This is a follow up story for Boomerangz Footwear. If you're interested in reading how they got started, published almost 3 years ago, check it out here.
Hello again! Remind us who you are and what business you started.
Hi Starter Story readers! My name is Brad Munro and I’m the founder and CFFO (Chief Flip Flop Officer) here at Boomerangz Footwear, based in Australia on the sunny Gold Coast.
Our flagship products are our patented flip flops that have interchangeable (and replaceable) bases and straps. This allows the customer to simply replace the straps if they break or if they want to try a new color combo. It saves them from needing to purchase a new pair and reduces the amount of footwear product waste from entering our environment. Quality over quantity. Don’t throw it out, fix it! The new bases are also made from our signature material - Bmz Bio-foam which biodegrades within a year in a biologically active landfill. We’ll talk about this further on.
We have been able to continually grow the brand and the business with step-by-step growth, product improvements, brand awareness, and listening to our consumers to achieve year-on-year sales growth. Recently, sales direct to consumers through our main e-commerce channel sales saw a 555% increase on the same month last year. Please note: Not ALL months are that good! Some are much slower, others are average.
Tell us about what you’ve been up to! Has the business been growing?
Boomerangz has continued to grow at a steady pace since we last spoke. Throughout the pandemic, most businesses that have been able to push through often have to take things as they come. There have been so many ‘unknowns’ and ‘curve balls’ thrown at all businesses during this time. This was true for us when dealing with lockdowns and border closures, not just here in Australia but overseas as well. Some of our international partners were hit harder than others while we all had to deal with extensive shipping delays and a 4 to 5 times increase in the cost of shipping our products. Most hurdles are unforeseen but you have to navigate your way through.
It’s better to have a lot of little failures along the way instead of one big failure at some point that derails your whole business.
With a primary focus on our customers and their shopping habits, the e-commerce side of the business has grown a lot. We have gradually been scaling up our Social media advertising and continually producing fresh content to keep it interesting. We narrowed down our brand message to a few key points that bring the customer value from purchasing our product over the competitors. Some key questions to ask here are:
- Why should your customers buy from you?
- What benefit does it provide them?
- Does it save them time?
- Does it save them money?
And make sure you nail down who that customer is…
- What clothes do they wear?
- What other brands are they aligned with and why?
- Where do they spend their time?
- What are they consuming?
- Which platforms are they consuming it on?
I remember mentioning this in our last talk and it still rings true - You don’t need to have a presence on ALL social media channels, you might not need a Pinterest account if your target audience is on Tik Tok. And there are more than just social media channels. Do you need to be in news articles? Perhaps google search is where your customers find you?
You need to test, iterate, test again, improve, test, scale, and so on.
As I briefly mentioned previously, we have also focused on the sustainable initiatives of our business and our footwear. We have developed and launched our trademark material mix which we call “Bmz Bio-foam”. This includes an organic additive that enhances the biodegradation process through a series of chemical and biological processes when disposed of in a biologically active landfill. Instead of not breaking down at all or occupying the landfill space for 300 to 500 years. Our product breaks down in less than a year.
This was a lengthy process and we consulted a lot of industry experts including Eco-Logic, Independent laboratories for testing purposes, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC), and the Australian Department of Water and the Environment as a whole range of things regarding the correct wording and testing requirements.
You can see all these information and test results here.
We have gone through the rigorous process of having our materials and manufacturing process certified by Vegan Australia. This means that no animal-based products, materials, dyes, or glues are used in our manufacturing process.
Even the used or unwanted straps from our customers can be recycled by our manufacturers and turned into new straps. We now operate a ‘strap for credit’ system. If a customer returns their old and unwanted straps (which costs them $2.20) we give them $5 off their next purchase.
Other parts of the business can also improve on the environmental impact. Carbon offset credits, carbon-neutral delivery, reduce plastic and polybags. I understand you can’t do everything but more often than not, most things aren’t even thought about improving and small changes can start to have a big impact. If this is something your customers are interested in, be sure to show them the changes you are making and take them along on this journey. Switching to home compostable packaging might win you a few fans or a couple of extra customers down the track but it’s also the right thing to do.
How we USED to send out our products vs how we send them out now. No plastic! We are also working on a substitute for the styrofoam that goes around the toe post.
Boomerangz has launched several new colorways, styles and we’re working on some slides and other types of footwear. The plan is to keep innovating and improving the product. Even if it is as small as 1% better. Keep improving.
One of the ways we improved the product was to certify the “Arch Support” aspect of the footwear. We know arch support footwear is good for some people but we wanted to know why? Who benefits from the arch support? Does it weaken their foot muscles? Does it add a layer of comfort? Are people willing to pay extra for that comfort?
So, we consulted several Podiatrists and physiotherapists with knowledge in this area and asked them for design advice. For example; where should the arch sit in the footbed? How high should it be? How high is too high? And so on.
This allowed us to certify the footwear and at the same time, propel the brand into another category that is now “recommended by qualified Podiatrists”. They wear and love our footwear and as a result, recommend them to their clients and explain why they are better than your average flip flops.
If you can get your product certified by a governing body that adds value and reputation to your brand, business, or products, I recommend you do it.
One of the growth tactics that we found works well for us is promotional prizes and giveaways. We’re still a small brand, so one of the goals is to simply get on people's radar. People love free stuff and as long as they don’t have to work too hard to get it or have a chance to win it, they don’t mind exchanging their email address for it so you can market to them. There’s a big chance they like the look of your products and won't mind you emailing them and will consider purchasing your product in the future. Prizes and giveaway packs can be small or large and contain different products to target different audiences.
Our existing customers seem happy with our products. The lifetime guarantee and our FREE replacement straps warranty work well. We get a lot of nice feedback which is very appreciated when people take the time out of their busy days to send you a quick email or social media message.
We also are constantly asking for feedback. As you can imagine, it’s not always positive. But sometimes you won't get it if you don’t ask. You need bad feedback to be able to improve.
Keeping existing customers happy is one thing. Trying to convert new customers is another. As we are not a massive brand, potential customers can sometimes feel they simply don’t trust you ‘yet’. Perhaps they’d like to try the product at some point but they’re just not ready to part with their hard-earned cash ‘yet’. You need to bridge that gap and gain their trust. Is it a free trial? A money-back guarantee? Normally, I wouldn’t recommend a simple discount but again, test test., find out what works.
We now run a “Need Boomerangz?” promo, where consumers can send us a photo of their recent blow-out or broken thongs/flip flops (any brand) in return for a personalized code to get a discount off their first pair of Boomerangz. This helps convert customers to the Boomerangz brand.
What have been your biggest lessons learned in the last year?
One of the realizations we came to was that some of our first-time customers and especially potential customers weren’t receiving our USPs (unique selling points) loud and clear enough. They thought the product looked cool but didn’t realize why it would benefit them. We needed to revisit our marketing with some clear and simple icons to show why our flip-flops are better than what they’re wearing now.
Although each and every USP might need more explanation and no doubt you have more information and evidence to back up your claims, people won't read it the first time. Maybe not even the second or third time. They want to know short information.
One of the good marketing decisions we made, in my opinion, is to do with collaborations and cross-promotions with other companies.
You see a lot of companies and brands “collaborating” and co-branding products for no other reason than a cash grab. I think most consumers are smarter than this. As a brand, we like to partner with companies that are committing to impact the social, environmental, or economic factors. One of our most successful collaborations, which is now an ongoing initiative, was to partner with Livin.org - a Mental Health and Awareness charity organization that visits schools and workplaces to educate people about mental health. They are a local Gold Coast company as well and we strongly agree with their message and can see the impact they have. This is something we want to get behind, so we donate products, collaborate and make a donation to help continue their efforts.
We don’t have any plans to expand into other product categories at this stage but it might be worth mentioning our Boomerangz branded clothing. We screen-printed a few T-shirts for our staff and friends to wear and then people kept asking where they could buy them and if they were available on the website. So we decided to add a couple of colors and get a few more in. Now we have a small range of Men’s and Women’s basic T-shirts and some Hoodies for winter also.
This works well for brand awareness. Having a different type of product to send to our ambassadors or for our customers to wear to represent Boomerangz has helped the brand to be seen more often.
Have you read any good books in the last year?
- Re-listened to “Little Black stretchy pants - the story of LuluLemon” by Founder Chip Wilson. Great for anyone that has a brand and is dealing with direct to consumer and wholesale businesses or selling a tangible product or building a culture.
One of my go-to podcasts over the last few years has always been “How I built this” with Guy Raz. His book is fantastic as well. Similar to the podcast interviews but you also hear about what he learned from interviewing all these amazing founders.
I’m halfway through the hard copy of “Shoe Maker” by the founder of Reebok, Joe Foster. Interesting read so far and he also sent me a signed copy which I thought was pretty cool.
The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley - I found this book a revelation with all that is going on in the world today. Goes into the benefits of science, technology, trade, and services and shows that the future is and should be optimistic!
The almanack of Naval Ravikant - I’ve been listening to Naval for a few years and this book is a collection of short, sharp advice and extended tweets and wisdom from his most insightful podcast episodes and interviews. Covers philosophy, business, entrepreneurship, science, and investing.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who might be struggling to grow their business?
Keep going! I’m not sure if that’s going to be popular advice, but one thing I do know is that you need to persevere. You don’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over but make adjustments. It’s better to have a lot of little failures along the way instead of one big failure at some point that derails your whole business.
Keep learning. Read everything you can. Make time to read.
Always remember - it doesn’t matter. We get so caught up in what we’re doing but you need to remember it more than likely doesn't matter. No one cares if you fail. Just do it! (Thanks Nike). If you fail, now you know what NOT to do. Do something different.
Ask for help or advice. I’ve been reaching out to people from other business fields for a while now and the stories you hear are amazing.
I was recently approached by a group called “An Hour With”.
It is a new platform with a list of founders, entrepreneurs, and business people from several different fields where you can book a 1-hour zoom meeting for a small fee (or sometimes free) and ask questions and get advice on whatever you’re working on. I joined up and had no hesitation being there as I know when I was in the early stages of this business, I would have loved to be able to chat to an expert about whatever hurdle I was facing at the time. Entrepreneurs and Solopreneurs always need someone to bounce ideas off and this proves to be that and much more. I’ll continue to do things like this no matter how big the business gets. People from the outside can often see things clearer than you can when you’re in the business.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always on the lookout for motivated people to join Boomerangz in any way shape or form.
Content creators - Get in touch with us and we’ll send you some products in return for some cool photos.
Influencers / Ambassadors - Live the Boomerangz fun and relaxed way of life (even if it’s just when you’re on holiday), get in touch and we’ll send you some flip flops to promote. Must genuinely love our brand and products.
Distributors - Can you introduce our brand and products to the market in your area/country? We can help you sell our products online and to retailers and supply you with everything you need. Including exclusive distribution rights for the right partners.
Retailers - If you own a retail store or you’re a buyer for a retail chain. Get in touch and learn more about our wholesale business and how we can help you sell and profit from our products.
Online Retailers - E-commerce is booming! We offer partnerships with the right online marketplaces and supply product images and dropshipping services all over the world. Get in touch if this interests you.
Brand partnerships - Are you a brand owner or marketer? We love to collaborate with other brands and businesses. We can even put your logo on our flip flops and design your very own styles for you to sell to your customers.
Where can we go to learn more?
If you have any questions or comments, drop a comment below!
Boomerangz Footwear has provided an update on their business!
Almost 2 years ago, we followed up with Boomerangz Footwear to see how they've been doing since we published this article.
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