Aman Advani is the CEO & Co-Founder at Ministry of Supply, a fashion retailer with some very cleverly engineered products. They launched in 2012 and have now shipped 10s of 1,000s of products all over the world.
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About the business
- eCommerce Business Structure – Bricks and Clicks
- 7 brick and mortar stores
- On Shopify
- Based in the US, with 10% of sales going overseas
Getting Started in eCommerce
For Aman and his team, eCommerce was simply an avenue to easily get in on a product category that they were really excited about. As engineering students at MIT, the co-founders met as a team for the first time in 2011. They stumbled across a couple of breakthroughs that they were dying to show the world, so the pair of entrepreneurs ventured out to trade shows and launched a website
Listen to hear about what drew Ministry of Supply to the eCommerce world.
What is Performance Professional Clothing?
The concept of performance professional clothing is all about taking everything you love about your gym clothes – the comfort, performance, and technology – and incorporating those into your least favorite dress clothes. Their goal is to remove the dread of getting dressed up and having to feel uncomfortable and turn it into something worth looking forward to. Eventually they’d like to see this type of clothing become the new normal of the average wardrobe.
The Ministry of Supply’s philosophy is that they do anything that makes them who they are under their own roof, which applies to the creative aspects, UX/UI, photography, content, and copywriting. Their main outsourcing focus is in site optimization and implementing changes they get through inversion tests. Aman feels like he hit the jackpot in finding an incredibly talented outsourced partner that has been doing all this for the team for several years.
Listen to learn about the best ways to outsource and when it’s smarter to stay in-house.
The Growth of the Clothing Line
Ministry of Supply started with just a single dress shirt and has grown to full wardrobes for both men and women. They take lots of consideration for each piece they add to their collection and build by individual piece, rather than by season as most clothing lines do. Each piece individually runs through a half dozen prototypes and tests. It took the company three years to get their first batch of denim out, for example, because they couldn’t get it quite right and they aim for perfection in each piece. Now they’ve got a full wardrobe for both men and women, but much more is still to come.
Above & Beyond in the Returns Dept.
Typically the maximum number of returnable days after purchase is around 30, but Ministry of Supply offers 100 days in accordance with the confidence they have in their products. They have gone through so much to get to the point where the product is even on the market, that they feel it is very important to firmly stand behind it. Despite this flexibility on returns, Ministry of Supply has found their return rate to be dramatically below the industry norm. The return rate, or “happiness rate” is a product of reality and expectations and how the two align. If the reality is better than the expectation set, then you keep your product and your NPS (Net Promoter Score) is high, but if the reality falls short or different from the expectation set, then you see your return rate spike. Therefore the company’s goal is to accurately display exactly what they are offering so that they reach the right customers with clear expectations.
Listen to be inspired by the results of an above average product confidence.
Advice for New Entrepreneurs
Pick your battles. When you are starting a whole new product category, you are faced with so many more challenges than just a product challenge. You’re also faced with finding talented and excited team members, investors, and manufacturers. The more you can simplify everything else, the more time you can use to focus on your differentiator and stand out amongst the vast sea of competitive entrepreneurs.
Most Awesome Thing Right Now
Ministry of Supply is launching their first true wearable technology: a heated jacket that is app controlled, Alexa enabled, and machine learning. This jacket comes complete with sensors to detect your body temperature as well as external temperatures and motions. It’s got the machine learning algorithm flashed onto a micro computer in the jacket itself.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Good to Great by Jim Collins.
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Paid social isn’t dead. Facebook and Instagram get a lot of mixed feedback these days, but Ministry of Supply has seen a good deal of growth from those channels. It’s all about how you use them.
You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…
Tool Top Tip
- Boomerang for Gmail is a great tool for inbox management, which is vital for general productivity responsiveness communication.
Growth Top Tip
- The interactions you make with your first thousand customers should be personal, meaningful, and maybe even in person if you can swing it. Get out there, pedal your product, and learn as much as you can from people’s reactions to effectively optimize how you pitch the product in addition to understanding purchasing behavior.