Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
The concept for Chomps Snack Sticks was birthed from my love for beef jerky. I grew up eating all of the "junk" brands found in convenience stores. After gaining extensive knowledge of nutrition and fitness and learning how to read ingredient statements I realized that the beef jerky I was eating was really bad for me. I searched around for a healthier option, but even the so-called "healthy" brands had hidden artificial ingredients that I didn't want to put into my body. At that point I knew that I needed to create a better-for-you option. At the same time, I started CrossFitting and Paleo dieting. I attended the CrossFit Games in 2012 and was blown away by the thousands of people that were at the event. I saw the commitment to the lifestyle and realized then that there was a huge opportunity to market this awesome product in the CrossFit and Paleo space. We source all of our 100% Non-GMO Grass-Fed Angus beef from New Zealand. It's the highest quality beef in the world. The climate in NZ creates the perfect environment to raise Grass-Fed cattle. I also wanted to stay committed to sourcing only non-GMO beef, but it's hard to know if the beef sourced here in the States is truly free of GMOs. Since GMOs are illegal in NZ, we can be 100% sure that our beef is non-GMO.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
It was a combination of word of mouth, social media, and reaching out to bloggers. We wanted to prove the concept before dumping a ton of money and time in. Proof of concept came extremely fast for us and it was clear from the get-go that there was a serious need for a product like Chomps. The bulk of our sales comes directly through our website. We sell direct to customers but also have a network of wholesale customers that also buy through our website.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Customer Pricing by Bold Apps allows us to offer wholesale pricing and sell to these customers directly through the website. We're also using Product Discount and Product Upsell to run custom sales and promos, which our customers love. Refersion allowed us to set up an automated affiliate marketing campaign. Vantage helps us with analytics so we'll know what channels are producing the best results and where we should be focusing our marketing budget and efforts. Persistent Cart automatically saves our customer's abandoned shopping carts so that when they return they don't have to go looking for the products that they wanted to buy. MailChimp for Shopify has been huge so we can segment our customers into very specific groups so we'll be sure to send only relevant content. We outsource all of our order fulfillment to a third-party shipping partner. Package Bee is the app we use to push all of our orders directly to the order fulfillment team. This has saved us a ton of time and streamlined the whole order fulfillment process. It allows us to focus on more important things, like creating new products and growing the business.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
I'd recommend using Shopify to test your concept before you invest too much. There is nothing worse than launching a product that nobody wants. You need to pound the pavement, get in front of some potential customers and make sure you can turn them into paying customers. I can't think of a quicker or more affordable option to get an e-store up and running than Shopify. It's truly been the lifeblood of our business.