Building your own brand in a mature and established vertical can be somewhat likened to being in a David and Goliath story, going against giants who have long gained and cemented their foothold in the industry. And it certainly is no easy feat to set up your own brand, not to mention distinguishing yourself from other big names out there in the market.
But as our guest, Michael Young, would say, “If you follow the same paradigm, you cannot run because people have been doing it for more than 50 years and doing it better than people that do it the same way for 50 years is very difficult. The only way to win is to be different.” And this is exactly how they managed to bring UNDONE into the direct-to-consumer eCommerce space that is earning millions of dollars each year in creating personalised watches for their end users.
UNDONE is a Hong Kong-based watch company that creates uniquely customised designs for its users. They take pride in empowering the consumer by giving back the design-making process into the consumer’s hands and bringing in the authenticity of the brand with each highly customisable watch.
Join Kunle and Michael in today’s episode as they talk about entrepreneurship, crowdfunding, operations management, and building a brand in a highly-competitive space.
- The UNDONE Story
- Operations Management
- Production Management
- eCommerce Strategy
Podcast Show Notes:
- 01:50 – Figure out how the eCommerce industry is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic through Klaviyo’s COVID-19 Daily Pulse Update. Check out Klaviyo
- 03:13 – Introducing Michael Young and his brand UNDONE
- 05:00 – Michael Young’s Background
- 06:07 – The UNDONE Story
- From watch packaging to a watchmaker
- Starting out as a watch brand from Asia
- Growing demand for personalisation
- 13:00 – Building the brand in the eCommerce space
- UNDONE is a direct-to-consumer brand rather than a traditional watch brand
- Empowering the consumer to choose and customize their purchase
- 16:41 – How do you scale out when going multi-channel and how do you scale out from a production standpoint?
- Automating customisation through a web interface
- 19:44 – How do you catch up with peak demand and how do you manage your operation line?
- Using fully automated machines and pre-made components
- 10 mins of assembly time per watch
- Semi-automatic assembly/operation line
- 22:33 – Delivery
- Longer QC testing
- Around 1 week of delivery time for international shipping
- 24:04 – Managing Overhead Expenses
- 60% – 70% gross margins
- No middlemen
- Direct-to-consumer setup
- Fully-integrated system
- Utilization of agile techniques
- 28:42 – If you are not doing watches, what other products would you be doing?
- Audio files
- Vintage items
- 29:31 – Get the easiest way to backup your Shopify or BigCommerce store and undo unwanted changes with Rewind.io… Mention you heard about them at 2x eCommerce Podcast and get a ONE MONTH FREE TRIAL
- 31:09 – Watch Movements
- Seiko from Japan – reduces inventory costs
- Swiss movement vs. Japanese movement
- Swiss movement – expensive and limited supply
- Chinese movement – quality issues
- Japanese movement – relatively good quality and more controlled prices
- 33:39 – When did you start UNDONE?
- 2016 – first product launch
- Crowdfunding on Kickstarter
- Sold 2,000 units on Kickstarter
- Injecting authenticity into your brand
- 37:19 – Branding in the wake of Coronavirus
- Try not to hide who you are but use your products to show that you care.
- It’s not about money; it’s rethinking about what’s important in life.
- Understand what people are feeling right now and fine-tune your product to suit that.
- Streamline your marketing to show that you care about the society and not putting money-making as the top priority. It’s catching people’s emotions.
- 41:36 – UNDONE’s first year in business
- 200,000 USD in crowdfunding
- Seed angel investors
- Investing a lot in online advertising, Facebook advertising, and customer acquisitions
- Seeding through influencer marketing on Instagram
- Online watch magazines that reach out to watch enthusiasts
- Investment on quality
- Overdeliver and underpromise
- Investment in web programs
- 47:00 – Platforms Used
- Outsourced a developer to manually design and create UNDONE’s inventory and warehouse management system
- Cons: Complicated programming that is not user-friendly and takes months to update
- Eventually hired in-house software developers
- 51:16 – Licensing
- IP Licensing
- Working with known brands like Warner Bros.
- 55:56 – Lightning Round
- How do you hire people?
- I don’t look at resumes. I talk to them.
- What advice would you give to yourself five years ago?
- Five years ago, I would say I wouldn’t advise. Just do it.
- Are you a morning person?
- What’s your daily morning routine?
- What two things can’t you live without?
- I can’t live without my watch and my TV.
- What book do you recommend reading?
- I basically gave up reading books.
- What’s been your best mistake to date? A setback that has given you the biggest feedback.
- That was setting up the factory for packaging. Managing a factory.
- 46:20 – Join the 2xEcommerce Facebook Group
- Think of the value that you’re bringing in to the end consumer. Ask yourself what is it that makes your brand different from others and what value you are bringing to the table.
- If you are giving the right message through your branding and marketing strategies, eventually you will maintain a certain level of business even during difficult times.
- Try not to hide who you are and inject authenticity into your brand instead of pretending it to be something it is not.
- Marketing is quick and it is how it’s supposed to be. You have to respond to the market and you have to listen to the market.
- If you just rely on paid ads for marketing, initially it wouldn’t work especially if you’re just starting out.
“If you follow the same paradigm [of traditional businesses], you cannot run because people have been doing it for more than 50 years, and doing it better than people that do it the same way for 50 years is very difficult. The only way to win is to be different.”
“Streamline your marketing to show that you care about the society and not putting money-making as the top priority. It’s catching people’s emotions.”
Facebook Group • Continue the Conversation
The eCommerce GrowthAccelerator Mastermind Facebook Group has just launched.
It is a community…
✔️ for founders and experts passionately involved in eCommerce
✔️ for the truly ambitious wanting to make an impact in the markets they serve
✔️ for those willing and open to help and share with other members
Here is where to apply to join the Facebook group
This episode is brought to you by:
This episode is brought to you by Klaviyo – a growth marketing platform that powers over 25,000 online businesses.
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Find out more on klaviyo.com/2x.
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