How To Get Creative with Product Optimization: Offerings and Strategies | PalletSide Chat Ep. 05

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How To Get Creative with Product Optimization: Offerings and Strategies 

If there’s one thing you can count on in the eCommerce world, it’s that things are constantly changing. What works today might not work tomorrow, so it’s crucial to stay ahead of the curve and keep your product offerings and strategies fresh. In this PalletSide Chat episode recap, we’ll give you tips on getting creative with product optimization and increasing your AOV. Alex also talks about utilizing hot buzzwords to stay ahead of the competition. So if you’re looking for ways to increase AOV and stay ahead of the curve, this blog post is for you!

Find Certainty in the Uncertain

The state of the economy is a hot topic of conversation these days. Everyone has an opinion on what’s happening and what needs to be done to fix it. But when it comes down to it, there are only so many things that we as individuals can actually control. Interest rates and consumer spending habits are important factors affecting our businesses. But at the end of the day, what really determines our success is how we respond to these macro trends. Do we let them get us down, or do we focus on the things we can control and execute our plans flawlessly? So let’s dig into some of those controllable factors and figure out how to make next year a success despite all the uncertainty.

“The key to overall success I think in 2023 … is looking at how you really optimize revenue, especially from existing customers.” – Dan Van Meer.

We’ve All Struggled

We’ve all been there. You’re scrolling through Twitter, and you see someone flexing their successful eCommerce business, and you can’t help but feel a little discouraged. You think to yourself, “Why can’t I be like them? What am I doing wrong?” The reality is that everyone struggles at one point or another in their eCommerce journey. 

Even the people who seem to have it all together have had their fair share of struggles. The key is not to compare yourself to others and to keep pressing on. There is no one magic solution to success in eCommerce; the key is to keep trying new things and keep going. So, if you’re feeling down about your eCommerce journey, just remember that even the most successful people have been in your shoes before. Keep pressing on, and you’ll eventually find success.

“I’ll be vulnerable here. We spent a good three years completely paralyzed because we had no idea … what we were doing.” -Alex Lewkowict.

Product is King, and Offer is Queen

As any entrepreneur knows, a successful business requires hard work and dedication. However, even the most passionate entrepreneurs sometimes need help to achieve their goals. This was the case for Alex. Despite his best efforts, he found it difficult to generate sales and grow his business. That is, until he received some sage advice from a friend: “product is king, offer is queen.” 

With this new perspective, Alex focused on creating a solid product offering. He also revised his marketing strategy, ensuring that his ad spending focused on creative and targeting. The results were immediate and substantial; within months, Alex turned his business around and saw record sales. This just goes to show that, when it comes to business, sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference.

“[Wush] was our Trojan horse. And it goes back to my saying, product is king, offer is queen. As soon as we understood that, it changed everything.” – Alex Lewkowict

Lifetime Value (LTV)

If you’re in the business of selling things, it’s important to understand your customer’s Lifetime Value (LTV). This measures the total revenue customers will generate throughout their relationship with your company. The higher your LTV, the better. If you have a product with a higher barrier to entry, it’s more expensive and thus a more significant decision for potential customers. In this case, you’ll need to spend more on marketing to get people to buy because it’s not an impulse purchase.

At Black Wolf, they quickly learned that their biggest hurdle wasn’t their products’ price point but their LTV. They market themselves as a premium brand. Their COGS (Cost of Goods Sold) is high, and their margins are slim, so it’s always been a struggle to increase their AOV. They launched with an AOV of $18, and through a few expansions to their line, they managed to scale up to $40. 

But Black Wolf couldn’t get past the $40 mark, no matter how hard they tried. It was frustrating because everyone kept telling them that the key to winning in eCommerce is having a high AOV  of $50 or even $100. But they just couldn’t hit those numbers. So Black Wolf had to find another way.

“We had to change our business model to fundamentally shift the trajectory of marketing our skin care products online.” -Alex Lewkowict.

Average Order Value (AOV)

Rather than looking at AOV as simply the total value of an order, businesses should consider it an opportunity to optimize revenue. There are many ways to do this, but the key is to focus on existing customers. Acquiring new customers is always expensive, so it’s essential to ensure you’re getting the most out of your existing customer base. 

One way to do this is to optimize AOV on initial orders. Upselling or cross-selling complementary products can do this. Another way to optimize AOV is to focus on recurring orders. This could involve creating subscription models or offering discounts for loyalty. Businesses can unlock various new revenue streams by thinking creatively about how to increase AOV.

Trying to Increase AOV

Black Wolf’s old strategy wasn’t working as planned – people weren’t biting at the more premium, larger bundles they were offering. They could’ve gone two ways: Make the products even more expensive or desirable, or lower the barrier to entry (aka make it cheaper/more accessible). So, they decided to go with the latter and offered a free trial with a 60-day subscription. And it worked like a charm! The CPA decreased significantly, which led them to change their business model and shift their marketing strategy for skincare products online.

To expand their brand and increase their AOV, they knew they needed to diversify their product offerings. So, they saw an opportunity when they came across ear cleaning as a high search/low competition category. They knew that to get their new product into retail stores and ultimately onto TV, they would need to come up with a catchy name. That’s how Wush by Black Wolf was born. Wush has been hugely successful for them, selling in stores like Bed Bath and Beyond, CVS, Rite Aid, and HSN. And they’re not just selling any old product – Wush is a luxury item with a significant margin. Plus, their CPA is lower than it was for their skincare products. 

“So you got to make sure that you’re not afraid to admit that what you have is not working and just rejigger.” – Alex Lewkowict.


So how do you effectively cross-market all those things to your existing customer base? When Black Wolf launched a hair care line, they made it salon-grade. And the idea is to use salons and barbershops as the lead magnet for their brand. When you get a product that your barber recommends, you trust and love it, and then … you want to find it for cheaper. Using this strategy has been working well for Black Wolf.

“You can have the best creative in the world, but it really comes down to the fundamentals of what are you selling and how much are you selling it for? What is the offer? What is the product?” -Alex Lewkowict

Do What You’re Good At

No matter your business, it’s always important to focus on your strengths. The saying goes, “If you can’t be the best, be the best at being the best.” Dan and Alex set out to talk about increasing AOV, but they quickly realized that the most important thing is offering a great product. You can have the best supply chain in the world, but if your product isn’t up to par, you’ll never succeed. Conversely, you’ll never reach your full potential if you have great development but poor operations. The takeaway is that you need to focus on what you’re good at and build a strong foundation. Once you have a solid foundation, you can branch out and experiment with other business areas. But always remember: it’s important to stick with what you’re good at. Otherwise, you’ll never be the best at anything.

“Learning from your mistakes, big and small, is pretty key to success.” -Dan Van Meer.

Stay Ahead of the Competition

So, what are some things you can control in your business as they head into 2023? Alex and Dan have highlighted a few key factors that will help you increase sales and stay ahead of the competition. For example, learning from others’ successes and failures is a great way to gain insights that will help your business grow. Additionally, increasing AOV with new product offerings and strategies can be another successful way to boost revenue. If you want to read more about these tips and find out additional ways to succeed in 2023, stay tuned for more great podcast episodes!

Do you have marketing questions that have been keeping you up at night? Or warehousing challenges that have left you feeling defeated? Well, don’t suffer in silence any longer! The PalletSide Chat podcast is here to help. In each episode, hosts Dan and Alex tackle a wide range of topics related to the pallet industry, offering advice, insights, and solutions. And now they’re inviting listeners to join the conversation. So if you have a question or comment, don’t hesitate to reach out to and let your voice be heard! Who knows, your question might be answered in a future episode!  

Episode Glossary:

  • AOV (average order value): An eCommerce metric that measures the average total of every order placed with a merchant over a defined period.
  • LTV (lifetime value): The estimated revenue a customer will generate over their lifetime with the brand.
  • CPA (cost per action): An online advertising model in which payment is based on qualified action, such as sales or registrations.

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About the Hosts: As VP of marketing, Dan Van Meer is always on the go. From overseeing project management and data analytics, he has his hands in a little bit of everything. Most importantly, he ensures that all creative work – from graphic design to digital marketing – is high quality and on-brand. Co-host Alex Lewkowict is quite the renaissance man. He’s been an adolescent entrepreneur, successful CEO, and Founder of a men’s skincare line, and he created One23 Fulfillment. Did we mention he made the Forbes 30 under 30 list? 


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