Go behind the scenes of today's top ecommerce brands to see the strategies leading to their growth.

Ready. Set. Grow.


Learn how Rareform uses back-in-stock emails and a coming soon product page to grow sales, forecast production, and decide what to discount.


About this episode:

Kara shares Rareform’s marketing strategy on:

  • Using back-in-stock emails with one-of-a-kind items
  • How a “Coming Soon” page has led them to forecast, figure out pricing, and convert shoppers
  • A segmented sending strategy for excess inventory

Create a Back in Stock Flow

rareform bag product image

Full Transcript


Alicia Thomas: This week on the first episode of Ready, Set, Grow I met Rareform, a company that turns vinyl billboards into bags. I’m meeting with the team here to hear about a few marketing strategies that are leading to big growth.

Alec Avedissian: The idea actually came after college, I moved to El Salvador. When I was there, I saw my friends using billboards as roofing, and then I just thought that idea was genius, and I was like, we should make some bags out of it, so we made a surf bag from it and it was our first product. Then it was really that idea that spawned to be like, wow we can really create a bag and accessory brand behind it.

Kara Morin: Here at Rareform, we repurpose freeway billboards into one of a kind backpacks, duffel bags, wallets, things like that. So, every month we repurpose about 50,000 pounds of billboard vinyl into one of a kind bags and accessories.

Alicia: What are some of the biggest marketing challenges you have at Rareform?

Kara: Because each of our products is one of a kind that can lead to some confusion from our customers of knowing that the one they see online actually is the exact one they’re gonna receive in the mail. And so communicating that effectively and clearly is a challenge but also it’s one of the reasons people really enjoy Rareform is knowing that each product is one of a kind and so nobody else is gonna have the same bag as them.

Alicia: So you’re looking at the website, you pick a bag and that’s the actual one you’re gonna get it’s not a variation of that at all based on colors, that is the item?

Kara: Yeah, so in our warehouse here we actually photograph probably about 300 products per day, front side and back side. Each product that’s online actually has a unique SKU number and so the one that a customer sees online is actually the exact one they’ll receive.

Alicia: You’ve got a very unique business in that every product is unique so if someone doesn’t find a color or pattern that they love what does that process look like?

Kara: On our website on an individual collection page at the bottom it says, “Want to know when we restock” and they have an option to enter their email address and get notified when new color ways are on the website for that particular product. So, when we upload those new ones to the site we’ll email them and it’s actually a plain text email. So we found that really personalizes the email as well as leads to a lot open rates and click rates. It comes directly from the founder and it just notifies them pretty simply just that we’ve added new colorways and they can check out the new ones on the site.

Alicia : So you’re kind of bucking the trend of everyone sends an email with a product image on it and like come buy this now because really that might not be the right product for that particular buyer.

You have one really cool strategy that I wanna know all about which is your coming soon page. Can you tell me kind of the process behind that and what success you’ve been finding?

Kara: Our coming soon page really came out of the success of the backend stock, not just to let customers know when new products were coming in but being able to future cast of which products were popular based on how many people were signing up for each list. For the coming soon page we started it just about a year ago with the release of two of our tote bags and we’ve noticed we’ll put items on the coming soon page 6 months or more ahead of time when they’ll be launched. So that really helps us future cast customer interest in a particular new product before it even comes on our website. And it’s a way to incentivize customers to sign up for emails although it would be just for this particular product but we’ll notify them that that is coming out 12-24 hours before it hits social media or just our general newsletter.

Kara: And so, that’s just a way to show customers we value them for signing up without always incentivizing them with discounts or sales or things like that that keeps them engaged.

Alicia: So it’s super targeted, they’re raising their hand, they’re saying I want this product 6 months in advance which is kind of outrageous-  Then you’re giving them early access to get on the list to buy things and you have an idea of how many people actually want. So you’ve got all this data and you can forecast. You know, how are you doing this going forward? Are you doing more and more products this way? Every product that you have going to do this?

Kara: Yeah so every new product will go on to the coming soon page and some things might hit 3 or 4 months in advance. Some things have gone up almost a year in advance. And so that gives us a good way to gage customer interest but also we do put the price point on there too. So there have been a few times where we’re not settled on a particular price point but we might notice hey that coming soon list is actually a lot smaller than we anticipated, what if we drop the price by 10% and see if it increases the amount of sign ups. And that’s a good way to know, hey that price point was actually a deterrent for people so that’s why they’re not signing up.

Alicia: So, if you’re signing up and saying I want something in advance that’s a long time to actually wait for something. 3 months, better but still like in this kind of world where everything is coming and going so fast, I’m curious about what the success rate is?

So, people have obviously signed up, are you finding high opens and actually people going on and purchasing or what are your metrics along that looking like?

Kara: I’ve noticed in the first day of sales we’ll sell about 10% in units of the amount of people that signed up for the restock. So, if we have 1000 people on the restock we’ll sell about 100 in that first day. So that’s been a really great way to predict not only longterm interest, but also the first day or the first week sales.

Alicia: That’s so cool, 10% is amazing. So you’re doing a lot with flows, now let’s talk about segmentation. Have you had any out of the park success segmenting your audience?

Kara: Yeah. Recently we actually did something with segmentation we hadn’t done before. We had a product that was one of our most popular products but we just had a lot of extra inventory we were looking to clear out and so we ended up segmenting to three different audiences.

Kara: One was loyal customers, so people who purchase on our website at least 5 times. The second was people who purchased that particular product before because that’s often a product that’s repeated. And then third, it was a tote bag and we sell four tote bags, and often people once they have one style tote bag they actually buy multiple, maybe even all four. So, sending it to people who had bought one of the other three styles but had yet to purchase one of this particular style, the Blake Tote bag.

And so our reason for doing that was it was a heavier discount than what we typically offer on an average sale so we didn’t want it to be all over social media or in our general email but … and then I think it helped because it made those customers who have purchased more frequently feel like this was really an exclusive discount and so we’re able to reward those customers for purchasing before and also clear out some inventory that had been taking up space in our warehouse.

Alicia: I love that because so often people don’t want to discount, or they’re afraid that it’ll hurt their brand but you already have that relationship and you know somebody loves that product, to kind of sweeten the deal a little bit it’s just kind of a nice way to show customer appreciation and also kind of protect yourself in making sure that people do still see the value in the full price product as well.

Kara: So this side is really all the finished skids but on this side is actually where the process starts with the billboards themselves. So once billboards are actually done being used they come to our office here, and they come in two ways; either they’re stacked nicely like this on the pallet, or they’ll come to us in a large shipping container.

Once they come to us we’ll actually sort them all by different size and thickness and then they’ll go into our warehouse to be cut. We have these two cutting tables here in our warehouse and they get cut into squares based on the size of the product and these cut squares then get shipped to our manufacturers.

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