Welcome to this eCommerce influencer interview. Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Haynes, owner of a fascinating 3D printing business. Our hope is that you find this interview enlightening and inspiring as you seek to start and grow your own online brand.
Interview with Justin Haynes
Thank you for joining us for this e-commerce business success story. We’d like to start by understanding your story. How did you become a business owner?
This was a long one, but I’ll try to give you the short version. I’m all about 3D printing and have been into it as a hobby for years. A few years ago I wanted to start a 3D printing business in Canada, but I was annoyed by the number of big brands that didn’t offer shipping to Canada because they didn’t want to deal with import duties and taxes, and they did. I don’t have a local partner. So instead of starting a 3D printing farm or service, I become a distribution partner locally, buying wholesale 3D printers and distributing them to end users. When I also started distributing threads and resins, it made sense to open an e-commerce site to also offer them directly to the consumer. That led me to Shopify and grew our brand significantly. I hope it also helped the growth of 3D printing in Canada.
Great! Now this article is about profiling a successful e-commerce business. So, can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?
Listen to your customers.
Don’t compete on price. You need to offer unique value in other ways so your business doesn’t become a race to the bottom.
Have a strategy for your product offerings. Don’t sell what you think you can.
Excellent. Now, I’m sure it wasn’t always easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake you had to overcome on your way to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?
The boring parts of a business can be the most important to making a profit. I am guilty of caring too much about the product and not paying enough attention to the small aspects of the business that can make or break you.
Our first website iteration was ugly because I did it myself without even paying for the templates. I’m sure it lost me the sale. I did not use a customs broker on our first major sea shipment. It definitely caused huge delays when the goods arrived at the port and everyone knows time is money. I put off getting proper insurance, but luckily that one didn’t go down on me like I could have.
Thank you for that. Now – we want to know what’s next. What new initiatives are you implementing in your business and what results do you expect to see?
After working with many small 3D printing businesses as a primary supplier, I’ve found that many make rookie mistakes like this and can take the business alone. I’ve been mentoring my clients for a long time as they order more from me as their business succeeds and grows, but now I’ve taken the next step and launched 3D Print Millions. It’s a new site centered around a free course, a community of other 3D printers, free resources, and an easy way to book a coaching session with me.
One idea I got from this community that I’m starting to work on is for independent 3D printing businesses to come together under one brand network to maximize marketing spend and benefit from wholesale discounts on materials and shipping bills. That feedback led me to build Virtual Factories. That’s definitely my best answer to “what’s next?”
It sounds exciting. Any final advice for our readers?
Don’t be stubborn. If something doesn’t work the way you imagined, change it. Listen to feedback from your customers and the market. They will let you know when there is a key need.