Red wine, coffee, and tea- oh my!
That’s what your teeth are secretly saying if you routinely drink these liquids.
The stains they can leave behind have a way of persuading even the most confident of us to hide our smiles. It’s a problem Pearly Whites Australia, an ecommerce brand that sells teeth whitening kits, set out to fix. But the company faced a huge problem of its own during its infancy; it routinely ran out of inventory and couldn’t keep pace with demand.
“We got smashed with complaints,” says Jake Munday, the guy in charge of driving traffic to Pearly Whites’ site. “People wanted to know where their orders were.”
Customers who ordered after Pearly Whites had run out of teeth whitening kits would have to wait a month or longer for their orders to arrive. Admittedly, Munday says the customer service issues were exacerbated by the company’s inability to communicate effectively.
“We missed the mark letting people know when their orders would arrive,” he says. “Not only were we running out of stock, but we were also in the process of syncing our warehouse which made it really difficult.”
Here’s what’s miraculously counterintuitive, though…
The hiccups did not negatively impact sales. In fact, demand actually grew the longer Pearly Whites made customers wait.
How did Pearly Whites create such robust demand and can others replicate it?
“We created so much urgency that customers willingly forgave us for getting their orders out late,” Munday says. “Running out of inventory every other month only made people want our teeth whitening kits even more.”
It’s a formula other merchants may wish to adapt to create urgency for their customers as well.
White Teeth = Fashion Statement
The teeth whitening craze in Australia, according to Pearly Whites, isn’t nearly as mature as it is in the U.S. With fewer teeth whitening products on the Aussie market, Pearly Whites saw a gap it could easily fill with a beautifully packaged teeth whitening kit.
While the kits target a broad market interested in brightening its smile, Pearly Whites is initially going after the low hanging fruit. “People who are engaged to be married,” Munday says. “Everybody getting married wants to have white teeth.”
The peaks and valleys, defined by dramatic revenue spikes quickly followed by a lack of inventory, are evident:
- January 2016- sold 1150 kits
- February 2016- sold 2220 kits
Despite growing more than 10,000% from its inaugural month in business, sales could’ve been even greater. “We could’ve sold $200,000 more in product, but it wasn’t the right thing to do,” Munday says. “We were already asking people to wait and didn’t want to make it worse.”
How exactly does Pearly Whites create so much urgency that customers are willing to pay for a product they may not get for a month or longer?
“It’s a fashion statement, not a dental product,” Munday says of the company’s teeth whitening kits. “In Australia, consumers are influenced by celebrities they see in the United States.”
The company positioned the kits as a product helping celebrities in the U.S. look their best but priced affordably enough so consumers could mimic the celebrity look as well. As Munday began driving more traffic to the site and the company began running out of inventory, demand began to spike from a variety of new target markets:
- People who have always wanted to whiten but couldn’t afford it
- People who were afraid whitening would hurt or be uncomfortable
- People who ordinarily visited a dentist to whiten & desired an affordable alternative
Combine these factors with an organic upswell of social proof in the form of people showing off before and after photos of their teeth and consumer desire for pearly whites significantly outweighed delivery delays.
“The before and after pictures increased the urgency further,” Munday says. “It was the word of mouth from our customers proving our kits work really well.”
Customers are obviously willing to forgive Pearly Whites for its inventory snafus.
But they’d never have the chance do so without a site that’s crash-proof.
People Trust Us
With demand for Pearly Whites’ teeth whitening kits growing and enough cash flow to build a sustainable inventory position by the second quarter of 2016, the company wanted a guarantee it could meet the anticipated demand. That’s why it upgraded to Shopify Plus, an enterprise ecommerce platform for high volume merchants interested in focusing on growing their businesses rather than worrying about technology.
“I had experience with Shopify with other startups and knew it was the right choice,” says Emilio D’Angelo, whose job it is to convert the traffic Munday drives. “I thought we could really increase conversions with Shopify Plus.”
A new theme was installed, the site was redesigned, and photographs of the new teeth whitening kit packaging were taken. “I saw the amount of traffic Jake was getting and I wanted to convert as much of that as possible,” D’Angelo says.
The upgrade is paying off. Not only does Shopify Plus easily handle any spikes in traffic Pearly Whites might experience as new inventory becomes available, but D’Angelo’s hunch about improving conversions has been spot on:
Before Upgrading to Shopify Plus
- 0.8% conversion rate
After Upgrading to Shopify Plus
- 2% conversion rate
“The success we’ve had gives us confidence that we can double our conversion rate again,” D’Angelo says, referring to Shopify Plus and Pearly Whites’ improved customer service. “People trust us. We learned to set expectations and communicate better about delivery times and with Shopify, we can even communicate any delays there might be during the checkout experience.”
Separately, the company also credits Shopify Plus’ easy integration with third parties like Shipwire, an enterprise logistics software provider that automatically picks and ships Pearly Whites’ teeth whitening kits. Likewise, Pearly Whites says its integration with Receiptful, which automates a series of abandon cart emails, has helped Pearly Whites recoup lost revenue and increase ROI.
“It’s an immediate payback,” D’Angelo says. “When we combine all of these tools with Shopify’s payment system, we’ve saved thousands of dollars upgrading to Shopify Plus.”
It’s money that’s being reinvested in the company and something white teeth lovers everywhere may soon see in the form of charcoal and coconut.
Trends & Teeth
“It’s easy to go ‘Wow, let’s retire,’” D’Angelo says regarding the money pouring in.
But rather than cash out quickly, the team at Pearly Whites is reinvesting in ways designed to ensure the company is on the cutting edge in the future. “We’re not taking money out,” D’Angelo says. “We want to build a brand that lasts.”
The next step is setting the company’s sites outside of Australia.
“We’ve got Australia down pat,” Munday says. “Now we want to replicate that in the United States and find innovative ways to grow.”
It’s an ambitious goal but only a small slice of what you can expect from Pearly Whites in the future. Not only did the company recently launch in the U.S., but it’s also actively looking for additional warehouse space in new countries. “We hope to be in two other countries, including the U.K., by the end of the year,” Munday says.
Expect new products as well:
- Teeth whitening toothpaste
- Whitening mouthwash
- Whitening strips
The strips are expected to contain a unique formula that blends charcoal and coconut, two trendy substances Pearly Whites says will remove stains while simultaneously protecting tooth enamel and gums.
“These are the latest trends in dental so we thought we’d combine them,” D’Angelo says. “We’re fusing them together to expand our line of dental care products as well as provide additional value for our customers.
Even with all of the innovation and expansion plans, Munday and D’Angelo will continue to work on improving customer service and pinching pennies. “Despite all of our success I still watch how much we spend on coffee,” D’Angelo says with a laugh.
It’s easy to do when you know people in the stain removal business!