E-commerce for Brands
Launch vs. Grow: Leverage Your Advantages
Dan Ben-Nun, founder and CEO at AdSpace and founder of the popular e-commerce brand Inkkas, joined E-Commerce with Coffee?! host Nate Svoboda for a conversation about historic trends of online sales and the new requirements of direct-to-consumer (DTC) e-commerce.
Specifically, Dan talks about his own experience growing a worldwide DTC brand and the lessons he learned early on about customer acquisition. Dan’s own explosive success with paid ads is what later led him to start his agency and help other brands do the same.
Dan got into DTC when everything about it was new. He was an early adopter of Shopify, Facebook ads, and even influencer advertising and Kickstarter.
Thanks to coming in at the ground floor, these technologies that quickly came to reshape retail became Dan’s domain. He started so early with Facebook ads, in fact, that the social network even wrote a case study about his brand, Inkkas.
Dan came onto the show to talk about his own experience growing a DTC brand and to point others in the right direction for success in the new market. For brands looking to grow in e-commerce or launch there for the first time, the waters in 2021 are rough. Dan lights the way to new shores.
Origins in Inkkas
Dan got started in DTC e-commerce when he launched his own online brand after a life-changing experience. He was backpacking through South America where he became taken by the artisanal shoes sold by Peruvian craftspeople in Aguas Calientes, the tourist town at the foot of Machu Picchu. He was so taken by the style, colors, and detail that he bought an online domain that night, Inkkas.
It was his intention to buy these shoes in bulk and make them available to a global market.
That was a decade ago. Since then, Dan’s footwear brand has grown, inspired now by even more native cultures of the world. With Inkkas’ explosive success, Dan quickly moved into working with other brands as a strategic growth marketer to help them do what he did.
In the early days of Inkkas, Dan was focused on SEO and Facebook ads as his primary customer acquisition channels. The way he talks about these channels and what they were like when he got started leaves listeners in awe of just how much has changed.
Without a doubt, Dan has seen a lot of development in e-commerce, and he’s navigated it with unequivocal success. Always ahead of the next big shift, he’s shown us just how to stay ahead of the competition.
Five Essentials in Any E-Commerce Strategy
All Dan’s experience early on in the DTC revolution shaped him into a true thought leader. The way he came to understand scaling e-commerce businesses was backed by a system of his own design.
That system is what he later developed into a methodology that he’s helped hundreds of successful e-commerce brands implement since.
Dan’s methodology is based on five pillars:
- Product-market fit
- Customer acquisition
- Lifecycle marketing
- Reporting and analytics
- Website experience
When Dan works with brands through his agency, AdSpace, he educates them on these five pillars. “Whether you have a wholesale business, retail, or e-commerce,” Dan assures us, “there are some universal, foundational methods that position you for success.”
How to Weigh Market Saturation
When the interview arrives at the topic of market saturation, Dan has a refreshing take.
There are those brands that adopted e-commerce early, and most of them have a strong foothold in their niches that seems nearly impossible to compete with for brands just launching.
Dan insists, however, that there is no “do or die” launch date for starting a new business model. There are unique challenges and advantages based on timing, but if you’re ready for them and come in with an agile plan, any brand can launch successfully to e-commerce.
To stay ahead of the competition that’s been around in e-commerce for ages, you’ll just need a different strategy than the one that got the competition where they are. Times in e-commerce have changed, and it’s your turn to come in with fresh ideas.
Some of the examples Dan gives for “old opportunities gone underutilized” and “new opportunities worth adopting fast” include SMS, email, and TikTok. “But you can’t just launch and throw money at ads,” Dan says. You still have to be strategic and think about the funnel you’re building out.
“It is about testing a lot of different channels to find what works,” Dan reflects.
Launch or Grow?
Whether a brand is launching or reinvesting to kickstart new growth, Dan talks in the interview about the importance of content. “Creative [content] is now the most important advertising asset,” he says.
The base of a savvy content plan today includes loads of engaging videos, in particular. Video trends, Dan tells us, also include things like the quirkiest videos getting greater engagement. The first two seconds of an ad video, Dan says, must break the zombie-like scroll action.
The rest of the video has to deliver real value to make the scroll-stop technique seem worth it to consumers.
Dan then shares some examples of great videos he’s seen do just that.
Dan also talks about the two standard models for revenue growth:
- Slow and steady
- Growth at all costs
Of course, each model has its advantages and disadvantages. Dan leaves listeners with a lot to think about on the topic.