In this interview series, we talk to ecommerce business leaders who share their strategies for creating a successful ecommerce website. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jessica Postiglione.
Jessica Postiglione is the Founder & CEO of Bonny, a prebiotic fiber supplement powder flavored with real fruit that tastes amazing. Not only is Bonny vegan, gluten-free, and fab, but it’s also packaged in infinitely recyclable tins.
Previously, Jessica was the CEO & Co-Founder of OLIKA, a design-forward brand reinventing hand sanitizer. Before making the leap to entrepreneurship, she was a finance professional and corporate strategist. Jessica is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Harvard Business School.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we begin, can you please introduce yourself and tell us about your backstory?
As far back as I can remember, I have been interested in business. At one point in high school, I even tried selling homemade arts and crafts. It did not pan out as well as hoped, but a number of lessons were learned in the process!
After college, I was an investment banker and held a number of corporate strategy roles post-business school. I always wanted to do something entrepreneurial, and I am now on my second venture, Bonny.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started? What lesson did you learn?
Bonny is focused on sustainability, and we eliminated unnecessary plastic from our packaging. After going through the creative process of designing our initial packaging, we received samples to see how the material looked in real life. It didn’t live up to expectations, given the properties of the sustainable materials. We went back to the drawing board.
Lesson learned: Start with the materials first, especially unfamiliar ones, to fully understand and appreciate their strengths and weaknesses before designing.
None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
Mentors make all the difference, and I believe in paying it forward. I have been lucky to have had a number of people take an interest in my career development as well as provide valuable leadership lessons.
I had one manager, now a mentor, who would begin interdepartmental meetings with a lighthearted quiz on anything from identifying different types of animals to naming state capitals. It was a way to have all attendees participate at the start of the meeting and fostered a culture of openness where all voices were heard and respected.
What does your ecommerce company do? What was the “aha moment” that led to the idea for your current ecommerce business?
During COVID, I became obsessed with boosting my immunity and improving my health. I went down a research rabbit hole reading everything I could.
I thought I knew the basics, but quickly realized I didn't, especially when it came to fiber. I discovered that, like 95% of Americans, I didn’t consume enough daily fiber.
So I did what everyone does and Googled "best fiber supplements." That was a journey. Did your brand name have to end in ‘cel or ‘lax to be a fiber supplement? I was also disappointed with the ingredients. There were refined sugars, artificial flavors, and dyes like yellow #6. Never mind that everything was in a plastic tub.
I had limited choices and purchased what was available. I quickly realized that was a mistake. These supplements tasted bad and were difficult to drink.
That's how Bonny was born. I knew I could create something better and partnered with industry experts to make that happen. We like to say at Bonny that we get sh*t done (pun intended).
What was your original vision for your company? How does it help your customers?
We make you poop better—no, seriously, we do! Bonny is an ecommerce brand helping more people become elite poopers.
Turns out 95% of Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diet which is sad because fiber is AMAZING for your health. Prebiotic fiber helps with regularity by addressing constipation and diarrhea, boosts your immunity, helps you feel fuller longer, regulates blood sugar levels, and more.
There are more than 12 million ecommerce businesses out there. What do you think makes your company stand out?
We are addressing an unmet need in the market, and customers have responded extremely well. We love hearing how Bonny has changed our customers’ lives and made them regular with ease, some for the first time in their adult lives. We worked for months on our delicious formula, and it shows.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things you need to know to build a highly successful ecommerce website?
- Communicate why your product is different and how it helps the end user. There are new websites popping up every day, and it is important to stand out. How do you do that? Make sure your product or service is offering something your competitors are not, and that is clearly presented on the website.
That can be innovation in terms of ingredients, application, form factor or simply offering a comparable product at a much lower price point. I see this a lot with start-ups; the product is great, but it’s not clearly communicated on the website.
- Make it easy for the customer to check out securely. Sadly fraud does happen online. Make sure you are using a payments provider that is secure and clearly communicates that during the checkout process.
Equally important, there shouldn’t be extra steps that extend the checkout process. Extra steps are more opportunities for your potential customer to abandon their cart.
- Answer potential questions or objections upfront. Skepticism from site visitors is normal, especially if you are a new, unknown brand. So many companies claim to be the best at X, which is impossible.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone who doesn’t know your brand, what do they need to know in order to buy your product? Examples include, “How long does it take to get this product?” and “How do I actually use this?” These answers should already be on the page and in the FAQ section.
- Show, don’t tell. Your website is your virtual showroom. It’s important to have high-quality images of your product and visualize your marketing message as much as you can. That can be with embedded explainer videos or utilizing gifs. Site visitors will scroll past long paragraphs of text. Challenge yourself to say more with less.
- Optimize for the mobile viewing experience. The stats on mobile viewing change weekly, but it’s overtaken desktop and is projected to only increase. Potential customers are most likely to interact with your ecommerce website on their mobile device first, which is a smaller size screen to design and develop for.
If there were one part of the ecommerce website development process you would have spent 50% more time on, what would it be and why?
This is a hard question. I recommend that ecommerce brand owners launch with a website that checks all the boxes in terms of functionality (ability to transact and make a purchase), high-quality imagery, and engaging copy about the product being sold. You want to communicate why your brand is special and that your ecommerce store is a credible, trusted site.
Then spend your time optimizing and testing based on how potential customers are interacting with your site. You might discover that a button isn’t working or it’s unclear to site visitors how much shipping costs. Focus on continuing to optimize using site visitor data.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that can dramatically empower emerging ecommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?
Different website platforms have different vendors (i.e., Shopify ecosystem vs. WordPress) but they accomplish the same task. Ecommerce brands need a reviews app to collect customer feedback. This is something that potential purchasers are looking for on your website.
Another great tool is recording and heat mapping software. This tool allows the website owner to better understand what pages are being viewed, what areas of the page visitors are clicking on, and how much time a visitor is spending on the site.
What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs and founders make when they start an ecommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?
Not having a clear understanding of ecommerce metrics like average order value, repeat purchase rate, target cost of acquisition to break even, conversion rate, and customer lifetime value.
Lifetime value is tricky and will change over time, but it’s important to have a conservative estimate about how many times a customer will buy from your store. This varies with industry as a customer is more likely to purchase a perishable good over and over as compared to a mattress.
To address this, business owners have to:
- Identify ecommerce benchmark metrics from their industry (or ecommerce brands in general).
- Track their own metrics daily in a spreadsheet. Analyze the results and work to improve those metrics with updates to the ecommerce store and by attracting more qualified traffic to the site. (The latter of which is a whole separate conversation!)
In your experience, which aspect of running an ecommerce brand tends to be most underestimated?
Customer service is underrated. A lot of brands view it as an afterthought, but it’s so critical, especially in the early days, to get actionable feedback from your customers, especially what they don’t love.
On the flip side, customers may have a way to improve your product or use the product in a way you never imagined. Customer service inquiries are a treasure trove of data that shouldn’t be overlooked!
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?
I believe in the golden rule: Treat others like you want to be treated. It’s simple, but yet so powerful. If we all treated each other with mutual respect and looked to support, not discourage, I believe that would bring the most good to the most people.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Please visit our website, where we have a comprehensive blog called Full of It with amazing articles on how to poop better, ways to improve your gut health, and more.
Our social media handle is @trybonny on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TikTok.
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