Building a lifestyle brand means aligning your products with the interests, dreams, emotions, and daily lives of the people who identify as part of the culture you're creating products for.
In this episode of Shopify Masters, you’ll hear from Yaw Owusu, the serial entrepreneur that partnered with NFL star Marshawn Lynch to launch his official lifestyle and athleisure brand: Beast Mode.
Find out how he approached the celebrity and helped turn his apparel brand into a lifestyle brand.
Whether they're being Beast Mode at the gym, at school, in your day-to-day life, it’s figuring out what’s their apparel or what’s the product that fits that lifestyle.
Tune in to learn
- What is "product assortment" and why you need to think about it for your business
- How to keep your brand fresh and exciting
- What it takes to approach a celebrity with a business opportunity
- Store: Beastmode
- Social Profiles: Facebook, Twitter Instagram
- Recommendations: MailChimp (Shopify app), Hotjar (Shopify app), ShipStation (Shopify app), Sumo (Shopify app, email capture), Smile (Shopify app, loyalty reward program)
Felix: Today I’m joined by Yaw Owusu from Beast Mode Apparel. Beast Mode Apparel is the official lifestyle and athleisure brand of Marshawn Lynch. It was started in 2016 and based out of Oakland, California. Welcome Yaw.
Yaw: Hey, how are you doing Felix.
Felix: Good. Yaw, how did you guys end up working with someone like Marshawn Lynch?
Yaw: Man, Hingeto started a year before the Beast Mode brand started and it came through a relationship that, myself and my partners had at a company called Karmaloop, the eCommerce company back in the day. We worked with a brand called Billionaire Boys Club and the person who was the creative director of BBC and just us being in Oakland, us having that relationship with BBC. Chris Bevans, who was the creative director of Beast Mode and he hooked us up, picked us, connected us directly to Beast Mode to start working together.
Felix: Yes. I didn’t really say much about Hingeto, but that’s the company that you started prior to working with Marshawn Lynch. Can you tell us a little more about that? Like what is the company, what does it do?
Yaw: Yeah, for sure. Overall Hingeto is a B2B marketplace and we connect primarily online stores with cool and interesting new products without inventory risk. For Beast Mode, if you wanted to create some fashion products without having to take physical inventory risk, we help them connect in that way. For a brand that wants to sell product without inventory risk, we help them connect to lifestyle brands. Anything from Star Wars to anything in like Disney apparel, things of that nature.
Felix: Got it. Most of these would be like working with brands or bringing products from brands that would usually require a license?
Yaw: Yeah, exactly. In our past experience that at the brand called Karmaloop, we implemented this platform that allowed Karmaloop back in the day to sell our existing brand without having to bring product into the physical warehouse. If you think about Amazon, Amazon is a combination of product that are in Amazon’s warehouse, but it’s a combination of products that are shipping directly from a manufacturer or supplier. We allow eCommerce stores and just brands in general on Shopify or off Shopify to sell those supplier brands without having to take that physical inventory in-house.
Felix: Got it. Is this similar to like the drop shipping model, but for apparel specifically?
Yaw: Yeah, exactly.
Felix: Got it. Cool. You mentioned you worked at Billionaire Boys Club, Karmaloop, so very famous street wear brands. What was that step that you took then towards launching your own, working more with eCommerce brands like Beast Mode?
Yaw: At Karmaloop we helped a lot of brands drive a lot of revenue back at Karmaloop, close to over $500 million in sales back in the day. We wanted to help brands sell more directly to their customer base, wanted to help brands drive traffic and really just thinking about how can we use technology to help facilitate that. When we started working with Beast Mode, it actually started with a bomber jacket. At the time, Beast Mode was primarily working, selling t-shirts, sweatshirts things that could be screen printed and then sold directly on the store.
Yaw: He wanted to expand the product assortment. Hingeto started out as a crowdfunding like solution and so we worked with him to create this bomber jacket. It was like a really, really nice bomber jacket. We started where we designed the bomber jacket, but it was never produced. We created the design for the bomber jacket, put it on site, and then once they hit a certain threshold we would then go into manufacturing of that product.
Yaw: That bomber jacket went on to sell thousands and thousands of units. We turned it around, created that product and sent it directly to the customer within a six week time period. That was like our initial working with Beast Mode and what really kicked off our relationship and sort of us getting more and more involved in the Beast Mode business on a day to day basis. Today we create probably around 60% of the Beast Mode apparel products. We also work with a lot of brands like PSD, New Era, Strideline, where they’re creating Beast Mode branded product directly for his store. Beast Mode has an online presence, but also two physical stores. One in Oakland and one in Seattle.
Felix: Got it. Obviously tacking like Marshawn Lynch is a huge win for any business working with a celebrity like that. Because you have experience here, how do you usually work with when you’re working with a celebrity like who is on their team that you are working with on day to day basis?
Yaw: Some of it is family members. We actually work pretty heavily with Marshawn himself. He’s involved in the business. I see him pretty often. Obviously, when he has football training camp, he won’t be around, but there’s Mitch, there’s Brian, there’s a ton of people around, family members and people around the business that help on a day to day. Beast Mode overall is a family business. There’s relatives and friends that have been involved with the business from the very start. Those are the people that take care of the day to day operations.
Felix: Usually when you get an opportunity like this it doesn’t come around that often so you have to make sure you leave a good first impression and you get it right with that first business interaction. When you guys had this opportunity, what did you guys make sure to do right or prepare to make sure that you’re setting yourself up to have a longterm business relationship with them?
Yaw: I think initially it was really gaining trust from a product perspective. We initially started with Beast Mode there was fully focused around the product offering. When he came, I remember the day he came, we’re in Oakland. He rode his bike from his door over to our office and met with Lee Andrew, the CEO of Hingeto. He was like, I’m opening a store in Seattle, but I have no product so that’s what we have to get to work at a very short time period is figure out like, how do we launch this, how do we sort of get his store ready and prepped to launch a new store out in Seattle?
Yaw: That’s where we have to show our true colors and say, “All right, how do we execute on this, how do we go forward to get the product produced, get it shipped all the way to Seattle, get the product ready for the store launching, and really just make it a success overall to drive revenue for the business.” It starts with really starting small. Like I said, when we started, it was really that crowdfunding business we started with them and then over time we got more and more involved in the business. Sort of as long as you are able to deliver products and graphics that he likes and product that sells, like we’ve been able to gain trust in running the business on a day to day basis.
Felix: It sounds like he already had that vision in his head so you didn’t have to convince him that this was what was necessary to build a sustainable business. Just having the right product, he already had the brand behind it and it was a very powerful combination. For anyone out there that does want to connect with a celebrity or I’m sure people have approached you and asked how did you end up working with Marshawn Lynch, what do you recommend? How do someone even begin down this path of trying to connect with and eventually working with someone that has the status of someone like Marshawn Lynch?
Yaw: I think it all started with I say stair stepping your way up. When we started, we worked with from Marshall Lynch to a bunch of different celebrities that are athletes. It involves starting with a smaller relationship. For us, it started with our experience at Karmaloop. We’re working with a lot of brands. They obviously knew people that were connected to other people. It’s putting in the work in terms of building great rapport with people that you interact with. Then once have you established a good relationship, they may be like, “Oh, you guys do this. I may be able to introduce you to someone who’s looking for that.”
Yaw: With us, we had a lot of experience in the eCommerce realm. With Beast Mode it happened to be a great relationship. Because he was looking to expand his product assortment and that’s what we do on a day to day basis. We help eCommerce brands grow their revenue through product assortment, through traffic. I’d say if I were to give any advice to other stores looking to work with a celebrity or an athlete, you got to stair step your way. It’s not like you’re going to be able to just go directly to a brand like Beast Mode and work with them directly. You got to be able to show value, show the capabilities and really start small.
Felix: You’re probably not going to get my success from like tweeting or DMing the celebrity directly so who on their team should you be looking to build a relationship with first, especially if you’re looking to work with them and in like a business sense?
Yaw: In business sense it could even involve in terms of being in the store. He had a physical store in Oakland, we are currently in Oakland, California. Just being in the store, getting involved with the individuals who are running the store on a day to day basis and saying like, “Hey, I noticed you guys aren’t carrying x category. I possibly create product like this.” Doing things for free. A lot of people take for granted providing value in the free sense. Like when we started, we did things on a free basis, like we provided value in a free way.
Yaw: That could mean involved in going into the store, finding the person that’s running the on a day to day basis and say like, “Hey, how can we provide value?” For someone like Beast Mode it could be as simple as creating graphics for him. Always looking for new graphics in terms of people who have new ideas that can help to drive value and revenue for the business. I’d say if you’re looking to work with someone like that, it involves finding the person that you can connect with and connect with them on an initial small basis and then provide value for free.
Felix: In your case, the category that they were missing, was it the bomber jackets?
Yaw: Yeah. It was a bomber jackets, but also just cut and sell apparel. When you’re creating apparel, many times you can create things on a screen printing basis. If he’s creating the-shirts and sweatshirts, but when you start to get into more athleisure apparel, hats, things of that nature, where you involved in broader anything of that nature, that’s where you have to. We produce product in the LA market, overseas and it just gets a little more complicated and having the experience to be able to do that, be able to deliver in a time window.
Felix: Folks out there might not be working with celebrities, but I think there are a lot of people out there that are working with influencers as like the face of their brand. Influencers that might not be on TV, but [inaudible 00:12:16] raving fans and they already have a brand. They already have some kind of brand recognition, but they have no product yet. How do you recommend someone begin down this path of developing that very first product? How do you know what to be building first?
Yaw: A lot of brand initially start with the-shirt. On the street wear world, T-shirt is sort of the easy way to get started because you can start without any inventory costs, without any risk. If you’re able to really figure out who your customer is, who do you want to focus on? Whether it’s mom, whether it’s bikers, whether it’s celebrity figuring out for a clothing brand, you can start with printing on demand. There’s tons of apps on Shopify that focus on the print on demand space.
Yaw: You can start without having to really create that product and have it stored in a physical warehouse. You could also just go hard in terms of screen printing those t-shirts. I feel like t-shirts is the easy way to initially get started with a brand and then as you grow, as you build your business, you can expand from there.
Felix: Once you started producing the bomber jackets for them, you started helping out in more facets of the business?
Yaw: Yes. Once he started with the bomber jacket, then it involved getting product created in the store. A lot of it initially started with some t-shirts and screen printing those t-shirts, then we went in terms of creating more athleisure apparel. That was working primarily with brands out in LA where we would get fabrics. Initially put the Beast Mode branding on some of those fabrics based on the LA market and then deliver it to his customer base. Then from there once we got larger and bigger, we then went overseas to create more complicated products, whether it’s jackets or whether it’s legging, things of that nature.
Felix: Now, today, what’s your teams day to day involvement in the beastmode online.com business?
Yaw: For Beast Mode online, it’s primarily a combination of running the online store. Anything from emails to site promotions, it involves getting physical product. Physical product means assorting the online store, but also their physical stores. They have one store in Oakland and one store in Seattle and there’ll be launching a new store in the near future. It’s about figuring out like what is the product assortment going to look like for those stores, how do we create product that’s exciting and new for that customer base and keep people overall engaged to know what Beast Mode is doing.
Felix: How is the inventory managed between all of these brick and mortar stores and online?
Yaw: That’s actually an area where we’re looking for a solution for it. Right now it’s primarily all managed via Shopify. We don’t use any outside tools. Gratefully, we have members on our team that have a lot of merchandising experience that’s primarily coming from a large company before who are able to manage things in terms of like weeks of supply, how quickly the inventory is turning and if inventory or we say supplies is getting low, trying to determine when we need to replenish that inventory.
Felix: What is that biggest pain point when you have multiple sales channels like this?
Yaw: The biggest pain point is keeping excitement around the brand. Managing inventory I’d say is another pain point. ’Cause when you’re having product that’s selling from different areas, sometimes for example, in Seattle, because Beast Mode used to play there, there’s going to be product and assortment that sell well there, that may not be selling as well in the Oakland store. So is being able to manage the trending data and sort of what’s working, what’s not working and being able to react to that data very quickly.
Yaw: I think, in the past, the old retail model, you would make inventory decision six months to a year in advance and many times a lot of this [inaudible 00:16:51] where a lot of the brick and mortar stores like closing down is that, customer trends change so quickly. You need to be able to react to those, to customer feedback, react to those changes. One of the great things that Beast Mode does very well is we’re able to talk directly to the customer and that’s one of the great things where having a physical presence helps a lot in the product assortment.
Yaw: We were able to talk to customers, get a sense of what they like, what they don’t like. Then that feedback then loops into working with us to figure out, hey, customers really liked this item but this item didn’t fit this well or we need to change this. We use that feedback to iterate on the product and figure out what do we need to do next, what are going to create next? I think that’s critically viable for stores or new stores getting up and running, really get information from your feedback, from your best customers, from your worst customer, figuring out what they like, what they don’t like, and use that feedback to fuel driving the business.
Felix: Does that mean do you have to train the sales people, the people that are on the floor talking to customers to ask those questions or how to get that feedback back to decision makers like yourself?
Yaw: Yes, exactly. We’re lucky because we’re right around the corner from the Beast Mode store so we talk to customers. We see customers in the store. People who are working in the store they’re very involved in the Beast Mode business so we’re talking to them pretty often in terms of like, hey, we don’t have enough women’s products, there’s this specific category that sold out too quickly and we need more of this product.
Felix: You actually physically spend time in the store so for anyone else out there that might not have a store exclusively featuring your product any of it, but if it’s there at all, it’s gonna make sense to go there talk to customers about the product if it’s in any store?
Yaw: Exactly. But if a store has online presence as well, like you can always take a look at who are your top selling customers or who are the customers that are buying the most and email them, have a conversation with them, give them a gift card or offer them some free product to get a sense of like what’s working, what’s not working, what are the things that could be improved. Many of the times a great way to sort of see what may be broken in your cart process is sit down next to an individual and sort of see them purchase from beginning to end.
Yaw: When they see an email, they click on that email, they add that product to the cart. Where are the places where it may not be as smooth or they may be confused and those are areas where you can take for feedback and adjust your cart to make things better.
Felix: Are you talking about sitting next to them in person or are there applications that you’ve used that people can replicate this process?
Yaw: Not any particular application right now. We use a few application in terms of like managing the day to day business, managing email, managing loyalty right now. But now that I think about it, one of the tools that that can be used is a tool called Hotjar. It started a few years ago. You sort of can see where the customer is clicking, where they’re navigating through the site. That could be a great tool for store owners to use to sort of see where people are clicking, where they’re getting confused.
Felix: I’ve heard good things about Hotjar. I think I’ve used it myself too, so it can definitely do that where you can watch someone go down that journey of purchasing a product and seeing where they get stuck at. You mentioned this a couple times now, this word or this phrase a product assortment and I think a lot of stores out there, kind of produce things and put them out and kind of go through this cycle of churning out more and more products. Might not be as conscious about the assortment and what things you want to actually put out into the marketplace. Can you talk about this a little bit more? What is product assortment? What does it mean to you?
Yaw: Product assortment what it means to me is so with Beast Mode being athletic apparel brand and lifestyle brand, it means around what are things that the customer base is doing on a day to day basis? Our customer base is very athletic. They are active, whether it’s kids, whether it’s women, whether they’re at the gym. I was thinking about like what are their journey on a day to day basis and how can we create apparel to fit that lifestyle? Many times you’ll see Beast Mode wearing or rocking the apparels and it’ll be him just going into the locker room or getting ready for a game and it’s creating product that fits that lifestyle.
Yaw: Whether you’re being Beast Mode at the gym, being Beast Mode at school, being Beast Mode in your day to day life. It’s figuring out what’s their apparel or what’s the product that fits that lifestyle and how can we fit that customer base to sort of run their day to day lives in that Beast Mode nature? From a product assortment perspective that means anything from t-shirts, it may be snapback hats, but we also do a lot of compression based apparels. That’s what's like technical clothing or socks and things of that nature to fit the lifestyle of the brand.
Felix: That makes a lot of sense, ’cause you’re getting at is that you want to think about all of the different roles that a customer plays in their day or in their week. Usually if you’re designing things like t-shirts, you might just fit into one kind of role, one kind of day or one kind of part of their week, but there are many others. People that are going out and working out or people that just want to lounge around and you just try to see if you can create products that help them kind of express themselves in those particular roles. When it comes to your product assortment, do you remove products as well? How do you think about that?
Yaw: Yeah. We’re always testing product. Beast Mode it’s a athletic brand like you’ll see things like sweat activated t-shirt for instance. But then we like to do a lot of testing to see what’s working or not, so we’ll introduce a category where with that Beast Mode bomber that we initially did, we didn’t really know if that was something that the customer base would latch onto. It initially started with a crowdfunded test and then we will go and buy product because the customer base loved it and like that product buy heavy into it.
Yaw: But then we’ll also take product down. There may be product that we initially think was going to do well and it didn’t perform, so we’ll have to take those learnings and initially put it on sale and know for next time that hey, maybe this didn’t work because the color wasn’t right or the specific style wasn’t right.
Felix: Got it. How do you test today, ’cause you’ve mentioned that you were crowdfunding one point that’s something that you’ve moved away from, it sounds like, so how do you test new products today?
Yaw: Today, it’s initially primarily doing a small run, so testing small units of a specific style and then once we see that it’s getting some traction, going heavier on that style. We also do a decent amount of on demand printing as well. We’ll test new graphics on an on demand basis and once those graphics are performing, we’ll then go into screen printing for that graphic. If you go to Beast Mode online today, you’ll see a new category that we’re testing. It could be canvas art and we’ll take lifestyle photos of Marshawn and put that on an iPhone case or t-shirt or a sweatshirt, all on an on demand basis.
Yaw: Then once we see that it’s working, we’re like, hey, how can we take this one graphic and apply it to other products that we think will perform well. You’ll see that testing and iteration day after day. Really just testing graphics on an on demand basis and once we’re seeing that, hey, this one graphic that’s gray and black or silver and black is doing really well, how can we apply that to other products that can drive revenue for the business.
Felix: Earlier you mentioned that one of the key focuses to succeed with this business is to keep the brand exciting. What steps do you take there to keep things relevant and exciting for the brand?
Yaw: Marshawn is unique just because as you can see with some of the press that he gets on a month on month basis, he is a character in itself. What keeps things exciting for the brand is a lot of the collaboration and things that he is doing within the community. Anything from football camps to events at the Beast Mode store. They recently did a collaboration with LimeBike where they did a ride out in Oakland and that was just like getting a ton of people from the community to ride their bikes from one location to another.
Yaw: Those things that getting the community involved, getting Marshawn out signing t-shirts or signing posters, things of that nature. That keeps things exciting and keep people engaged in the brand and wanting to come back to the store to purchase more and just support.
Felix: Are you creating like custom apparel for these events and collaborations as well?
Yaw: Yeah. What we’ll do is we’ll partner with a brand like LimeBike. They may do a custom bike, we’ll create some apparel around that, create some socks around that specific brand and that’s what keeps it exclusive really to say like, “Hey, here’s a limited quantity of a certain product just for this event.” What keeps that excitement and that like, the production will happen once and then you’ll never see that product again. If you want to participate, you have to purchase it now or you may never see it again. That’s what keeps things exciting.
Felix: I think I see this a lot with successful brands is that they get to a certain point where the biggest wins are by partnering with other brands. How do you guys identify which brands to partner with?
Yaw: It comes down to brand that you have a relationship, brand that provide value. It comes down to are there categories that we want to go into that we may not have the expertise around creating it? Like a bike, it’s gonna take us a lot of learnings to go and figure out how to create a bike from scratch. That’s where it’d make sense to partner with a bike company that’s already spent their 10,000 hours creating that product, figuring out production of that product and where we can really leverage each other to get more exposure.
Yaw: Like a lot of [inaudible 00:28:26] take for granted and how can you leverage other people’s audiences to grow both businesses? Like there’s Beast Mode has his thing that he’s particularly good at and this thing that we’re not going to be good at, so if we can partner with people that have specific expertise in an area where they can get exposure for their brand, we get access to some new product to test that product, helps both businesses and the more that we could help each other to grow both sides of the business, is beneficial. That’s how we think about partnerships. How can we work with partners where both sides provide value and both sides can grow overall?
Felix: What kind of quantitative or qualitative factors do you look at after working with a partner for the first time to determine that, hey, let’s do this again?
Yaw: Sometimes it involves what are the sales? Obviously sales is going to be a number one thing that we look at. Beast Mode gets a lot of it’s traffic primarily through brand related terms, so people coming directly to the site or organic. We like to see like how is that affected through us doing that collaboration? Sometimes it’s a little hard to measure because it’s trying to determine like where is this traffic coming from?
Yaw: We also try to take a look at like what are some of the press mention that we’re currently receiving from that and that helps drive SEO value because the more backlink that we’re receiving on a month to month basis, that’s going to help to drive SEO for the Beast Mode brand longterm. There may not be initial benefit, but longterm having those links on other publications is going to help the Beast Mode brand longterm in terms of driving organic traffic.
Felix: When you work with a brand, do you ask for or look for a specific kind of core marketing things that you agree on like both sides or send out email blasts? Are there certain things that you look for?
Yaw: Yeah, exactly. We will determine initially who’s creating the product. Is it ourselves or the brand, and where is that product going to be exposed? It may be on the Beast Mode store, it maybe on the brand store. There may be a specific retail location that we want to expose the brand. From an email perspective, it comes out through email or social media in terms of like like how is this brand going to be promoted, where is it going to be promoted and go from there.
Felix: Got it. What’s like the key, what do you look for in terms of I guess certain aspects of the core marketing plan that you always want in place?
Yaw: I’d say leverage email. For us, email drives 30 plus percent of the business, so if we can use email as a core driver to get exposure for the brand, that is a good place to start. But also it’s like it all depends on where the collaborated audience base is. They may not have a big email list and that may not be the place where you want to focus. They may have a lot of traffic coming directly to the site. They may have retail partnerships that makes sense for your business.
Yaw: Today we may not work with a lot retailers, but the partner that we collaborate with may have relationships with retailer that have the traffic that we want to get access to. If they bring that to the table, we bring Beast Mode as a brand to the table and that may make sense from a collaboration perspective.
Felix: Got it. You would probably rely on the brand that you’re partnering with to give guidance on where the marketing should happen?
Yaw: Yeah. We’ll get guidance from them, but also we have to determine based on what we see relating to their brand and where we think it makes most sense.
Felix: Got you. Most of this is public for the most part anyway so if you see a lot of popularity on Instagram or Snapchat or on their Facebook, then you can obviously ask for that when you are putting together their core marketing plan. You mentioned earlier that, especially in the apparel space, things are changing all the time. Businesses die because they aren’t able to adapt quick enough and you guys are able to adapt because you are in store, you’re in front of the customer, you’re watching them, you’re hearing what they are, what they like, what they don’t like. Based on what you’ve seen so far, what is an example of something that maybe in the last year was trendy, it was popular that is no longer the case in the apparel space that you’re in?
Yaw: That was trendy. I don’t know if I have a specific example that was trendy.
Felix: Maybe trendy is the wrong word, but like what are some things that were great opportunities that you guys are moving away from?
Yaw: One example of something that, I can give an example of what we took advantage of is, when Marshawn was playing in the football field, there is sort of like this coming back to Oakland dance that he did. It was during a home game. During that time it got a ton of publicity and we said, how can we take this moment and drive sales from it? Under a 24 hour period, we took sort of the photography from that dance, created that product on an on demand basis. Actually we pre-sold that t-shirt. Created a graphic for it, pre-sold it and was able to drive sales during that specific moment.
Yaw: But that moment only last for a short period of time. Moments like that come and they leave very quickly. If you’re able to take advantage of that moment at that particular time, you’ll be able to drive value and hopefully drive sales during that moment and then obviously sales are going to drop off because people move on to the next thing. Now with social media, things come and they go so you got to take advantage when the opportunity is there. Then when they opportunity disappears, you got to move onto the next thing.
Got it. You’re using a current event to create products and to kind of ride the wave and there’s like you are saying a big spike, but then eventually it will fall off. People move onto the next thing. Have you found any ways to try to kind of harvest that hype for longer to try to convert customers to be longer term customers?
Yaw: In terms of longer term customers, that’s more around keeping involved with the customer via email, via the site. We do a lot of events at the Beast Mode store and just being active in terms of exposure for the Beast Mode brand. Obviously Beast Mode does a lot in terms of the Oakland community and just the community in general. It can involve anything from an event at the store. It could involve, he does a lot of footBall camps here and outside of Oakland so being involved in that community and it just keeps you top of mind.
Yaw: The more that you’re doing, it’s going to keep you top of mind in terms of the visibility of not only the brand but things that Marshawn himself is doing. As long as you’re staying involved in the community, being involved with the customer base, being top of mind, I think that all plays a part.
Felix: You mentioned earlier that one of the categories that you’re in is in the athleisure space, for anyone out there that doesn’t know, what is the athleisure space?
Yaw: I’d say athleisure is a combination of athletic apparel, but also it’s like leisure apparel. It’s like you can go out, work out with that product, but also just chill at your house with the product as well. It’s like comfortable, but also will work well when you’re at the gym or going for a run. It can be used for multiple cases.
Felix: Obviously that’s the same audience, but a little [inaudible 00:37:17] probably the biggest one in that space that really paved the way and made I guess the name athleisure really popular. Where do you see this kind of category going in the future?
Yaw: I think it’s gonna just continue to grow. I think now everyone’s trying to get, looking at being more healthy. Whether it’s what they’re eating on a day to day basis, what they’re doing, people are just being more active. As you are more active, the space overall is going to grow with that. People are trending in terms of, and it could be a random thing. It could be running, it could be biking, it’s just being active in your day to day life and as long people are staying active in their day to day life, the space will continue to grow.
Felix: Is the kind of investments or investment in the clothing technology different for athleisure versus selling something like a cotton t-shirt?
Yaw: Typically, the materials is different for an athleisure product versus not. We’re always looking in terms of like are there some new technologies that are clothing related that we can leverage or use to create better product? The material generally it’s different than your standard cotton t-shirt. Could be a combination of polyester. It could be a bunch of different things that’s wick based, so sweat wick based material that activated once you start sweating.
Yaw: As long as we can incorporate some of these new material that are coming out in the market into the product at Beast Mode, it’s a value for the customer base. But that has to look good too, it can’t be all tech focus if the product doesn’t look good on you.
Felix: Athleisure is one of the industries now where it’s not just about one or the other, it’s both form and function. Do you find that people that do purchase athleisure apparel, do they care more about the clothing material or they care more about design? What do you think is more important to them?
Yaw: I think it’s a combination of both. I think for me it’s probably more functional. When I’m working out or at the gym, making sure that like is this material, does it feel good on my body, does it give me freedom in terms of my movement? The functionality of the apparels many times they’re the new sort of like the construction of the apparel will not have a tag so it doesn’t itch you on sort of your back. It will be the material is very soft, but it still has that wicking ability.
Yaw: Function I’d say is probably the more important aspect of the apparel and making sure that when you’re being active in it, that it doesn’t bother you that it’s comfortable so that you can get your workout in and then carry about your day.
Felix: Got it. Do you do any paid marketing online?
Yaw: We don’t do a lot of paid marketing today. We do some paid marketing during the holiday period where obviously there is a high instance of demand, increased traffic. We don’t do a lot of paid marketing via Instagram or Facebook today. But it’s something we’re investigating in terms of like how can we leverage paid marketing to at least use it for retargeting, to say like people are coming to the site. Obviously for your standard eCommerce site, the confederated going to be 1 to 3%.
Yaw: If we can engage the other 97% of people who didn’t buy on the first visit to come back to the store to purchase, that’s something that we’re investigating and figuring out how can we leverage it to drive more sales to the business. But we don’t do a lot of it today.
Felix: Got it. You mentioned though that you do, do email. What is that program like?
Yaw: With email, it involves a few different things. One of the things with an email list right now drives around 30% of the business and involves around onboarding. When a user signs up for the Beast Mode online email lists, how can we onboard the customer base to get a sense of who the customer or what the brand is, what is the brand about, what you’ll experience by being involved with the brand and being involved with the movement? Email involves around abandoned cart.
Yaw: Like I said, 97% of people are going to come to the site, add a product to the checkout flow and then leave for whatever reason. Maybe they got busy or they didn’t just feel like buying at that time. Reengaging those people from cart abandonments to come back and shop. It involves around once a user purchases, how can we get them involved to purchase more? We’ll take a look at who are our highest revenue customers, who are the customers that maybe have not purchased as much and how can we engage them to purchase more? It involves taking a look at customers, reengaging customers who maybe used to purchase a lot and for whatever reason have stopped purchasing.
Yaw: How can we get them more involved, whether it’s email or another channel to reengage that customer base. It involves a few different things, but also it’s like involves on a week to week basis promotions. Whether it’s sale items, whether it’s new items that have been recently added to the site, whether it’s trending items that are items that the customer may have missed that we’re suggesting that can be good item for them to take a look at it. It involves all those things.
Felix: Got it. You mentioned two things I want to talk about a little bit more. First one is about abandoned cart. What do you find is the best way to get a prospective customer to return back and finish checking out?
Yaw: A lot of people will leverage promotions really to get a customer base to check out. You use a sequence of emails, typically two or three emails to get the customer to engage. Really just leveraging what the customer browse, what they added to their cart and using that within the email to say, “Hey Billy, these are the items that you forgot. Come back to the site to check them out before they’re gone.” It could involve using promotion as a way to get them to come back to shop.
Felix: When you say promotions, you’re talking about like a discount code or something?
Yaw: Yeah, like a discount code, like 10%, 20% off. Usually I like to possibly use promotion toward the end, but there is other things that can be used outside of promotion to incentivize the customer to purchase. It could be around giving a sense of the product is going to sell out pretty quickly, where for Beast Mode a lot of the product does sell out fairly quickly. It could be around-
Felix: Like some kind of urgency to get them to make the decisions faster?
Yaw: Exactly. Because at the past company that I was at, it was in the floor space, so urgency was a major part of getting people to purchase quickly. If we can use that to incentivize people on the site, it’s going to be able to provide value. But also there’s ways that can be done with let’s say free with purchase. That’s an area that we haven’t investigated too much, but it’s an area that can be leveraged to drive people to purchase.
Yaw: Let’s say you’re selling a the-shirt for example, but you know you have a lot of legging that are in stock that you’re trying to move through quickly to open warehouse space. That can be something that you can add to a purchase. People call it free with purchase item to incentivize a user to purchase now.
Felix: I like that approach where you get a free gift because I think psychologically the free gift you feel like you are getting a better deal than just saving money. It’s more interesting because you’re getting something on top of it rather than just against saving the money and also it doesn’t dilute or harm the value of your product. If you say that you’ll save 10%, then people would think though, should have been the price to begin with? Kind of brings in their conversation. But a free gift or a bonus item for your purchase, I think, is just more interesting from a customer perspective.
Yaw: I definitely think so. I feel like a lot of people aren’t thinking of creative ways to really get people to the shop. The majority of people are going to leverage discounts, but the challenge with discounts is, when you use discounts too much, the customer base they’re not stupid. They get used to the discount and then they’re gonna do things particularly on their side to get that discount. Whether it’s, abandoning the cart on purpose to try to figure out like discount people are more hip to what’s happening online these days.
Felix: That makes sense. The second thing you mentioned was about repeat purchasers. What are you doing here? How do you get a customer that just [inaudible 00:47:03] the first time to try to get them to come back and buy again?
Yaw: It’s email. Email is obviously a big one. With email, it involves keeping them involved in terms of our email base. Whether it’s informing them around the new product that we’re offering, getting involved in term of like events. Beast Mode does a lot of events in the physical store. Many times a store we’ll focus on their product and what’s being offered on the product. But that typically can get boring very quickly. Like I said, when Beast Mode does a ride out in Oakland, that’s something that the email list and the community can get directly involved with.
Yaw: They may be a premier for an opening that Beast Mode we’ll do a special premiering for. Those are things that are outside of just clothing on a day to day basis that keeps the customer base involved. Even though we’re not going to be getting paid for those particular events or activities that are happening, it keeps the brand at top of mind and that is all involved in terms of keeping the customer engaged. Yes, there’ll be a standard thing in terms of the email. There’s things in terms of like social media.
Yaw: The store has a decent sized following on Instagram so that keeps people involved in terms of the Instagram feed and sort of seeing what’s happening, what’s new with the brand. But it has to be multifaceted. People, their attention spans are so small these days that you got to be creative in figuring out like a way that you can be involved with the customer base outside of the online space. I think that’s a tactic that the brand has used very well in terms of keeping the customer base engaged.
Felix: You’re saying, look for reasons to touch base with the customer, reach out to them. It doesn’t always have to be promoting a product and you probably don’t want to push a product that often. But if there’s a chance for you to reach out to them about something that they might be interested in, use that as an opportunity. What application do you use to run the email and let us know as well what other kind of apps are used to help run the business?
Yaw: Right now we’re actually just using MailChimp today for email, but I’m investigating Klaviyo as a email solution just to be able to get more granular. We use ShipStation pretty heavily just to be able to manage the order flow for Shopify. We use Sumo for email capture. We actually just installed this app called Smile primarily around when you talked about keeping the customer base engaged. It’s a loyalty reward program that we’re investigating and figuring out how to keep customer bases incentivized to keep shopping via points.
Yaw: But also because Beast Mode is on Shopify Plus, one of the things that we’re trying to figure out is how can we make the cart experience more customized with leveraging Shopify scripts to just make the cart smarter. Many times you’ll see things around a customer base is $10 away from getting free shipping, so messaging the customer base in a smart way so that they will get offered the promotion then that way. When I mentioned free with purchase, there’s ways that you can use Shopify scripts to be able to give a customer base a free offer only when they hit certain milestones.
Yaw: Let’s say when you reach $100 in your cart, you get a free t-shirt, but if you get $150 you get a hoodie. But if you get a $1000 purchase, you get a hand-signed poster from Beast Mode directly. Those are some of the things that we’re thinking about and how can we leverage the Shopify ecosystem and the Shopify functionality to drive more value.
Felix: All right. Thank you so much for your time Yaw. Beast Mode apparel is the brand, beastmodeonline.com is the store. Hingeto is your other business. Where else can our listeners go out to check out what you’re up to?
Yaw: They can go to beastmodeonline.com. They could do Hingeto. They can also email me directly. It just email@example.com. I can be able to answer any questions via email or directly on the blog post.
Felix: Awesome. If anyone has any questions out there, Yaw will be answering any questions over on the episodes blog over shopify.com/blogs leave us a comment and he’ll be in there answering the questions you guys have. Again, thank you so much for your time Yaw.
Yaw: All right. Thank you. Appreciate it.
Felix: Thanks for tuning into another episode of Shopify Masters, the eCommerce podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs powered by Shopify. To get your exclusive 30 day extended trial, visit shopify.com/masters.
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