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Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
Hey everyone!

So I launched a D2C Ecommerce website in July 2020 for a small cell phone convenience product I designed and patented (www.plugpuck.com). This is my first business experience and have really executed this as a passion project with a desire to learn. I've done everything from the product design, website design, photo/video, advertising, working with suppliers, S&H... pretty much everything.

Business has been steady for the last 7 months and is primarily driven by Ad spend on Facebook / Instagram. We also launched on Amazon late 2020, which provided some valuable feedback from consumers which inspired change in how we're now marketing the product. However, I've learned running a business is much more expensive that I planned for. This has been a pain point for my lack of experience.

From a business standpoint I've discovered 2 larger problems in my model that stand out to me, but there's probably more:

1) I don't have any proposition for repeat customers. So basically, I pay for a customer (through Ad spend) and then they are gone forever. So my lifetime value of a customer is diminished.
2) The overall profit margins are small on D2C and Amazon, making my break even point challenging to reach.

I'm hoping some kind souls on here can offer their opinions / experience on how to strategize for sales / revenue growth from my current position.

I'm considering adding some generic private label products like cell phone chargers or cases but I feel like that is already a super crowded space.

Any support is super appreciated! Hopefully I can offer some help in return. I basically started this business from scratch single handedly. Think I have some wisdom and advice on good and bad choices I've made. Thank you! :)
 

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bmarketguy

New Contributor
Jan 19, 2021
10
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I'm in pretty much the same boat as you. Once someone buys my product they don't have anything else to buy, but here are a couple things I'm going to try:
1) cheap up-sales at checkout
2) I'm going to start pushing is a email flow for reviews and then giving a generous percentage off for "friends and family"

Another thing I noticed while viewing your website was that I found it bit difficult to find your shop page (now I may be a complete idiot.. actually this is the case). But.... When going to the main page I thought it was a cool product but I don't immediately see a way to purchase. So I went to the top left corner and then click "product" and also nowhere to buy. My next immediate thought was that you aren't actually selling anything until I went back up to find your "shop" page.

I hope that wasn't too hard to follow. But essentially I would try is adding a "buy now" button to the main banner and putting the "shop" link right next to the "home" link. This would have saved me 2-3 clicks and having to think.

Very cool product!!
 

Empires

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Great job on what you've done so far. The product design is really clean and aesthetic.

No matter what happens, I am sure you have learned a lot from your first business experience!

For many businesses, they don't make a lot of profit on there first sale from a customer. Because as you stated, customer acquisition costs eat up your margin (be it ad spend or Amazon fees)

You are right that you need to figure out a way to develop a long term relationship with your customers, that either keeps them coming back or that they can subscribe to.

This is something you should be thinking about in the beginning of your business. What is the path for growth? Selling more units is not the answer. There needs to be ways to grow your revenue streams so that your business is more than just 1 product.

I don't have an answer for you on what you should sell, but I just wanted to say that you are on the right path and you killed it on your first business!
 

BrianLateStart

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I have a similar story as yours, only I wish I didn't wait until I was 50 to start mine. I invented a product, designed, found manufactures to make the parts, assembled, bag parts, did the website, etc, etc, just like you. So congratulations on making it as far as you have. Not a lot of people have the follow through. My product also has little repeat sell to the customer, but I think yours has huge potential (I'll get to that).

Your story "Rethinking Routines" is authentic and you tell it very well. Your video with the fingers straining to reach the cables on the floor is something my wife and I frequently struggle with.

Show more uses. In our house we have two wireless game controllers that we keep plugged in when we're done playing. Those cords always want to slide down the back of the table.

Controllers.JPG

My wife has 2 wireless headphones on her nightstand (speaking of routines). One is to connect to her laptop, the other is for her phone. It was easier to get two than fight bluetooth pairing every time she wanted to switch devices. Show some headphones too. My mom (82) has a set of wireless headphones next to her table where she watches TV. She only uses then when we watch TV with her because she has to blast it so loud. But, all those headphones need to be charged with a micro USB cable. There's millions of devices that need cables to keep them charged. Many could use your device.

I would like to see the price right on the home page. Those blocks that are on your products page could easily be on the home page. Shopify calls it a collection, not sure what you're using to build your site.

I think your biggest potential is B2B. These could be cool promotional products for local businesses. They're probably inexpensive enough that the local plumbing and heating company can give them out. They could have their logo phone number printed on them. Could be part of a welcome package at an apartment complex with the contact number of the office on it. There's a lot of business that might want to give them out. Be creative. Should be easy to find out if there's interest before you invest in a pad printing machine.

I see the biggest problem with the product is protecting it. Even though you have a patent, it can be difficult to protect from cheap copy cats. It's a farily simple and inexpensive product to copy. That ususally isn't a problem until it becomes successful. So, get out and strike fast.
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
I'm in pretty much the same boat as you. Once someone buys my product they don't have anything else to buy, but here are a couple things I'm going to try:
1) cheap up-sales at checkout
2) I'm going to start pushing is a email flow for reviews and then giving a generous percentage off for "friends and family"

Another thing I noticed while viewing your website was that I found it bit difficult to find your shop page (now I may be a complete idiot.. actually this is the case). But.... When going to the main page I thought it was a cool product but I don't immediately see a way to purchase. So I went to the top left corner and then click "product" and also nowhere to buy. My next immediate thought was that you aren't actually selling anything until I went back up to find your "shop" page.

I hope that wasn't too hard to follow. But essentially I would try is adding a "buy now" button to the main banner and putting the "shop" link right next to the "home" link. This would have saved me 2-3 clicks and having to think.

Very cool product!!
Greatly appreciate your feedback and support-- thank you!

What do you mean by "cheap-up sales at checkout"? Like revealing a discounted price as a prospective customer arrives at checkout?

I made a couple quick edits to my homepage from your response... the thing is from my Ads I direct people straight to the "Shop" page, so I don't have as much traffic on Home page.

Thanks for digging the product! So much work has gone into it, great experience so far and I'm learning a ton.

-Jesse
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
Great job on what you've done so far. The product design is really clean and aesthetic.

No matter what happens, I am sure you have learned a lot from your first business experience!

For many businesses, they don't make a lot of profit on there first sale from a customer. Because as you stated, customer acquisition costs eat up your margin (be it ad spend or Amazon fees)

You are right that you need to figure out a way to develop a long term relationship with your customers, that either keeps them coming back or that they can subscribe to.

This is something you should be thinking about in the beginning of your business. What is the path for growth? Selling more units is not the answer. There needs to be ways to grow your revenue streams so that your business is more than just 1 product.

I don't have an answer for you on what you should sell, but I just wanted to say that you are on the right path and you killed it on your first business!
Empires-- thanks for sharing your insights!

Yes, kicking myself in the butt for not thinking about long term customer value and growth when I started this little online lemonade stand of mine. It's a consequence of my business inexperience. Before going into this venture, I knew I would make mistakes and here we are!

I've been looking at some other products that I could maybe sell as private label and considering other distributors I could do B2B wholesale with. Also thinking about if I could find a brand / company my product could fit into and seeing if they would be interested in acquiring rights to sell it... kind of an exit thought.

Thanks again,
Jesse
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
I have a similar story as yours, only I wish I didn't wait until I was 50 to start mine. I invented a product, designed, found manufactures to make the parts, assembled, bag parts, did the website, etc, etc, just like you. So congratulations on making it as far as you have. Not a lot of people have the follow through. My product also has little repeat sell to the customer, but I think yours has huge potential (I'll get to that).

Your story "Rethinking Routines" is authentic and you tell it very well. Your video with the fingers straining to reach the cables on the floor is something my wife and I frequently struggle with.

Show more uses. In our house we have two wireless game controllers that we keep plugged in when we're done playing. Those cords always want to slide down the back of the table.

View attachment 36739

My wife has 2 wireless headphones on her nightstand (speaking of routines). One is to connect to her laptop, the other is for her phone. It was easier to get two than fight bluetooth pairing every time she wanted to switch devices. Show some headphones too. My mom (82) has a set of wireless headphones next to her table where she watches TV. She only uses then when we watch TV with her because she has to blast it so loud. But, all those headphones need to be charged with a micro USB cable. There's millions of devices that need cables to keep them charged. Many could use your device.

I would like to see the price right on the home page. Those blocks that are on your products page could easily be on the home page. Shopify calls it a collection, not sure what you're using to build your site.

I think your biggest potential is B2B. These could be cool promotional products for local businesses. They're probably inexpensive enough that the local plumbing and heating company can give them out. They could have their logo phone number printed on them. Could be part of a welcome package at an apartment complex with the contact number of the office on it. There's a lot of business that might want to give them out. Be creative. Should be easy to find out if there's interest before you invest in a pad printing machine.

I see the biggest problem with the product is protecting it. Even though you have a patent, it can be difficult to protect from cheap copy cats. It's a farily simple and inexpensive product to copy. That ususally isn't a problem until it becomes successful. So, get out and strike fast.
Brian -- thank you for sharing your thoughts! Appreciate your positive feedback. What kind of product did you come up with?

I think you're right on how showing more uses through photo / video could be helpful for product sales. But as mentioned in a previous comment, I don't think my longer-term growth problem will be solved by increasing sales of a single product. Unless I somehow gain momentum like fidget spinners did a few years ago. Not sure how to accomplish that though! lol

And yes, I also think there is some B2B opportunities out there. I have to look into the technicals and logistics of printing graphics on the product. I have thought about getting into co-working spaces, for example WeWork, but this has been pretty disrupted by COVID in the last year. However, I need to revisit this path and do my homework on it.

So far I haven't seen any copy cats yet but I'll maintain vigilance. It's a 100% unique design and as far as I know, my supplier is the only organization in the world with a production mould for it (that I own and give permission for them to use).

Thank again!
Jesse
 

BrianLateStart

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 11, 2019
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Horseheads, NY
Brian -- thank you for sharing your thoughts! Appreciate your positive feedback. What kind of product did you come up with?

I think you're right on how showing more uses through photo / video could be helpful for product sales. But as mentioned in a previous comment, I don't think my longer-term growth problem will be solved by increasing sales of a single product. Unless I somehow gain momentum like fidget spinners did a few years ago. Not sure how to accomplish that though! lol
I invented a device I call UpScale. It Attaches to your bathroom scale and your wall allowing you to store and use your scale (TheUpScaleScale.com). It doesn't have a lot of repeat customer potential, but it does solve a very unique problem very well.

I'm also a single product business. I agree that your growth will probably come from adding additional products. Now that you've gone through the difficult task of taking an idea all the way to selling it, it will be much easier to do it again. I have a couple of ideas for other inventions, but at the moment I'm keeping them on hold while I focus on UpScale. I think you'll have many ideas and products that you'll come up with in the future. You have the know how and aren't afraid to commit and see your ideas all the way through. Its just a matter of time.
 

Johnny boy

Platinum Contributor
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May 9, 2017
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View: https://youtu.be/Qo9-Em-ZTPQ


These guys have a lot of online product sales. Listen to the story and you'll get some key insights.

1. There was a product that some guy invented that didn't get a lot of sales.

2. They build a basic funnel for the product and didn't get a lot of sales.

3. They improved the sales by including a video made from someone else that did a better job of convincing people of the need for their product.

4. They were inspired to make their own high quality ad that did a really good job of capturing attention, showing the problem, and showing the product that solved the problem.

here's the video


5. Then, they used youtube ads. They paid less than a penny per view.

6. They made millions, got into retail stores and it was a massive success.

So, how do you apply that to your product?

You need an attention grabbing masterpiece of an ad that follows a similar format to the ads made by the harmon bros. It doesn't just need to show a problem and your product as a solution, it needs to really grab their attention too. That's the most important part. It doesn't necessarily need to be high budget, but it needs to be creative.

Then, you should really make sure everything is optimized on your site. Look up similar successful companies that sell products online, maybe even use the companies these guys have helped as examples. They likely paid a lot of money for their site optimization and they're showing it to you for free.

Then, you need the most important ingredient...UNDERPRICED ATTENTION. Is it facebook and IG ads? Maybe...maybe not. Is it tik tok or IG influencers? Maybe.....maybe not. You need to be doing the dirty ground work of constantly testing and making deals to find out. Maybe you pay an influencer $30 for a post to their audience of 400k and it sends them to an awesome video ad that converts and nets you $90 in profit. Time to strike up another deal.

That's the online product sales game. Optimization, tests, and deals.
 

theag

Most Aggressive Guy on the Internet on the Planet
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Great little product! I always tie a knot in my cable around my Macbook stand, so I don't have to crawl under the table each time it slips down the back side:rofl:

I'd try to make a high end version of this. Heavy enough so it doesn't need the suction cup, and made out of aluminum to fit the Mac aesthetic.
 
Last edited:

Tony100

New Contributor
Oct 11, 2020
5
11
13
UK
You won't be able to stop overseas manufacturers making this unfortunately. It's very difficult to protect your idea. It is better to quickly take advantage of being the first in the market.

Why don't you sell other mobile phone accessories etc? Find a wholesaler and add more products to your range. Lure customers in with the unique product then upsell other items. You can actually use your unique product as a way to bring people to your site then make a lot of profit with the other products and have repeat customers. What other products would your customers be interested in? It is a lot of effort to attract customers for just 1 relatively low price product, who will likely never buy from you again.

Alternatively take the B2B approach and sell to retailers or wholesalers. This would allow you to distribute your product very quickly. Your profit per product would be lower but you could sell huge volume. Go to your nearest independent electronics store with a few of these and ask if you can put them in their shop for a sale or return basis (if shop can't sell it, you refund them). They will either sell very well and the shop orders lots or they don't sell but you get valuable feedback on why they didn't sell.
 

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Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
View: https://youtu.be/Qo9-Em-ZTPQ


These guys have a lot of online product sales. Listen to the story and you'll get some key insights.

1. There was a product that some guy invented that didn't get a lot of sales.

2. They build a basic funnel for the product and didn't get a lot of sales.

3. They improved the sales by including a video made from someone else that did a better job of convincing people of the need for their product.

4. They were inspired to make their own high quality ad that did a really good job of capturing attention, showing the problem, and showing the product that solved the problem.

here's the video


5. Then, they used youtube ads. They paid less than a penny per view.

6. They made millions, got into retail stores and it was a massive success.

So, how do you apply that to your product?

You need an attention grabbing masterpiece of an ad that follows a similar format to the ads made by the harmon bros. It doesn't just need to show a problem and your product as a solution, it needs to really grab their attention too. That's the most important part. It doesn't necessarily need to be high budget, but it needs to be creative.

Then, you should really make sure everything is optimized on your site. Look up similar successful companies that sell products online, maybe even use the companies these guys have helped as examples. They likely paid a lot of money for their site optimization and they're showing it to you for free.

Then, you need the most important ingredient...UNDERPRICED ATTENTION. Is it facebook and IG ads? Maybe...maybe not. Is it tik tok or IG influencers? Maybe.....maybe not. You need to be doing the dirty ground work of constantly testing and making deals to find out. Maybe you pay an influencer $30 for a post to their audience of 400k and it sends them to an awesome video ad that converts and nets you $90 in profit. Time to strike up another deal.

That's the online product sales game. Optimization, tests, and deals.
Johnny boy-- super valuable insight here and incredible case study with Orabrush. Thank you for sharing!

I think you're right. I'll have to invest some time writing up a few more pieces of creative ad / video content to film for different platforms. There's infinite ways to convey it and it takes experimentation to see what sticks with certain audiences. I've been running one primary ad video for the last several months, which has done pretty good for me, but nothing close to viral... It'll be interesting to make new content to test with similar and different audiences.

At one point I began to dive down the influencer path but I didn't know my target customer at the time. Runnings ads has helped me narrow in my ideal customer so I think I'll have to revisit influencer audiences who fit my demographic and psychographics.

Thank you again. I think this is the help spark my next phase for growth. Either way I'll definitely learn something new. Much appreciated!

Jesse
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
You won't be able to stop overseas manufacturers making this unfortunately. It's very difficult to protect your idea. It is better to quickly take advantage of being the first in the market.

Why don't you sell other mobile phone accessories etc? Find a wholesaler and add more products to your range. Lure customers in with the unique product then upsell other items. You can actually use your unique product as a way to bring people to your site then make a lot of profit with the other products and have repeat customers. What other products would your customers be interested in? It is a lot of effort to attract customers for just 1 relatively low price product, who will likely never buy from you again.

Alternatively take the B2B approach and sell to retailers or wholesalers. This would allow you to distribute your product very quickly. Your profit per product would be lower but you could sell huge volume. Go to your nearest independent electronics store with a few of these and ask if you can put them in their shop for a sale or return basis (if shop can't sell it, you refund them). They will either sell very well and the shop orders lots or they don't sell but you get valuable feedback on why they didn't sell.
Good points, Tony, Thank you!

I'm looking into new products to do some sales testing on my site with. I'll have to find products that aesthetically aligns with brand and is attractive to people that are visiting my site. I think I can execute this in the next few months and start seeing how it performs.

I like your idea on the B2B. It's been a back burner idea of mine to draft up a store front kit, i.e. some product display with graphics for retail stores. Will have to hit the drawing board!

Thanks again!
Jesse
 

Johnny boy

Platinum Contributor
Speedway Pass
May 9, 2017
1,017
4,711
1,127
24
Washington State
Johnny boy-- super valuable insight here and incredible case study with Orabrush. Thank you for sharing!

I think you're right. I'll have to invest some time writing up a few more pieces of creative ad / video content to film for different platforms. There's infinite ways to convey it and it takes experimentation to see what sticks with certain audiences. I've been running one primary ad video for the last several months, which has done pretty good for me, but nothing close to viral... It'll be interesting to make new content to test with similar and different audiences.

At one point I began to dive down the influencer path but I didn't know my target customer at the time. Runnings ads has helped me narrow in my ideal customer so I think I'll have to revisit influencer audiences who fit my demographic and psychographics.

Thank you again. I think this is the help spark my next phase for growth. Either way I'll definitely learn something new. Much appreciated!

Jesse
Your target audience should be pretty broad which is great. The low margins aren't great but if you can strike up a good deal with a meme page or something, I think you should see some good sales.
 

Leecha14

Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Jul 29, 2019
32
20
45
Hey everyone!

So I launched a D2C Ecommerce website in July 2020 for a small cell phone convenience product I designed and patented (www.plugpuck.com). This is my first business experience and have really executed this as a passion project with a desire to learn. I've done everything from the product design, website design, photo/video, advertising, working with suppliers, S&H... pretty much everything.

Business has been steady for the last 7 months and is primarily driven by Ad spend on Facebook / Instagram. We also launched on Amazon late 2020, which provided some valuable feedback from consumers which inspired change in how we're now marketing the product. However, I've learned running a business is much more expensive that I planned for. This has been a pain point for my lack of experience.

From a business standpoint I've discovered 2 larger problems in my model that stand out to me, but there's probably more:

1) I don't have any proposition for repeat customers. So basically, I pay for a customer (through Ad spend) and then they are gone forever. So my lifetime value of a customer is diminished.
2) The overall profit margins are small on D2C and Amazon, making my break even point challenging to reach.

I'm hoping some kind souls on here can offer their opinions / experience on how to strategize for sales / revenue growth from my current position.

I'm considering adding some generic private label products like cell phone chargers or cases but I feel like that is already a super crowded space.

Any support is super appreciated! Hopefully I can offer some help in return. I basically started this business from scratch single handedly. Think I have some wisdom and advice on good and bad choices I've made. Thank you! :)
Great product and video, I laughed at the shaky fingers that is so me! I see the opportunity for people to buy several, one in each room.
Can I ask how did you create your video, did you partner with someone?
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
Great product and video, I laughed at the shaky fingers that is so me! I see the opportunity for people to buy several, one in each room.
Can I ask how did you create your video, did you partner with someone?
Thank you! I've created all the videos myself. Photography / videography is my hobby so I have a decent Fuji camera and entry level lighting equipment to work with. I write the scenes, do all the edits in iMovie and voila!
 

BrianLateStart

Bronze Contributor
Read Millionaire Fastlane
Speedway Pass
Jun 11, 2019
93
163
136
Horseheads, NY
My wife and I do our videos too. I used iMovie for a while, but made the switch to Final Cut Pro. Best $300 I've spent. It can be shared through the family plan so we each have it on our computers. Saves so much time editing videos. Another benefit with higher end software is professionals use it and make professional quality tutorials. It's kind of the difference between the entrepreneur forum on reddit vs TFF.
 

Jesse D

Contributor
Apr 10, 2019
25
23
16
New Jersey
My wife and I do our videos too. I used iMovie for a while, but made the switch to Final Cut Pro. Best $300 I've spent. It can be shared through the family plan so we each have it on our computers. Saves so much time editing videos. Another benefit with higher end software is professionals use it and make professional quality tutorials. It's kind of the difference between the entrepreneur forum on reddit vs TFF.
I'd definitely consider using Final Cut Pro. I think the speed of iMovie is suitable for my purpose but it does lack features. Either way, I find the bulk of my work is planning, setting up and filming scenes. Post production seems to go pretty quick with proper planning.
 

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