Online store case study

In this section, we’ll be sharing our own experiences as we set up, launch and run the three-brains online shop. We work with businesses setting up their own online shops, and want to share learnings and tips to create an online store case study. 

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Online store case study

How this guide raises your game.

  1. Learn from how we planned and set up the Three-Brains shop. 
  2. Our learnings and lessons from the area of product development for your online store. 
  3. Summary of our key market research and marketing performance learnings.

We’ve set up and run most of the business models we’ve outlined in this section on online selling. From working in a manufacturing business selling online through traditional retailers, to working with Amazon.

We’ve also set up a whole direct to consumer operation from scratch.

Along the way we’ve learned some interesting but also sometimes painful lessons about how e-commerce work. 

We do believe in continued learning and putting our money where our mouth is. So, in this section, we share some learnings and lessons from our current online store 

Phase 1 - Plan, develop and quick launch

When we first start the process of setting up an online store, we recognised that our first three tasks were to :-

  • develop a product to sell,
  • find somewhere to sell it,
  • set up a  way of managing payment and delivery. 

We started with T-Shirts through Print on Demand suppliers. Specifically, we started with Spreadshirt and only slightly later added in Redbubble

This channel has relatively low barriers to entry, and is fairly quick to set up. There’s also no need to invest in stock. This is a good thing. But of course, when there are low barriers to entry, anyone can join in. That means it’s very competitive. 

It’s also very easy to set up the basic level of shop. All you’re doing is plugging in your designs and brand assets to a back-end system that’s already set up. The print on demand company handles all the payment and delivery.

Read our blog post from when we launched our Spreadshirt shop to get some of our thinking at the time. 

Phase 2 - Product Development and design

There are millions of T-shirt designs available online. And it takes some time to experiment with designs and see what works on a T-shirt and what doesn’t. 

We wanted to share some of our initial T-Shirt designs that we won’t be selling. Frankly we didn’t think they were good enough to sell. 

The ideas were OK. But the designs clearly needed more work. One related to cats (who doesn’t love cats online?). And one related to the “OK Boomer” meme which was popular at the time. 

OK Boomer

Though cats are obviously insanely popular online, this also means that it’s an insanely competitive area.

We also felt we’d struggle to link cats to our brand identity, unless we could somehow make it clever.

While we did then test one or two clever cat designs, they didn’t get muchattention. And we also don’t think these new designs were strong enough to be strong sellers.  

As for OK Boomer, yes was very topical at the time. There’s something to be said for being “on trend” in design. But, that phrase is rarely heard these days, and we don’t think the brand was well enough established at the time for it to work. Similar to the cats, there was no real link back to the the Three-brains brand identity

Phase 3 - Market research / Test advertising on Facebook

When we launched the shop, we did some secondary research to look for potential target audiences, their needs and what they might like in a T-shirt design.

We used some light Facebook post test ads to see what type of response we might get to certain advertising concepts. 

So in this example, we created a design based on the theme of introverts. 

The design idea was around how they might enjoy Christmas Day. Next, we created a similar design for extroverts to give an alternative view of Christmas.

We also created a couple of simpler designs, using the same icons, but blown out, so that they were one to focus on one icon on the shirt rather than feature sixteen icons. 

You can see we were also easily able to mock up the design with a model wearing the design on a T-shirt via Spreadshirt, using some basic Photoshop skills

Facebook post - introverts

Initial learnings post launch

Check out our article on our initial creative T-shirt learnings back when we were putting our plans together. 

We realised pretty quickly, we needed to be clearer on the target audience and the order to delivery side of the offer. 

Both Spreadshirt and Redbubble print and deliver from the US, which suits customers there, but creates costs and longer delivery times for consumers overseas. 

We knew the insight was quite “loose” and needed to do some more market research to understand what would work for our target audience. 

At the same time, we started to learn more about what types of designs work well on T-shirts and which don’t.

This one for example, the design elements are small and difficult to read.

Bolder designs that people understand easily tend to work better than designs like this. 

Three brains Introvert Christmas 3/4 Baseball T-shirt at Redbubble

Phase 4 - Refine the marketing

We decided to move on from Introverts and Extrovert as a target audience, and look for something new. 

Our next test was focussed on Gin drinkers and used the play on words of Gin and Incredible to make the Gincredible design. 

While this still didn’t really drive a lot of sales, we did start to pick up some more followers on Instagram because of the link to Gin. 

We also though the design on this shirt was much closer to being sellable quality.

You can read our thoughts at the time on T-shirt designs in this blog article

Example of facebook instagram post for three brains online store

Phase 5 - Continue to improve the experience and designs

With the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, we put some of our plans for the shop on the back-burner and decided to focus more on our coaching and consulting business. 

However, we occasionally come back to the designs, and every new idea we come up with, we think they get that little bit better. A bit closer to what we want them to be. 

We also set up the Woo Commerce front end of the shop so customers don’t go straight to the Print on Demand site.

This gives us more control over what the shop looks like, and what we include in it. 

A subscription model box branded with three-brains on a doorstep

Our store features on search and through Google Merchant Services and we continue to use it as a place to test and learn, and build out our e-Commerce capabilities

Each time we do this, We gather learnings, so keep an eye on our blog for more updates. 

Three-brains and e-Commerce

We’ve worked on many e-Commerce projects and have good experience across planning, working with online retailers and building online store websites. We know how to connect these expertise areas back into driving your brand marketing and growing your sales. 

Contact us, if you want to know more about how we can support your e-Commerce to grow your business through our coaching and consulting service.

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