Life can be full of surprises, and unique ideas might come to us in the most unexpected ways and most inconvenient moments, and they can derive from needs, stubbornness, and our deepest desires and hidden talents. Here are some unusual eCommerce success stories that you have probably never heard of, and yet, they are worth reading about. We hope these stories will help you improve your existing business or give you a flash of inspiration for your new eCommerce store. Who knows, maybe the next one will be yours!
From an engagement ring to a multi-million dollar business
Ideas for starting your eCommerce business can come from everywhere, and the real example is Ajay Anand, CEO and Founder of Rare Carat, an Online Diamond Marketplace.
He was the founder of an enterprise SaaS co used by the UN in over 50 countries to deliver aid saving 1m lives. He was also a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group. He holds a Wharton MBA, Penn MA, and UMich BBA, and here’s his story.
In his interview for Thrive Global, Ajay said, “My first exposure to the diamond, the world was going online to find a ring. Then when it came time to buy my girlfriend an engagement ring, I visited New York’s diamond district on 47th Street. Vendors could tell I was inexperienced. I started obsessively researching diamonds online because of the price transparency. Ultimately, I was willing to deal with the drawbacks of buying online because I was saving so much money. Basically, I started my company based on what I wished I had.”
But eCommerce business ventures don’t come without setbacks and obstacles. Ajay noticed that the biggest obstacle was gaining trust. “Some of the biggest obstacles we’ve come across so far is trying to figure out the best way to gain the customer’s trust. Obviously, being an eCommerce site and not being able to view the diamonds in person, people are going to be hesitant. Because of this, we offer a 30-day no-questions-asked return policy and allow anyone to get the help of a credentialed gemologist for feedback and pointers. This reinforces that we have the knowledge and ability to provide great service and products. We don’t recommend anything we wouldn’t tell our friend to buy.”
As for marketing strategy, Ajay reveals that Rare Carat relies mainly on social media.” One of the best marketing strategies we’ve had so far is social media exposure. Creating eye-catching and intriguing ads and a handful of memes to go along brings the younger generation in. Looking at where the most customers gather information and reviews (Reddit, Instagram, Facebook) is where we need to focus our efforts. Offering cheeky responses to comments on Facebook has done well too. We like to have fun and create an approachable atmosphere for customers.
The most important lesson from a start-up eCommerce perspective I’ve learned is to go with the flow of trends, marketing, and site appearance. In our case, some ring styles may only last a season. We have to keep up with the trends and styles that customers want now to gain the most positive experience. Marketing is constantly changing as well. You have to stay on top of what is popular and viral to gain the most traction, just like the styles. You also have to incorporate and implement fixes for site appearance constantly; nobody will stay on a site that is too dated looking, or doesn’t have a new and shiny feel to it.”
When asked how he sees the future of eCommerce, he said, “A lot of people have realized with the pandemic keeping us in our houses for the most part, how easy buying online is and how much pressure it takes off. Whether that’s due to sales tactics or just having to deal with people in general, a lot of the population has realized buying online is just easier and more comfortable. I see eCommerce taking off and becoming the norm in the next 5-10 years, and brick and mortar stores will be the other option. The expectation will flip-flop.”
I couldn’t find the product I needed, so I made it myself
Almost 16 years ago, Roberta Perry, the founder and CEO of Scrubz Body Scrub, Inc., had skin problems she couldn’t get rid of. After many attempts and experiments with various products, she decided to make a product that would be 100% effective for her, which led her to a successful eCommerce business; here’s her eCommerce success story.
“It was 2005. I was 43 but my skin felt 20 years older. It was dry, itchy, and irritated. So much so that in a business meeting one day, I stared at a droplet of blood on my document because I had itched my elbow so hard. Ouch! I was so busy working and being a mom to my 3 kids, that I had forgotten to take care of myself and my skin.
I finally discovered exfoliating products, but there are different types, so I tried about 15-20 brands. I became like Goldilocks, the curly blond-haired girl that tried all the chairs, beds, and porridge and finally found what she liked.
But, in this case, none were completely satisfying my needs so I decided to make it myself. I researched botanical oils and various exfoliants. I mixed up different combinations and tested batch after batch until I came up with a winner.
My late sister, Michelle, joined me and in 2006 we started ScrubzBody Skin Care Products. While it’s true I sell skincare, made by hand with skin-loving ingredients, what I really offer my customers is permission for self-love, self-care, and a bit of pampering.
That’s the part of the business I love the most. We have incredible retail customers, fabulous private-label clients, and a few select wholesale customers. We host Make Your Own Scrub parties for kids and adults at the store… We were thrilled to have been on television, being the highlighted business on the Season One finale of Sell it Like Serhant on Bravo TV.
After years of dry, irritated, and chapped skin, I created a scrub that was far superior to anything I had purchased at that point. My late sister suggested I start selling it, she joined me, and we started setting up a table at any craft fair, holiday boutique, or similar in our area.”
When talking about challenges, Roberta remembers how difficult it was joggling between the budget and the marketing needs. “Marketing properly on a super tight budget was hard. I knew I was up against some of the big boys in skincare, however, I also knew we had something special, so I forged on, sending samples as donations to charities, donating raffles to local events, and this started to pay off.”
As for the marketing strategies, email marketing was the one that showed the best results in the Scrubz Body Scrub case. “My number one way to market then and now is through my weekly emails. I started collecting emails from events I did and then when we opened our store in 2011, collecting them one by one as people came in was easy. I integrated online opt-ins and kept it growing. I can see the returns I get with each campaign.”
Roberta says the most important lesson she has learned from her eCommerce journey is that business needs to reflect the owner’s personality. “My website needed to be a reflection of my personality, so how I write descriptions and page copy now sounds more and more like you walked into my shop, and we started having a conversation.”
And she thinks that in the future, successful eCommerce businesses will have to wave their personality into the websites, not just general descriptions and stunning images. “I think personality needs to come through. It’s not just about ingredients and pretty pictures. It’s about how your customers feel when they get to your site and how they feel after shopping and spending their hard-earned money with you.”
A person can be anything they want to be
Abe Breuer, the CEO and owner of VIP To Go, has a very unusual story that he was willing to share with us.
“We intended to start a company that would take advantage of the construction boom in the New York tri-state area back in 2004 when it was flourishing. We knew we wanted to work in the maintenance industry, but it’s a business that necessitates a large inventory. Unlike painters, plumbers, and other professions that anybody may enter, we have millions of dollars in inventory, including vehicles, equipment, portable toilets, and trailers, to serve our customers. To start a business like ours, you need more than just the requisite talents. My brother Victor and I founded the business together.”
Challenges are an essential part of everyone’s life, and Abe was no different, “I had ADHD as a student, and I wasn’t exactly the teacher’s favorite. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grew up, but I was confident that whatever I chose to do, I would be successful. I overcome obstacles by focusing on my accomplishments. Even minor victories drive me to keep going.
The recession brought on by the epidemic was one of the most serious issues we faced. Individuals go out, businesses court clients, and people are willing to invest in luxury restroom trailers when things are going well and the market is running well. As events, movies, and the pandemic unfolded, this altered. When the pandemic struck, events, film festivals, flea markets, building sites, and other businesses began to close. Everyone was placed on lockdown. Furthermore, my product pricing had to be dramatically increased. Not because I was overcharged, but because the cost of raw materials was skyrocketing. For example, a case of toilet paper that used to cost $20 now costs $50.
We, on the other hand, were not discouraged. We were given fresh opportunities as a result of the pandemic. Testing stations required hand washing sinks, outdoor events necessitated the use of portable toilets, and utility companies required showers. Hence, our team was constantly on the lookout for new opportunities.”
“A person can be anything they want to be, in my opinion,” says Abe, “as long as they put their minds to it and work hard to achieve their goals. The first and most crucial step is for a person to persuade themselves.
Then work on improving your spoken communication abilities. It makes no difference which of the two abilities you acquire first; what matters is that you are highly good and effective because the next most crucial thing for you is to be a very effective, persuasive, and diligent seller.”
The business’s success will largely depend on customer satisfaction.
“Analyzing customer experience allows firms to better understand the changing expectations of their target audience. Digital marketers must acquire customer relationship management skills, which include techniques for monitoring and maximizing client happiness. It is always good for the firm to engage with customers on a more emotional and personal level since it develops customer trust. A marketer must have a thorough understanding of a customer’s mentality and emotions to improve customer service management.”
Regarding the eCommerce future, Abe expects a significant impact of visual stimuli. “Our culture is in an exceedingly visual period, and as technology progresses, visual cues will play an even bigger role in future purchasing decisions.
Virtual reality (VR) has ushered in a new age in the e-commerce experience, one that will alter the course of the industry. People will be able to get a closer look at items of interest by using virtual reality equipment.
Looking at a product from various perspectives through a VR headset – whether indoors or out – is a feature of this technology that is unquestionably more striking and lifelike than looking at two-dimensional photographs online.”
Each of these stories is unique, yet they all have something in common. They all began ad hoc, as a response to a need combined with a personal interest or talent. And that led them to a successful eCommerce business.
SyncSpider’s story is no different. We spotted the need, and we jumped in with the solution. Let your eCommerce business grow effortlessly and save more time for creative work. Who knows, maybe you’ll get another great idea for your next eCommerce success story!
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