Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Heroclip and how you got started?
Heroclip began its journey in 2015. I originally came up with the idea for our flagship product line shortly after I had my first baby and while training to summit Mt. Rainier.
I realized that two hands were simply not enough for all the gear that comes with living a full, adventurous life. So I set out to create a tool that could easily cross over from one activity to the next. As a professor of entrepreneurship, I had no background in design and manufacturing, but I was fortunate enough to find talented individuals to help bring my idea to fruition.
Launched with overwhelming support from Kickstarter and Indiegogo backers, Heroclip is now sold at retailers like REI, Brookstone, Ace Hardware Stores, and b8ta (with many more in the pipeline) and has been touted by numerous media outlets.
That is awesome! Congrats on your amazing success!!! What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
We originally launched our first generation product, Qlipter, on Kickstarter. We used a manufacturing broker. However, shortly after my disastrous visit to the factory, I changed manufacturers and hired a local firm to be my “eyes and ears” in Asia.
It’s extremely valuable to have someone on the ground there who can easily and quickly get to your factory and advocate for you and your product in the local language.
How did you get your first sale?
Our crowdfunding backers. They are our VIPs!
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
Our biggest challenge has been finding a reliable manufacturer who shared our standards in quality, as mentioned above.
A second challenge has been getting good, proactive people to join the team. As a start-up, we don’t have the resources that larger organizations have to pay what the larger organizations pay and to put the people through a rigorous training program. We really count on people to come in knowing already how to do their job well AND to be willing and able to help in other areas as needed. We try to overcome the resource challenge by finding people who really believe in the mission and future of our company.
A final challenge is cash flow management. Unlike the software business, for example, our business requires inventory. It has been a learning experience to forecast well and we are getting better at this the more sales data we have.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
Ease, availability of lots of themes, turn-key solution for selling and receiving payments, integrates with lots of other downstream software (e.g., shipping, inventory, accounting), lots of apps. I seriously love shopify!!!
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
I wish I had hired an expert from the very beginning rather than spending hours doing it myself and then having to hire an expert anyway.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Heroclip?
Facebook ads to our page and landing pages with Wheelio (Shopify app) that captures emails at over 10% conversion rate. Also, frequent split-testing to have website visitors make a purchase on their first visit.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
Important pages on the website, such as About Our Community and Heroclip Helps (a page that reflects some of the causes we support). Our email newsletter has a balanced mix of product promotions but also engagement with our customers about cool information and announcements. We are a very passionate bunch at Heroclip; we work hard and we have also been known to have fun on the job, and I think our “humanness” shows through in how we speak and the things we post.
We have also grown a Facebook group community called HeroCrew that has high engagement and two-way communication.
We have always been very receptive to getting feedback from our customers. In fact, we are releasing two new models based on customer feedback. I think our customers can see that we are not just giving lip service as to how valuable they are but that we actually listen, respond and take their opinions seriously.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
Facebook ads have helped our website visitors increase from 5,000 monthly to 100,000 monthly. Shopify has made it easy with apps and ability to improve our email capture (from 2% to >10% when we started using Wheelio) and split-testing in landing pages to double our ecommerce purchase conversion rate.
One of the apps, Zipify OneClickUpsell, has allowed us to increase our average order value by having a 29% conversion rate on upsells from ALL orders.
To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
Testing, branding and our ability to adapt quickly to those responses. It’s great that we have an ecom person and a graphic designer in-house who can act quickly and also know our vision, goals and brand very well.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you were able to get Heroclip into brick and mortar retailers?
I think two key things helped us to initially break into brick and mortar retailers. The first is being a successful crowdfunded product. Retailers tend to be risk-averse and want data of how the product has been selling elsewhere, but as a new product and a new company, data are not something you have an abundance of. A successful campaign acts as market validation on a new product. The second factor was that as a result of the exposure gained through a successful crowdfunding campaign, innovative online retailers, such as The Grommet, picked up our products. This gave our product further validation and exposure (we actually had a couple of large retailers spot us on The Grommet and contact us).
As our sales and team grew, we have become more strategic about how we approached brick and mortar retailers and how we leverage our digital assets and marketing when pitching to them. As a small, young company without a long track record of sales, we have to be very scrappy and convincing when we approach retailers. This is where our omnichannel strategy has really helped us -- we use data from our ecommerce channels to help our brick and mortar sales.
Although the “Rule of 7” (that customers need to see or hear about a product 7 times before they make a purchase) is well-known and often cited for using digital ads to get people to shop at brick and mortar retailers, our digital efforts go beyond exposure -- we actually use data from our online channels to improve our brick and mortar efforts. For example, Facebook ad data can show us how to improve how we speak about and physically present our product in a brick and mortar setting. And of course, having a great online presence gives you credibility with retailers.
One last note about brick and mortar retailers. I am very proud that we are getting some traction with them, but I think it is also possible to have success with brick and mortar retailers ‘too soon’.
As a personal example, we were picked up by several large retailers pretty much right after our crowdfunding campaign (which thrilled me to no end). However, what I realized only after starting to sell to them was that we just did not have all of our “ducks in a row” (production, inventory management, fulfillment, logistics, online retailer support) to be truly successful in them. A couple of years later, after lots of learning and with an expanded (albeit still small) team in place, we are fully equipped to work with retailers of any size. We think that this year is going to be a pivotal one for Heroclip!
That's great advice. Thanks for sharing. What are you working towards now? Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
Our top three are:
ConversionXL is excellent for ideas to split-test and optimize the website.
Ezra Firestone’s Smart Marketer resources have been invaluable to optimize our marketing funnel from Facebook ads to our website.
Ryan Daniel Moran’s trainings on Amazon and brand/audience building have affected our strategy of connecting our website presence with our success on Amazon and social media.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
Spend 95% of your time building momentum in one marketing channel and with one marketing tactic implementation.
For example, focus only on one advertising method such as Facebook ads and direct to one area of your website such as a high quality content piece or one landing page that is constantly tested and optimized. Don’t dilute your resources across too many ideas.
5% of your time is for trying all kinds of new, risky, and innovative strategies that come up every month, or even every day, to see what can be used to amplify the momentum you are already building.
That’s fantastic advice! Where can we learn more about HeroClip?
~ CEO and Founder, Mina Yoo