In this interview series, we are talking to leaders of ecommerce businesses who can share their strategies for creating a successful ecommerce website. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Norman Teo.
Norman Teo is a 27-year-old entrepreneur and co-founder of BOVEM, a DTC men's grooming ecommerce business. He and his co-founder started the company in September 2020 while studying finance at Singapore Management University. BOVEM offers high-quality grooming products and has scaled to a seven-figure business.
The idea for BOVEM was inspired by a lack of proper grooming tools for below-the-waist grooming. Teo and his co-founder saw a gap in the market and a need for better products and awareness in the eastern world. His entrepreneurial journey taught him the importance of market research, customer experience, and strong partnerships.
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?
My entrepreneurial journey began in my third year at Singapore Management University, where I studied finance. I was always interested in the business world and wanted to apply my education to start my own company. My co-founder and I identified a gap in the men's grooming products market and started BOVEM to cater to this need.
Our first product, the Globe™ Trimmer 2.0, was successful, followed by a facial razor and nose trimmer. Starting a business while being purely bootstrapped as a student during the COVID-19 pandemic was a risk, but I'm proud of our progress.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you first started? What lessons or takeaways did you learn?
A mistake I made was not conducting thorough market research before launching BOVEM. I was too focused on releasing our products and establishing our brand that I neglected to understand the competition. This resulted in missed chances to distinguish ourselves and stand out in a saturated market. I learned the importance of market research, comprehending the competitive landscape, and finding ways to differentiate by offering unique value to customers. I also realized it's never too late to pivot and make changes for better market positioning.
Another mistake was not considering the customer journey on our website fully. I was focused on making the site visually appealing and showcasing our products, but I failed to realize that the customer experience was equally important. This led to a high bounce rate and low conversion rate. I learned the importance of understanding customer needs and creating a seamless and intuitive shopping experience. I realized that the website design should not only look good but also provide a clear path for the customer to find, purchase, and receive their order effortlessly.
This mistake taught me the significance of user experience and its impact on the success of an ecommerce business. I made changes to the website based on customer feedback, simplified the shopping process, and saw a significant improvement in our conversion rate. I learned the importance of continuous testing and enhancing the customer's journey on the site.
Is there a person you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?
I'm grateful for my co-founder's support during my entrepreneurial journey. Launching a business is challenging, but having a partner with a shared vision and passion has made all the difference.
One memorable moment was during the launch of the Globe™ Trimmer, where technical issues arose. My co-founder stepped in to help resolve them, enabling us to launch the product successfully. Strong partnership and open communication have been key to our success, and I appreciate my co-founder's contributions and support.
What does your ecommerce company do? What was the “aha moment” that led to the idea for your current ecommerce business?
BOVEM is a men's grooming brand offering tailored grooming products for below-the-waist grooming. Our first product was the Globe™ Trimmer 2.0, followed by a facial razor and nose trimmer.
The idea for BOVEM was born from the lack of proper grooming options for men, particularly below the waist. My co-founder had a personal experience trying to groom with inadequate tools and realized there was a gap in the market, especially in Asia, where manscaping was still a shy and unspoken subject. We wanted to bring attention and innovation to this neglected area of men's grooming and make it accessible to all men.
Our original vision was to challenge the stagnant and often ignored world of below-the-waist grooming. We wanted to empower men to take control of their personal grooming and feel their best without sacrificing style or quality. By providing high-quality and effective grooming tools, we aim to elevate men's confidence and bring a fresh perspective to the industry.
At BOVEM, we are committed to helping men look and feel their best by constantly pushing the boundaries of the below-the-waist grooming industry.
There are more than 12 million ecommerce businesses out there. What do you think makes your company stand out?
BOVEM is unique among ecommerce businesses by specializing in the niche area of below-the-waist grooming. Our deep understanding of customers' needs and concerns, along with our commitment to delivering high-quality products and services, sets us apart. Our products are designed and engineered for superior performance and comfort.
We prioritize our customers' satisfaction in all aspects of our business, from customer service to product development. This customer-centric approach has earned us a loyal customer base and a thriving community. Receiving emails and notes from satisfied customers is a humbling and gratifying experience that reinforces our belief in the positive impact we make in our customers' lives.
Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things you need to know to build a highly successful ecommerce website?
- Understanding your target audience: It's essential to know who your customers are, their needs, wants, and pain points. This will help you tailor your products and marketing strategies to meet their specific requirements and attract and retain them as customers.
- User-friendly website design: Your ecommerce website should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and have a seamless checkout process. This will enhance the user experience and reduce the likelihood of cart abandonment.
- Mobile responsiveness: A significant number of online purchases are made via mobile devices, so it's crucial to have a mobile-friendly website that provides an optimal viewing experience on any device.
- Effective marketing strategies: Having a robust marketing plan in place, including SEO, email marketing, and social media, is crucial to driving traffic to your website and increasing sales.
- Customer service: Providing excellent customer service, including fast and efficient responses to inquiries, and a straightforward return process, will create a positive customer experience and foster customer loyalty.
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?
Investing in UX design is crucial for a successful ecommerce website. This involves understanding your target audience, researching their needs and behaviors, and testing the website design to ensure it is intuitive and user-friendly. A well-designed UX can enhance engagement, reduce bounce rates, and drive sales. It also leads to better customer loyalty and repeat purchases. Prioritizing UX design improves the user experience and gives your ecommerce business a competitive edge.
Can you share a few examples of tools or software that can dramatically empower emerging ecommerce brands to be more effective and successful?
Key tools and software can greatly empower ecommerce businesses. Popular options include Shopify or WooCommerce for building and managing online stores, Google Analytics for tracking website traffic and conversions, Klaviyo for targeted email marketing, SEO/SEM tools for improving search engine visibility, and CRM software for managing customer interactions and analyzing data.
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?
Common mistakes by ecommerce CEOs and founders are bad website design, inadequate product research, ignoring customer experience, not using data-driven strategies, and underinvesting in marketing.
To avoid these, prioritize UX/UI design, conduct thorough product research, use data/analytics in decision-making, focus on customer satisfaction, and allocate resources for effective marketing and branding. By avoiding these pitfalls, ecommerce businesses can establish a solid foundation for long-term success.
In your experience, which aspect of running an ecommerce brand tends to be most underestimated?
The importance of customer service and support is often underestimated in ecommerce. Many brands focus solely on driving traffic and sales but overlook the crucial aspect of providing exceptional customer service. This includes prompt responses to customer inquiries, smooth handling of returns and exchanges, and adequate post-purchase support.
Neglecting customer service can result in negative reviews and a decline in customer loyalty. Implementing a system to address customer concerns and ensure positive experiences is crucial for success in ecommerce.
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 would initiate a movement centered around environmental sustainability. My company, BOVEM, is already making an impact by working with One Tree Planted to plant a tree for every Globe Trimmer sold. This means that every time someone buys a Globe Trimmer, a tree is planted to counteract deforestation.
We also provide only carbon-neutral express shipping and aim to use sustainable packaging in our shipping processes. By raising awareness and inspiring others to adopt similar practices, we can contribute to a better planet for future generations.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
You can follow my work by visiting my company's website and social media pages (@bovem.co), such as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Additionally, subscribing to our email newsletter will keep you updated on our latest products and initiatives.
Don't miss out on the latest tips, insights, software recommendations, and expert advice from The Ecomm Manager. Subscribe to our newsletter today!
More great ECM content: