When you're selling gift-able products, the holiday season is your time to shine. But how do you target customers when they're in the gift-giving spirit?
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll learn from an entrepreneur who sells $3,000 worth of t-shirts every day and how he’s preparing for the busy holiday shopping season.
Jeremiah Robison is the founder of Beloved Shirts: quirky, fun designs on shirts, hoodies, onesies, and more.
If you’re putting a concrete deadline there for a guaranteed December 25th delivery, it’s going to create a sense of urgency.
Tune in to learn
- How to automate Facebook messaging to promote products.
- How to create a gift guide to target holiday shoppers.
- How you can keep driving sales all the way up to Christmas day.
Listen to Shopify Masters below…
Download this episode on Google Play, iTunes or here!
- Store: Beloved Shirts
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: ManyChat, PowerTools, Recart, Conversio, Wheelio, ReAmaze, Please Stay, Chester, FOMO, Slack, Sublimation.Kitchen
Shopify Academy Course: Build a Print-on-Demand Empire
Learn how to create your own custom-branded t-shirt shop in minutes. Expert Shopify merchant Adrian Morrison shares his framework for starting and launching a successful print-on-demand shop.Enroll for free
Felix: Toady I’m joined by Jeremiah Robison from Beloved Shirts. Beloved Shirts makes all kinds of quirky fun designs on shirts, hoodies, onesies and more. It was started in 2013 and based out of Provo, Utah. Welcome Jeremy.
Jeremiah: Thanks for having me.
Felix: Yeah, so tell us about some of your most popular products.
Jeremiah: It’s been pretty random for us. In the early days I would say what really got us on the map was we did an allover print sweatshirt with Oprah’s face on it. BuzzFeed picked that up and we went from, overnight after that happened, from being just a little experiment for fun, into being an actual business. That happened about three months after we launched the Shopify store, so in March of 2013.
Felix: You mentioned that it was an experiment, to see essentially what would happen. Did you have any experience launching businesses or products in the past?
Jeremiah: Yeah. Before that I actually used to sell weight loss supplements online. I had my own store, with wasn’t with Shopify, this was way before that. I did have some experience with Google AdWords and hiring a team to the SEO on that site. We did pretty well with it but I had since exited that industry and wanted to get into clothing. It was really experimental at first, we were just joking around.
It actually started even before we did the shop. I started an Instagram account to show our concepts, which we did on Photoshop, pretty much mocking up sweatshirt designs. Based off of that Instagram account I saw a lot of interest. That’s what led us to launching the Shopify store. Things got pretty serious after that Oprah sweatshirt to be honest.
Felix: What kind of success did you see with that Instagram account? Were you getting a lot of followers? A lot of comments? What did you see reaction-wise that made you realize that this thing had legs?
Jeremiah: Yeah, so we just got a ton of traffic on the site. I guess before this happened, before that BuzzFeed article launched, we were doing about, I don’t know, like $300 to $500 a day in sales. Then literally the night after we saw that article go online, we did $16,000 that day. Then the next day was, I think it was around 13,000 or 12,000, and it continued for the rest of that week. We were averaging about $7,000 to $8,000 a day for a whole week.
Then it slowly tapered down to about $3,000 a day and had remained like that ever since. It hasn’t really dipped much below that. Yeah, that really put us on the map and things started to circulate, people sharing our products online. Yeah, we thrive off of the viral attention. I don’t if you’ve seen recently, we did this hairy-chested swimsuit, basically a man’s hairy chest on a one piece swimsuit. That definitely made the rounds, CNN featured it. It was global news actually that hairy chest design. We experienced that time and time again, little viral spikes.
Felix: Yeah, I see it on the site, it’s pretty funny. You mentioned that even before any sales came in you tested the waters, by posting your concepts, your designs on Instagram. Did you see people … what did you see? What did you hear? What kind of reception did you get from people that made you realize that you should pursue this further?
Jeremiah: People were actually really wanting us to produce these shirts, instead of just teasing them with the concept. At the time sublimation wasn’t really popular in fashion, it was more this technology of all our print was used more for sports apparel, like soccer jerseys and things like that. So it was really hard at first to actually develop the product.
I ended finding this manufacturer on Alibaba that did hoodies and jerseys. They ended up doing the crew neck sweaters for me. It wasn’t the greatest quality to be honest. Right when this Oprah thing happened, Chinese new year came into play and we had a lot of angry customers because of the delays there. I was really frustrated with the whole manufacturing supply chain side of the business. Now, everything’s made in California, so brought it to the US and it’s running a lot smoother now.
Felix: Did you have to raise prices when you brought it over to the US, or just take a bigger hit on the margins? How were you able to make it work?
Jeremiah: No, in fact it actually remained the same, if not a little better with our margins. Because what we were doing with China … So since the beginning, just so you know, we were setup as a made-to-order business, so we wouldn’t stock any inventory. We took the orders upfront and then, I guess now they call it print-on-demand, but back then they were making these sweatshirts for us and shipping them to my house actually. We were shipping them out of our basement based on the orders that came in.
There was definitely a large turnaround time, but the way they shipped it to use from China was with DHL Express, that had quite a bit of cost on there. Now that we’re doing it in California, we eliminate that large DHL expense and it works out to be a little bit better for us in terms of the margins.
Felix: That makes, that if most of your products are already of the US, most of your customers are in the US, then you can save cost there too. So it’s not always going to be more expensive to produce in the US. You guys obviously made it work for your business.
Now you mentioned earlier that you first got started in supplements, then now moved of course over to merchandise and shirts. What was that transition like? Were you able to bring along what you learned over from a different industry to a new one?
Jeremiah: Yeah. I actually started out just with eBay. At the time, they’re called HCG drops, they’re weight loss drops that I was messing around with. It was really just something my wife was interested in actually. I saw that they were selling quite a few of them on eBay, so I did my research and started to order some small amounts of inventory and get involved with that.
Then that led to me starting my very first online store. From there, I actually got involved with the private labeling side of weight loss products, so I launched a contract manufacturing company and we did private labeling for other brands, like me, to sell their own branded weight loss products. I since have sold that business, so now I’m fully focused on apparel.
Felix: Based on your experience in having successful businesses in two industries, what key, I guess identifiers, do you see when you, if you were to pick another niche or an industry to go into? What kind of key benefits of a particular industry make it easier to start and run a business in?
Jeremiah: Are you referring to the supplement industry?
Felix: Well both, because you have experience and you had a successful business in the supplement, and now you also have a successful business in the shirts and the merchandise. Are there key overlaps between the two that you notice in those industries that make it maybe easier or advantageous to be in those industries?
Jeremiah: You know, supplements is tricky. The margins are huge but it’s really cutthroat. There’s a lot of competition and you have to be really competitive with your pricing and somehow try and get the traffic. Which was hard for us to do at the time, because we didn’t have Facebook marketing at all. It was all SEO and we got fortunate to do well with the SEO, which led us to have a successful story there.
If I were to start a supplement company today, I wouldn’t really know what to do because the practices were so different back then. I’m assuming you can’t advertise weight loss products on Facebook, so you’d be stuck with maybe Google AdWords allows it, I’m not quite sure.
For the apparel industry, at least for our type of product, it’s all about building hype for us. We want people to be really excited about the products. They’re super unique so we kind of thrive off of that shock factor, I guess you’d call it, the WTF factor. It really fits well with our brand. People naturally share this on Reddit and Twitter and Instagram, so we’re heavy into social media for Beloved Shirts.
Felix: Yeah. I’d love to hear more about the design process. How does a shirt or a design go from … How do you come up with the ideas? And then, how does it end up actually ever getting onto a shirt?
Jeremiah: Yeah, so the beauty of print-on-demand, what they call it now, and being made to order, is speed to market. So literally, what we do as a team here at Beloved, is we’re constantly having fun with the internet. We call ourselves almost, I guess you could refer to use as internet whisperers, because we love to look at what’s going on at Reddit, in the meme-sphere. We base our design ideas off of that for the most part.
Of course there’s some fun things we like to jump on, Stranger Things, Rick and Morty. We like to do a lot of apparel inspired by those shows. But for the most part we really like to shock people, so we’re looking for stuff that will either confuse people or just draw a lot of attention that way and blow people’s minds.
Once we come up with a design, honestly it just takes about a day. We have to panel them into cut and saw panels, that’s how we do the manufacturing, so the sleeves and the torso and the neck ribbing. Our designer lays the art out for that so it’s ready to go, and then we just publish it to Shopify. As orders come in they’re ready to go straight into printing and manufacturing.
Felix: With so many shirts, so many designs being made, what would you consider success rate of a design to actually having a shirt, or any piece of merchandise, would you consider successful?
Jeremiah: You mean success rate based on the amount of products we’re listing, like which ones will take off?
Felix: Yeah, yeah. You know, if you put out a design, do all of them end up selling and being something that you want to continue to have on your site? Or do you curate over time what actually ends up on the site?
Jeremiah: Yeah, definitely not. There’s a lot of designs that don’t do too well at all. But the way we’re setup, being print, what is it, print-to-order or print-on-demand, is we can publish as many designs as we want. It’s not really going to be an issue, we don’t carry any inventory. We actually like to have this large database because it helps when you do have that select niche interest and someone’s wanting to search for ramen noodle t-shirts, so they’re going to find it. We have a huge database.
This was actually when were on Shark Tank season seven, this was kind of an issue for the sharks. They weren’t too happy about the amount of SKUs I had on the site. But I don’t think they really grasped the whole made-to-order side of the business. I think that’s effective actually. I haven’t tapped into optimizing these product listings in a way that I should.
I’m trying to, but what we’re starting to do now is tag each of our products with a theme tag in Shopify. We’re building theme based collections, so that everything can be easily found. We’re trying to make it a lot easier for people to find what they want. The fact that we have so many products on the site is only helping us out and helping us be stronger.
Felix: Yeah. I think a lot of listeners are in the merchandise, and the print-on-demand, and the t-shirt business. What kind of advice, or what would you say is the most important aspect to keep in mind when designing a shirt that is the goal of the shirt is to generate as many sales as possible?
Jeremiah: A lot of it has to do with traffic. Of course you’ve got to have a good design, stuff, something, that people would like and want to wear and buy. But you need traffic to it, so what we like to do is with our design we like to shock people. Something that we think is easily shared, like especially in a Facebook post or a boosted post or an ad, where people are going to tag their friends just because it’s so funny or so shocking. You know, “You need to wear this.”
Like right now, we did an ugly Christmas sweater, with the hairy chested design, the man’s nipples, on it he has actual jingle bell Christmas ornaments piercing on the nipples. That one kind of did the same thing as our swimsuits, almost. I think we’ve sold already 500 units of that sweatshirt, whereas the next popular design on the list in terms of sweatshirts might have sold only 30 in the last few weeks.
You can see that, the crazy spikes that happen there, and we rely on that. We like to, and this might not be the right fit for everybody in print-on-demand, but that’s how our business model is. Our whole mission here at Beloved it to help complete strangers start conversations with each other on the street. I love that aspect of our apparel, where people, they might be introverted or shy naturally, can finally experience some attention and people coming up and wanting to talk to them.
If you look at some of our reviews, we’ve had … I’m trying to think of the guy’s name, but he wore this Kim Jong Un hoodie that we had. He said, “For the first time in my life a beautiful woman came up and talked to me on the street.” I just love hearing stories like that. I’m an introvert myself so I love how the apparel helps me express myself. People can realize that I’m not just this quiet boring guy, there’s something else there if they get to know me.
Felix: Yeah, so when you have a design, it sounds like the approach is that you put this on a product and you create a mock-up of it, and then you post it on Facebook and drive traffic to it with a boosted post?
Jeremiah: Yeah. Our process for the most part, when we don’t have a pay per click expert working with us, what we do in-house is, well naturally post to Facebook maybe once a day or so with new designs or whatever media that we have. It could be a video clip of our products. What we’ll do is if we start to see that get some viral attention, we’ll immediately boost it, and sometimes even just reboost and reboost and see how long we can ride it out.
From there, if it really was a success for us, we go ahead and convert that into an ad. Another thing we’ve been messing with recently, which I think is really powerful for us, is we use ManyChat for Facebook Messenger marketing. We do what’s called a growth tool in our boosted post, where we can set this up in ManyChat so if someone comments on the post we’ll follow up automatically, this is completely automated, with a link to the product and saying, “Thanks for commenting.”
We put that as a heads up in the actual caption of the post, because you don’t want to surprise people like that. You need to say, “Hey, comment below and we’ll PM you with a discount,” or whatever. That’s been really successful for us recently.
Felix: That’s cool. So they leave a comment and then you send them a private message?
Jeremiah: Yeah. That’s all done through ManyChat with one of their growth tool features.
Felix: Do you need to have that Facebook user liking your page to begin with before you can message them? Or can you message anyone that comments, even if they’re not a fan of your page?
Jeremiah: No, you can message anyone, anyone who comments. We have to be explicit about that in the actual caption of the Facebook post, saying, “We’re going to PM you with a discount,” or whatever it is that we’re saying. But yeah, they don’t have to be a fan, and if they do reply to that ManyChat post then they automatically are opted into Messenger, they become a subscriber in ManyChat. But we make it really easy for people to opt-out if they want to, they just type STOP or whatever.
Felix: That’s cool, so they’re now subscribed to your chat. It’s basically a chat bot at that point, right?
Felix: Got it.
Jeremiah: We haven’t used it for too long but we’ve been coordinating our email blasts with ManyChat, doing similar condensed campaigns.
Felix: Based on your experience so far, even if it’s limited, what’s the setup like. If someone joins, or opts-in to receive your chats, chat bot’s messages, what do you use to hit them up with first? What are some important messages to send a brand new subscriber to your chat bot?
Jeremiah: We treat it similar to email. If you’re going to opt-in on our site with email, we’ll follow up with our welcome message and give you a 10% discount. We do the same, we have a little welcome message in ManyChat. From there, I haven’t messed around with too much in terms of the automation and setting up a prospect welcome series yet in ManyChat. I know you can do that. We’ve mainly been using it for broadcasting sales or campaigns.
Felix: Got it. You mentioned that one of the emotions that you try to pull out of people with your products, when you advertise your products, is the shock factor, this WTF factor like you mentioned. Based on experiences, what ar some other reactions or emotions that you think work well, specifically on Facebook?
Jeremiah: It’s not all about the shock factor even for us. Of course that’s what our primary focus is, but we also like to cater to people’s passions and interests. If somebody is literally obsessed with pizza, we want to give them an allover print pizza shirt. We like to put ourselves in their shoes for different interests and demographics, trying to find out, “Hey, what would they really love to wear?”
People love to show off their passions, especially on their clothing and their t-shirts. Yeah, I would look at that specifically, something that’s going to really [dry 00:19:36] If they’re obsessed with Rick and Morty, come up with some really cool apparel inspired by Rick and Morty and stuff like that.
Felix: Do you find that your demographic, your market is pretty widespread in terms of the type of people that are interested in your products? Or is it pretty concentrated?
Jeremiah: You know, it’s for the most part I would say a younger crowd, anywhere from high school through college age. But I would say people up into their forties are still buying our stuff, especially if it’s a niche interest. A lot of movie lovers, Star Wars enthusiasts, like our brand. We have a lot of galaxy prints, and we even mesh well with the EDM space, so ravers like our clothing. We have a lot of prints that cater to their needs. But yeah, it’s mostly the younger crowds to be honest. We get a lot of grandparents shopping for their grandkids.
Felix: Because they do fall into different niches, the EDM niche like you mentioned, or people that are into specific movies. Does that make your marketing or your targeting harder?
Jeremiah: You know what, I don’t personally do a lot of the Facebook ads myself, so I haven’t messed around with a lot of these audiences. I’d have to look into that more with my PPC guy. I actually just brought on somebody who’s developing a bunch of ads for us. I think we like to base our audiences more off of people that have bought something. For example, these sexy chest swimsuits, the hairy chested swimsuits, we have a segment already in our Facebook audiences of people that have bought that. It’s a lot of people that have bought it, so that data right there is pretty powerful. If someone’s going to buy a hairy chested swimsuit, they might be interested in the hairy chested ugly Christmas sweater or something like that.
Felix: You mentioned that you brought on recently a PPC guy, some kind of Facebook ad expert. How do you work with someone like that? What’s required in terms of your commitment to them, to get this program off the ground?
Jeremiah: It’s been great so far. We haven’t really needed to do much with him. He’s been great with coming up with copy. Of course here and there we could provide him with graphics, but for the most part a lot of the media’s just on our website, pulling product images and things like that. It’s fairly new, this is within the past couple weeks, so we’re on standby, especially for Black Friday, what types of graphics or content he might need from us. That’s where we shine, coming up with funny captions too, so we can definitely help with that.
Felix: Got it. Now you mentioned lots of movies, you mentioned Rick and Morty. I’m assuming there’s lots of licensing and legal that needs to happen when you do produce merchandise or t-shirts or shirts with those brands. Can you talk to us about what goes into that?
Jeremiah: Yeah. We have done official collaborations in the past, but when it’s something that we don’t have licensing for, we’re just trying to keep it vague, like more inspired by, instead of actually using their logos. It is a gray area. It’s a risk, and a lot of people are taking that risk of intellectual property, even it’s inspired by it it’s still kind of crossing the line a little bit. Where it could be something that you get a cease and desist on. We’ve had plenty of them but it’s part of the business and we took that risk.
Felix: The first step that happens if you do thread into this gray area is a cease and desist? They usually don’t take any, I guess more drastic measures above that initially?
Jeremiah: In our experience, not really, especially in print-on-demand. If you’re doing a lot of wholesale or inventory, then it’s a different story. But a lot of these cease and desists, for example we did one called, I think it was the puppy monkey baby pug, like from the Super Bowl, that Pepsi commercial. We had a sweatshirt with that and we got a cease and desist from Pepsi. We replied, our lawyer drafted a letter in response, mentioned the amount of units we sold and we took it down obviously, because that was the request.
But from that, they didn’t follow up any further because only three or four units sold of that. Really I think it just depends on the volume, but for the most part print-on-demand doesn’t do a lot of volume and there’s no inventory involved, so it’s not as big of a risk in my opinion.
Felix: Right, because you don’t have to hold to this inventory that you may to essentially get rid of because of the cease and desist as well. It sounds like a lot of your business is built on getting this viral attention. We talked a little bit about how you use Facebook to kick off some of this attention. Are there any other channels or platforms that you use to help at least get the ball rolling on a lot of these new designs?
Jeremiah: Let me see here, so aside from Facebook, definitely Instagram from the beginning. That’s really how we were discovered, was through Instagram. Yeah, we’re also on Twitter but Facebook’s been great for us lately. Reddit naturally happens from other people coming across our site. Yeah, it’s gotten to the point now where I honestly don’t even try and strategically craft these responses at all because they just happen. We know they happen. The brand’s circulating and people, there’s enough traffic there where people are going to share the funny stuff they find from our site or the stuff they’re passionate about or whatever.
Felix: Right, because you have a big enough base nowadays to get this stuff out to them, and they will essentially kick off the virality for you, if they like the product.
Jeremiah: Exactly. Even with our Facebook audiences, like the reason before why I didn’t really have much to say in terms of what demographic or interest is in my targeting, we have so much data already from past purchases and customers just based on our products. As you can tell there’s a lot of different themes and categories of products that we have, so we can pull a segmented audience for just people that have bought pizza related apparel and market to pizza lovers. It’s a pretty setup right now, now that we’ve been in business a few years.
Felix: Got it. Obviously you mentioned that there are so many products on the site because you don’t have to hold inventory of things printed on demanded. How do you think about organizing the site? What goes into deciding what goes on the front page and how the categories are organized? How do you think about all of that?
Jeremiah: That’s what I’m experimenting now, with my, I had a developer that works for us, a Shopify expert. I’m trying to develop some more automation there in terms of what’s truly trending on the site, like the most viewed products versus the most purchased within the last week or last three days even. I want to set this up to what’s featured on the home page.
Right now we have a trending section and a new section, what’s new, but this is all guessing on our part. We just eyeball it and put what we want on the site. But that’s next level for me, as I want to automate the on-site, optimize our on-site experience as much as possible. Kind of like Amazon does, they just know what to show you.
Felix: Right. You mentioned most viewed or most purchased, so far what do you think is better? Should you show the products that people look at the most, or show the products people are buying the most?
Jeremiah: The problem I think right now with the setup that Shopify has for best sellers, is I don’t think there’s a way to display it in a collection based on a date range. I think it’s the best sellers of all time. So the actual trending view that we have is based on most views, which use an app from [PowerToolz 00:28:03], I think it’s called PowerToolz that does that. You can sort your collection based on trending, it’s the amount of views in the past seven days I think.
It’s pretty cool that we have that but I’m still trying to figure out if there’s an app out there that can do it based on purchases within a time frame. That would be helpful I think.
Felix: Yeah, I think temporary makes sense, because otherwise your probably oldest products will always show up first and so they’d probably get the most views of all time and most purchases. You probably want something a little bit more timely, a little more relevant. Now, of course you mentioned earlier about being on Shark Tank, so let’s talk a little bit about that. The story, why don’t you tell us about it first? What did you go in looking for? And then what happened in the end?
Jeremiah: Shark Tank, we auditioned at the University of Utah. It was kind of random, last minute thing. At that time we were collaborating with Katy Perry. We did a holiday collection with her actually. Sorry, that happened after Shark Tank, but before that we were already collaborating with her on the pizza onesie. She was wearing it on tour, so I brought a little printout image of her wearing our pizza onesie at the audition.
I don’t know if that helped our chances or not, but I think it did. From there I got a callback saying that they wanted us to go to LA. From there they take, I think it’s … what is it, only 20% of them. I don’t know the exact figure, but we had to audition again to see if we could actually make it onto the show. Yeah, we ended up filming in September. [inaudible 00:29:52] year, now it’s all foggy to me.
It’s season seven, I think it’s episode 21. We filmed, it was in September, and then it aired in the following March. This was nerve wracking waiting that long, but the whole experience was good. My whole strategy going in there, into the tank, was I’ve got to be extra nice to the sharks because I know they can pretty much eat you alive if you come across as cocky or somewhat rude, so I was really polite. I think it turned out well. They had some fun with me in certain parts, and some of it they didn’t even air, thankfully. I think like what Damon said, I was … I don’t know who he compared me to, but I was dead to them at the end, I know that. He gave me an offer and we couldn’t come to terms.
Felix: Yeah, you did some negotiation and ended walking away. How hard was that?
Jeremiah: It was intense. I was there probably for almost an hour, of talking with them, and they drilled me hard on metrics. I think that’s partly why Marc Cuban backed out soon, as I guess I didn’t have the right answer right there on the spot for him in terms customer acquisition cost or something like that.
Anyways, it was intense. Afterwards they make you meet a psychologist, it’s mandatory. A lot of people have mental breakdowns. It was okay. My wife and kids were there, even my son was on the show with me, that was fun. He’s the pizza kid. I don’t know if you’ve seen that meme of him
Felix: Yeah, definitely. I’ve definitely seen the episode.
Jeremiah: [crosstalk 00:31:27] likes pizza.
Felix: Nice. You mentioned that BuzzFeed got you tens of thousands of dollars in sales for almost a week. What were the results from being on Shark Tank? Was it the same, or more?
Jeremiah: Yeah, it was a really good spike. Not as much as I anticipated to be honest. I have a neighbor of mine, owns Mission Belt. He took a deal with Daymond, and I know he got a bigger spike than we did. I think if you take a deal you get a better spike from what I hear.
But yeah, for that day of course there’s like 30,000 people on the site that day that it aired. It aired in the east coast first and then California, so it was funny seeing the different spikes. Yeah, for about a week it did pretty well, and then whenever it re-airs we get additional spikes, which is nice. But to tell you the truth, our hairy chest swimsuit got us more traffic than Shark Tank did. So it goes to show that, what viral shock factor can do. It’s even more powerful than primetime TV in some cases.
Felix: Yeah. This probably makes more sense for the type of audience you’re targeting as well. They might not all be watching Shark Tank, but I’m sure they’re online and seeing these products. We’ll talk a little bit about what I’ve seen on your site. You’re using a few different tools that I hear entrepreneurs using all the time.
I would love to hear you take on it. You have a couple on things on here. One thing I noticed is that you have the popup that slides down from the top that essentially asks if you want to be notified essentially I guess for any updates. Can you talk a little bit more about that? What does that app do? How does it help your business?
Jeremiah: Are you talking about Wheelio?
Felix: No. We will talk Wheelio in a second, but it actually pops up and slides down. It might be only on Chrome, I’m not sure.
Jeremiah: Yeah, okay I know what you’re talking. That one’s new actually. It’s Recart. We’re trying to mess around with the Chrome browser push notifications for retargeting. They also have a Messenger retargeting feature as well. If you click on one of the products, you’ll see that there’s a little check box for, “add to Messenger,” or whatever, when you’re adding to cart. It will set you up to get remarketing in Messenger.
At first I think you could have that prechecked. I don’t know if it’s showing prechecked for you now, but Facebook changed their terms, so I think it has to be unchecked by default. That’s why we put in this little discount incentive there, under the, “add to cart,” button that says, “Get updates in Messenger and you’ll get a discount,” or something like that. But yeah, we’re messing around with it. It’s still kind of fairly new to us. We don’t know enough results to really decide how long we’ll keep it for, but I’m excited about the idea. ManyChat doesn’t do abandoned cart remarketing. We use that mainly for our welcome series and campaigns. But Recart is specifically for abandoned cart.
Felix: Got it. For Recart, how does the abandoned cart remarketing work? Is it sending me notifications to my Chrome browser if I opt-in?
Jeremiah: Yeah, that’s different than the Messenger one. Chrome would be kind of similar. It’ll, I don’t know how many after, it’s going to send you a reminder of what’s in your cart. I think we have it setup for the next it will do another reminder saying, “Hey.” This one will probably have the discount code in there, more of an incentive. I think there’s third. I think it’s a max of three that we do. This is the same process we do with email, we use Conversio for abandoned cart email marketing.
But the Messenger one is completely different from the push notifications with the Chrome browser. That will end up going to their Facebook Messenger app, and it will show them our messaging reminders of what’s in their cart.
Felix: You have this spread throughout your site, of pushing people to Messenger rather than, I guess you more traditional signup with an email address. Is there a reason behind your focus on Messenger rather than over email at least?
Jeremiah: I don’t know if it’s over email, because we do, like that Wheelio popup is pretty prominent. We get a lot of signups with that, it’s actually pretty effective for us. I think since we’ve enabled that app we’ve captured over 30,000 email addresses through Wheelio. Recart, it’s more strictly for abandoned cart marketing. Our actual subscribers for Messenger is done with ManyChat, and we don’t have that anywhere on the site. There’s nowhere someone can opt-in. So what you’re seeing in terms of Messenger is strictly abandoned cart strategy, it’s not someone opting in for our campaigns.
Felix: [inaudible 00:36:20] only happen if someone’s commenting on a Facebook post. That’s where it kicks off their potential opt-in into ManyChat’s Messenger program.
Jeremiah: Yeah, or if they simply message us. If they go to our Facebook page and message us in Messenger, that will opt them in and they’ll get a welcome message, along with a message that says, “If you want to unsubscribe at any time type STOP.” We make that pretty easy for them too.
Felix: Do you have someone monitoring any messages that come in? How is that managed?
Jeremiah: That’s the funny thing with ManyChat, it’s impossible, especially for a brand of our size, to keep up with the messages. So we have this little, I think in our welcome message or maybe we have a default reply in place right now, where it says like, “We’re not human. This is a bot.” We do it with a little bit of humor and say, “If you want to talk to a human email us or click here to go to our support page.” We use Reamaze, it’s kind of like Zendesk for customer support, so we have a little help center there and that’s what we link to from that ManyChat reply if they really do want to talk to somebody instead of a bot.
Felix: Got it. I want to talk about Wheelio. You mentioned that that has been successful for you. They came on the scene in lots of stores I’ve installed. Talk to us about what it does for anyone out there that hasn’t had experience using Wheelio.
Jeremiah: Yeah, I haven’t really read into all the research about it or anything like that. I just know it’s been effective. I’ve seen other people using it, so I naturally wanted to try it. It kind of gamifies the experience of, they get this little wheel where you can enter to win. You’ve got to put in your email. The incentives are impressive, like we give away a free pizza necklace, it’s like this pizza slice pendant or necklace, that if they land on that one.
And then other parts of Wheelio would be like a coupon code. It’s pretty cool. I like the interface and people tend to like it. So we end up showing it I think after 60 seconds of browsing on the site, and then it won’t show it to people that have already used it. I don’t think I have it setup for abandonment, window abandonment. I might have at some point, but I need to look into that again.
Felix: One other cool little thing that I like about your store, that I don’t think I’ve seen any other store do, is that when I have the tab open but I leave the tab, I go to another one, the title on the tab that belongs to your site says, “Come back, we miss you.” It’s basically rotating between those two messages. It was very eye catching, it makes you do go back. Did you use an application for that?
Jeremiah: Yeah [inaudible 00:39:00] go back or exit out, because with my OCD I can’t stand something calling for me like that. It’s effective, I love that. This is, I think it’s called Please Stay. It’s an app. The dude’s genius that made it. He actually has another app called Chester that I’m messing with. Which I think would be huge if he can figure out the algorithm for it. It’s basically like this online shopping assistant. I have it installed but it’s disabled right now because right now it’s just showing a sort order of products from alphabetical order, instead of what’s trending of what’s best selling. But once he develops the optimization of that, this little tool is amazing. You’ve got to check it out, the interface is rad. It’s this little online shopping thing. It’s this guy named Chester. I’m hopeful about it. He also developed that app called Please Stay.
Felix: Awesome. Yeah, I like it. It’s definitely eye catching, and you’re right it makes you want to go back just to kill that notification or I guess eventually leave if it’s too annoying.
One other, last thing, that I want to talk about that I saw on your site that I see in others as well is the popup notification in the corner, in the bottom, that let’s the user, the customer know that someone else has purchased an item from the store. What is the reason for adding this to your store?
Jeremiah: I don’t know how I feel about it because it’s kind of annoying to me, but then again I think it’s doing a good job. I don’t know who convinced me to leave it on there, maybe it was one of my employees, or possibly the app developer. I think it’s called FOMO, Fear Of Missing Out mentality. Where people are buying these out, you know, I don’t know how effective that is with print-on-demand because there’s no inventory involved. It’s not like it’s going to go out of stock, but it is kind of cool to show what people are buying and giving people ideas. Because our site can get overwhelming, there’s a lot of stuff there. So to see what people are actually buying might motivate them in my mind to check it out or see something they like.
Felix: I think at the minimum it at least reassures you that there are other people that are interested in this as well, and it adds a little bit to the trust factor, that there are other customers that are trusting to buy from you or your store. It’s probably not as relevant for you now that you are already a large established brand, but maybe for a new store that needs some more credibility, I can see that being certainly beneficial.
Felix: Now, you not only are selling on your site, you’re also selling on Amazon. Talk to us about your experience there. Was this something you added on later? Did you start Amazon first?
Jeremiah: We use an app called Shopping Feed. It’s kind of expensive, but for us it’s worth it because of the volume we’re doing now with Amazon. Where it’s syncing it all with Shopify. Our whole print-on-demand supply chain, all the logistics, any order that comes in on Amazon for us routes through as a Shopify order, and then it will go through our system for manufacturing.
I tried in the past to sell on Amazon without this and it’s just a nightmare. Trying to import these things manually, with CSVs and all that. Shopping Feed is a really powerful tool. It even helps you optimize your Amazon listings in a bulk manner. I do all kinds of rules in there. It also works with Etsy. We did try selling on Etsy and Etsy banned us for some reason. I guess they’re not a big fan of print-on-demand. But I’m hoping to try again with them because we did, like in our first week it was like 800 bucks through Etsy. I was like, “Well might as well, more channels the better.”
Felix: Yeah. Doesn’t Amazon have strict guidelines on shipping or manufacturing time? Is that ever an issue for your business?
Jeremiah: Not if you specify it. Amazon does have a setting there for turnaround. You can specify … I don’t know, when you shop, have you ever seen where it says it will ship by this date, or in stock by this date. We’re very conservative with that. I think our turnaround time on Amazon, we make it even longer than on our website just to be safe.
Felix: Got it, so as long as you specify the customer then Amazon has no problem with that.
Jeremiah: Yeah, and another thing we just started messing with Amazon too, which I’m excited about if we can come up with a good system and process for it, is whatever is viral or selling really well on our site, I want to start premaking those in bulk and sending to Amazon to sell as Amazon Prime FBA. Because obviously you’re going to convert a lot more if it’s prime instead of the large turnaround times. I’ve messed with that with the hairy chested swimsuits, and I’m starting to research more of our best sellers to try it as well.
Felix: Got it. How large is the team nowadays to help run this business?
Jeremiah: In the past, actually when we were on Shark Tank, we had about 20 employees. But that’s because we tried to manufacture ourselves. So we had our own heat press and warehouse. We quickly learned that we weren’t good at manufacturing. It’s not our strength. We’re more in design and marketing, so now it’s all outsourced to California. Because of that, we’re down to a team of I would say about seven of us. Not everyone’s full-time, some are part time. We all work from home now. My designer’s in Colorado and I have people in California. Even my assistant, Lindsey, she used to live here in Utah, but now she’s living with her husband in Thailand. They’re doing some fun adventures there and she’s able to still work for me from there. It’s pretty awesome.
Felix: That is awesome. How do you keep everybody on the same page and organized?
Jeremiah: We use Slack, which is awesome. We also are starting to use Reamaze a lot, we’ll tag each other in there for certain issues with customers. But for the most part Slack works well for us for communication.
Felix: Got it. Now what do you spend most of your time doing?
Jeremiah: I’m kind of obsessive over the website. It’s good and bad. I think I get a little bit too obsessive sometimes, to where maybe that wasn’t the best used of time. I do focus a lot on the site, working closely with my developer on how to improve it. I’m also dabbling with ideas for new designs, I love that part of the business so I like to be involved with it. Then of course just strategy with the team, like on our upcoming sales and campaigns and what we’re going to do.
Felix: Over the let’s say last year, what change have you made on your site that has had the largest impact on your conversion rate and sales?
Jeremiah: I’m trying to think here. Our conversion rate really hasn’t changed much. We have, to be honest, around 1%. Of course that’s going to go up during, this month it’s already has, through the holiday shopping. But it’s the nature of the beast, you know when you’re in print-on-demand, and this is more expensive apparel we’re dealing with, because it is allover print sublimation, made in California. So yeah, we live around that 1% conversion rate.
But I think it actually is starting to go up now that we have a pay per click expert, a Facebook advertising expert. Because when we get more targeted traffic it does go up, but a lot of our viral traffic, especially from Reddit, doesn’t convert well. It’s just people having fun. I’ve even had people at trade shows, I went to Agenda once with Beloved, and these guys came up to me saying that one of their favorite things to do, or one of their favorite things that they did the other night, was get high and look at our site. They love to just browse around. It’s more of an entertainment experience for a lot of people.
Felix: Does that affect the way that you do things like remarketing when you do have a lot of, especially window shoppers, that are coming that probably will never buy but they just like browsing your site for entertainment reasons?
Jeremiah: Yeah. I’m thinking about that a lot more lately, trying to incentivize more on our remarketing. Like, people that in their mind made up, that are just window shopper, they’re not going to purchase, to actually throw them this crazy deal and see if we can seal the deal with them. Yeah, it’s something I’ve been thinking about. I haven’t really come up with a good strategy yet though.
Felix: Right, that makes sense. Yeah, it think it’s a challenge that a lot of stores have that have these viral products that get a ton of attention, but then there’s a lot of traffic, they’re probably generating a lot of sales, but it’s only a small percentage that are ultimately converting, that it might screw up with their data and analytics if they’re aren’t careful. But it sounds like you’re definitely recognizing that.
Now, this is now again the end of the year, end of 2017, big time for gift shopping and for people that are buying presents. Do you change up the way that you present the site or change up the way you’re doing your marketing to target people that are buying presents for the holidays?
Jeremiah: Yeah, we’re pretty much in Black Friday, Cyber Monday mode right now. Our strategy is a little different this year. Last year, we did a lot of flash sales and we hyped up a fun interactive experience where every few hours we were changing the category that was going to be on sale. But this year we’re trying something new, we’re actually trying to increase our amount of subscribers on our email list.
So what we’re doing right now, if you noticed the popup on our site, is we’re using Privy to announce that we’re going to give early access to the Black Friday sale if they opt-in. In fact, we’re even going to give them a little bit deeper of a discount code, just for subscribers. So we’ve already built a landing page gift guide that will be shown just to people that are subscribe to our email list.
They’ll also have early access. Meaning on Thursday instead of Friday they’ll be able to shop all of the Black Friday deals that we have posted up, and be able to use a promo code that’s even deeper than what they would get on actual Black Friday. For the other strategy on actual Black Friday, this will just be a site-wide discount code that will be available to anyone, regardless of whether they’re a subscriber or not.
We’re going to then put up our gift guide on the home page. So we have kind of a mini holiday gift guide that we feature on the actual homepage, and then a larger version if they were to click to see more. Our goal with the website is honestly just to make it as easy as possible for people to find what they want. You’ll notice on our site we have a ton of different categories, pizza shirts, sweets or junk food, Stranger Things themed. There’s a whole collection based on memes. We have these categories divided out in our gift guide, and we just label this section called, “What are they into?” They can shop by category.
We also have some that are sectioned by gifts for her, gifts for him. Customized products, because we do a lot of custom, putting your dad’s face on a sweater or a blanket for his holiday gift. We have one for stocking stuffers for our accessories. Then there’s the price ranges, like gifts under 25, gifts under $50 or under $75. That’s much the way we have our gift guide laid out.
Felix: Got it. You mentioned that you did flash sales in the past during this shopping season. What were the upsides and downsides of that approach?
Jeremiah: The only downside to it honestly was the amount of stress it put on our team, constantly changing the website every couple hours. Especially on Black Friday when we wanted to get out and shop ourselves. It’s stressful. Our first year doing flash sales we act had an issue with our website. Not because of Shopify or anything, it was an app we were using. I think it was Product Discount, there were some bug where it wasn’t discounting the prices in time, so we got a lot of angry shoppers saying that they couldn’t get the flash sale deals when we announced it.
Yeah, there’s some risks there if you’re going to be updating the site regularly. I’m hoping that apps are running smooth because servers get overloaded. I’m more of a fan of keeping it simple. I’m excited to see how it works out this year.
Felix: Back when you were doing flash sales, how long was each sale lasting?
Jeremiah: We kicked it off with our ready to ship blow out. All of our customer returns, our inventory that we wanted to clear out, that was the main thing, the door buster sale that we did. Insanely low prices with this coupon code on top of it. Then after the door buster we led into different themes.
One of them was, I think it was … what was the one? Like a gym sale, or something only for tank tops and leggings. Then we did another for a pizza flash sale for pizza related merch. Even towards the end of the day we did a sleepover sale for our full-body Belovesies, they’re actually zip-up onesies, and blankets. We kept it themed and made it fun that way. We did blast these on Instagram and Facebook as well the moment the flash sale happened. We had a really fun video to go with each. It was a fun experience. It was just really stressful and a little risky in terms of, are we going to get the site ready on time.
Felix: Got it. What made you start with the door busters, the really, really good deals that a ready to ship and steep discounts?
Jeremiah: Honestly we like to clear out our inventory. My whole business model, it’s print-on-demand, and I am not a fan of inventory. I hate inventory, I want to get rid of it, so I’m pretty motivated to sell and Black Friday is a great time to do it.
Felix: Got it. Do you think this kind of model works beyond Black Friday as well? For people that maybe don’t have the time to prepare for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, or wanting prepare just for that time leading up to Christmas. Can you run these kind of sales regardless?
Jeremiah: Do you mean the flash sales?
Felix: Yeah, the flash sales, do they work after Black Friday, before Christmas.
Jeremiah: After Black Friday, we honestly, the flash sales that we did last year were just Black Friday, but then we did our weekend sale, which was Black Friday weekend, or Saturday, Sunday, and that did really well for us as well. Then we did change it up for Cyber Monday, to have a completely themed sale just for Cyber Monday as well. We just changed the site up for each of those different events.
Then after Cyber Monday, we pretty much hype up our order deadline for getting a guaranteed December 25th delivery, and then after that we tried to hype up our gift cards. In fact our designer put together a pretty fun interactive print out, we call them print out presents. Where whether they order a gift card or even an actual product that’s going to be on the way but not delivered in time, they could print out, using his PDF template that he builds, an actual image of the product, like a thumbnail image of it. It was pretty fun.
He has a way to fold into a nice pizza gift card, or galaxy gift card, which is a fun experience for people that are procrastinating and didn’t get a gift in time, it’s still something. Especially a custom gift, if you do a really funny one of your friend or your loved one’s face on a shirt, and you can let them know that, “Hey, this is custom crafted. It’s going to take some time but it’s on the way. Merry Christmas.” That’s another good way to spike.
Felix: I like that approach, where just because the customer is beyond the ship deadline, the deadline that is required before an order for the product gets to them before Christmas, doesn’t mean you should stop trying to sell them things. You shift the focus to products that don’t have a shipping deadline, like gift card for examples, things that they can print at home, or maybe digital gift cards. So that you can still sell them things that doesn’t require shipping essentially, so you can get around this deadline.
The second thing you mentioned, or earlier you mentioned, was about these order deadlines. Did you find that that kind of urgency pushed people to buy right before that deadline?
Jeremiah: Yeah, definitely. Because a lot of people obviously want to get it before Christmas, so if you’re putting a concrete deadline there for guaranteed December 25th delivery, it’s going to create a sense of urgency. We have a popup for the site that we did last year as well that was at the very top of our site on the navigation menu. We had a little candy cane icon with holiday order deadlines, and it led to that actual landing page.
Felix: Very cool.
Jeremiah: I think it’s a good tool and it’s important for your business too, you don’t want to be upsetting a lot of people.
Felix: Now this gift guide that you have created, you mentioned that there’s a mini holiday gift guide on the front page, and then there’s more if they click into it. Can you say a little more about that? How is this setup?
Jeremiah: Yeah, it’s not setup right now on the site if you were to check it out. But last year we did it and we’re planning on doing the same this year. Where we have our homepage banner and a couple blocks underneath, and maybe even some featured products that we want to show on the homepage. I also created an actual gift guide block or section of the homepage with some nice holiday lettering, saying, “Holiday gift guide.”
We just included a condensed view of what our actual gift guide landing page would be. You know, what we think would be the main, most important categories to promote on the actual homepage, like gifts for her, gifts for him. A lot of people divide their site by men versus women. And then of course custom products, we want people to see that.
I’m pretty much just choosing maybe five or six blocks that I want to put on the homepage, category blocks, and those would obviously link directly to the category they need, or they can click to view the full gift guide and go to our landing page that we have ready for them.
Felix: How many products do you into each of these categories?
Jeremiah: It really depends on the size of the collection. Our pizza collection contains both t-shirts, hoodies, sweatshirts, blankets, you name it, most of our product types have a pizza print. So it’s a pretty decent size collection, maybe a few pages. But then there’s a more specific niche, let me thing. For example Donald Trump, we have maybe just a few items up there. Or the BFF collection, that’s where best friends can order a matching … we have an avocado tee that has the pit, and the other one is empty without the pit. So thing like that, we put together into these unique curated collections. Then of course aside from the themes we have actual product type categories, such as, here’s the t-shirt collection, or the hooded blankets. Then they can browse all the different, those product types, which we’ll showcase in the collection or the gift guide.
Felix: Yeah, and around this time of year, because you are going to get a ton of traffic, do you typically reduce the number of change that you make to either the marketing or the site, other than adding things that are holiday specific? Do you try to reduce all of this? Do you freeze the site during this time so as to not risk anything? Or are you still willing to make a lot of changes?
Jeremiah: I honestly make quite a few changes, especially with the homepage, around the holiday season. I think that’s the time to do it. You really want to go after the theme for holiday shopping and get people into that Christmas spirit. So yeah, I’m all about even adding a little snow feature, falling snow on the site. I think that’s kind of fun.
Felix: Awesome. Thank you so much Jeremy. So, belovedshirts.com is the website. What do you have planned for the next year?
Jeremiah: Next year, I’m actually rolling out my very first Shopify app. We’re going to be doing print-on-demand manufacturing for other brands like Beloved. It’s already released in beta. It’s called Sublimation Kitchen. If you go to the website, sublimation.kitchen, you can see it. In fact you can install it to your Shopify stores right now but it’s in the app store just yet. Next year we plan on fully rolling that out and having a nice powerful platform for the people that want the same type of product.
Felix: Very cool. Obviously you have tons of experience so I’m sure that’s going to be an amazing app for people to check out that are interested in selling products like yours. Again, thank you so much again for your time Jeremy.
Jeremiah: Thanks for having me.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peek for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters episode.
Speaker 3: I think a decent amount of people, especially on Facebook, actually watch a lot of videos with no audio.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the e-commerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today visit shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial. Also for this episode’s show notes, head over to shopify.com/blog.