MVMT Watches: A Shopify Story (Case Study to Success)

MVMT Watches: A Shopify Story (Case Study to Success)

MVMT Watches (pronounced ‘movement’) have managed to create the world’s fastest growing watch brand using the Shopify e-commerce platform. The college dropout co-founders made it onto the 2017 Forbes 30 Under 30 List whilst amassing a whopping $60 million in sales in 2016 alone.

I love their story and simplistic approach which has granted them so much success in a very short space of time. Notwithstanding the motivational triumph, there’s also much to be learned from this young company that we can replicate in our own businesses.

I analyse exactly how they did it and highlight what we can learn from their journey below.

The Co-founders


Two college roommates Kramer LaPlante and Jake Kassan, both dropped out of college at age 22 to pursue an entrepreneurial idea. A bold decision however, both had a respectable background in side-hustling from early ages.

Image courtesy mvmtwatches.com

“We both always had a side hustle. We were always trying to make money any place we could. I tinted half of my school’s cars during high school. It wasn’t an official business but I made a bunch of money. Jake dropped out of college early and started a successful clothing and accessory company that sold through e-commerce and a retail store into the rave market by the time he was 19. After years of being roommates this was finally our chance to do something together.”

Courtesy Jake Kassan

That clothing company became Nite Life Designs, Jake used YouTube primarily to promote the business. Some videos got more than half a million views each, which gathered him enough steam to generate $40,000 per month at its apex.

The two identified a simple problem that needed to be addressed (the key to many successful brands). That problem was that ‘Millennials’ struggle to find a stylish, well made and affordable watch. They decided they needed to create a brand that catered for this Millennial demographic, promote it where said demographic lurks, YouTube/Instagram/Facebook, then sell it where Millennials shop – online.

They identified that the big watch conglomerates like Rolex, Michael Kors etc could be beaten in the social media marketing arena. A new online brand with a clean slate could target Millennials through social media platforms a lot more effectively than an “outdated” brand who may find themselves less relevant in the space.

With a vision in mind, they choose an equally novel way to finance themselves – crowdfunding.

Crowdfunding


Just in case you haven’t heard of crowdfunding, it’s where you float an idea of a project/venture to an audience, usually online. Typically, projects will receive small investments from a large number of investors. The investors of course receive interest on their loaned capital (often quite lucrative amounts).

Courtesy CC0 Public Domain

As a side note, I have invested in various real estate crowdfunding projects in the UK using thehousecrowd.com (no personal ties just a good platform) receiving interest rates in the 9% region – worth a bit of research if this interests you!

Jake and Kramer launched their crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo in June 2013 with less than $5000 of their own cash between them. They ended up surpassing their goal of $15,000, and instead received both a staggering $290,000 in investment and confirmation that they were on to something.

If your struggling with traditional ways of financing like bank loans and venture capital, crowdfunding can be a very attractive alternative. It can also serve to double as marketing and media exposure.

With the capital raised, where did they source their watches from? Not somewhere that the average joe can’t go, somewhere we can all source products from.

Alibaba


Just like many other dropshippers and e-commerce businesses, they utilised the Chinese giant Alibaba.com, much like I do, to research (and potentially source) their products.

Taken from CNBC:

“The duo researched watch suppliers in China through Alibaba from their shared Santa Barbara apartment. They talked to about 30 suppliers, asking questions to determine the quality and price points, and they realized that the markup most watch brands added to the wholesale price was staggering.”

“They could sell the same watches that other companies were hawking for about $300 for between $95 and $160 if they cut out the retail middlemen and primarily sold online.”

With very similar designs on Alibaba selling for less than $30, with a bit of modification and change of quarts, I’d expect the profit margins are still very healthy.

So they’ve now sourced their products for a good price and created a unique offering that aesthetically looks great – how did they sell them effectively online?

Shopify


MVMT simplified the creation of their online store using Shopify. If you haven’t heard of Shopify, their platform allows you to buy a domain and create a website very quickly from a template/theme.

The platform can also handle marketing, payments, secure checkouts and shipping if you wish.

I successfully used Shopify for my t-shirt dropshipping business recently – read more about it in my article on dropshipping in 2018 here.

What’s worth mentioning here, is that they didn’t use an army of html geeks to create their website, just a simple platform that anyone can use!

This is why I love their story, they used universally accessible channels to create their empire – if you don’t use Alibaba and Shopify you should really consider it.

Social Media


I don’t have to highlight the importance of social presence these days however, what I would say is that MVMT are working with Shopify (as one of their greatest successes) to address the ‘social marketing’ arena.

MVMT address the conversion conundrum with things like a native Facebook Shop through Shopify Plus. This enables their 1.8 million Facebook fans to purchase products without ever leaving the network. Perhaps a point for the more advanced, a very leaky area in online sales funnels is when traffic meets a website.

It’s often easy to get distracted on a website and thus any expedience in the purchasing process will likely be beneficial.

MVMT effectively use a Facebook shop and a host of Shopify apps to combat this problem (customer reviews, contests, email marketing, live chat, rescue abandoned carts etc.).

I’d also just like to highlight the potency of using Pinterest if you don’t already. MVMT have seen great success with the platform using paid and unpaid pins. They found that pins would convert for a longer period than other PPC ads – I’ve recently started using Pinterest for these reasons too.

Influencers


I found out about MVMT when browsing YouTube a couple of years back, a fitness channel that I follow started to offer a discount code for MVMT Watches.

It’s not uncommon for YouTubers (if that’s a word) to partner up with brands to earn commission, it makes sense for both parties if the price is right.

However, I started to notice more and more fitness channels start to offer discounts off MVMT products. After some research, it was clear that they had targeted this niche due to the abundance of influencers they had recruited.

This ties in nicely with their Millennial demographic, using very popular and influential YouTube channels.

A key point with the influencer marketing strategy is that potential influencers may well not require any upfront payment, they may just accept their commission when a sale is made.

This is a great alternative if you’re on a tighter budget and can’t front the financial burden of PPC ads.

I remember the story of Gymshark, an exceedingly successful UK start-up for gym gear in recent years. The founder Ben Francis, simply sent messages to well-followed channels on YouTube asking them for feedback on the gear, many of which wore the gear too which was a great catalyst in the growth of the company.

I also used influencers on Twitter to help promote my t-shirt dropshipping business too!

Parting Thoughts


  • Ensure that your business solves a problem. Consumers come to businesses in search of solutions. What can you do quicker, faster, smarter? In MVMT’s case, they identified that Millennials need stylish and affordable wrist wear, marketed to them through the most suitable channels – the MMVT brand solves this requirement. What problem does your business solve?
  • Alibaba remains an impressive place for researching and sourcing products for e-commerce entrepreneurs.
  • Shopify remains a fantastic platform for both beginners and 8-figure businesses alike. They also offer a 14-day free trial if you’ve never used them.
  • Use Pinterest.
  • Consider using influencers in your space. You may be surprised how little it costs to persuade someone with a moderate following to showcase your products. If they require upfront payment, compare the cost of likely impressions vs. those of PPC ads. Consider offering commission per sale to side step upfront costs.

If I’ve achieved anything in this post, at the very least I hope it’s been to motivate you! There are endless opportunities out there through even the most open source mediums, available to not just large conglomerates, but to you and me too.

More Reading


MVMT Watches

Shopify

Alibaba

Thanks for reading and take care.

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