Neil Cocker is co-founder of Ramp Tshirts, the world’s fastest, smartest custom tshirt ordering site for teams and events. Last year they moved from Wales to Bulgaria to drastically reduce their costs, and are a little bit obsessed with efficiency and conversion rates. They launched in early 2016 and already have a six-figure turnover.
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About the business
- eCommerce Business Structure – Online Only
- Product Range Scale – niche
- B2B eCommerce business (find out more about Chloe’s book B2B eCommerce MasterPlan)
- On a Bespoke platform
- Based in Bulgaria, selling worldwide
- Plugins: Tawk, Hotjar
Listen to learn why live chat through Tawk is their single biggest asset for building trust and making customers feel comfortable.
Neil’s background is in the music industry. When that came to an end, he took the insight he had gained from the music industry and started a print-on-demand t-shirt printing platform in Cardiff, Wales. This allowed people in small bands who couldn’t afford to buy a hundred t-shirts to sell to their fans. They upload a design, create a t-shirt online, and share it with their fans. A fan could then buy it, Ramp T-shirts would print it and ship it direct to the fan, and the band would get a commission.
In early 2016, Ramp T-shirts temporarily moved to London to join a technology startup accelerator, where they identified a different opportunity to print t-shirts in bulk for teams and events.
Listen to learn more about the technology startup accelerator program, and why most technology startups need scale to work.
Wales to London to Bulgaria
Despite having good revenue, Ramp T-shirts wasn’t making any cash. They decided to drastically reduce their costs. Of the three founders, one was Welsh, one was effectively Welsh, and one was Bulgarian. The company moved to Sofia, Bulgaria and overnight 70% of their costs vanished.
In their previous business, Ramp T-shirts had controlled the means of production. Although the margins were increased, the potential for scale was decreased because they spent all of their time printing t-shirts instead of building a business.
This time, they looked at what they had to do to scale, and decided to be a technology business. Ramp T-shirts is front-end and effectively acts as a broker. They have print partners around the world and get the best prices, enabling them to leverage the price difference. Efficiency is key because it’s all about scale.
Ramp T-shirts has technology developers and a full time member of marketing. They plan to to increase their staff by three to four employees in the next few months as they continue to grow. It’s a small team, but it comes from the lean business ideology. Neil is interested in how staff impacts scalability, the quality of business, and the quality of life.
Live Chat Questions to Build Trust
T-shirts are emotive things. Whether you’re giving them away, you’re wearing them for your team, or you’re standing on a street corner handing out flyers, they have to represent your business. If someone presents a tattered cotton with faded prints, that’s not good enough. The higher up the value chain you go, the more important trust is, so some customers need to be reassured of the quality. Allowing them to ask questions on live chat helps with this.
Listen to learn how customer questions help Ramp T-shirts find weaknesses in their website.
Funnels for Efficiency
The Ramp T-shirts funnel is very simple. The homepage of the website has options to learn more about the team and the business, but fundamentally, everything signals the customer to click ‘Shop Now.’ Once they’ve clicked it, they see a calculation of how much their order costs total and per t-shirt. Then they upload a design, position it on the shirt, and check out.
People tend to think about the funnel as the shortest distance between the landing page and the successful purchase, but that’s rarely how it works. Customers poking around the ‘About’ page and clicking off to the Twitter profiles of the employees are all part of the funnel as well. It’s not just about a simple checkout process.
Listen to learn why Ramp T-shirts’ funnel may be too easy, and why they are considering adding steps to reassure the customers of their quality.
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eCommerce Book Top Tip
- The Mom Test by Rob Fitzpatrick
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Quora, Reddit, and other websites with a Q&A element
You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free (including why a post Neil made long ago is still generating traffic today) – right now…
Tool Top Tip
- Live chats such as Tawk
Start Up Top Tip
Don’t spend too much time and money. Think of the simplest, quickest way that you can get someone to validate your business. Get one of your products and take it to the local pub or send a tweet to try to sell it. If that works, then build a website.
Use code “masterplan” to get 5% off of your order at Ramp T-shirts.