New York, nope, nope, nope, nope, nope.

    We ended up in a store in Huntington that said yes. At that time, that store, which we did not know … you don’t just walk into these stores and get product placed. They’re like, “You have to meet with one of our buyers.” I’m like, what’s a buyer? We had no clue, right? It ended up to be a store that’s kind of like a flagship store in the menswear industry. When they brought us in, that was kind of like the seal of approval if you will. We did our very first trade show from the 200 units plus from uncrate to bootstrapping it to our first trade show. That was a period of about five to six months. When we did our first trade-show, that’s when we really got the attention from stores. Stores were really the first kind of … it was dot-com one-page website, in specialty stores, and then we had one big main dot-commer, back then. It was a company called onthefly.com. They were an online-only men’s specialty store. You can kind of see, we were seeing that someone who does dot-com right can do a lot of volume, right?

    We weren’t really known. Onthefly, at the time, had all these cool men’s products from shirts and pants and suits to cuff links and this that and the other, so the collar stays fit right in. He had the database, right, to get out there. He was one of our biggest … well, our only and biggest dot-com conduit at that point.

    Felix: Gotcha. I kind of want to lay out the strategy again. You first hit up these specialty stores, then you got a lot of yeses in Florida. Maybe we’ll start there, actually, in the stores you had early success with, could you just walk into the store and sell directly to the person, I guess working at the store itself or did you have to meet with a buyer and go through the same process that you went through in New York?

    Jon: Okay, so yeah, basically, we’d walk in and say … well, Aimee would, it’s the thing … look it … Aimee, my wife is … people would say, “How did you get her?” I’d say, “Well, that was 20 years and 50 pounds ago,” but she’s very … people stop and like, “Hey.” She’s a cute girl, but she speaks very well and she can sell. That’s kind of her background. So, in a men’s store, they would stop and talk to her. When I went to New York, it was me and my twin brother, you know? We thought, oh, two identical twins walk into a store, right? The beginning line of a joke. We would get a no, and Josh would say to me, “How did Aimee get all these yeses.” I said, “I don’t know, maybe because she’s a girl. I don’t know.”

    I think the difference was in Florida it’s a little more laid back and casual, so you can walk in and ask for a manager or the store owner, and more likely than not you’re going to be able to talk to them. Those guys are the decision makers. In New York, you have layers of people and there’s more of a structure, I guess you can say, even if it’s a small store. They’re like, oh, no, no, no. So and so’s not here. You have to go through this. There’s a lot more red tape, and that’s kind of more of what it was. It was just … it was … the market’s different and it’s just a different attitude.

    Felix: Yeah, that makes sense. Let’s say that you do have to go through a meeting with a buyer. How do you recommend people approach a store to try and secure a meeting with a buyer? Is it just to walk in and ask for a meeting with them? What’s the best, I guess, approach to getting a meeting with them?

    Jon: I think, again we’re only talking ten years ago, so I don’t think my right arm, Ken, Ken’ll say, “That was so many years ago and you walked in the store. You don’t do that today.” I’m like, “Again, it wasn’t the 1920s or 1930s.” Look it, people like to do business with people. When you’re trying to get something off the ground it is all about the product, right? If you don’t have a great product or something that’s going to disrupt an industry people’ll go yeah, whatever. But, if you have something that’s great and you’ve got to get in front of people, I’m a big believer in direct contact. We live in a world where it’s all about e-mails, and text messages and so the human element kind of gets lost. It’s like, how do you break through and connect? A lot of that is as simple as a phone call.

    You’ve got to understand these buyers, especially in department stores, these guys are very busy. They’re all going [omni 00:18:12] channels, so they’ve got a lot on their plate. You’ve got to stand out from the crowd. It’s more than a one direct line of offense. It’s a phone call. It’s an e-mail. It’s a package, and it’s all these things that together will get you a phone call back. Again, preface this with you have to have a good product, but I tell people, “It’s one foot in front of the other.” I think even for Wurkin Stiffs, it hasn’t been like … you hear about these actors that are famous and they got, “Yeah, I’m a fifteen-year overnight success.” Right? It’s kind of like the same thing. You do all these little things that make you successful, and then when you find out what is successful, I’m a big believer in replicating it. It doesn’t work on across the board because you do have different markets and different attitudes within regional geographic areas, but if you can replicate something and understand why it’s working or why it’s not working, it’ll kind of help you break through.

    Again, I think going back to the buyers, it is more … I will say it is more difficult today than it was ten years ago. I think the reason being, especially when you get into bigger stores, a lot of stores have streamlined the way they do things. When they used to have regional buyers for stores with a couple of assistants, you’re talking now, they’ve streamlined that down to national buyers with one assistant, right? So, it’s harder to get their attention. You have to think outside the box. There are so many people that … And, you can’t take no for an answer. That’s the other thing. A lot of people hear no and they get deflated. You’re going to hear no. You’re going to. I love hearing no and I love figuring out how to get them to say yes, or to position myself for the best opportunity to partner with a store. That’s the other thing I’m a big believer in. It’s a partnership. It’s got to be a win-win. It’s not a lopsided event that happens. It’s really embracing and understanding who your customer is. I know you haven’t asked … I’m going to say something that might jump a little bit, but we -

    Felix: Please.

    Jon: You always want that big store, right? The department store or whatever with the [inaudible 00:20:52], so for us, it was like, how do we get into a Neimans or Nordstroms or Saks or Bloomingdales. What was interesting is we were trying to contact all these people … Nordstrom gave me a shot. I was about three years in business. I had 350 specialty stores, independent stores around the United States and Canada, and couldn’t get a major to pick it up. Aimee and I started doing like some like secret shopper. Once you start understanding why it’s working in these specialty stores and these mass department stores, these majors aren’t latching on? So, we did secret shopping and I realized, Nordstrom really … our culture is very will fit. They’re like a big specialty store and they’re really customer service oriented. They didn’t care if I walked in with flip flops, or if I walked in with a three-piece suit, they treated me the same. I said, “This is the place we want to be and I think this is our best shot.” We focused and we focused for about a year on Nordstrom, and then finally got the meeting with them. It was like they changed the landscape of Wurkin Stiffs. They brought us to the next level. We literally … They tested us in twenty-four doors and within three months we were in seventy-seven. By the end of that year, we were in all doors Nordstrom.

    Then, what happens is once you’re on that … in a major like that, what I didn’t realize, other majors are also doing the same type of thing. They’re secret shopping stores to see what’s the next hottest item that maybe their competitor that they don’t. Yeah, so it was kind of an eye-opener. All of a sudden I started getting phone calls from Neiman Marcus and Saks. It was the weirdest … I’d like … Felix, I’m … you’re like, holy smokes. What are you … this is amazing. I went and saw eighty-eight Nordstrom stores. I literally was talking to the sales floor letting them know it’s a husband and wife with, at that time my son was three or four years old, that this isn’t a big company. This is our livelihood. I was fortunate enough and Nordstrom was gracious enough to give me the opportunity to go into their homes, or stores, right and kind of shake the hands of the people that were selling my product and really getting passionate about the product. It resonated so, it did really well. That’s kind of what opened up more doors. Then Shark Tank saw the product at Nordstrom and that’s how that kind of rolled out and happened.

    Felix: Yeah, that’s amazing how just the validation, I guess the cosigning of a major brand or a major store, like Nordstrom in your case, starts a snowball effect of so many more people paying attention to you. I bet doors that were closed to you before, all of a sudden are now open because a big brand or a big store like Nordstrom started carrying you guys, started vouching for your product. This one year of working and focusing on trying to get into Nordstrom’s, was it an active, every day you have to be doing something to make progress towards it, or was it more of a waiting game? What was that one year like?

    Jon: Within that one year of focusing … you’ve got to realize three years have passed. We ended up in an industry we knew nothing about and we really got educated on the inner workings of how this actually works. It’s not typical that somebody’s just going to walk into a specialty store and actually pitch a product, this, that and the other. I think real entrepreneurs do those type of things and that’s what separates a lot of people from others is that … and you hear the nos and you keep going. You don’t just like crumble. Those three years were crucial and it was funny because I look back, and I said, “You know, if Nordstrom, at any other time, came in, would we have been as successful as we were at that point?” I want to say, probably not. By that time, we understood what we needed to do.

    So, that year kind of looked like it was a balancing act of like, you say were you doing something daily? Was it sit and wait? It was kind of both, and at the time, Nordstrom had regional buyers. They had five regional buyers across the United States, but men’s accessories was done by one national buyer, and the buyer happened to be female and we knew our hurdle was with women because it was kind of like you’re talking foreign. It’s like, ’Oh, it’s a magnetic collar stay, and we have a patent on it. It’ll button on your collar,“ and they’d go, ”I don’t get what you’re talking about.“ So, it’s kind of like asking us, ”Hey, where’s some women’s pantyhose? These are the best …“ We’re going to go, ”We don’t get it." We knew that we had to … That was a hurdle for us.

    We would reach out from time to time. Keep it on a schedule. We didn’t want to be annoying, obviously, and we would do again in different ways. Right? You would write a letter with the product. “Please hand them out to your associates within the office. Guys really love this product.” Then you’d follow it up with an e-mail, and then you’d maybe make a phone call. Most of the times you’d leave a message, right because you can’t get them on the phone. All this stuff would happen. Well, we ended up on their radar, so … and I also … was the icing on the cake, I met a gentleman in Miami that I was doing a project for. He was a neckwear designer that was now doing a shirt line. He was selling all his neckwear in Nordstrom. I was doing a project for him. I drove to Miami and I’m talking to him about the project, and he said to me, “Why aren’t you in Nordstrom?” I said, “Oh, well, here’s the deal. Here’s the [inaudible 00:26:37],” and he goes, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. Let me contact one of the regional buyers for you.” He did and they heard of us, right?

    But, nothing was done, so we made an appointment and kind of broke through through Daniel who said, “Hey, they’re going to be at this trade show.” That’s how we were able to meet one buyer. Well, that one buyer that came in started telling the other buyers, “I just saw this product.” Many of them heard of it, but never literally sat in front of it or seen it. It snowballed within the buyers at the trade show in New York.

    Felix: They heard of it because you guys were, for that year, or I guess over the three years, were just working on trying to get in front of them. Is that how they heard of you?

    Jon: Yeah, I think it was two-fold. Again, it was yeah, we’re trying to get into the door. People hear things or an assistant … Obviously, like any business or actually large businesses, people move around, right. So, an assistant that you don’t know about here knows of something and then they get transferred to here, and so … Then they knew that this product was in specialty stores. I think it was two-fold, they heard of it kind of internally, they’d seen it or heard of it in specialty stores, but a major doesn’t … especially when someone like you said earlier, when they put their stamp of approval on you, it’s not only about the product. I think it’s about the people. They want to know who you are and you’ve got to get that time in front of them to get your personality across. To say, “Hey, look this is what the brand represents, and,” at the time it was a product, right, it really wasn’t a brand.

    I think it’s multi-faceted. I don’t think it’s just one linear way like, boom. But, I think the phone call with Daniel to them and that kind of introduction really broke way where one person said, “You know what, I’ll stop by and see them.” Boom they stop by, you just talk to them open and honestly, here’s the product. Then all of a sudden you can see the look on their face like oh my god, this is awesome. The next thing you know, another buyer comes in, “Oh, Christine just sent me here.” It’s like, “Oh, hey.”

    Felix: The snowball effect, again. That’s amazing.

    Jon: Exactly. Exactly.

    Felix: Now, you mentioned earlier about how you don’t want to just be another vendor to these stores. You want to develop a partnership with them. I guess when you’re working with specialty stores then also when you had the initial test with Nordstrom, what do you do to increase your, I guess your success of making a good first impression or doing well on the initial test?

    Jon: I believe in less is more, so … and that has proven true even to this day. No matter how big you get, like you look at a company that has a thousand doors, and you go, “Oh man. I want to be in all thousand doors.” The best thing to do is actually go in small. Go in small, targeted to the best doors, “Hey we want to be in your A and B doors,” instead of a thousand doors. I’d like to be in fifty of them, and I want to do fifty really well, get to learn how that company and store does things even on a logistical end because we do our own fulfillment here. I have a warehouse and we do our own fulfillment, so there’s a lot of kind of ins and outs that you have to learn with EDI and different things.

    I always believe what you don’t want to do is end up getting excited about what the purchase order can be right up front. You want to build some legs under you because if you go into like “I’m going into five-hundred of your doors,” and they say yes if anything goes sideways it’s a big oopsy-daisy. So, you’d rather go in smaller, understand all the little caveats and kind of hurdles, make sure that you understand them, can leap over them, fix anything that needs to be fixed and then expand out from there. They’re always going to be … If your product’s successful and it’s these days all about sell-through, you have to have a good sell-through rate. If you go into five-hundred doors and 80% of those doors are under performing, it’s going to bring down the other 20% that are doing excellent with your product.

    You kind of want to go in with your best foot forward on both sides of the table, right? [Here’s 00:31:13] the partnership, “Hey, we’d like your best doors that are going to help us succeed and we’re going to put our total focus on those doors to make it succeed,” and then that’s the partnership. Then, you can work on growing it from there.

    Felix: Awesome. After the success with Nordstrom and all these other majors start paying attention to you, that’s when, I think you were saying, you got the attention of ABC’s Shark Tank. Tell us about that experience. What did you go in looking for? What kind of deal did you end up looking for? And, what happened by the end of it?

    Jon: All right, Felix, boy that’s a … All right, I was on season two, so it was kind of a different experience, I think than most maybe have today. I got a phone call … I was in New York in a cab going to my very first meeting with Saks Fifth Avenue and I get a phone call from the casting director of Shark Tank. One of the producers saw the product at Nordstrom, blah, blah, blah, blah. Would I be willing to audition for Shark Tank and this, that and the other? Obviously, that was a yes and I was looking really … specifically, I wanted to partner with Daymond because he was in the fashion industry.

    Felix: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

    Jon: I can’t remember exactly what I went into the Tank asking for, but what I do know, and what people most know me for is kind of combating with Daymond. I was on set for over an hour, so they take that hour of taping time and edited it down to seven minutes. There’s a lot of things that happened on set that you don’t get to see. It’s reality. There’s no script to it. I walked out of the Tank with not such a great deal. Daymond and Barbara came onboard and then there were negotiations after Shark Tank. The deals you see on air get negotiated out behind the scenes. For me, at that time, I had different objectives like … we just didn’t see eye-to-eye with … they wanted to … Daymond really wanted to license out my intellectual property to other brands, and I wanted to build a brand. At the time, I was collar stays and cuff links. That was it. He understood and we actually have a business relationship to this day where I do cuff links for him, but we just kind of like … a deal never happened in real life because we just couldn’t see eye-to-eye on how we wanted to roll this thing out.

    Felix: I’ve heard that most of the, or not most, but a lot of deals actually don’t work out after the show airs. Did the publicity from Shark Tank, even in season two, did it help you with any sales or business from thereon?

    Jon: Yeah, I think they’ve replayed … at one time, I know my segment was one of the most aired segments in Shark Tank. I don’t know where it’s at now, but I feel like I should get residuals at this point. Yeah, I mean you get a spike up. Again, I don’t think … they do replays now with that show, the older shows on CNBC. I think today being on Shark Tank is a different experience and a different market share than it was … Man, I aired in 2011, so you’re looking at five or six years ago, so I think it’s a different thing. But, yeah we do when they replay it or whatever, we’ll see a spike up in sales online, for sure. The other thing that was big was after Shark Tank it got us on … the product was on the Today show for father’s day, then for holiday, and then again the next year father’s day, and then holiday again. We’re on the Today show in the gift segments and stuff and that really … The Today show really is what did it for us online. I mean the online sales … like a two-second mention, Chuck [Nice 00:35:21] said it’s like Viagra for your shirt collar.

    Felix: Nice.

    Jon: Oh, it was like $30,000 in under three hours on dot com. It was amazing. That was our first major direct correlation between something happening on air and sales to that magnitude. That was back in 2011 and 2012. I think now if you’re on Shark Tank, you would … If that didn’t happen in season two and we were on it today, I have a feeling that’s what we would see today, that kind of big push. Our collar stays, they’re $40, so you have to do a lot of $40 transactions to get the $30,000. But you know, it is about exposure. I think the dot-com today, the landscape’s changing as you can see in the retail world and I think entrepreneurs have a great opportunity to take hold of their own destiny on dot-com. I think it’s a little different than it was.

    We didn’t adopt Facebook and Twitter and all that stuff. I didn’t adopt that stuff early on when it was all kind of hitting. I was very in-store focused, but for the past year, year and a half, we’ve been dot-com focused and that was the switch that we were … the one-page website I talked about earlier, which increased to two or three pages. We were building this thing on [Magento 00:36:53], but when we switched to Shopify, it was a game changer for us. I’m not getting paid by Shopify to say that, but let me tell you it was almost an immediate difference. We chose to go with Shopify because of the integration of different apps and how to kind of make the web experience more robust. It was just amazing the difference.

    Felix: Yeah, maybe we’ll close out on that. What are some of the apps or tools and services that you guys rely on a lot to help run the business?

    Jon: Right now, we’re definitely very socially oriented, you know on Facebook and Instagram. As far as apps, the things that we’re seeing that really kind of help us move the needle is like the [upsell 00:37:45] app, we use an upsell app on it, and we use a special discount app on different things. But we really see the upsells work, right. It’s like we know have to … We have over two-hundred skews now and we do a lot of different products, and how do you capture the guy that’s coming in for collar stays and make him into a guy that’s going to buy a silicone D-bag? You know, both great products, but how do you bridge that gap? We find that the upsell app and offering a discount capture that person [is 00:38:21] very useful. The thing that we look at every day that’s another great feature with Shopify is, as simple as it sounds, is just the mobile Shopify app. I’m probably … my wife will probably say I’m addicted to it, but I’m always looking at it throughout the day watching the numbers and the visitors and this that and the other. I have a guy that, Dillon, handles all our social media. He handles all our digital end of Wurkin Stiffs, but I’m still addicted to that because, for an entrepreneur, it’s all about the numbers, right? Making sure that everything’s firing on all cylinders.

    Felix: Awesome. So, wurkinstiffs.com is a website W-U-R-K-I-N-S-T-I-F-F-S dot com. Where do you want to see the brand go in the next year? What do you want to focus on in 2017?

    Jon: Yeah, so again, we’re really focused on direct consumer, so it’s all about product development for us. We’re really carving out this niche of innovative men’s products. So, instead of maybe like right now, we say it’s men’s essentials, it’s more like men’s necessities. You know it’s the little things that count. We’ll probably never see us really get involved in clothing, perhaps, but we really believe it’s those little items that mean a lot to guys and guys love gadgety things. So for us, again it’s all about product development and getting direct to the consumer with an experience that’s maybe different than you’re going to see in-store because in-store you’re not going to see the whole breadth of a brand. It doesn’t work like that anymore. They cherry pick items. SO, the dot-com is the platform to really show the brand and the breadth of the brand. You’ve got to … that experience has to transcend over a computer screen into their living room. That’s kind of what we’re really focusing on this year is the presentation from the dot-com as you know it digitally and when you receive the product how that is represented above the brand in the guy’s hand.

    Felix: Awesome. So, again wurkinstiffs.com. Anywhere else that you recommend listeners go and check out now that you’re focused more online?

    Jon: As far as what?

    Felix: Well, I guess you know, are you guys big on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter? What’s the kind of main channels that people can follow along with these new, I guess, products that you guys might be putting out?

    Jon: Most definitely our dot-com. I think we’re heavy into Instagram. We love to reach people and have people reach us as far as their interaction with the brand and tell their story. I know Dillon’s pushing a big initiative to reach out to the fellow [working 00:41:12] stiffs out there and getting their take on different types of style and their relationship with our brand. We’re doing a big reach out. That’s some of the initiatives that you’ll see this year. We’re going to get a lot more focused with the relationship with our customers, and fellow [working 00:41:30] stiffs as we have in the past with our stores.

    Felix: Awesome. Thanks again so much for your time, Jon. Wurkinstiffs.com, and yeah, thank you so much.

    Jon: Thanks, Felix.

    Announcer: Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store for the next Shopify Master’s episode.

    Speaker 4: When we first launched the second campaign, I think we made $60,000 in a day and a half. It was immediately … the people who were there the first time who were excited, they immediately jumped back in.

    Announcer: Thanks for listening to Shopify Master’s, the eCommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30-day free trial.

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    About the Author

    Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs, and founder of TrafficAndSales.com where you can get actionable tips to grow your store’s traffic and sales.


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