When it comes to delivering excellence in the world of eCommerce business, we can look to Blake Hamar of Cali Raised as an example to follow for success. Originating in Buena Park, California, this off-roading accessory company is committed to staying true to its mission statement to “bring customers the highest quality products at an affordable price.”
When asked about what steps he took to gain initial traction for his business, Hamar attributes a portion of his success to coming in at the right time. “When we started, the product was fairly new. So we came into the market at a good price, and that’s one thing where I think we initially got a lot of attention.” He explained that they had competitors, but they were very large and sold the products at a much larger price. Because of their direct connection with manufacturers, Cali Raised was able to deliver quality products for a fraction of the cost. “When we initially launched, we started with about 5-10 products- now, we have close to 500 SKUs.”
Benefits of Working with Distributors
Another factor that has significantly affected their success has been selling through online distributors, in addition to selling through their own website. Hamar explains that “it’s like fishing- the more lines you have in the water, the more fish you can catch.” Instead of relying on a single sales channel and hoping it performs well, Cali Raised has opted to expand its reach by working with multiple distributors to reach a wider audience. They have found that working with other distributors who are established in their following significantly helps them to have more success in various types of clientele that would be difficult to connect with otherwise. When asked how they found their distributors, Hamar explains that a lot of it was through trial and error. “We have worked with a lot of companies over the years, and after working with many different companies, when you find a good one, you stick with them.”
For example, Cali Raised has its products in a handful of farming shops. Hamar explains that “if you look at our following, 3% are farmers. So we’re not getting a reach to them. But this guy, who’s following is 90% farmers, is getting great reach and he’s selling our stuff to them where we just don’t have that reach…so we’re able to leverage people like that to sell our product in different markets.” When they are looking into a new market, they typically have multiple team meetings to “study trends and ideas so (they) can stay ahead.” Hamar has worked hard to create a strong marketing team that is “able to find holes and niches and attack them with a meaningful strategy.”
How to Set Your Pricing
When considering how to determine pricing, Cali Raised has made it a point to keep their distributors in mind when making decisions on cost. “We price our products out to meet the margins that we can make. We also have to keep our dealers in mind when pricing a product, because we need to leave room for them to make money as well. Over the past four years, our prices have stayed within 10%.”
Because of the emphasis that Cali Raised has put on working with other distributors, they have made it a point to maintain a strong marketing team to help their dealers and create an all-around great experience for everyone involved. Having a good name with social media and product reviews online is crucial to success in eCommerce business today. Hamar explains that “usually, people leave a review for one of two reasons- you either leave a review if you have a really bad experience, or you leave a review if you have the most amazing experience ever and you feel obligated to.” Maintaining high customer satisfaction has been a high priority for Cali Raised and it shows with their 5-star Amazon rating and 4.9-star Google rating. Since Cali Raised works so much with various distributors, they have found that it is imperative to put the right amount of focus into pushing for reviews. “Our team has a lot of automation integrated into our systems to help drive customers to leave those reviews.”
With working alongside various distributors to get their product in front of a wider variety of customers, Cali Raised has had to make it a point to not step on any toes while still maintaining good direct to consumer sales. Hamar has found that communication is key to maintaining good relationships with their partners. He has also assigned someone to handle all communication with dealers to ensure that they are taken care of and that the proper conversations are taking place so that everyone is on the same page.
Cali Raised also makes it a point to maintain equal pricing across the board. “As far as pricing, we do a sale every month on a product. Not only do we do the sale for the customers, we extend to the dealers a discounted price on their end so they can do the same sale at the same time and not take a hit to their margin.” Hamar calls it the Apple Method- whether you purchase an Apple product from a retailer or from the company themselves, it’s going to be the same price. Cali Raised wants to make sure that they are delivering quality products to its customers while also taking care of and maintaining good relationships with its dealers.
Keep Your Customers Excited About Your Product
When it comes to keeping their current customers excited about the brand and coming back for more, Cali Raised has a good handle on what brings them continued success. “We have a pretty good repeat business- we turn about 28% of our customers into repeat customers.” Cali Raised has found success through their monthly newsletter- chock full of industry information, tips for good trails to go off-roading on and upcoming events, and it is not formatted to “sell you anything”. In addition to their newsletter, Cali Raised travels to events and shows to showcase their product, as well as keeping their website fresh and continually releasing new products to meet demand. They have found a lot of success in utilizing social media platforms to reach new audiences, such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Hamar explained that they have about a one and a half year schedule already built out for their various product releases so that they can be as prepared as possible. “I think it’s very important when coming out with new products to have a lot of thought behind it, because you are giving customers their first impression of your new product and you want it to stick and gain traction, which will result in sales.”
Above all, Hamar has found that maintaining the right focus and having an emphasis on excellent customer service is the key to his success with Cali Raised. He advises “not to just sell a product to sell a lot of the product…you need to sell them on your service and your quality. That will go a long way with people. Build the brand, build the name, and just be a decent person. Give them a better experience, give them a better product to buy, and that is how you’re going to be successful.”
At STRYDE, we have extensive knowledge doing digital marketing for sports and outdoor gear brands using paid social, SEO and paid search. If you are struggling to gain traction in the outdoor space let’s chat. We’d be happy to analyze the competition and build a plan for online marketing.