Part two: An interview with Donorbox founder Charles Zhang: Why hitting the niche might determine the success of your product

Interview

Authors

Mario Stipetic

Watch part two of the interview with Charles Zhang the founder of Donorbox or read the snippets below. Find out how Donorbox succeeded, whether they got any investments and some general advice.

“Work on something that’s exceedingly interesting to you, that what fascinates you. People like to say idea doesn’t matter, the execution will pivot to the idea that works. I don’t believe that.”

— Charles Zhang, Donorbox

How to get your first users

Donorbox applied SEO strategy to get the first users, very specific blogs and explanations about what is different with Donorbox from the other donation forms were written. It would be very difficult to get users if the blogs were general because there was strong competition doing similar work. It had to be explained why Donorbox was different. Donorbox is in a sense of very niche product in the world of donation forms.

How did it get from zero to initial earnings?

“We had quite a bit of user after two or three months. We didn't actually charge them until a year later because we're still working on it. But I wouldn't recommend that for all cases. It depends on how confident you feel about your product. If you feel like your product is already pretty complex and you put up a lot of ingenuity and expertise in your product it's good to charge from day one because you're the customers feel money investing your product and they give you better feedback.

We had zero investment. We did it with our own money doing consulting but we had a lot of experience from our previous projects. We were super scrappy and very frugal.  But after so many failures to have a product that people are actually got me pretty excited, I didn't care about having a higher income.”

Why hitting the niche means everything

“If you're building a niche product, which I highly recommend, you should just get a lot of enthusiasts that are relevant to you. The more niche you get into a sector, first of all, their business customer is willing to pay. Also, you're not competing against all the college startups doing “food deliveries” or “photo sharing”. I think that it’s a smarter route to do niche than to do a consumer larger startup.”

What is next for Donorbox

There are many new things Charles is thinking about when advancing Donorbox and they include more payment integration, resolving data issues that NGO often have like a monthly and weekly quarterly reoccurring donation, cryptocurrencies and more analytic tools.

A talk with Charles Zhang,
founder at Donorbox.org

What will be the most important 2020 fashion eCommerce trend based on your professional experience?

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6. Video is still on the rise

Video is already pretty popular on eCommerce—but it’s still growing.

There’s no mystery why retailers are gravitating toward more videos—they can increase conversions, click-through rates, and web traffic. In fact, Forbes found that 65 percent of customers are more likely to make a purchase after watching a product video. 

Shoppers are attracted to this advertising method because it feels more authentic and can provide valuable information. Dollar Shave Club experienced first-hand how effective video marketing can be when its unexpectedly funny first video received nearly five million views and generated 12,000 orders within the first two days of its release.

Source: HubSpot.com

This format is so beneficial because it’s very easy to share and elicits an emotional reaction from viewers. The Aberdeen Group found that companies utilizing video in ad campaigns boosted revenue 49 percent more quickly year-after-year than those that do not.

According to Cisco, video will be 82 percent of all internet traffic by 2022. That’s up four-fold over 2017 and demonstrates just how important video will be to eCommerce (and all businesses) in the coming years.

Experiment with one or more of the following video formats and add embedded videos to your product pages or link to videos in your Jilt post-purchase emails to pique customer interest and boost revenue.

Product demos

  • Allow consumers to see product from 360-degree angle
  • Highlight and explain major features
  • Answer common customer questions

How-to videos

  • Delve deeper into a product’s features and demonstrate how to use them
  • Popular video type for social media
  • Get customers excited about everything your product can do

User-generated customer reviews

  • Build trust about your product
  • Add a layer of authenticity to your reviews

Lifestyle

  • Build a narrative around your brand and tell stories about your product
  • Videography feels more like a movie or short film
  • Great for your social media platforms

6. Shoppable ads on social media

Both Google and Instagram introduced shoppable ads in the past couple of months. We will only see more of this trend, making it super easy to shop while you're scrolling on the Instagram. The photo-sharing social media platform is quickly becoming the central hub for branded fashion content and powerful user-generated marketing. In the fashion industry, it can be difficult to build trust. By turning to influencers, fashion brands can gain endorsements from trusted product curators who boast massive followings.

Not only that, but retailers could learn a thing or two from Instagram when it comes to shopping on mobile. The app has made the customer journey to purchase super easy with a native payment integration into the app.

7. Shared economy trend in fashion

Brands like Uber and Airbnb made solved huge problems for us, making it easier and cheaper to book a place or get a ride. Shared economy is slowly entering the fashion world, and we can only expect to see it more in 2020. The sharing economy is making it easier than ever for consumers to get expensive looks affordably, either through renting or swapping outfits.

While the idea has been around for a while, with services such as Rent-the-Runway catering to designer tastes, it’s Chinese consumers that are taking the concept mainstream. In a competitive economy, China’s post-’90s generation rents outfits to keep up with fast-changing trends.

The impact of the shared economy on the fashion e-commerce is dramatic. Brands can offer users great outfits without having to worry about wholesaling or manufacturing. Instead, they can simply focus on providing an easy-to-navigate customer experience. It’s no wonder such accessible and affordable models are taking their place among the top fashion e-commerce trends.


8. Brands are reducing wait time with the help of chatbots

eCommerce customers love chat. According to one study, 51 percent are more likely to make a purchase if they can have a live chat, and 44 percent say having their questions answered in real-time is one of the most important features an eCommerce site can offer.

And that’s cool… except it’s a big ask for a small company, and an impossible ask for someone running an eCommerce business solo.

That’s where chatbots come in. Rather than answering every question yourself in real time, why not have a robot do it—or, at least, serve as an initial screener?

It’s estimated that by next year, 85 percent of all customer service interactions will be handled by chatbots. (Oh, and the same study estimated that by next year, the average person will have more total conversations with bots than with their spouse. Welcome to our horrible automated future!)

And chatbot technology isn’t just available to companies that can afford AI developers or ones that have been building a secret army of robots in a sub-basement. There are plenty of affordable and simple chatbot apps available right now for both Shopify and WooCommerce.

If you’re on the fence about adding one, keep this one stat in mind: 29 percent of people say they’re more likely to buy something on a website with live chat, even if they don’t use it.

9. Increased number of direct-to-consumer brands

Direct-to-consumer brands, which handle every single aspect of their business from design to manufacturing to sales and distribution, are on the rise. There have been a number of high-profile successes in the space recently, including Casper, Warby Parker, and other brands you hear advertising on literally every podcast—so now, lots of others are following suit

There’s a strong appeal to running a DTC operation.  Without a bunch of middlemen siphoning off any money, you can cut costs and increase quality, like The Black Tux did by manufacturing their own tuxedos for their online rental store. You’re not at the mercy of major retailers, meaning you control your brand experience at every step. You “own” every single one of your customers and it’s easier to gauge the effectiveness of your marketing.

That being said—DTC is still a tough game. Managing every single aspect of a retail business is a significant undertaking that requires capital, organization, and lots of talented, specialized employees. However, as more bespoke DTC brands gain serious traction and siphon off significant market share from the mega-retailers, it’s a space that’s undeniably worth keeping an eye on—or, in the most ambitious cases, joining in on.

10. Omnichanel > Online

Due to Amazon's increasing popularity, a lot of bookstores went out of business. And few years later, Amazon is

There’s something almost poetic about it. Amazon drove countless brick-and-mortar bookstores out of business—and now that they’re gone, Amazon has started opening its own brick-and-mortar bookstores. There are now more than 50 Amazon Books locationsaround the U.S.

But—those stores don’t just sell a curated selection of popular books. They also serve as a place for people to come check out Amazon’s gadgets like the Kindle and Echo, and even to handle package pick-ups and returns. Amazon is using their physical locations for book sales, sure—but through another lens, that almost seems secondary to the other purpose of bridging other key gaps between the online and brick-and-mortar experience. With their stores, Amazon can now get the sales boost of people playing around with their gadgets, like Apple does at its Apple Stores. And by incorporating a staffed shipping department into the stores, Amazon can make the delivery and returns process on complicated orders go much smoother than they could via any online-only instructions or chats.

Amazon is far from the only one looking to establish a physical presence to shore up the vulnerabilities left by a virtual-only business—and secure even more customers by giving them that in-person, three-dimensional, tactile experience. Last year, more online-only retailers, including Rent the Runway, Everlane, Allbirds, and Adore Me, started making the move to add more physical locations, featuring curated collections and the in-person service touch, and that trend is continuing on now. It’s estimated that digital brands will open at least 850 physical stores in the next five years.

And as that trend continues, it will be interesting to see how many of the stores start stocking more inventory, rather than just a small sample, to achieve one of the other key benefits of the brick-and-mortar experience: The instant gratification of walking out with a shopping bag in-hand.

Summary

As technology and customer preferences continue to evolve, the eCommerce world is adjusting with it. That’s reflected in the trends we’ll see in the industry next year.


  1. Online shops are fighting high return rates with - reviews.
  2. AR shopping
  3. Search grows beyond text
  4. Mobile is the new desktop
  5. Video is still on the rise
  6. Shoppable ads on social media
  7. Shared economy trend in fashion
  8. Brands are reducing wait time with the help of chatbots
  9. Increased number of direct-to-consumer brands
  10. Online shops are going offline

What the experts have to say;
In your opinion, which of the trends will have the biggest impact on the world of fashion e-commerce in 2020?

Mostly, Artificial Intelligence looped into the Fashion Industry. As we can both agree how big an impact AI has on the market and has a huge scope as well. On those lines we provide conversational automation to the fashion e-commerce stores as well, therefore, powering fashion e-commerce and AI amalgamated with ML, NLP, NLU, NLG together.

Niharika Ayyagari - Verloop

Virtual reality shopping app

Crevia Soh is a founder of Aiverc, design watch online shop. She wanted to create a luxury watch that was bold and different, and allowed people to express themselves.

Greater personalization without a doubt, combined with ever increasing competition for customer loyalty.
profile image circle

Margarita Goroshkevic - AllRiot

Greater personalization without a doubt, combined with ever increasing competition for customer loyalty.
profile image circle

Margarita Goroshkevic - AllRiot

What will be the most important 2020 fashion eCommerce trend based on your professional experience?

Note: we will publish selected answers and get back to you by email
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Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.

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