Good Technology: Your website must be awesome. It must be easy to use, have good product images, fast and mobile friendly. Visitors should always be a click away from shopping. The obvious example here is Amazon. Even though the changes over the years have been minimal it is an ecommerce beast.
Customers: This sounds obvious but make sure there is a strong need for your product. Just because it has been your life dream to sell your idea doesn’t mean it will sell.
As part of my series about the “5 Things You Need To Know To Create A Highly Successful E-Commerce Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Maciej Fita.
Maciej has always had a passion for marketing and branding. In the 6th grade, he tried to create his own skateboard brand and dreamed of starting his own company. It wasn’t until several years, ideas, and experiences later that his dreams finally became a reality. Today, he’s the co-owner of a Boston based clothing line, as well as the founder of Brandignity, a digital marketing firm that specializes in bringing business dreams to life.
After receiving his undergraduate degree from Northeastern University in Boston, he got his feet wet in a few different industries until he finally met his calling in 2008. Just a couple of months after starting his career in and website marketing, he helped launch BHK Clothing, and began to build a diverse portfolio of successful branding campaigns. Two years later, he decided it was time to bring his own unique twist on to the business world, and Brandignity.com was born.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
Sure thing! I started working in sales for a company that built B2B business directories about 15 years ago. I actually hated the sales part of it and really enjoyed figuring out how to drive more traffic to the directories I was responsible for. This was the catalyst for my digital marketing future. Shortly after that I became an entry-level at an agency in Boston. From there my passion only grew. When 2008 hit and the world crumbled, I inherited a few positions at the agency I was working at and got one of the most unbelievable crash courses in digital marketing. From there I became a freelancer and then evolved my freelance business to more of a digital agency business model.
What was the “Aha Moment” that led to the idea for your current company? Can you share that story with us?
I was at a point where I realized just how important was for business. Not only that but approaching your marketing like an ecosystem was more important than ever before. Companies didn’t just need, they needed social media, they needed content, they needed PPC. Being a multi-pronged agency is what I needed to build.
Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?
The economy was still recovering and I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to generate leads for a new company at that time. It took lots of early mornings at the computer hustling to stand out and a boatload of coffee. I’ve always been big into inbound marketing so I knew putting out a lot of marketing assets would get the right people to my website.
So, how are things going today? How did your grit and resilience lead to your eventual success?
Things are good! I’ve always hustled with everything I did. Whether it was career-related or for recreation. With that said, no marketing company was truly ready for COVID and what it did to marketing budgets across the globe. To say the current landscape is a challenge is an understatement.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?
My company name! We had to change it 2 years in and it was a pain in the butt. The original name was too focused on and I was realizing at the time that most businesses needed a multi-pronged marketing approach. We didn’t want to just be an company. We had to change our name in order to reflect that.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think our transparency makes us standout. companies can sometimes get a bad rap. Often times people don’t know what they’re paying for and what they’re getting with . Our clients know everything that is happening before it happens. With digital marketing, it’s important that clients have tangibles.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
If you can’t hire staff right away find great partners to work with. Don’t try and do everything yourself. That’s a sure-fire way to get burnt out. Plus, you can’t know everything.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
The owner of the agency I worked at prior was like a mentor. He really taught me quite a lot when it comes to and digital marketing as a whole. I had some amazing real-world experience.
Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share a few examples of different ideas that eCommerce businesses are implementing to adapt to the new realities created by the Pandemic?
I think it is more along the lines of encouraging people that shopping online is “safer”. Marketing direction had to pivot. There is this new focus being leveraged on staying home and shopping on your computer. It’s all about safer options and eCommerce has exploded these last few months.
Amazon, and even Walmart are going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise retail companies and eCommerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?
The fact is many will have a hard time competing. We will start to see a price war if retailers are forced to start closing their doors but higher-end boutiques and retailers will feel the pinch. Many won’t be able to slash their costs to Amazon and Walmart levels. If companies and retailers haven’t done anything with ecommerce they’re going to be a bit behind. An ecommerce component is a must to survive this period during COVID. Even if they’re late to the party they still need to show up.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an eCommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Thinking that if you simply build it, they will come. Those days are over. Many do not realize just how much effort you have to put into marketing driving traffic to any website. If Walmart couldn’t keep Jet up and running that just shows the hill you have to climb when launching an eCommerce business. Have a strategy in place for website traffic. Don’t forget, paid ads are expensive so you have to have a multi-pronged approach in place.
In your experience, which aspect of running an eCommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?
I think of turning over inventory. I see it a lot with clothing businesses. You have to turn over inventory and add new fresh products all the time. Often times you’re stuck with a bunch of last year’s clothing items and sometimes even putting them on sale section doesn’t work.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging eCommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Heat mapping is crucial. Tools like Hotjar can provide unbelievably valuable information on how users are moving around your website. From there you can make changes to the UX that could further enhance the experience and improve conversion flow. Live chat features also work great. People want answers right away.
As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies an eCommerce business should use to increase conversion rates?
Really it just comes down to understanding how users find and use your website. Sifting through Google Analytics data and understanding which pages are under performing is huge. If you have an important page with a high bounce rate and low on page time you know that something is broken on that particular page.
Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that an eCommerce business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?
Community! Brands like Bombas that give back to the community with every sale show the world they care. People like that. Not only do they like it, but they talk about with their friends causing word of mouth action.
One of the main benefits of shopping online is the ability to read reviews. Consumers love it! While good reviews are of course positive for a brand, poor reviews can be very damaging. In your experience what are a few things a brand should do to properly and effectively respond to poor reviews? How about other unfair things said online about a brand?
It is tough to fight this. No matter how great you are some people will always be unhappy. If you have the opportunity to respond do it kindly. Try offering something to make it right.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to create a very successful e-commerce business? Please share a story or an example for each.
- Cool factor: Your business must have a cool factor to it. Cool sells. If your brand has a strong cool factor and a personality people tend to come back more. Check out this brand, chomps.com. Checks off both boxes amazingly well.
- Fill a void: Do not try to recreate the wheel. Your product should either have a strong differentiator to your competitors or you should be first in your category (if possible). Red Bull is a good example of this. They virtually created the energy drink category.
- Good Technology: Your website must be awesome. It must be easy to use, have good product images, fast and mobile-friendly. Visitors should always be a click away from shopping. The obvious example here is Amazon. Even though the changes over the years have been minimal it is an eCommerce beast.
- A Good Team: You need to surround yourself with a good team. If you can’t hire staff right away, you need to find good partners that know what they’re doing online. Without online visibility, you will not generate any sales.
- Customers: This sounds obvious but make sure there is a strong need for your product. Just because it has been your life dream to sell your idea doesn’t mean it will sell.
How can our readers further follow you online?
My agencies website is brandignity.com
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!