There are probably a dozen different ways you could position your product, but the reality is you can't give all your features equal attention or you'll overwhelm new customers.
Instead, your main marketing message should focus on one or two key features that get customers to see themselves using your products.
But how do you determine which features get the spotlight and which ones you save for your product page?
Jean Wu is the founder of que Bottle: water bottle designed to be the best-looking collapsible water bottles that are both functional and fashionable.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll learn about the copywriting process she uses to create an emotional connection with customers.
It’s all about imagining your customers standing in front of your products and saying ‘Oh, I see myself using this’.
Tune in to learn
- How to test whether you have a viable and profitable product
- How to identify the most important features to showcase in your product videos
- How to improve the conversion rate of your pop-ups
Listen to the podcast below (or download it for later):
- Store: que Bottle
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
- Recommendations: Google Analytics , Privy (Shopify App), FourSixty(Shopify app), FOMO(Shopify app), Shipstation, APC Logistics(International shipping) , UShip(freight forwarding)
Felix: Today I’m joined by Jean Wu from que Factory, the makers of que Bottles, which are designed to be the best looking, collapsible water bottles that is both functional and fashionable and was started in 2016 and based out of Emeryville, CA.
Felix: How’s it going? So, first question I think that describes your product but can you talk to us a little bit about the customer base. Who is your target customer?
Jean: Sure, so let me start with my bottles, my products. So as you said previously, we designed the best looking collapsible water bottles in the market. Our water bottles are made of 100% FDA approved food-grade silicone, and there’s 100% plastic free, and eco-friendly and they are capable of collapsing to half it’s size to save space, and it’s designed specifically for travelers and outdoors.
As you can see, our customers are mainly for travelers and outdoor activities and people that have an active lifestyle.
Felix: Got it. Now where did the idea behind this product come from?
Jean: Yeah, there’s actually a story to it. I started the company with my partner who’s also my husband, Kevin. And we were both frequent travelers. We really love to travel and go outdoors. We love to go to national parks and music festivals, so we’re out and about a lot of the times. And we just realized that we don’t have a good water bottle to bring with us every time we go. All the traditional, conventional water bottles are either heavy or bulky and they’re just not traveler friendly. And then we researched more on the market to see if we can buy something and we just couldn’t find anything we liked.
All the collapsible, or portable water bottles on the market right now are either not attractive looking or not as functional and not really high-quality made. So we were like, “Oh, maybe we should make something, maybe just for ourselves.” That’s kind of how we started the idea is just to make something. I think that it’s like a lot of the stories of other businesses and the companies. You wanted to make something, maybe just for yourself. Maybe you had this problem and maybe other people have the same problem too.
Then we started the design process, we came up with the initial look, how we want it to look like because we do believe that the design’s important for products, how it looks because when people are introduced to a new product for the first time, they care about the looks for the most part. So when they first see it, is it gonna be something that’s attractive to people?
So, we started that process and then we just started working on it more over the time. I think we spent over 12 months just in the initial design process to make sure that we got the look that we want and the material. We got into manufacturing too, to source the material, make sure it’s eco-friendly and meets the standards, and safe, and it’s flexible so that it can compress. And we went though all that and we made the prototype.
Felix: Got it. So this is lots of kinda skill sets that are involved that would contribute to bringing your product to the market. So what’s your background, what is Kevin’s background, how did you guys know what to do?
Jean: Yeah, that’s also a lot to share there. We both came from completely different backgrounds, which is no surprise. I came from the film and TV industry. At the time we were actually still located in southern California, in LA. I was in the film and TV industry. I work as an assistant to producers. What I did was work on different projects, and movie and film products, and I help put together the budget and casting and things like that. It’s kinda like running a business, running a company.
And Kevin, he has a Computer Science degree. He graduated from UC Berkeley and so he was a Software Engineer.
Felix: Got it. So neither of you had experience in creating physical products?
Felix: So you mentioned that this initial stage of design and getting the manufacturer, getting the raw materials together took about 12 months. Can you break that down? Like how much time was spent in design? How much time was spent in sourcing the material, how much time was spent in looking for manufacturers?
Jean: Yeah so, I think there’s a little tip right here, is you kind of have to do everything in parallel, not do one thing and do another thing after that because then you’re just gonna prolong the whole process by a lot. So what we did was, when we are still working the design, we are also looking at the materials and talking to manufacturers. We do everything at the same time.
For the design, it took us about six months. We would both sketch it out and do multiple iterations and just revise it and do just the rendering, all that. So because we didn’t have the background, we learned everything ourselves like how to use Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator. You started to learn how to use all those tools yourself. And at the same time, deciding on the material was pretty quick because we know for sure that we didn’t want to use plastic because our company promotes reduce on plastic consumption. So we will not use any plastic for our products. And to find a material that fits, then it’s not hard to find silicone as the new, trendy eco-friendly material that’s the best for this product on the market right now.
And then, for manufacture, that took another six months to finally come to an agreement, figuring out the costs, and the process to make a prototype. Of course, for this specifically product, you need to make the mold first and there’s cost involved. I would say that’s kind of like the breakdown.
Felix: Yeah, that’s important where you mentioned that you do everything in parallel and don’t kind of waste too much time, waiting to do one thing at a time. I think, in your case, you mentioned that the design or the material actually was easy for you to choose because you knew that one of the core values of your business, of your product, was that it was eco-friendly.
But now, between the design, and sourcing, and manufacturing, even though you kind of have an idea what you wanted, what did you have to kind of revisit certain stages every single time you decided to make a tweak in the design? You might have to look for a different manufacturer, or maybe look for a different supplier. Did you have to kind of do this juggling act?
Jean: Oh yeah, absolutely. That’s pretty much anticipated. Like you most likely would run into this problem, these kind of problems to go back and forth with your manufacturer. I don’t recommend switching manufacturers, just because something didn’t go as you expected, I would recommend sticking with the same manufacturer and just work something out with them. They’re all similar and it takes a long time to win trust and to get the communication smoothed out, so you don’t want to start from scratch and talk to a brand new manufacturer company.
So what we did was, at first they rejected the design because they didn’t think it was possible. Of course, because they’ve never made this before, this is completely something new. So they were like, “They don’t think they would be able to produce these and manufacture for us.” And then we went back and tell them, we really thought it would be possible and could you just try, at least try it for us, and then we are responsible for risks, if it didn’t turn out the way we want. So you know, we did a back and forth with them for a few rounds until everything was done the way that we want.
Jean: Yeah, yeah.
Felix: Okay, so over those 12 months, how did you know when you found the right … essentially the finished product, the product that was ready to go to market?
Jean: Yeah, so that’s the interesting question because the truth is you don’t know. I think the point is, the key is to know when to stop because honestly lots of entrepreneurs are perfectionists. You never think it’s good enough, you never think you’re ready. That happens to many, many of our friends and the people that we know that also wanted to have their own business or work on their own ideas is they’re never ready. They just don’t think that they can launch it, where they aren’t to the point yet. But that is not necessarily a good thing because it’s just going to be forever, and forever means it never happens.
So, I think the point is to know when is the right time. And for us, I think it’s just the moment that we look at this … So we made prototypes and we made those samples, and we got a sample in hand and we look at them and we’re like, “Oh, wow, we really like these.” Of course, they’re not perfect yet because we just don’t know. We don’t have the user testing done, we just didn’t have the market proof yet. But, I think it’s just our instincts, like our guts were telling us, “Oh, I think people are gonna like this.” And we did some basic user testing of course. Like for bottles you need to make sure they’re leak proof, and the collapsing is easy, and it’s not weird in any way, it’s not malfunction or anything. And then we were like, “Okay, so I think we can go ahead and just with this phase of samples.”
Felix: Got it. So what was involved in getting that market proof that you talked about and validation? What did you do to test to see if it was a viable product?
Jean: Yeah, so that was quite a journey for us. What we did was we launched a Kickstarter campaign for our bottles. First of all, I want to say Kickstarter is a great, it’s a wonderful, wonderful platform for, like I said, people that want to bring their ideas to reality. It’s a great platform for people just wanted to launch their products and do market testing and see how the market responds to it. A lot of companies actually take off, just right from there and I think we’re one of them.
So we launched our Kickstarter in October 2016 and we did a 30 day campaign, I think it was actually 29 days campaign and we sold over 30,000 bottles.
Felix: Yeah, just to give the numbers, over half a million dollars raised from over 11,000 backers.
Felix: I think even in 2016, people were already saying things like, “Crowdfunding is oversaturated. Kickstarter has so many different products, and a lot of products that go out there that fail.” And it has a bad taste in the public’s mouth with the Kickstarter campaigns but obviously lots of success for you. What did you think you did differently to stand out in a very growing and saturated market?
Jean: Yeah, I think you’re absolutely right, I think it is true that there are just too many projects on Kickstarter and it’s oversaturated and even overrated. It’s a huge platform, it’s got huge following and traffic but because of that it’s hard to get discovered, it’s hard for people to really stand out and do well.
I think first of all for us, we got a really unique product. I think for a Kickstarter you gotta have to have a really killer product. Either the product is unique and it’s new and special. Or you present it in the way that it’s unique and attractive. So I think the key here is, you gotta have a really, really awesome product first. And I think you really need a really good campaign, like a well-thought, and well laid-out design campaign front. So when people land on your page and they scroll through your campaign, they see everything that you needed to present to them, everything that you need to convince people to support your project.
Either that’s images, pictures of your products in detail, detailed product shots or a really interesting video. So I think there’s some examples of, I think you might have heard of them, the Purple Pillow, the Purple Mattress? So they also did a very successful campaign on Kickstarter, I think around the same time that we did our campaign. They raised maybe a couple million dollars and their video was awesome. It was a really funny video and it was viewed and seen by tens of millions of people.
Felix: Is that what you recommend a crowdfunding creators focus on? Is it the video?
Jean: The video is very important. I would say you would have to have a very, very good video to really showcase your product. That is important. And then, again, the campaign page as well. You need to have consistent images that look really nice and clean and you need to write good content on there too to explain your products well to make sure you include all the features and all the selling points of your product on the campaign page. Those are all very important. If you actually look at Kickstarter and you actually go through those products, a lot of them don’t. A lot of them don’t have a really nice page and they don’t have much information on there. And you just wouldn’t expect that you would get a lot of support for those kind of products.
Felix: Did you do any marketing yourselves or any PR to drive traffic to the Kickstarter page initially?
Jean: Right, so yes. Everybody was telling us about the PR before we launched the campaign. They were like, “Oh, it’s very important that you do PR release so you create buzz, or people will share you, and it’s important to grow your mailing list too.” If you drive traffic to your website or to your Kickstarter, then people would sign up for the early notification E-mails, so then you would get the momentum going.
We definitely did some PR. The experience was kind of mixed feel. So we reached out to press, websites, and magazines. For us, we reached out to Travel Leisure or magazines like that. And we didn’t really get much response from them, I think what happened was when you didn’t launch your campaign yet, they don’t care as much. They don’t know you and they don’t know how well you would do. There’s not much to write about. They might take a note down and come back to you later but you wouldn’t expect them to just write about you.
We did work with a marketing firm, very, very later on throughout our campaign. So initially, honestly there wasn’t much. We didn’t really do much PR. And what happened was, once we launched our campaign, because our product was really unique and fun looking, so Kickstarter actually put us as a Project We Love and that’s helped us get more exposure within the Kickstarter website.
And soon, we reached our goal and there were just more and more pledges coming in and I think maybe after the first day that we launched our campaign, we got so many media inquiries. We were shared everywhere. It just kind of happened. So Business Insider shared us and there was Digital Trends wrote about us, and Fatherly, and Brit + Co. All these companies started to write about us and share.
Felix: Are they just going and writing about you or do you have to be involved? Like are they reaching out to you to get some information out of you, how much work is it on your end when there’s all of a sudden all of this press that’s focused on talking about you and your company?
Jean: Yes so there are a few different types. For example, Digital Trends, the writer he’s actually based in the UK, he’s in London and he actually personally reached out to us. I think he messaged us on Kickstarter or something and we scheduled an interview just like this with a reporter. It was like a full-on 15 minute interview. So that one was really, really formal, and a really detailed interview. And some other companies, some other media like Business Insider, they just kind of grab our video and edit it and share it on their Facebook. They didn’t really reach out, and we didn’t have to talk to them. They did message us on Kickstarter just for permission.
Felix: Got it. But otherwise, it was obviously free press, free publicity, and then not just [inaudible 00:20:47] to pay for it, but then also free in your time because they’re just writing about you guys without you having to do too much work on your end and you can focus on other parts of your business.
So, only so much you can do in terms with things like Kickstarter choosing you as a product that they love, but of course, you can do a lot of things to position your product, position your campaign in a way where they want to promote your product. Now you mentioned photography and video. I really liked the photography on the Kickstarter and also on your site. Is that all done in-house? How does your product photography, how’s it made?
Jean: So that’s kind of like where my background really helped us in this situation because I came from film and TV, I actually went to Film School myself. We did a lot of them in house, just ourselves and I had a friend, he’s a photographer so he helped us a little bit on the project too but basically it was done by ourselves.
Felix: That’s great. Then based on what you’ve seen, your experience and also what you’ve seen with other, either on Kickstarter or other entrepreneurs, other stores what mistakes do you see other store owners or other creators making when it comes to the videos or photos that you think they could improve on?
Jean: I think one thing is they over-complicate things, being like the video’s too long. The video should never be over two minutes. Some of the videos are longer if you have say three, four products. That makes sense. For example, Peak Design they’re a great company, they’re also in San Francisco. They launched like four or five different bags and they probably need a longer video to present them. But if you don’t have that many, you shouldn’t have a really, really long video. And you shouldn’t try to include a lot of things in this video. You should just have one or two really, really strong statements in the video and you just show them throughout the video over and over again. So if an audience come to a video and stop and any given point, the audience should have seen your product and know what it is for. We’ve seen some videos that are just like one minute in I still have no idea what this is for. So that is not very good. You don’t want to do that.
Felix: I was gonna say real quick, I think that the approach when someone doesn’t have this experience and they create a product video is that they think that the more information I cram in there, the better it is for the audience. But you’re saying, “Pick your core messages, maybe one, maybe two, and almost repeat it.” Right? Repeat it throughout the video so that any time someone jumps in, whether that be in the beginning, middle or end, they’ll get the message.
Jean: Yes. That’s absolutely right, yeah.
Felix: Got it. What about photography? Any tips there?
Jean: Yes. So photography, it’s the same thing. You wanna have a clean, nice positioned shots of your product. Definitely lifestyle shots are helpful, meaning you have a model or you have a person wears the product in a very nice set-up, like background. But again don’t over do it. The more that you put in, the more distraction that there is. So if you have really nice looking models or a lot of people in there, your page looks more interesting, but it’s definitely a distraction. Try not to put too much of that onto your campaign page.
Felix: Got it.
Jean: So always put the product as the center of the focus and the attention.
Felix: Yeah, I like your approach of keeping everything the focus, whether it be on your campaign page, whether it be on your Shopify site, or any site that you’re on, your videos, your photo keep it focused. Now, the question I think entrepreneurs will have at this point is, “How do I know which product benefits or features I should highlight?”
Jean: I think it really depends on what kind of product you have and I guess, you as the owner of the product, as the owner of your store or your company, whatever you’re making, you should know well what you wanted people to know about your product the most. Take our bottle as an example. Our bottle is a collapsible water bottle, so that is kind of what we’re selling, what we’re creating, and what we’re presenting to people. So we need to tell people all these use cases, where this water bottle is very useful. Because everybody has water bottle. Water bottle is nothing new, but what is new about your water bottle, and why they should buy your water bottles.
When we take that into account, then we would show a lot of shots that our bottles are collapsing. So if you go to our Shopify store, you actually see the image is like a gif we made. The bottle is constantly collapsing to show people that this is what it’s supposed to do. So I think this can apply to any kind of product you’re selling, whether it’s apparel, or furniture, or electronics, anything, you just show people that, “Look you should buy this because this does this for you.”
Felix: Got it. Now did you feel you guys picked the right benefits right from the beginning to highlight or did you change this or did this evolve over time based on testing or talking to customers?
Jean: Yeah so definitely we didn’t get it right at the very beginning. It’s a process of trial and error for sure because you wouldn’t know what works when you just first start out. So over time, first of all we tracked our visitors and traffic on our website and see where people look at, where people click, and then we make adjustments.
For example before the features, we were talking about it’s collapsible and it’s a water bottle, and it’s leak proof, and blah, blah, blah. All those benefits, but we didn’t include the usage in there. So people would still compare this to a bottle they use in the office, which is not this is intended for. This is really just intended for outdoors and travel. So later we actually include the different usages in there, say, “Perfect for outdoor. Perfect for travel. Perfect for gym and workout.” I think that was really, really helpful and we made that adjustment.
Felix: All right I like that, that you weren’t just focused on the benefits of the product or the features of product but what use cases. When can you imagine yourself using this product?
Jean: Exactly. It’s all about imagination. It’s all about imagining. You want your customer standing in front of your products and say, “Oh, I see myself using this or I see myself having one of these because I also do these kind of activities.” So you want to put them into the setting so then they see themselves have this ownership of this product and then they will end up complete a purchase.
Felix: I think the magic of creating these use cases and allowing our customers to imagine it is that sometimes they might not be a traveler, sometimes they might not be someone that goes outdoors, but they want to be that type of person. They want to be a traveler. They want to be someone that goes outdoors and to have this kind of lifestyle. They’ll start associating your product with that lifestyle and then that makes them much more likely to see the benefit and the value that your product can add into their lives by helping them create this lifestyle that they want.
Jean: Yeah, that’s absolutely right. And our company also promotes sustainability. That’s also a very, very big and important part of our company because that’s how we started the whole thing was we didn’t want to buy disposable water bottles when we travel. But sadly, that’s when people buy disposable bottles the most. You don’t need to buy disposable bottles when you’re at home in your living room. You buy them when you’re at the airport. You buy them when you’re at a football game. You buy them when you go to a music festival. And these places sadly should be the places we care about the environment issues the most, are in the nature.
And that’s the most important thing and that’s the most fundamental thing about our company. We also make sure we include that onto our website as well. So for people that also care about the environment, and they’re also environmentally-conscious, they would read these, and they were like, “Oh, this is what this product’s for, and it makes perfect sense, and I want to support them.”
Felix: Got it. Now I want to talk a little about your website because, again, you’ve done a great job of highlighting the important features and the use cases of your product. And you mentioned that you were able to track what people are looking at, or what they’re clicking on to help you determine what people value, what’s important to people, what kind of messaging’s important to them. Do you remember what kind of tools you used at that time? What kind of tools you use today to help you track this kind of data?
Jean: I don’t remember the exact name, but in the early days we used a lot of Google Analytics, and I think that specific one was called Heatmap or something. That you can see where people look at and click at. Other things … we do use some other tools and other apps within Shopify. So we also use Privy. It’s a pop-up when people visit a website and you can set it for how long and then it will show the visitor a pop-up, and I think there’s also a tracking for that.
Felix: Yeah I saw that one on your site with the pop-up. What timing did you find makes the most sense?
Jean: You definitely don’t show them right away. The time we set was 10 seconds. So give them enough time to see what it is on the website and then you show them when they were thinking about making a purchase.
Felix: Now what kind of copy, what kind of messaging do you put on the pop-up to improve the opt-in rate?
Jean: I think what we did multiple different versions and changes, at the end of the day, again, just be straightforward. I think that’s what a lot of shops do. You just tell them exactly what you’re offering. Sign-up or put your E-mail and you get 10% off. I think you just have to just make a very straightforward message on there.
Felix: Got it. Now what about the overall design of the site. Have you made any changes or alterations to the design of the site to improve your conversion rates?
Jean: Yes, absolutely. I think you make the changes to the site really depending on where’s the majority of your traffic coming from? So we realized more than 60% of our traffic were on mobile. That tells us we really need to optimize our website to be mobile-friendly because a lot of our visitors are on mobile. First of all, when you’re on mobile you don’t want to scroll too much, then people would just close or lose interest. So then we go back to our website and try to make everything shorter when they’re on mobile and make the fonts bigger so it’s easier to see. Also, we add more pictures. We are actually going to make more changes to our website to even put more images because that’s kind of the thing people do on mobile is to scroll through images and look at your products.
Felix: One thing I do see on your site now, I’m using desktop, but I see that there’s a Shop Our Instagram at the bottom too, which has lots of photos of lifestyle shots. It’s actually people using the bottles. Well what application are you using for that?
Jean: Yes, I was just going to mention about Instagram. We do get some traffic from Instagram as well and that app I believe that was a free one. I can’t remember off the top of my head at the moment, but I believe there are a few apps out there that you can-
Felix: Looks like Foursixty, does that sound familiar?
Jean: Yeah that’s Foursixty.
Felix: Got it.
Jean: Yeah that’s the app. I think there was another one that looks better, but I think there might be a monthly fee or something. But there are a few apps out there that you can integrate your Instagram onto your website.
Felix: It looks great already, but I think a lot of it has to do with the photography, the product photography. Are you able to pick and choose the products that you want to feature? I’m sorry, pick the Instagram photos that you want to feature?
Jean: I think it just automatically loads your feed from your Instagram. But I’m sure you can also choose which one you wanted to put. It’s customizable.
Felix: Got it. And another thing I noticed on this site was a sales notification pop-up. So whenever someone makes a purchase on the site, there’s a pop-up that shows that someone around somewhere in the world made a purchase. Do you remember or do you know which app you used for that?
Jean: Yes that’s called Fomo. It’s a very helpful app that we definitely recommend. Fomo, it comes from fear of missing out, is they show people that who already purchasing two hours ago and so the person has this sense of urgency to make a purchase or are more likely to purchase because someone else made a purchase.
Felix: Are you able to track the conversion rate from the pop-up?
Jean: Yes, yeah.
Felix: And you’ve seen that go up?
Jean: It’s very important to set everything on your website to be trackable. That’s the only way that you can know how things are performing and make changes to them so they perform better and improve.
Felix: Yeah, one thing that I’ve noticed on some sites is that they can go a little overboard with these kind of notifications, these kind of pop-ups where you see a bunch. Yours is definitely not like that. It’s not annoying. I see it every once in a while, but it’s not coming up that frequently. Did you make tweaks there or did you make a conscious decision on how often or how soon this style’s notification is Fomo, a pop-up shows up?
Jean: Yeah, so we did try a few times, and the results we got was there wasn’t much difference. Showing more or showing less. You don’t want to annoy people, so if it doesn’t really increase the conversion, or it doesn’t really have any extra effects, then don’t annoy people just do the minimum. I think you’re absolutely right. A lot of the websites, they definitely overload the pop-ups and notifications and I don’t think that’s a good thing. I think you want to keep your website clean and nice but at the same time you still have all the functions or pop-ups that can potentially help with conversion.
Felix: Now today, before people can even get to see all of this on your site, where are they coming from? What’s been the most successful traffic channel for you?
Jean: That’s an interesting question. So before, right after our Kickstarter ended, we were on Indiegogo for a bit while we’re building our website. So Kevin’s computer science so he basically built out the website ourselves. I mean we got a template, but we customized the look and the layout. After that, once that was set up, we direct the traffic from Indiegogo and Kickstarter to our website. For a while, our traffic was still organic from Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and just from Google because people were still seeing our videos on social media like Facebook. What people do is they see, “Oh que Bottle.” And then they would go on and Google que Bottle and then our website would show on the top [crosstalk 00:39:22].
Felix: Sorry, real quick right there, so was this a Kickstarter video that they were seeing on Facebook or did you create a Facebook specific video?
Jean: Right, it was our Kickstarter video.
Felix: Got it.
Jean: But it was not our original video because our original video was about two minutes, that was way too long for Facebook. So most of the time it was the Business Insider video that they created for us. It was around 30, 40 seconds.
Felix: Got it. So now today, is it mostly still organic or are you using any paid traffic to drive visitors to your site?
Jean: Yeah, correct. So for a while it was organic and later we started to run just paid acquisition like ads on Facebook and Instagram. And our ads were performing pretty well so we definitely got many sales, a lot of sales from Facebook and the Instagram promotional contents. And on top of that we do still have organic traffic come in because offline we are also going to trade shows and we also do wholesale accounts and we also we just got on to Today Show like a month ago. We were placed in their holiday gift shop season. It was a combination so it’s not very clear which one it comes from because they all kind of effect each other. And we have other partners as well, so it’s a mixture of all these traffic together.
And for now, we don’t do very heavy on paid acquisition because we still want to focus on organic traffic. I think for a business to grow healthy, I think organic traffic also is very important. So what we do is we would just work on our social media content and make sure that when people Google us, or search us, or see us on the social media, they can see a lot of our organic content and they would just naturally have interest to check out our website or even buy our water bottles.
Felix: I see. So you wanna focus on building your brand presence everywhere specifically on social media so that when people discover you, they learn more about the product through social media and then eventually come onto your site. Is the content created, is that created in-house? What’s the strategy behind what to post on social media?
Jean: Right, so yeah we definitely still create just original content ourselves in-house. And we also work with influencers, other accounts on Instagram to do collaborations or do other kind of activities with other accounts, and we also do reposting other people’s great … like if we see a picture that’s really nice, we would repost it on our account too. So it’s like also a mixture of all kinds of contents.
Felix: Are these collaborations, what are they? Is it collaborations on creating a bottle specific for the influencer or are they helping promote say a bottle that’s already for sale on your site? How do you work with influencers?
Jean: Yeah so we work with them, depending on the influencer’s interest and every account is kind of different. We have different ways of collaborating with them. For example, we work with some photographers and they just simply focus on really nice [imageries 00:44:13] like pictures. So what we do was, “Oh we can provide them products and they can in return, they can help us creating some really nice images with our bottles.”
And some other ones, they wanted to be a brand ambassador. They like what we do as a company so they want to promote that, and so they would share our companies with their following to talk about our mission on the charity and non-profits.
Felix: Yeah, so the photographers they are … Basically you’re trading the bottles, the products for amazing photography. And then you also have brand ambassadors who are wanting to promote your product. So how do you evaluate whether an influencer is going to be a good fit or not in terms of actually being able to drive traffic and sales to your store?
Jean: The answer is you don’t really know. You only would know once you start working with this person. It’s all just kind of good faith kind of. You can do some initial research on the account and see if they have really good content, and you can even ask them if they’ve done this before. And really we do this for branding. We don’t really measure sales as a result.
So here I wanted to say to other entrepreneurs, if you merely wanted this to be a profit generating channel, then I don’t think it would meet your expectation that much because it doesn’t really directly translate to sales. But it’s really a branding and online presence kind of thing. So for that purpose, that’s why we are open to work with anyone that seems interesting, and who have shown us their interest in working with que Bottle.
Felix: Got it. So it’s probably not the best channel if you want to drive traffic and sales immediately, at least in your case. But you’re doing this more just to get that exposure to build more brand awareness.
Jean: Yeah. Absolutely, yeah.
Felix: Got it. Now the product itself, a very beautiful product, definitely recommend you want to go and check it out. The pricing for the bottle is $24.95. How did you guys determine the pricing for your products?
Jean: Yes, they are in the water bottle and hydration categories. We kind of just do the initial market research, and see what are the pricing with other existing brands, established products on the market right now, and what is the average of that. And also, because of our material, we use silicone and stainless steel. So these two materials are definitely on the more expensive side of material. And also, we wanted to be able to provide really high quality products that we want to make sure they are well-made and things. So then we can’t really cut corners on the costs, the price point needs to be at a certain price point to allow us to do all that.
So we found out the water bottles generally for a capacity of 20 fluid ounce, it’s about $15 to $30, all the way depending on the material and the functions. Then, we look at these and then we think, “24.95 for a 20 fluid ounce bottle, that’s made of silicone, stainless steel.” It’s high quality, well-made. It’s a very reasonable price point.
Felix: Got it. So between all the crowdfunding campaigns, it’s about $1.2 million raised. Can you give us an idea of how much the company has grown since the initial launch of the business?
Jean: Yes, we have grown a lot ever since the launch. Our sales has gone over $2 million to date. We also do a lot of offline wholesales and we have almost 250 accounts and we sell in 12 different countries. We are right now in a lot of museum stores and national parks, which are great, which are really awesome because this is exactly what we want our product to be are to these tourist and traveler attraction locations. Where people really need this the most and they will be able to take advantage of our products and all the awesome features. And right now we also have a team of five people. We have our Marketing Manager and Account Manager to handle all our marketing and sales.
Felix: Got it. What is your day-to-day focused on these days?
Jean: For me personally, as a co-founder, I have a few things that I kind of have to manage and oversee every day. The first one is … I handle all the financials and operations. I need to make sure that our company has got all the infrastructure and logistics that it needs to be in place in order to have a smooth daily operations. We need to make sure that we handle the cash flow well and we are using all the tools and services that are provided to us to make sure that we fulfill our orders and manage our inventories and fundamental things like that.
Felix: What kind of tools or applications do you use to help run the business?
Jean: For Shopify, for our store, ShipStation is definitely a must. It’s a big one. We really like ShipStation. I think it’s a really great tool to manage orders and fulfill orders. It integrates all the major shipping carriers in the world and you can print out labels, generate labels right on there, and you can track the orders, which is really amazing. And we were able to integrate, we were able to import our Shopify channel, our Amazon store, our other third-parties, blah, blah, blah. You can funnel all these channels into one place and fulfill, so that was really, really helpful. We use ShipStation for that and we also use this other company called APC Logistics. They do international shipping, which they offer really reasonable rates to ship all around the world. That was a really awesome service as well.
Other things like we use uShip.com for our freight. In the case that we need to ship a pallet or multiple, a big order, then we use that website to get connected with freight forwarders or freight carriers. And it’s really simple to use. Drivers show up at our door at the warehouse and pick up our orders and ship them out. That’s very reliable as well.
When it comes to logistics there are many, many services out there that you can utilize and they are very, very important for the operations of your business.
Felix: Awesome. Thank you so much Jean. We introduced you in this interview as, not as que Bottle, but as the company named que Factory so does that mean that we should expect more products coming in the near future? What are the plans for the business?
Jean: Yeah, that was actually the second part I was gonna say. For me, my role in the company right now on a daily basis, the second part was for planning of new products. You are definitely pointing out … We are que Factory. So as a company, as a factory we wanted to have more than just a water bottle, more products. And we are definitely planning on designing, working on new ideas, designing more products, and releasing and launching more products and lines.
All these products that we wanted to come up with or get our hands on are all about the same theme. There are environmental friendly, sustainable, and smart, innovative and just have really stylish and nice looking designs. We cross categories, we might do all the way from apparel to backpacks, into home goods, all kinds of things. We will have many more exciting projects coming up.
Felix: Yeah, certainly very exciting. Sounds like a lot of work, lots of activities planned for the year then. Again, thank you so much for your time Jean. So quebottle.com is the website. Follow along for all the other products that sounds like you guys are coming out with soon. So again, thank you so much for your time Jean.
Jean: Thank you so much.
Felix: Here’s a sneak peek for what’s in store the next Shopify Masters episode.
Male Speaker: Make them really, really good at one thing and it might not include every single feature that our customers might want, but may it better be really good at one thing.
Felix: Thanks for listening to Shopify Masters, the eCommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. To start your store today, visit Shopify.com/masters to claim your extended 30 day free trial.