What’s growing fast, representing about half of US online retail spend? Amazon. This marketplace is massive and it’s on the tip of every financial analyst’s tongue. And for good reason. Lots of merchants use it to reach a wide breadth of customers.
But access to these customers can often come at a steep price—one that includes a host of fees like monthly subscription charges, referral fees up to 20 percent of an item’s sale price, variable closing fees, and fulfillment fees based on an item’s dimensions and weight, according to BigCommerce.
Despite its popularity, some merchants are avoiding Amazon, leaving it, or, in the case of Kiss My Keto, using Amazon as a product-testing ground before they launch their own ecommerce store.
I recently spoke with Kate Geller, Kiss My Keto’s director of affiliate marketing and former digital marketing manager, about the brand’s experience with Amazon and how they’ve grown their business since launching their own ecommerce store.
Marissa McGovern [MG]: Tell me about Kiss my Keto. What do you do and how did the brand come about?
Kate Geller [KG]: Kiss My Keto is a brand that’s dedicated to making the ketogenic lifestyle easy. Our founders, Michael Herscu and Alex Bird, were struggling to find high-quality food that supported a ketogenic lifestyle. They were overwhelmed with an array of options that didn’t quite fit their needs, so they created Kiss My Keto.
[MG]: How did you use Amazon to find out if customers would want your product?
[KG]: Before starting our own ecommerce store, we wanted to test if our products would be a fit with consumers so we started selling a handful of products on Amazon in 2017. We immediately saw traction and knew we’d met a growing customer need. The “keto” trend was rising, so we had to start thinking about how to not only make immediate sales, but also how to build a brand that could stand the test of time.
[MG]: What made you want to have your own ecommerce store and not just sell only on Amazon?
[KG]: We analyzed our profit margins, looked at the little customer data we had from Amazon, and realized that a large portion of our revenue was going to Amazon’s fees. Selling on Amazon was helpful to reach a wide range of customers, but it doesn’t give sellers the rich data we need to learn more about customers, create relationships with them, increase average order value, customize messaging to different segments, and drive long-term customer lifetime value.
Also, with Amazon, we couldn’t provide our customers with information about ketosis—scientific findings, anecdotal videos, blog content, and other educational resources. Our voice was missing and we knew we could provide more value to our customers than just transactional ecommerce in a marketplace. We realized we needed to have our own ecommerce store to help us collect customer data and have more control over the customer experience.
We built our own ecommerce store in late 2017, and it’s been a transformative experience for us and our customers. For us, Amazon is like the big-box store, whereas our ecommerce site is like a brick-and-mortar retail shop. With our ecommerce site, we’re able to create an experience that’s specific to our brand. This allows us to create relationships with our customers and build more brand loyalty.
"With Amazon, we couldn’t provide our customers with... educational resources. Our voice was missing and we knew we could provide more value to our customers than just transactional ecommerce in a marketplace. We realized we needed to have our own ecommerce store to help us collect customer data and have more control over the customer experience."
Kate Geller, Director of Affiliate Marketing, Kiss My Keto
[MG]: Why was it important to have more customer data and what did you do with it?
[KG]: Soon after building our own ecommerce store, we were able to collect enough data to learn more about our customers. One of the first things we did was analyze our consumer-base to understand which customers are the most profitable. We were surprised to learn things like customers who purchase high-value ticket items, or those who have high average order values, or those who purchase frequently, are not necessarily the most profitable because they’re also consistently using coupons for discounts. With the latter, we looked for ways to build relationships with these customers while balancing the discounting. This is another example where we took advantage of Klaviyo’s features. The date of next predicted order and churn risk predictive analytics are money savers for us. We can see a customer’s predicted next order date and if it’s relatively soon, why send them a coupon if they might be planning on ordering anyway?
[MG]: What kind of success have you seen?
[KG]: Our online store’s sales are now at par with our Amazon sales. And because of Amazon’s fee structure, our online store is more profitable. Plus, it’s a brand-building engine! It’s more than an online platform that sells products. It’s also an educational destination where we can demonstrate how to use our products to their highest potential.
One way we do this is through our email campaigns, which are objective-based segments that are based on a customer’s keto goal. We have email segments for weight loss, body-building, improved mental performance, and recipes, and the emails for these topics only go to the customers who want to read them.
Our online store and its integration with Klaviyo are paramount to our brand-building and the community around our brand. We wouldn’t be able to have this experience on Amazon.
If any ecommerce brand isn’t using Klaviyo, it’s definitely due to ignorance. There truly is no other email marketing platform that allows brands to get such granular insights.
"Our online store’s sales are now at par with our Amazon sales. And because of Amazon’s fee structure, our online store is more profitable. Plus, it’s a brand-building engine!"
Kate Geller, Director of Affiliate Marketing, Kiss My Keto
[MG]: Food is one of the fastest growing online categories, but it can be difficult to sell online when you can’t personally taste-test each product. What advice would you give to another food brand just starting out?
[KG]: Think about all of the human senses beyond just taste, and use descriptive language to create a tantalizing customer experience—one that makes them feel like they can taste, smell, touch, and see what the product might be like. We use this approach on our website and through our other marketing channels like onsite merchandising, email newsletters, and social media.
Kiss My Keto’s dedication to building a lasting brand, understanding consumer behavior, and using data-rich insights have been transformational to their business. Their ecommerce store revenue has catapulted 100x since they launched it and they’re only three years in. This is a brand that’s taking control of its marketing and is definitely one to watch.
Want to see how other brands are taking control of their marketing? Tune into Ready, Set, Grow to go behind the scenes with some of the fastest-growing ecommerce brands and learn about strategies they’re using to drive growth.Back to Blog Home