Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
My brother and I laughed out loud about an idea and we knew instantly we had to make it. And when we launched and made $92,073 in our first 30 days we were floored. In reality it took two years to actually start the process and 6 months to develop. We make prank musical greeting cards that do not stop playing music until the battery dies or you destroy it. We launched on Kickstarter on April 1, 2015.
I did most of the work but we largely outsourced most of the work. I found images and music and we did design the card and the joke. But we do not manufacture them.
Surprisingly we did go through a few interactions and changes. It's just a card. But we added layers like pressing the button again to try and stop it would make it louder. The inside text says "Happy Birthday Forever..." These are all layers of funny that we built with some iterative work. It wasn't first design out of the gate.
And it wasn't until I tested the durability that we learned that it wouldn't be stopped by water. I dunked the card in water and it kept on going. All of this was done before we launched.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We went directly to Kickstarter and earned $92,073 in 30 days. We made a great video that as unique where we claimed to have made a world changing product and then we unveiled a birthday card. I have now seen a few campaigns try and imitate our success with similar videos.
We paid almost nothing in ads but we were picked up on Gizmodo, BuzzFeed, ABC News, DudeIWantThat and many more blogs and websites. Nearly 3,000 backers helped us get started. And nearly 8,000 cards sold. Shopify has been integral in our continued success. We continue to garner most sales directly on our website. By today's standards I am not a savvy computer user or web builder. I am happy with Shopify and that I was able to quickly transfer sales from Kickstarter easily once the campaign was over.
We also sell to other vendors and websites. We sell to US, UK and AUS websites. They order wholesale and I ship to them directly.
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?
I mostly use bundles by Bold apps. Greeting cards normally sell in bundles at discounts and so I had to implement this.
Conversio is a great app too for our needs. It is a well designed receipt and super easy to edit. I also like how it offers cross-selling and up-selling options. So far I have handled shipping and fulfillment myself. I have hired part-time workers to help when things get crazy but it is mostly me. I am trying to not grow too quickly or spend too quickly. I'm quite happy with the results.
I have used Endicia and stamps.com for postage. But I now focus and only use Shopify postage. It isn't perfect but it does help me stay organized. Unfortunately I still pay for stamps.com because I have random shipments. Or if I ship a gift or marketing material.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Not every idea blows up on Kickstarter, however, I do recommend testing new ideas on Kickstarter. It can help you keep costs very low and if you do have success the fees are worth it. Kickstarter helped us be more successful in the long-run as our SEO is very good too with such a successful campaign.
Regarding Shopify I have liked using heat maps the most. This is hidden information I could not know about until I turned on sumome.com. Also, I use Receiptful and Shopify Discounts for users. And I do have customers returning to use a 10% off coupon. I like this method.