The story of One Kid isn’t just a story of how this eCommerce entrepreneur duo came up with the perfect viral eCommerce product; it is a love story. Eric and Sabine met while working for Adidas in the States. At the time, Sabine was head of apparel design and Erik was in shoe research and development. Fast-forward over 20 years later, not only are they happily married with three amazing kids, but they have created the ultimate lean eCommerce business that, with the help of technology, they run entirely on their own, without any employees.
One Kid shot to fame in 2016, but their brand story begins way back in 1997 when Sabine was pregnant with their first child. Finding it hard to find kids’ clothes they liked, they decided to create their own kids’ clothing line and launched an extensive wholesale business. But it was in 2015 that they finally made their eCommerce dreams a reality with a product that has taken the market by storm: The Road Coat®. (Pun not intended.)
We chatted with Sabine about their long journey into kids’ apparel, how they found their winning idea and how this eCommerce store went viral and reached $600k in their second year.
Here’s what she had to say.
The One Kid Brand Backstory
One Kid was founded in 1999 as an offline wholesale business. It was a big manufacturing operation: we did trade shows, had sales reps, showrooms and at one point we had our own 6,000 square foot warehouse. In 2008, we started to notice a considerable decline in yearly retail orders, which forced us to make major business changes and downscale our operation, which continued to run as a wholesale business until 2015.
Our eCommerce Ah-Ha Moment
In 2015, we saw a Today Show video about the dangers of kids wearing big winter coats in car seats. We immediately saw that there was a need for a product to address this huge safety issue, and the idea of our Road Coat® was born. With the invention of our product, we knew we needed a new online way to market and bring this product to consumers.
In January of 2016, we went to a New York trade show and met an Australian couple who introduced us to Susan Bradley from The Social Sales Girls. After doing her Reliable Revenue course, we went 100% online and launched with a video in July of 2016 that went viral. It was the perfect storm.
The Perfect Storm: Creating Our First Viral Facebook Video
We knew we needed to do a video to explain the concept of the Road Coat®, as well as outline the dangers of kids wearing big winter coats in car seats. We didn’t have a big budget and were searching for someone who could help us produce this video.
At the same time, we advertised a trampoline for sale in one of our local Facebook groups, and the person who responded to the ad was actually a video photographer who lived a few houses down from us. We worked with him to make a video, with our oldest son as the narrator.
We launched the video with minimal budgets of $10 or $20 per ad, to cold audiences (concentrating on parents with kids age 0 – 8 years who live in cold climates) and within a couple of weeks, the video went viral and now has over 14 million views and 137K shares. When we started, we had 50 likes on our store’s Facebook page; today we have over 31k.
Bonus Content: How to Get 8 Million Facebook Views With a Smartphone Video
Designing, Testing and Manufacturing: The Road Coat® Journey
It took us about 8 months to develop the Road Coat®, which included applying for the design and utility patent. The Road Coat® is crash tested and CPST (Child Passenger Safety Technician) approved. After designing the initial product ideas, we worked with a very well-known CPST instructor and arranged to have the crash test done at an independent lab.
Because of our manufacturing history, we had a lot of business contacts and therefore used an overseas manufacturer we already had a good experience with, to produce the Road Coat®.
The Road Coat® Product Collection
We wanted to build our business around the Road Coat®, which meant building our business around the winter season, with our main season being from July to March.
We started with The Road Coat® Down in 2016 and then designed a vegan version, which offers the same features but a slightly different style, lower price point and a synthetic filler. Then, we introduced The Road Coat® Transition, which is lighter and ideal for mid-season or mild-winter. The latter has now enabled us to broaden our targeting to the southern states as well.
Last year, we launched our coordinating snow pants, which we’re continuing for this winter along with our new winter pant line; which are cotton nylon pants that are lined with fleece and are the perfect play pant for winter. We have also added coordinating fleece jackets, animal hat and mitten sets and mini backpacks in our customers’ favorite prints. With regards to designs and color ranges, we update this every year to increase our product offerings.
The Road Coat® Fulfillment Process
Our main office is on the east coast, but we wanted to move our warehouse to the west coast to allow for shorter shipping times from Asia to the US. To do this, we partnered up with Whiplash in LA which is fully integrated with Shopify. They handle everything from receiving, packing and shipping customer orders. This is one of the main reasons why we’re managing to run such a lean business.
We’ve decided on a paid shipping model because of our price point on the coats; it’s better for us to exclude shipping. We have tested free shipping weekends but have had a much better response when offering free gifts with purchases instead. So for example, instead of offering free shipping we run promotions where customers get a free mini backpack or hat and mitten set with their coat purchase, which has worked very well for us.
Our return rate on the coats is not high – only around 3%.
The Most Successful Ways We Drive Traffic to Our Store
Without a doubt, Facebook ads and Google remarketing campaigns that StoreYa does for us are our biggest traffic drivers. In fact, 15% of our total 2017 revenue came from the Traffic Booster.
One of the highest traffic drivers is from a Facebook video with 14 million views – mostly organic – and a new video which was put together by CafeMom in February. It’s a short video that outlines the dangers and struggles with car seats in winter, offering Road Coat® as the solution. We are also using Shoelace for our Facebook retargeting ads.
A Sneak-Peak into Our Advertising Budgets
Our advertising budget fluctuates depending on the time of year; we spend more in our peak seasons, but on average we spent about $12,000 in 2017 on StoreYa and currently spend $500 a week on Facebook ads and $10 a day on Shoelace. Our Facebook ads include retargeting and growth campaigns with lookalike audiences.
How We Increase Conversion Rates With Email Marketing
Our email marketing works around our sales funnel. Everyone who signs up for the 10% discount through our store popup goes into this email sales funnel.
New signups will get an email every second or third day, and later on this will change to getting emails every 10 days. In total, new subscribers will get around 25 emails in a 120-day period.
The reason we went for the 120-day funnel period is because of the seasonal nature of our product. If someone signs up now, in August, they have time until peak winter, and by November they will definitely need the coat. To give you an example, in the last 30 days we have had a 33% open rate, a 4% click rate and 2.4% conversion rate.
Furthermore, we run promotions to different segments, such as our current back-to-school special, and of course we run abandon cart emails, which gave us a recovery rate of 25% in 2017. We found that a lot of first-time shoppers have size questions about our coats and therefore we use one of our abandon cart automated emails to address this: “If you’re not sure about the sizing… we go more by height than weight. Here’s the link to our size chart.”
We also use our abandon cart emails to promote our 90-day free exchange and return policy. Because they’re buying coats a couple of months ahead, this reassures buyers that we take the return for free and allow them to exchange it for the correct size.
We work with Klaviyo and we love it, as it offers great Shopify integration, analytics and really good segmentation. Here’s a list of our automated emails:
- Abandon cart
- Customer win-back
- Welcome to new signups
- Repeat customer thank you
- Product reviews
Our Customers and How We Support and Engage With Them
Our most significant customer base is the US and Canada, the latter accounting for 30% of our sales. In the heavy season we get around 20-30 tickets per day, mostly going through online chat, Facebook Messenger and email.
Additionally, we just started doing a weekly Facebook live video where we talk about the frequently asked questions about our products, and customers can comment with any questions about size, return policy, or design, which allows us to address these questions in real time. It’s only in the beginning stages, but we’re already getting good traction from these and expect a lot more engagement during our peak season.
Customer Programs that Increase Our Conversion Rates
In May, we launched our pre-order app, which allows customers to order ahead of time. We also have a layaway program, where customers can pay 25% upfront and then for the next three months they pay the remaining amounts in split payments – which is a popular option. It’s win-win for us as well because it gives us good cash flow.
Future Plans for One Kid
Our primary goal is to stay in The Road Coat® lane and develop products from there, without spreading ourselves too thin product-wise. We are looking to grow into the European and Asian markets through distribution partnerships. We’ve grown from $250,000 revenue in 2016 to double our revenue in 2017 and reach just under $600,000. Our goal this year is to reach $1 million.
If We Could Go Back and Change One Thing
We would have changed our company to an eCommerce business back in 2008, when we first noticed the decline. At the time, our retailers didn’t want us to go online and we were scared to lose them. You have to always go by your own intuition and not listen to people who aren’t invested in your business like you are.
Our number one piece of advice for new eCommerce entrepreneurs:
Don’t do wholesale! Concentrate on direct-to-customer eCommerce and show up every single day to do the work. We can see our sales drop when we haven’t been present online, so keep at it consistently.
Having said that, it brought us to this point, and believe everything happens for a reason.
They make it seem so simple, don’t they? But it’s not – it takes day-in and day-out dedication. What an inspiring couple and eCommerce motivating duo. For more lessons from top eCommerce brands, visit our Success Story blog section.
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