How to transition from crowdfunding to e-commerce?

How to transition from crowdfunding to e-commerce?

Reza Mokdad

Reza Mokdad

August 12, 2019

Congratulations, after months of planning, stress, and hard work, you’ve finally made it. You reached your crowdfunding goal. 

This means that you’ve got the market validation, the customers, and the funds (really soon). Three essential factors for any successful brand. Now that your campaign is coming to an end and you’ve got all these elements by your side, what’s next?

One of the logical routes to follow is to keep moving forward with your project and create your own e-commerce brand.

Cards Against Humanity, Tropicfeel, Nomatic, many successful crowdfunding campaigns have grown into wildly flourishing e-commerce businesses, and today it might be your turn. Because of that, we want to make sure you’re prepared for it ahead of time.

Here is a guide to help you transition from crowdfunding to e-commerce:

1. As soon as the campaign is funded:

  • Communication:

Between the moment your campaign is funded and before it ends, make sure to update your backers about the advancement. Give them details about manufacturing, shipping, and stretch goals. This will build trust between you and your backers, who as long as they have a clear understanding of how things are developing, will remain supportive and flexible. It will also help to set clear expectations.
Don’t forget to communicate with your community about your future plans of expanding into e-commerce. 
Communicating clearly and consistently with your backers will give them a sneak peek of what it’s like to be your customer and how good they, their friends and family will be treated.

  • Anticipate demand:

Exceeding your campaign funding goal often means that you have enough funds to get going until you start selling. These funds should help you invest in your e-commerce business and cover your manufacturing costs.
So make sure to take this opportunity and to anticipate the demand and integrate e-commerce quantities in your manufacturing plans.
This will allow you to have enough quantity to fulfill all your backers’ rewards and keep a certain amount of your products to kickstart (yeah, if crowdfunding is a kick-starter, e-commerce should be called a grow-bigger) your e-commerce operations.

  • Focus on marketing:

One common mistake that creators do is forgetting marketing and promotion once their campaign is funded. So make sure to continue your marketing efforts to attract more and more backers and to raise more funds and at the same time start to prepare your branding and tailor your messages for your e-commerce. This is also a great opportunity to grow your email list and have great exposure
A good thing you can do is to design flyers, stickers and promo material to redirect and attract people to your e-commerce and insert them in your backers' parcels. By the time they will receive their rewards, your website will be fully operational and this will help to anchor your brand into your backers’ minds and redirect them to your e-commerce for other purchases.

During this phase, don’t over-promote your e-commerce (I mean, you don’t have the e-commerce yet anyway) and focus your marketing efforts on your crowdfunding because your campaign is still running and the more you raise, the better it is for the future anyway.

2. As soon as the campaign is over and manufacturing starts:

  • Choose your e-commerce platform and launch your website:

You can opt to hire a developer and design your website from scratch or choose a CMS to create your e-commerce. I personally recommend the second option. It's cost-effective, it helps you gain time (1 or 2 days to fully set up your store), and it offers all the features needed to run a high performing e-store.
There are many CMS out there and the most known are Magento, Shopify or WooCommerce.
Since this is a highly important choice, I advise you to check out all the options available before making your choice. There are many factors to take into consideration such as features, SEO, customization, or scalability. So make sure to choose a platform that checks all the important boxes.
Launching your website as soon as your campaign is over will help you keep the momentum and take pre-orders. It is also the perfect opportunity to redirect potential backers (and future customers) who might have missed your crowdfunding to your website. This is the perfect way to take advantage of the traffic generated from Kickstarter to your website and gain early exposure.

To know more, check out the article: The 9 best CMS to start your online business
  • Choose a logistics provider:

Your campaign won’t be successful unless you deliver the rewards to your backers' doorsteps, and for that, you’ll need to choose a logistics provider that can fulfill your rewards worldwide for a pretty attractive cost and this represents the prelude to your e-commerce fulfillment.
So make sure to choose a provider that is able to handle both your crowdfunding and your e-commerce orders. Having the same provider for both of them will help you in negotiating a better deal (price-wise) and create a strong relationship over the long-run.
Choosing the right provider will also give you access to resources and knowledge you might not have had access to by yourself. Due to his expertise, you’ll be able to offer much more shipping solutions to your customers and you’ll have fewer things to worry about and thus you will be able to focus on other core areas of your business such as marketing and product development.
There are many factors that you need to take into consideration before choosing your logistics provider like scalability (highly important for all your future partnerships), worldwide shipping, ability to integrate with your current CMS, and the area of expertise. For example, some providers are specialized in shipping big size furniture while you’re selling board games, this is clearly not a great match (so, swipe left).

To know more check out the article: How to choose the perfect logistics provider for your e-commerce

3. As soon as the manufacturing is over and delivery starts:

  • Deliver rewards to your backers:

Even if it might seem obvious, I wanted to stress on this phase because exceeding your crowdfunding goal doesn’t mean it’s the end of the adventure, there’s still a big step before the (crowdfunding) finish line: delivering the rewards to your backers (as promised). 
Successfully delivering rewards to ALL your backers is crucial for the development of your project since you need to meet the heavy expectations you have on your shoulders. Once you’ve done this, it also means that your crowdfunding is over and that you can now fully focus on your e-commerce operations.
Failing during this stage would lead to another bigger failure in the e-commerce world. To illustrate, let’s take a look at the Coolest Cooler campaign, which raised 13 million dollars in 2014 on Kickstarter, due to some logistics and planning problems the company failed to deliver the rewards to the backers. After 2 years, they decided to start selling on Amazon, no need to tell you that the brand received so many negative feedbacks and reviews that they almost didn’t sell anything after all. 5 years later, Coolest Cooler still didn’t deliver their backers and is now known as one of the biggest failures in the crowdfunding world.
So rather than taking this part as a pain, see it as an opportunity to attract and retain your backers. Think of rewards’ delivery as if it was for e-commerce and make sure to provide personalization to your backers. You can, for example, include special items (gifts, miniatures…) to their rewards or provide customized packages, you can use Packhelp for instance, a customization service that helps you create branded boxes. Don’t forget to join the flyers and free stickers that redirect your backers to your website and try to include coupons and vouchers to encourage them to buy from your e-commerce.

To know more, check our article on how to provide free shipping during your crowdfunding campaign.
  • Organize your data:

Now that your crowdfunding fulfillment is successfully done and your campaign is officially over. You can focus all your efforts on your e-commerce. At this point, you should already have a big amount of data so make sure to organize it.

Try to segment your database and extract which are the main characteristics of your target persona. Separate backers from e-commerce customers. Segment them by age, interests, platforms they used to reach out to you, which channels do they use the most or prefer to get contacted through.

Since backers were there with you from the beginning of the adventure, they’re your biggest support and they can play a big part in helping you attract more and more customers. 

Backers feel a strong sense of belonging to the crowdfunding community, so you can be sure they will be there to help you. Don’t hesitate to ask them for feedback about your product, your marketing, or your project as a whole. You can also ask them for reviews (and if all the steps above went well, you’ll be flooded with 5 stars reviews).

Make sure that your marketing efforts are interactive, try to focus on 1 or 2 communication channels and make sure to redirect all these customers to your website. Create content and focus on SEO to gain more domain authority and thus rank higher on search engines.

Finally, succeeding during your crowdfunding campaign gives you all the necessary tools to succeed in your e-commerce journey. You have the funds, the customers, the market validation and a product that people want and this makes it the perfect recipe for success, the only thing that remains to be done is to go for it ;)

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