A Behind The Scenes Look At How We Launched Our New Apron Product Line

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If you’ve been following the status updates for my ecommerce store, you’re probably aware that my wife and I were planning on launching 3 brand new product lines for our online store this year.

But thanks to numerous hiccups in the manufacturing process and a major strike at our local port, all of our products were majorly delayed.

Apron Launch

The good news however, is that nothing got lost in the ocean and our first new product line, vintage and retro aprons, arrived late last month(over 4 months late)!

While it sucks that we were expecting these babies back in January, we were fortunate that they arrived early enough for us to make a mad scramble and get these up in time for Mother’s Day.

Anyway, today I’m going to talk about all of the different tasks required to launch a new line of products.

Hint: There’s actually quite a few steps involved before making any sales.

Taking Product Shots

Up until this point, almost all of our products were small items like handkerchiefs or napkins. As a result, we were used to using our light box to take photos quickly and easily.

But these aprons were a different beast because they were too large to fit in our light box.

Anyway, my wife and I tossed around several different photo taking strategies.

We tried taking photos of our aprons laid out flat on the floor. We considered hiring models for a more professional look. We even entertained the idea of modeling these ourselves.

Here’s a picture of me modeling our Vintage Inspired Sweetheart Aprons.

Steve Chou Apron model

Ultimately, we decided to order some mannequins from Amazon for about 70 bucks each. We got an adult one and a child one since we were selling mother daughter apron sets.

Prepping For Personalization

Personalized Apron

Now there are a lot of shops out there selling vintage aprons and there are a lot of shops selling plain personalized aprons. But there are very few selling personalized vintage aprons.

Rather than be a me-too apron vendor, we decided to offer monogramming and personalization on our vintage inspired aprons. Now there’s a reason why a lot of vendors don’t offer custom embroidery.

It’s a pain in the arse!

To offer embroidery, not only do you have to choose a well digitized font but you also have to perform test stitches on the fabric to make sure that it doesn’t bunch up. You also have to make sure everything is sized correctly and find appropriate matching thread colors.

Sometimes the thread breaks. Sometimes the machine chews up the fabric. The process is very manual. But as the saying goes, the more you are willing to do, the more you’ll stand out in a crowd of competitors.

Anyway, after a bit of trial and error with different fonts and thread colors, my wife finally came up with a plan for each one of our apron styles.

Here’s a picture of the final product with embroidery. I think they turned out pretty well.

Pair Of Personalized Aprons

Buying Ads On Adwords

The next step was to get some initial traffic to our product listings via Adwords. For all of you who are unfamiliar with Adwords, Adwords allows you to drive very targeted traffic to your website via paying for clicks on Google search.

Now it’s been a while since I’ve launched a fresh campaign on Adwords so I was a bit shocked by the initial bid price for my keywords. They wanted 2 dollars per click!

Anyway, I tinkered around with my landing pages and product titles until I had a decent quality score of at least 7/10 which brought the bids down to about a buck. And then I let it ride.

As my ads started running, I regularly checked my traffic and keywords multiple times a day to add negative keywords into the campaign.

I also did some back of the envelope calculations regarding the maximum amount I was willing to bid as a function of average profit per sale and a worse case conversion rate.

After some back and forth tinkering over a period of weeks, I finally settled on both a set of ads and a set of bids that were not only profitable but far below Google’s recommended bid amount for our products.

Note: I’m oversimplifying this process for the sake of brevity but Google Adwords is a great way to drive targeted traffic to your listings to gauge demand and to find any problems with your landing page.

Buying Ads On Google Shopping And The CSEs

After getting our Adwords campaign in order, we also listed all of our products on Google Shopping and the comparison shopping engines.

The comparison shopping engines are awesome because a customer has context and price before they click on your ad. As a result, the conversion rate for comparison shopping engines will tend to be higher than regular query based pay per click advertising.

For more information on the comparison shopping engines I use, please read the following posts.

Reaching Out To Mommy Bloggers

Mommy Bloggers

Finally, my strategy would not be complete without some outreach to influencers in my niche. Because we wanted to target our aprons towards Moms on Mother’s Day, it made sense to reach out to some mommy bloggers to help with the promotion.

Over the years, I’ve met a bunch of Mommy bloggers from going to conferences and doing random outreach. And I’ve gotten to know some of these bloggers so well that I’m happy to call them my good friends.

Here’s a small list of bloggers helping out with the launch. You should definitely go and check out their blogs because they all have MASSIVE audiences.

Reaching Out To The Press

Unfortunately, we received our products too late to be featured as potential Mothers Day Gifts in magazines. But we are currently reaching out to several magazines and publications to feature our aprons in future issues.

Our goal is to get some press in time for the holiday season when the higher volume sales will occur. And it’s important to note that a lot of the major publications have extremely long lead times so it’s best to start the research early and keep your eyes open for potential press opportunities.

Summary

If you take away anything from this post, it’s that manufacturing your own products is only half of the battle.

Once you have your products in hand is when the real fun begins. When you first launch a product line, it’s not going to rank in Google and it will probably not receive much organic traffic.

As a result in the beginning, you have to make the sales happen by hand and often times this requires a lot of grunt work!

Early on, it also helps to take advantage of large marketplaces like Amazon and to leverage your email list to get the word out.

In the meantime, if any of you want to give an awesome gift for Mothers Day, check out our line of personalized mother daughter aprons by clicking here!

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8 thoughts on “A Behind The Scenes Look At How We Launched Our New Apron Product Line”

  1. Mandy says:

    Hi Steve

    I think you should have stuck with you modelling the apron it suits you :) Seriously great post about product launch.

    Thanks Mandy

  2. Hi Steve,

    Great post and very timely since I just launched my Shopify eCommerce store yesterday! Now for the hard work…getting customers.

    Thanks for all you do. As a student in your Profitable Online Store course, I’ve learned a lot and was able to go from sign up to launch in just 14 days!

    Cheers ~
    Ree

  3. My wife and I have a successful business selling clothing online and are thinking about taking the next step to producing our own line. I’d love to hear more about the process you went through getting the aprons designed and manufactured.

  4. C’mon Steve, I think you should have modeled them for your shop!
    You’ve overwhelmed me with all of the steps required to get something to market… I’ll still stick with info products for now!

  5. So how did you end up taking the apron photos since they didn’t fit into your light box? Did you go back to the big 3-light setup or get a different light box? Most of my current products would fit into a lightbox (although I’m not sure which one to get – I can’t figure out how to see the dimensions of the ones you recommended on their product page) but I have a few larger items that also won’t fit. So I am really curious about this!
    Thanks!
    Terri

  6. Hey Steve,
    What a great idea, combing aprons monogram aprons, which is always trendy with vintage styles. Very cute! Thank you for the education to help us grow succcessfully!

  7. Dikta says:

    Steve,

    I just recently found your site and it is full of useful content. I am currently selling on Amazon and like to sell on my own store.

    Looking at several options.
    1. self hosted
    2. fully hosted.

    The features I am looking for
    – recurring billing
    – 1click upsell

    1shoppingcart has recurring billing feature and bigcommerce doesn’t have it.

    Self hosted:
    – ultracart
    – ontraport

    Any comments on these. Thanks.

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