Word Of Mouth: 8 Reasons Why Red Bull Is Freaking Awesome
A relative newcomer to the world of drinks. Red Bull has been winning F1 trophies, advancing medical research and dropping people from the edge space. How?!
If you're going to get involved with ecommerce (or you already are!), one of the best things you can do for yourself is to learn from the experiences of those who have already walked the path ahead of you.
In particular, I'm talking about the people who have built the best ecommerce companies in the world.
Here's a list of great interviews I've found while researching ecommerce in general (click to jump down to the relevant person.)
Bonobos is an ecommerce-driven apparel company that's all about Fit, Fun and Service. Mostly pants.
"Denim is one of the most crowded markets, but if we do well there, we know we've got something exciting. At Bonobos, we started off a little too early in categories that weren't relevant. We moved into swimsuits and polo shirts early. The focus here is on getting a great start in denim, and then we'll go into sweaters and tops slowly. We want to establish credibility in one product first."- Inc.com – Bonobos Founder: Slow and Steady Growth Always Wins
"It’s a funny thing how this digital tool is making the world a more personal place. Our brand wouldn’t be possible without social media. And because of the power of digitally driven brand-building, we are now creating an in-person store experience, which is arguably more personal than anything else in retail. It’s ironic when you think about it." - gsb.stanford.edu: Andy Dunn: "Passion Is a Prerequisite"
"Being a founder is about the act of creation, about being driven to distraction because you want to put something into the world. But being a CEO is about focus and execution and being somewhat redundant and boring in your message. In short, the human traits required to be a founder are very different from the human traits required to be a CEO.
And yet the paradox is that the biggest companies are built by founders who have evolved to become CEOs because they have the moral authority to make difficult decisions and they can never blame it on the last guy. If you’re the founding CEO, everything is your fault, which is simultaneously crippling and empowering." – BusinessofFashion.com- Andy Dunn on building the Giorgio Armani of the eCommerce era
Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.com. 'Nuff said.
"The right way to build a brand is by delivering a great service. Customers learn about who we are as a result of interacting with us. A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn a reputation by trying to do hard things well. People notice that over time. I don't think there are any shortcuts."
We take those funds that might otherwise be used to shout about our service and put those funds instead into improving the service. That's the philosophy we've taken from the beginning. If you do build a great experience, customers tell each other about that. Word of mouth is very powerful." - Businessweek.com - Online Extra: Jeff Bezos on Word-of-Mouth Power
We loved Jeff Bezos's quotes so much, we dedicated an entire post to them: Jeff Bezos Quotes!
Sophia Amoruso founded Nasty Gal in 2006. Nasty Gal was named the fastest-growing e-tailer by Inc magazine in 2012, had $100m in revenue in 2013. Social Media followers? 1.2 million on Instagram, 1 million on Facebook, 175k on Twitter.
"From our photography to our design to our copywriting, every small choice is an opportunity to either strengthen our brand or fall flat. I’m so fortunate to have an incredible team around me who not only sustain the voice that I incubated over so many years, but who can truly evolve it." – Refinery29.com – Sophia Amoruso Might Be The Scrappiest Superwoman We Know
"Using social media allowed me to have a conversation with our customers - I would say it was the number one reason we created awareness. Every other fashion brand out there - including those that I call competitors - are run by mostly old white men, and the customer knows it." – Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso: 'Shoplifting saved my life'
"Amoruso also tried a controlled experiment. Selecting her best shots for eBay, she also posted them on MySpace to get a more qualitative feel. If the bids were lower than she expected and the comments on MySpace were negative (“That model looks angry,” for example), she’d ditch the model and try to sell a similar item on someone new. When she wasn’t fine-tuning online selling, she was trying to expand her reach with friend-finding software that instantly sent out friend requests to, say, “friends of Nylon magazine” (a fashion rag). " – Forbes.com –Nasty Gal's Sophia Amoruso: Fashion's New Phenom
Threadless does crowdsourced t-shirt designs. People submit their designs, the crowd votes, and the best designs get printed. The designers then get a commission of the sales. They have over 2,000,000 Twitter followers.
"I was actually the 1,500th user on Twitter. I mean even Instagram, we were the first brand on Instagram and we’ve got hundreds of thousands of followers on there. With Twitter, we even did a deal early on with them. We ran a Twitter tease and they promoted our account for a long time so we got our following up but what’s crazy is that even though that doesn’t exist right now our follower count is still growing." – adrinkwith.com – Jake Nickell
"We like the idea of it spreading via word of mouth, organically, naturally. It's not that we don't market, we just don't advertise. I'd rather somebody hears about Threadless through an article in a magazine than an advertisement in a magazine." – techradar.com – The Secrets Behind Threadless's Success
"When I was growing up, my only options for clothing, especially t-shirts, were to wear big corporate logos and brand names across my chest. Threadless is all about the art on tees. There are no logos, no branding… so I find that really exciting, that you can wear t-shirts that just have amazing art on them, you don’t have to wear a logo." – Teehunter.com – Threadless Co-founder Jake Nickell Interview
Read more about Threadless: 4 Ways Threadless Built A Fanatical Community Through Word-of-Mouth
Marc Lore co-founded Diapers.com with Vinit Bharara. Diapers.com was acquired by Amazon.com in 2010 for $545 million dollars.
"Really, the fewer rules, the better. The concept is just if Mom calls and there's an issue, do whatever is necessary to make her happy and really wow her. (We got into the habit of referring to all of our customers as "Mom.")
The day before yesterday, a mom really needed a car seat for the weekend, and there was no way UPS was going to get there on time because UPS comes late on that particular day. But UPS comes to the customer service rep's home in the morning. So the rep had it shipped to her house in the morning, and then she drove it over to the mom's house. We're doing 6,000 orders a day, but that stuff still happens all the time." – Inc.com – The Way I Work: Marc Lore of Diapers.com
"Unable to buy from the major manufacturers, Lore and Bharara forged a practical solution. When an order came into the website, DePaola (a college friend of Lore’s) would run down to the local BJ’s Wholesale Club in her minivan to pick up diapers. Then she would ship them out. Orders started to come in almost as soon as the site went live. By the end of the first week, she was shipping 20 to 30 packages a night.
The partners lost money on every shipment but learned that there was a market for diapers on the Internet.
From that relationship, they would eventually evolve the business into selling everything for baby – including all the high-margin products." – WarStory.co – How Diapers.com solved the chicken-and-egg problem in the early days
Bonus: Get our FREE Ecommerce Growth Ebook! We've put together an extensive guide to help you break through your next revenue target. Check it out here.
ModCloth is an American online retailer specializing in vintage, vintage-inspired, and indie clothing, accessories, and decor.
"When Zara or H&M or Urban Outfitters [want to test demand for a product], they do a pilot run in pilot stores. If they sell out of all the smalls immediately, they know it's popular, but don't really know how much demand they have for a small. With our Be the Buyer program, we get a more precise read on demand because people are on the waitlist for specific sizes.
On top of that, we have all this historical sales data on products, and we're also interacting with customers on Pinterest and Polyvore and other external sites to see what [our customer] is saving and playing with, the styles that are inspiring her. Combined with Be the Buyer and Make the Cut, we're able to anticipate what she'll want down the line." Mashable – How ModCloth Went From a College Dorm to $100 Million a Year
"As for customer interaction. I didn’t have a background in fashion or retail, so my approach was really instinctual. People entrenched in the fashion industry at the time didn’t think about social media as a way to authentically connect with your customers; they thought of it as a way to do marketing." - DesignSponge.com – Biz Ladies Profile: Susan Gregg Koger of ModCloth
"They don’t say, “six months later everyone should wear this!” The Internet changed all of that. We let customers have a voice and let us know what they want and need. They name our products, they help us figure out what to offer on the site, and we get them involved in other ways. We’ll still be doing that in five years. – nytimes.com – Modcloth Shows How to Win by Losing
Birchbox is a popular subscription service that delivers beauty samples to its customers every month. They raised US$60 million in April this year.
"And the reason was that it's extra challenging to develop an online business for beauty, because it has a touch, try and feel element to it. So that, coupled with the fact that Hayley had a best friend [Mollie Chen] who was a beauty editor, really inspired the idea because [Hayley]'s a very passive beauty consumer, but she always had the best products, and I always noticed it. I would ask, "Why do you have the newly launched Benefit mascara?" And she would say, "Oh Mollie gave it to me." All the time! – Mashable – Beauty Delivered: How Birchbox Is Disrupting the Cosmetics Industry
We think it doesn’t make sense to have those silos in between these things: E-commerce and editorial should live together and be equally important.
Consumers are going online to get their intel and get their information, and the school of thought has always been that that needs to be separate from where they are shopping. But you’re starting to see the lines blur and you’re starting to see media companies have e-commerce experiences." – HuffingtonPost– Birchbox Co-CEO Katia Beauchamp Explains What Startups Can Learn From Social Media
CEO Michael Dubin might be quite the comedian, but the success of Dollar Shave Club is anything but funny. They got 5000 subscribers on the first day alone.
I'm not going to call ourselves a content company. That would be arrogant. But whether its video, or Facebook content, or other kinds of content, we are going to make a strong commitment to telling strong stories in creative ways and just giving our audience and our customers fun stuff to play with. That's part of the fun of being an Internet brand. – BusinessInsider.com – Dollar Shave Club Interview
Eric Bandholdz has an epic beard, and his Beardbrand products and philosophy have gotten widespread news coverage- even winning over SEO whiz Rand Fishkin.
I was also involved in various communities online, from Reddit to Beardboard.com and BeardedGents.com. [...] I think it helps that I’m passionate about what we are building and people see that in me. With my YouTube videos, I’ve made a lot of how-to videos that people have really liked. – interviewswithmakers.com – Eric Bandholz of Beardbrand
GREATS is a really cool brand of sneakers that was born and raised online by true-blue sneakerheads, Ryan Babenzien and John Buscemi. The interviews are a particularly great read because it's incredibly clear just how thoroughly Babenzien lives and loves sneakers.
I think the sneaker collector market is really closed. You can’t just make sneakers and be accepted – that’s not enough. You need authenticity. I think Jon and I deliver that. [...] On the other side, we’re making really high-quality products and we’re offering it at a lower price because we don’t offer it to wholesalers. That’s a really compelling story. To be able to buy a really good looking shoe at $59 when you would normally pay over $100 for a similar shoe? That’s tough to argue. – NiceKicks.com – Industry Interview: Ryan Babenzien Talks Greats Brand & The BAB
"It’s a small, minimally designed but well-curated 10 x 10 glass box that will only be open on Sat & Sundays. I know, who does that in retail! We have a theory about scarcity and I’ll let you know if we’re right in a few months. – Forbes.com – GREATS Is Building The Next Great Footwear Company
Read more about GREATS: Footwear Referral Program Examples: Greats
That's the end of what I got! I hope you found these interviews as enlightening as I did. You can (and should!) totally do your own searching for interviews with eCommerce founders, especially those who might be operating in a similar niche to yours. Happy learning!
Bonus: Get Our FREE Ecommerce Growth Ebook! We've put together an extensive guide to help you break through your next revenue target. Check it out here.