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Background

When my friend Jess and I were travelling in Sri Lanka we stayed in a remote village – where we found out the only employment available to almost everyone was to work in a dolomite mine. This is very tough and dangerous work. We met some local women who wanted to create a better life for themselves by using their sewing skills to make bags. So we started the Good bag project. I am an eCommerce marketer and Jess is a graphic designer. We got the skills to help, so we decided to help.

Links

Project Conceptualization

While I was in the village I did a story on my Instagram and asked people if they would buy a bag. The response I got was awesome. So the next morning I posted a village tour on my Instagram so people could see first hand the living conditions – and meet the ladies…

Product Development  

While we were still in Sri Lanka we got people to vote on the design ideas we had. We chose pineapple, lotus flower and palm because these are all very Sri Lankan plus on trend for the Australian consumer.

I posted the ideas and asked for feedback on my Instagram stories.

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The results were:

  • 62.5% of people liked lotus
  • 25% of people liked palm tree
  • 12.5% of people liked pineapple

The feedback from my concept was lotus was leading the charge.

When we got back to Australia, Jess did up some designs for all three concepts. Again I asked for feedback, this time using the vote option on Instagram stories.

The number of total votes for each design concept were even and the results were as follows:

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Based on this we could have ordered the zoomed pineapple, the zoomed mandala and the down palm frond.

However, because there were no minimum order quantities for each design, I decided to run them all as a true test.

Sales Strategy

I wanted to do a small test run of the bags to analyse the logistics and see if the costs I was quoted where the real cots, as well as testing consistency of product quality and timeframes.

Because I work on an annual retail calendar – and teach all students to do the same – I knew that International Women’s Day was approaching so I decided on a 24 hour pop-up shop on IDW. It aligned perfectly. I decided to do this on the 18th of Feb so I mapped out a 18 day launch strategy.  

I priced out the bags and decided to sell them at:

  • 1 for $15
  • 3 for $36 ($12 each)
  • 6 for $60 ($10 each)

This incentives bundle buys.

I also priced in shipping and offered free shipping within Australia, because shipping is one of the biggest purchase barriers for online shopping.

I created the website on Shopify using a free template.

My friend and marketing genius, Tamara Klisaric, helped me develop the tagline “Buy a bag, empower a woman”.

My sister, Clare, took a photo of me with the sample bag I had from my Sri Lankan trip, in front of my neighbours hedge, using portrait mode on my iPhone, while standing in the middle of the road. Haha, thanks Clare!  🙂

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Pre-launch

The first thing I did was create a landing page. This way I could capture email address so people could follow the journey, even before the website was ready.

I also installed the Facebook pixel so I can retarget anyone who visited on the landing page for up to 6 months from now. Even though I didn’t run Facebook ads for this campaign, doesn’t mean I won’t in the future.

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I emailed them when the website was live – so they could look at the designs and create a wishlist – and I emailed them when the pop-up shop was open.

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I used my own Facebook and Instagram to promote the project. You can check out some story highlights on www.instagram.com/meganwinter which included a countdown timer, behind the scenes and product spotlights.

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I also set up a Instagram and Facebook presence for the project.

The Launch

I emailed those who’d subscribed to let them know they could buy now.

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I launched it on my socials and on The Good Bag Project’s socials.

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I also received some PR in the Gold Coast Bulletin. The key to PR is to hook it to something relevant. Because the pop-up shop was on International Women’s Day I was able to tie it in nicely and we ended up with a 2 page spread. This didn’t lead to any sales, however was good awareness.

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Postage

I ordered a small batch of bags from the The Better Packaging Co. but I made a rookie error. The smaller bags require the bags to be folded and therefore make the parcel thinker and can’t be sent as a letter. Whereas when I used bigger bags they are thinner and therefore can be sent as a letter.

One bag in the white postage envelope costs $2 to post, whereas one bag in the black postage bag costs $8.50 to post. I ended up swapping to the white bags (even though they are plastic which I hate) because of the cost difference.

Sales Results

We sold 70 bags during the 24 hour pop-up shop. All of these sales where made organically and no advertising dollars were spent. We made around $250 in proceeds which is not a lot but we will use this to expand the project and pre-purchase more bags.

The breakdown of designs ordered was:

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So, comparing the actual orders to votes we received in the design phase:

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What is interesting though, is that almost every person who voted, purchased.

The breakdown of single bag orders and bundles were:

  • 58% of orders were for a single bags
  • 28% of orders were for the 3 bag bundle
  • 17% of orders were for the 6 bag bundle

Key Takeaways

  • Until you test it’s just your best guess. We could’ve predicted that more lotus designs would sell, when in actuality it was palm that was the winner. You gotta get it out into the market to do the real testing. The truth is in results.
  • Take pre-orders. Instead of buying stock, build a website and see if people will buy, THEN buy stock.
  • Get people involved in the story and the creation of the product. As I said, almost every person who was involved in the design process and gave feedback, purchased.
  • Postage is a killer! Make sure you have a business account with Australia Post so that as you start to sell more, your postage costs become cheaper because you get bulk discounts. Also always check with your post rep to see if there is a cheaper option.
  • Incentivise bundle buys. It costs the same to process, handle and post 1 bag as it does 6.

What’s Next

  • I am going to order 100 in total (including the 70 pre-sold). I’m going to order 32 lotus, 44 palm and 24 pineapple – yep I’m using the percentages of actual orders to predict future demand.
  • I will keep everyone who ordered up to date with the journey of the bags, and the women.
  • I have received an enquiry from an Australian based charity asking if we can do a run of bags for them with their logo on it so they can use the proceeds to raise funds for their charity. Of course, I said yes!
  • I’ve also had an enquiry from a commercial business wanting bags with their logo on it to use for events. Of course, I said yes! These kind of orders are great because it minimises shipping and handling time and expenses.

What I’d do differently next time:

  • When people purchase bundles I didn’t have an option for them to choose their preferred designs. They had to email me. I didn’t mind collating the orders for this run but I will look into an app or get a web developer to help me automate this process.
  • I may use Facebook Ads to increase awareness and expand the project. I will look at getting sponsors for the ad spend and of course, I will setup and manage the ads myself pro-bono.

Thank You To:

  • Ayeesha from Tamarind Garden Farm in Sri Lanka, the lady who initiated all of this;
  • The best travel buddy and graphic designer I could ever ask for, Jess McEwin;
  • My business bestie, Tamara Klisaric for helping me brainstorm markety stuff;
  • My sister, Clare for stopping traffic to take the photo;
  • Reon Suddaby & Daniel Abrahams from Bond University for hooking up the PR;
  • EVERYONE WHO PURCHASED!

 

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Written by Megan Winter

Megan is an award-winning marketer and has worked with some of the fastest-growing eCommerce brands in the world.

Megan loves helping ethically-produced, heart-centred, soul-driven online store owners to make more income and achieve more impact. 

1 Comment

  1. Donna

    So Inspirational – A fabulous read!

    Amazing that almost every person who voted, purchased!

    Reply

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