Ecommerce Marketing / Ecommerce Success Stories / How to Sell Online

3-Year-Old Ecommerce Brand Man Crates Hits Record Cyber Week Sales – And Their Customer Experience Strategy is Why

Tracey Wallace / 3 min read

You hear it all the time: customer experience makes or breaks a company. Yet, transparency is hard for any brand, large or small, especially in a social media age where one wrong move can mean some seriously negative PR. Worse, for online stores, nailing brand experience from the moment a customer visits your site, to the moment they open what they ordered, can be incredibly difficult.

Yes, technology makes our lives easier, but when having to deal with multi-channel online touchpoints, offline delivery and the ability for customers to broadcast their experience to the world – and we’re talking literally to the world, here – technology can be both friend and foe.

The trick is using technology to your advantage and as a tool to both surprise and delight your customers. Man Crates, an online store selling “bragworthy gifts for guys,” has done exactly that.

“The mission of Man Crates is to help customers send personality-specific gifts to the guys they love,” says Scott Ellis, head of marketing over at Man Crates. “Every gift is thoughtfully selected and sent with a specific purpose in mind, even if that purpose is just to say ‘thinking of you.’”

Contrary to the popularity of subscription service boxes, which often remove the personalization from gift-giving, Man Crates focuses on delivering a high level of customer satisfaction, not just in the packages they create, but throughout the process of customer thoughtfulness.

“We feel honored customers invite us into their special occasions, and we make sure to hire team members that naturally prioritize the customer experience,” says Ellis. “Our hope is that every customer’s experience, whether browsing the store, calling customer service, or physically opening a crate, is so uniquely amazing that they can’t help but rave about us. We try to be as transparent as possible with customer feedback both on the site and internally to ensure the customer experience remains our top priority.

Our hope is that every customer’s experience is so uniquely amazing that they can’t help but rave about us.

This dedication to customer experience has turned Man Crates from merely an idea three years ago into a now fully fledged enterprise-level brand. With that in mind, we caught up with Man Crates via an online chat this week in order to host an exchange of business expertise. Below, see highlights of the top questions from store owners from across the globe, with answers and commentary from the Man Crates team.

Community: What is the best social media channel and how have you grown your following?

Man Crates: We started on Facebook and are growing our following by emphasizing fun, branded content. Over the last year, we’ve explored Pinterest and found it to be a great conversion platform. The heavy visual elements play well with our products and the overall Man Crates experience.

What percent of women buy from your site? Pinterest seems to be a female heavy audience, and you say it converts well. Is it women buying?

It varies over the course of the year, but, on average, females make up 65 to 70% of our audience. That’s one of the main reasons Pinterest has been so effective for us.

How often do you email?

We try to only email our list once a month except for seasonal gift-giving occasions (Father’s Day & Winter Holidays) when we may deliver commercial-focused emails once a week. Even in these emails, we always try to balance commercial with worthwhile creative content to keep our audience engaged.

How do you not offer discounts?

We try to be selective with our discounts to make them feel special. Massive Man Crates Monday (aka Cyber Monday) is our biggest discount day of the year. We do, however, have a standing discount for active and veteran military members.

How can you verify that someone is active military or a veteran online?

We use a service called that helps verify for military discounts. For active members, we can also tell by the APO or FPO shipping address.

How do you solicit reviews?

We take pride in being transparent with our reviews on each product page and invite as much customer feedback as possible.

How active is your live chat?

Our Customer Service Champions are amazing! As long as someone is in the office, live chat support is accessible on the website.

Do PR media hits give you big spikes in traffic?

Definitely! Anytime we’re able to drive brand awareness with new customers, it’s a huge win. Most recently, we were featured on The Talk and Fox & Friends over the last two weeks and saw our traffic spike dramatically based on airing times.

Do you have a Cost Per Acquisition with ROI for paid marketing, and if so, what channel?

We do have a target Cost Per Acquisition that is based on first-time transaction profitability because, as a young company, we also struggle with quantifying lifetime value. Our channels vary, but it is most consistent in Search Engine Marketing.

Is it valuable to get a customer at a loss (buy a t-shirt) to gain them as a customer without known customer lifetime value?

As for t-shirts (and recently, sweet tank tops), we treat them more as gifts to surprise and delight existing customers. For us, brand awareness is just as important as Return On Investment.

Huge thank you to the Man Crates team for hopping online and answering everyone’s questions. Do you have more questions for the Man Crates team or want us to help you host a Facebook chat of your own? Let us know in the comments below.

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