The initial idea - It was 1987, and my identical twin brother Matt was a punter in college. Tired of chasing footballs up and down the street in Montclair, NJ where we grew up, Matt went to work on building a punting net in our parents’ backyard. From these initial efforts came the unique “S” shaped frame design and ball return feature that defines The Net Return today.
For some 20 years+, I have worked on a sport net design that could encompass three key benefits: ball return, multi-sport use, 5 min. setup.
The Breakthrough - In 2007, after testing over 487 product iterations, I was able to finalize a netting design that provided ball return for multiple sports - including Golf, Soccer, Baseball, Softball and Lacrosse. Shortly after, I developed the "Pushbutton Quick Color Connect System" providing setup in under 5 minutes.
In January of 2008, The Net Return officially unveiled our first product - the Pro Series Multi-Sport Net at the PGA Show in Orlando, FL. The annual gathering of Industry Manufacturers, PGA Professionals, Golf Course Owners, etc. The response for the product was overwhelmingly positive.
Selling Online - From this show we made several very important decisions;
We will manufacture all of our products here in the USA. New Jersey to be specific.
We will sell the majority of our products on our own website - direct to consumer.
We will design and manage our own store.
First couple of years we had this terrible online store that would always crash and would consistently provide the wrong shipping cost. (Ouch!) Then we decided to move to a more popular well known solution for our online store as the shopping cart. What an incredible pain to manage, update, secure, etc…PAINFUL!
Then along came Shopify…
After a recommendation from a friend, I decided to look into Shopify and boy, am I glad I did!
Shopify is the best. Super-easy backend, design friendly, perfect shopping experience on tablets and handhelds, fast, fast, fast, great mobile app and yes I can even create a Coupon in under 30 seconds! Try doing that with another user interface
Since we've switched to Shopify, our sales have doubled.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
First sales came online. We now do a lot with Facebook, Google (Organic, PPC), etc.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
A couple of apps have been really great for us with Shopify. These include Upsell, AfterShip and Robin. We utilize Webgility for our shipping integration.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
Save yourself the pain and expense of managing your online store with the multitude of shopping carts out on the market. Make the wise, simple choice of Shopify as your online, so you can focus on what your business does best. For The Net Return, this is making the best sport training nets in the world