How To Create a Need and Justify Your Use Case

How To Create a Need and Justify Your Use Case

A dog laying on grass wearing a Shed DefenderBeing the dog owner of a Saint Bernard named Harley, Tyson Walters was constantly on cleaning duty and barely kept up with Harley's shedding.

Realizing that he's not alone, Tyson came up with the idea of Shed Defender and started prototyping breathable onesies for dogs to reduce shedding cleanups.

In this episode of Shopify Masters, you'll hear from Tyson on how he built a completely new product category, educated his target demographic on the use case, and generated a need for Shed Defenders.

After going viral, testing out infomercials, and being on Shark Tank, Tyson shares the lessons learned along the way.  

You're going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and learning from them is actually going to help you grow your business if you do it right.

Tune in to learn

  • How to educate your customers so they’re confident to make a purchase
  • What happened when The Shred Defender got featured on a viral website like The Dodo
  • The results from doing an As Seen On TV commercial
Don't miss an episode! Subscribe to Shopify Masters.
  

Show Notes

Transcript 

Felix: Today I'm joined by Tyson Walters from Shed Defender. Shed Defender is a lightweight onesie that contains pet hair, reduces anxiety, and can replace the medical cone for your dog. Shed Defender was started in 2016 and based out of Irvine, California. Welcome, Tyson.

Tyson: Hi. How's it going?

Felix: Good, good. So excited to have you on it. So where did the idea behind this onesie for your dog come from?

Tyson: Everybody always asks that, but if you knew me or if you knew my dog, you would know. So I have a Saint Bernard, Harley, and she just sheds nonstop. I brush her every day, and still, there's hair that comes flying all over the place. So she was the motivation and aspiration behind the whole product.

Felix: Did you have experience creating a product before this?

Tyson: No, not at all. When I first designed it or even came up with the idea, it was about 2010 or 2011. And I was just graduating from college, so I had no background in any of this.

Felix: So no background, but you wanted to create this initially for your own self or did you see an actual business opportunity before even creating it?

Tyson: I feel like I've always had an entrepreneurial mindset, but it started just to fix those problems mainly in the car. No one wanted to ride in my car. It was a mess. And I bring her everywhere too. So it was mainly just to make my life easier and to hear other people complain less because there's always other people complaining about it. So it was mainly just to fix my needs, and then it got bigger and bigger and bigger after that.

Felix: Got it. Okay, let's talk about that. And let's talk about you developing this, I guess initial prototype for your own use case. How did that happen?

Tyson: So I moved home from college, and I had the idea. There's nothing on the market. I used everything from blankets in the back seat, but she'd shake, I'd roll down the window, and there's hair flying all around. So I actually had my mom start sewing the first prototype. And a couple of months of that we had the basic idea. And then from there we eventually, I hired a seamstress off Craigslist. Then slowly but surely we eventually just kept making new prototypes, testing out different fabrics. From the first prototype to what it is now, it is drastically different. It's pretty funny.

Felix: So when you hired the seamstress, was that when you were already thinking that there's a business opportunity? When did that kick in?

Tyson: Yeah, so it kicked in once I had the basic first prototype, and it worked. I knew I was onto something. So that's what I figured I should probably just take it to the next step. Because it was pretty cheap. I didn't have much money to go on, but I figured why not? My parents were behind me. I told a few friends, and they thought it was a great idea. So that's when I realized it had potential. But I didn't realize it would be as big as it was until I actually had that final working prototype. And then I realized this could be a game-changer.

Felix: Got it. So when you were testing the market, what were you doing? How did you determine the other people saw the value like you did?

Tyson: It's mainly one of those stories. I'd use it whenever I had people over. So I live with my parents actually, and my mom hates the hair. So she would make Harley wear it all the time. And when their friends came over and my friends came over, they asked what is it? Because everybody sees it and nobody knows what it is. A dog in a onesie, they're not too sure what's going on.

Tyson: So once I explained the benefits, everybody was always like, "Oh my God, I want one for my dog." So it was just like family and friends, where I'd take her to the dog park or walks, and everybody would ask what it was. So it's one of those things where I was like okay, I can start making a couple first and friends and family members and see where this goes.

Felix: Right. Okay. So you were going through these iterations of prototypes throughout this process. And what were you trying to solve? What were the issues that were coming up that needed further iterations?

Tyson: For the use case for the product?

Felix: Well, just because you mentioned that the first prototype compared to what you have now is vastly different. What were some things that you discovered along the way that you had to keep on improving?

Tyson: Mainly, it's hard to fit dogs. Because one, every dog is a different shape. So as of now, we have nine sizes and that still doesn't fit every dog. So we used my dog as the base, the model, and then graded the sizes down. But it's tough. The back legs have to fit right. The front legs have to fit right. We have a zipper that runs from the chest all the way down to the tail. So it's easy to get on and off.

Tyson: So we use buttons. We use Velcro. We finally chose on the zipper. That was the best bet. A lot of different variations. And then the main thing once we got down to getting the sizes and everything was the fabric. We wanted to pick a fabric with, the main goal was not to make the dog hawk because they're fully covered. So we wanted to make it safe and comfortable. So we played around with probably 20, 30 different fabrics from mesh netting all the way to cotton, to this. And we ended up using this athletic mesh fabric that ended up now is our proprietary blend called "Shedex", and it's actually eco-friendly recycled fabric. So it's made from recycled plastic water bottles, recycled polyester, and spandex. So it's ultra-premium, lasting, durable, and we get it from one of the biggest manufacturers who make athletic materials.

Felix: So between the first prototype and then what you would consider a final prototype before you are able to or ready to go to market, how did you know that you had something that was ready for market? Other than the sizing, which you mentioned that even at nine sizes is not enough to fit every dog. But other than that, how did you know you had something was ready to go?

Tyson: Once it finally fit all the dogs, I knew some people had interest. It worked, I would show vets, that it was safe and comfortable. And I didn't really know for sure it was going to go anywhere. I would go to animal shelters and actually try it on the dogs for fittings and sizings. But once the dogs tolerate it, once I knew it worked, that's when I started advertising on Facebook. I did about $5 a month, and that's when I was just trying to get interest and see if people would actually buy it. And that's when it went from there.

Felix: So is that where you got the first sales outside of, I guess people that you knew yourself? Was it through Facebook ads?

Tyson: Yeah, correct. So Facebook ads. So again, a lot of comments and a lot of feedback from those ads. But I probably sell, I think it was online, I probably sell about two to three a month. So I just had one seamstress who could make them as the orders came in. And that's how we operated. It was more of a passion project for about a year and a half until 2016 came up.

Felix: I got it. So you were getting lots of comments and feedback throughout this. Was it things that were informing the product, or informing the marketing? What kind of data did you get from these ads?

Tyson: It was mostly people not knowing what it was. And at first, we had a lot of backlash because people thought it was a permanent solution. People thought you put it on your dog and leave it forever, so your dog doesn't shed. So there's a lot of negative comments. People being pretty mean and trolling, not understanding that it's situational use. And things like that. So it took a while to get over that and get the messaging right to come across to the customer.

Felix: In 2016, you mentioned that this was when things started to turn around and go from just a passion project. Can you say more about that? What did you see or experience at that time that really took things off?

Tyson: So the one thing that took off, it pretty much went viral overnight. One person wanted to do a review, they were from The Dodo. And they do Facebook and Instagram. They're all about pets and animals. And he wanted to do a review on it. And he said they usually don't do reviews on products because that's not what they want. They don't like to promote stuff. But he said it was such an eye-catching thing, he's never seen anything like it before. He wanted to write an article about it.

Tyson: I didn't think anything of it. I said, "Yeah, go ahead. You can do it." So the day he launched it at about, I think it was October 5th, 2016. And as soon as it went up, there were orders left and right. I'm used to getting them two or three orders a month, and my phone just kept dinging, and dinging, and dinging every time I got a sale. So that's when I knew this is really going, it was quite an experience.

Felix: Wow. Do you remember how many sales you got out of that first viral boost?

Tyson: Because from there, it just kept getting bigger and bigger. So after that, the Daily Mail picked it up. So I was in the newspaper in the UK. US inventor creates dog onesie. I was on a New Zealand radio station the next day. They called, they were all about it. Article after article came out. I had 1,000 orders within about a month from all that. And I had a seamstress who could only make about five a day. So I was in some need of some manufacturing and doing it quickly.

Felix: Yeah, I can see how that could be exciting on one end, but also very scary. What am I going to do? Success hitting you out of nowhere. So what did you do? How did you respond to this huge spike in sales?

Tyson: Yeah, I was definitely not ready for it. So it was the most exciting time probably in my life until I sat back and realized it would take about a year for my seamstress to make all of these. So I did have some contacts that I'd made in San Francisco in manufacturing, so I called them up. The next day, I went down to San Francisco and met with the manufacturer. Turned out to be really great. So I told them, I was like, I need probably, I think ordered like 2,500 of these immediately.

Tyson: So I had ordered the fabric, we had to do some more patterns, pattern making. We had to get everything in order. But at that point, these orders kept coming in. So I had email every single customer saying, "Please wait, we're just back-ordered a little bit." So it took about two months to get all the orders fulfilled, maybe two and a half months. So people had waited a long time. We had my seamstress making as many as she could, and then I had my manufacturer San Francisco making that many. But it was not easy to deal with because I just was not prepared for this to go viral.

Felix: Yeah. So when you were emailing your customers, how was that received?

Tyson: They actually took it pretty well. Lucky enough for me, it's not like they could just go somewhere else because there's no other product in the world like it. So there was really no other alternative. But most of the time responded this was just a family-owned company. We're small. We received a lot of orders, I explained it well. Most people take it really well. Some people waited up to three months to get their orders.

Tyson: There were also other people who were angry, and we definitely did quite a bit of returns, and everything. But for the most part, people were just excited to get it and wanted it bad enough to sit around and wait.

Felix: Got it. So when you first got this picked up by The Dodo and then you mentioned Daily Mail also picked you up and then you're on a radio station, was it just constant PR after that to extend this virality? How did you keep it going essentially?

Tyson: Yeah it's funny, it was just me. so I didn't really do anything. People just kept sharing it and sharing it. So then the Dodo did a video, and the next things you know the next month in November, and then that video gets 10, 15 million views. And then next I'm on Good Day Sacramento. And what else was there? Quite a bit of other things. So it was all just kept going and going without me even having to ... I wasn't even running ads at that point. It just was completely on its own.

Felix: So you yourself didn't have to make these appearances. They were just telling the story of your product and you?

Tyson: For the most part. Good Day Sacramento, I went on TV for that one. Some of the radio stations I did. But other than that, yeah, people just wanted to make videos. They'd asked for my permission to do videos and it just kept going, and going, and going.

Felix: Other than obviously the amazing amount of sales that came out of this. Does that open other doors for you when you're being published everywhere?

Tyson: In what regards?

Felix: I guess did it make it easier for you to get additional mentions later if you wanted to reach another publication? What kind of perks come with, I guess going viral? Other than the sales.

Tyson: Other than just other people seeing it and wanting to pick up on it and do an article, there's not a whole lot because once it's over, it's over. So sometimes you got to write it while it's there, and then it kind of just goes away. 15 million views is awesome for about a month, and then people move on to the next thing.

Tyson: So it's something I thought I could count on. Because this happened for a good year and a half with all this publicity. But afterwards, you just got to really focus on the business aspect and then advertising and marketing on your own.

Felix: Right. So do you remember the date that this happened drastically where things just started to dry? Or was it more gradual than that?

Tyson: It probably started in February of, so 2017 is when the buzz goes down. Sales dropped a little bit. But that's when I started doing some Facebook ads, and engineering myself to bring in those leads myself. But then before you know it, Buzzfeed did an article in June, and that video got about 15 million hits. So it just kept going and going for the longest time. But then after about a month, it would dry up, and then you have to go start doing your own.

Felix: Right. What was your feeling at that time? So I can imagine if you're banking on this and then all of a sudden it goes away, even though it came back a little bit after. But that moment that day where you realize, "I can't actually bank on this." You must have felt like, "Oh crap, can I repeat this? Can I repeat this success or am I just going to, my sales are just going to dwindle, my company's going to close down." Did you feel any of that kind of anxiety?

Tyson: Not to that point because sales were still steady. They were a lot smaller in those periods. However, it never got to a point that it was completely stale and I was worried about the business. But it took about a good year to realize I can't count on it. But I was never worried the business was going to completely just stop. But I realized I had to start taking things into my own hands and going from there.

Felix: Right. So did you have the game plan at that time already, or did you have some downtime, or trying to figure out what was next and then came across Facebook ads?

Tyson: I kind of knew Facebook ads were going to be our best bet. A lot of people love sharing our product. It's eye-catching. People think it's funny, they ask questions. So I think that's definitely our best platform. We did even mess around with as seen on TV commercial, and that ended up being a huge bust. So we learned the hard way at times and then figured our bread and butter was Facebook ads.

Felix: You mentioned the as seen on TV commercial. This is actually a commercial that you had created for TV?

Tyson: Yeah, it was an infomercial. I'm going to leave out all the background information. It was somewhat of a scam with this one company. But yeah, so they did an infomercial and then it aired somebody times. But there are certain things they don't tell you, that you need to put a lot of money into TV campaigns and this and that. So it ended up being a waste of money and then realizing ... we realize how our products sold is it's not necessarily a real impulse buy. People have to be educated on it. They don't know what it is. Also, you have to measure your dog. So we realized it wasn't a good fit for TV where someone sees it and they order it right away. There's a little bit of a thought process that goes along with it. So Facebook ads were better because we can get it to them, engage them, re-target them, and go through that funnel.

Felix: Right. That makes a lot of sense that if you are to run a commercial like that, you do want something that doesn't require much more explanation than what happens in just that 15 or 30 seconds of commercial time. So when you are going through this process of educating your customer, what helps you? How do you make sure that they are informed enough to feel confident to make a purchase?

Tyson: That's still something we struggle with to this day. We've gotten a lot better with it. We have a lot more credibility now. After being on these shows, we work with a vet out of Philadelphia who makes sure the product is safe. So that helps. And then just spreading the message in our ads and telling more of a story. Illustrating things better on our website. There's a lot of different ways to go about it. But it still comes with the explanation. But people are starting to get the idea, and we also have other case uses that we can tell them to. Because when I first created the product, it was just for shedding. But after we started selling a lot of these, people kept saying it helped with anxiety. So we started to explain that aspect, and then we had a lot of that. So we wanted to sell it to replace the medical cone. That's one big push we're going through this year.

Tyson: So explaining this many use cases is just hard to get it into one little ad. So we're still trying to get the message across, but people are retaining it a lot better.

Felix: What do these ads look like when someone's first getting exposed to the product for the first time? What was the message that you wanted to get across?

Tyson: So the first and foremost we get obviously a good picture is always good because that's going to be the first thing that someone, it hits them and they want to know what it is. So we emphasized the shedding. Then we have different ads. Some are fun and quirky, some are more just informational. Some give a background to the story. So we state the problem, and then that we have the solution. And then as it funnels down with engagement and retargeting ads, we can get a little more specific.

Tyson: But mainly just showing the product is one of the biggest things because people enjoy seeing a dog in a onesie, and then they're interested in looking. So the shock factor is good. So they click and then hopefully our website can explain enough to them to actually convert them.

Felix: Got it. So the shock factor to help them to get to your website, to explain more. And then you mentioned that you can get more specific in your retargeting ads. I think this is an important topic because there are other listeners out there that have products that do require explanation. But the way that you're telling me, it sounds like you guys are not just educating in the ad and on the side, but you're educating in the follow-up ads and the retargeting. Can you say more about what you mean by getting more specific? What kind of things did you try to cover as you get more specific?

Tyson: Yeah. So with the retargeting, it's nice. So we know they've been to the website or at least engaged in the ad. So from there, we either ... because retargeting is actually one of our best assets because people come back. Usually, it takes two visits for a person to buy the product, typically. So we just give another either benefit or think of a question that they might have been thinking of throw it out there. Another picture, anything to give them a different look at it. To bring them back is important to us. And then hopefully we captured their email for abandoned carts. We can get them that way, give them discounts, or whatever way we think we can convert them.

Felix: Got it. Makes sense. When it comes to the pricing, I think I see here, I guess the main product data ranging from I guess $40 on the low end, up to $60 for the largest size. Maybe I'm missing the different styles, but basically, that's the range. How did you come up with the pricing for your product?

Tyson: At first, I polled friends and family members. "How much would you pay for a product that did this?" And got a general idea. And then once I had pricing from my manufacturer and how much I knew it cost, I stuck with that. So it's based on sizes for us because the mini ... because the fabric is one of the most expensive parts of the product. And from the mini, it uses a fraction of the fabric of our biggest, as the giant size does. So we had to scale it appropriately. But it works out. It actually works great with our margins, and it's tough. It's always better I believe to definitely start higher and go down, than start low and realize you're not making the margins and go up. So I left some wiggle room. But in the end, I feel like it's fairly priced for a product that's going to last a while, and give you actually a real benefit compared to just normal dog apparel or something else. I think it's well worth the purchase.

Felix: I want to come back to the education thing because I think this is an important topic. So what were some of the main questions that people had when they first, or I guess people have when they first come to your product?

Tyson: At first, people would always ask, does it make the dog hot? That's the number one question because they see the dogs fully covered. So those are the something we address immediately about the fabrics. Lightweight, breathable, athletic mesh. It doesn't retain much heat, so they stay cool and comfortable in it. So that's the main question they have. And then you to say we work with a vet. Try and get any credible factors we have. It ran across by many vets, they actually recommend it now. And we put that wording out there. So a lot of people see that now. And the question has definitely a subsided quite a bit.

Felix: So how do you answer that question about does it make the dog hot? Is it just wording on the website, or what are some ways that work well to explain questions that your customer might have?

Tyson: Yeah, the wording on the website. And like I said, just having ... our vet has a little testimonial on it too explaining this. And then explaining the fabric, what it is, the composition so the customer understands that we created it with this fabric so the dog doesn't get hot.

Tyson: It's also for the shedding. So the dogs are supposed to more or less where it in the house, the car. Inside, not outside in 100-degree weather. So explaining the uses and why it's used helped with that as well.

Felix: You've experimented a lot and have made mistakes along the way. Can you talk a little bit more about that? What are some of the mistakes that you guys have made and learn from them?

Tyson: In regards to any mistakes?

Felix: I guess particularly with Facebook ads first.

Tyson: One thing, you definitely can't expect to see a return on ad spend immediately. It takes time. You have to learn what your audience is, you have to learn if they're converting. There's a lot of different aspects. So it's time. You have to be patient with it.

Tyson: Second also is you can't just throw a bunch of money out there thinking you're going to make money in advertising. Sometimes it looked like I get all these clicks or I didn't understand Facebook ads exactly of conversion rates and this and that. So I just throw a bunch of money out there thinking more traffic is more money coming in. But without a good conversion rate, you're just wasting that money. So finding qualified traffic is definitely the key to Facebook ads.

Felix: Got it. So it sounds like a lot of it is around patience as well. How do you, when you are launching these campaigns, how do you I guess measure or determine who is your audience? Especially early on for you, how did you determine, what were you doing I guess to learn about who is really your customer?

Tyson: Yeah, that's a good question because I didn't really know who was going to buy it. So one good thing, Google Analytics really lays everything out for you. So after analyzing that, for us, we learned it's almost 75% of our clients are women or customers. Then from there, you look at what sells best. Sizing too. So you have to cater to that.

Tyson: So Google Analytics helped us with that. So a lot of our ads, a lot of our stuff we realized okay. If women are the main buyers, let's give them something that they can respond well to and not necessarily ... sometimes we don't even advertise to men for certain stuff, but it's still good to keep everyone involved. But we just have an emphasis on putting it in front of more women.

Felix: Oh, got it. So 75% of the people that are visiting and I'm assuming-

Tyson: Well that are purchasing. Well actually, visiting and purchasing. The ratio stays the same.

Felix: Got it. It's an important point though that people that might be visiting, might 50/50. But then if the women are the ones that are purchasing and then the [inaudible] have a sustainable business, it's about who's making the purchases. You want to focus on advertising to women. So with that in mind, what does that mean? Does that mean showing more women with dogs in your ads? How does that actually play out?

Tyson: Yeah, so sometimes it could be a color thing. In our ads, we might have a certain color print in there. Or have a woman in the ad. We haven't gotten too specific with that, because we don't want to necessarily leave out men. Because now we know it's a market that it could be growing, or we could try and capture that audience too. But just whatever we do, we think even the website and everything, sometimes we keep in mind that knowing 75% are women, it's something to always keep in the back of our mind.

Felix: So it's one of those things where you have to go into it knowing that you're going to lose money, but to learn, just spend money on men and woman at first and then find out that okay, we probably should not spend as much or maybe at all on targeting men because they're not buying as much? They're not converting as well as women. So is that a part of it too, having that patience and being willing to lose some money at first?

Tyson: Slightly. You have to. You have to have your test phase of knowing exactly who your customers are, and who your best converters are as well. So the age goes with it too. Our best age group, our bread and butter is between 25 to 45, around those numbers. So we stick to that too. Anything younger, they don't really convert. So we put if anything, our more specific targeted ads in that age range, put more emphasis on that if we can.

Felix: Got it. So I think what you were alluding to earlier was that there have been other mistakes obviously. Anyone that's in business or an entrepreneur has made mistakes. What are some other ones that you have made that maybe you might've thought that this might actually be pretty impactful to our business?

Tyson: Well one was the infomercial. That didn't work out that well. The other one, trying to think here. I'll have to think about that. We can get back to that question.

Felix: Okay, sure. When you do encounter these mistakes, or maybe you could think of a specific one, how do you recommend others that might've made a big mistake? How do you recommend that they recover and learn from the mistakes that they've made?

Tyson: That's a good question. One, you just have to figure you're going to make mistakes. Everyone makes mistakes, and learning from them is actually going to help you grow your business if you do it right.

Tyson: One big mistake, we had is choosing where to manufacturer. We did a manufacturer on when we first went overseas, we did half in China, half in Guatemala. The Guatemala product came back defective. So I had 5,000 units that were two to three months late and would fall apart. It was a disaster. So luckily, the Chinese product came in and it turned out great. And that's who we stick with, and we've had no issues with them. So you really have to do your due diligence, find out who they've worked with before, find their referrals. And go through there, but even though be prepared, be prepared to make a mistake. Make sure you have extra money to make up for this. Always have a backup plan, but don't get too down on it.

Tyson: No one doesn't make a mistake. The more you learn, it helps you learn and it helps you grow to struggle. Sometimes you get knocked down and get back up, and now you know, have to be more diligent in this. I have to really make sure I don't put all my eggs in one basket. You just have to keep learning and learning.

Felix: Got it. So you guys also made it on Shark Tank. So tell us about that experience. How did you guys get on?

Tyson: Yeah, Shark Tank was great. It was definitely a nerve-wracking experience. So we had got reached out to, it was last January. So we ended up sending in a video, and going through the whole process, and all that stuff. We were lucky enough to air last October. So it was great. We got a deal with Lori on TV. And then eventually, we parted ways. We figured for both parties involved, it wasn't a good fit. But it was a great experience. We got great exposure. You have great sales for a little bit thereafter, and it's good credibility. So a lot of people see us on Shark Tank, we can say we've been on it and people are like, "That's pretty cool. You guys must be a legitimate company." So it definitely helps.

Felix: And I know that they might show five to seven minutes, but the actual pitch lasts much longer than that. Were there any questions that you guys weren't prepared for? If anyone out there is going to pitch to investors, are there certain things that you would recommend them really study up on?

Tyson: Yeah, you're up there for quite a while and they cut it down to a short time frame. But we were over-prepared, which is great. My sister in law who is VP of marketing, she was on us every day to practice, practice, practice. We had friends and family members pretend to be the "Sharks", and go through the whole thing, and go through our pitch and ask questions. So we were pretty prepared. So we actually didn't have any questions that we couldn't answer or anything like that. But a lot of other people definitely don't ... you have to expect every single question to be asked.

Tyson: You have to learn our business too. We had to forecast, we had to do this, we had to look at all our numbers and go through everything. So it helped us look and understand our business a little bit better and our financials.

Tyson: So preparing, we watched the show and just wrote down all the questions they've ever asked. Even if you don't think there's a small chance they might ask it, we still looked, found an answer, and were prepared to go with it.

Felix: Got it. Cool. So I want to talk a little about the website. So was the website, was that designed in house? Did you guys hire out for that?

Tyson: So we did a Shopify template. Then I had a friend who pretty much built it for us. So we did that. So we had that, I think we started 2017 of March is when we moved to Shopify, and we had that website built. Then we did a little upgrade in 2018, and then now we're actually doing a full rebuild on Shopify, completely custom. That should launch in June, which we're pretty excited about.

Felix: So this full rebuild, what kind of changes are you looking to make that didn't exist on the current site?

Tyson: Functionality. Our conversion rate is lower than we want, and we believe our website isn't solely responsible, but it definitely has a play in it. Just to be more friendly, to be easier to navigate, illustrate our points better. And just tell our brand's story. It's okay as it is. It's a good website, but we want to engage the customer, tell our story, have a theme to it. Just to have it one cohesive piece, and make sure the mobile aspect is good. Most of our customers, 70 something percent visit us from their mobile phones. So that's a huge part is making sure everything works. You can quickly order, checkout, and have no issues with it. So that should be a huge help for us I believe.

Felix: Got it. So a lot of it is around increasing the conversion rate. And you mentioned a couple of things versus a navigation. What kind of changes you want to make here to make the navigation easier?

Tyson: One thing, just have everything simple. Just have a couple of clicks, and you can get it in your cart, and purchase, and go. When people have to click too many buttons, when they have to input too much information. Just the easier, the better. It's terrible when you see you have a high, you have a lot of people who abandon their checkouts. You have to ask why, what's the point. Why do they go all the way through the checkout process and leave? And sometimes we look back and go through it. And it's like you know what, we ask them to do this. They can't see exactly how much they saved. Does this coupon work? Just all these little tidbits that someone might say, "You know what? Screw this, I'll go somewhere else. I'll go on Amazon and buy it." There's always something. So you always got to put yourself in the customer's position and think would you like how this site is operating?

Felix: So one thing I noticed on the current site is that at the very top, super visible is a bar that says free shipping and a 30-day risk-free trial. What made you guys choose to put those two pieces of messaging so prevalent?

Tyson: So two things. So since we do sell on Amazon, it's slightly competing against ourselves in a sense, but we keep the same price. And if Amazon's going to do free shipping, we want to do free shipping. I believe that's a big thing. I personally hate when people charge for shipping, especially some people charge five, six bucks. It's just an expense I don't want to deal with. So I think that lures the customer to us. Also, we want to convince when we first launched, it's still a product of the person's unsure about it. They've never seen it before, they don't know how it's going to work, this and that. So to convince the customer we believe in our product, it's a quality product. You will like it. We have to give them every chance they ever thought to make sure they get that purchase. And if not, we send them prepaid postage and take it back. It's just the risk we need to do to get brand awareness, get the product out there. We just thought it was an important aspect to do.

Felix: What about apps? What kind of apps do you use on the website or even off of Shopify that help you run the business?

Tyson: So one of the main things is our review system. I think that's huge. People want to see other dogs in it. They want to hear feedback. Does this actually work? All that stuff, we believe is a big thing. So we use Yotpo for that, and that integrates with Shopify well. The other thing I do Google Shopping. That app works really well. Put your product out there on Google so people can see it with the picture, and all of that.

Tyson: And then whatever email service you use, we did use MailChimp, but obviously that relationship has ended with Shopify. So we're switching over to a new one. We have a couple going now. We haven't selected which ones we're actually going to use yet.

Felix: Awesome. So I'll leave you with this last question. What would you say was the biggest lesson that you learned, or that the company or the founders learned from last year that you guys want to make sure you apply this year?

Tyson: Keep making your product better. One thing, I'm a big believer, I'm a perfectionist. So you want to make sure your product is perfect. If there's an issue, you fix it. That goes along with customer service too. The product if it's good, you're going to have less customers being mad. So we put a huge emphasis on customer service and having our product to be perfect. So no matter what, we back up our product. If we ever have any issues, we fix it. And just pride ourselves on our brand and being a good company.

Felix: Awesome. So thank you so much for your time, Tyson. So sheddefender.com is the website. Again, appreciate you coming on.

Tyson: Thank you. Thanks for having me. Appreciate it.

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About the Author

Felix Thea is the host of the Shopify Masters podcast, the ecommerce marketing podcast for ambitious entrepreneurs. Got something to share with Shopify Masters listeners? You can submit your story for consideration.

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