Note: I wrote this article back in 2012 but only just found it in my draft post of my WP blog so I figured I should publish it anyway…. Opps!

November and December are some of the most important sales months on the calendar, they are also the two main months where the Shopify Build a Business competition is either won or lost. For this reason it’s important that you get it right!

Based on our experience last year on www.openacase.com we’d like to give other online retailers and Shopify Build a Business competitors our top five recommendations for selling during the “Silly Season”.

If your product makes for a great gift anticipate that sales are going to at least double and have more stock than you need. The worst thing that can happen is that you run out of stock during this period so plan for success and be ready to sell more than ever before.

Spread the word that your products makes a great gift, don’t presume that your potential customer will make the connection. You have to tell them! This is true because often when potential gift buying customers see your advert or product they may not be personally interested, but once you remind them that have others to buy for they will see your products as a solution to their problem.

Keep in mind that the majority of products purchased during this period will be gifts so a change in marketing strategies may be necessary.

For example we know the Opena® Case customer demographic is male, between 20-35 years, owns an iPhone and drinks beer, but this isn’t who we marketed to during this time of year. We ran a campaign marketing towards females between 20-50 years old in a relationship. We also changed our visuals to be more appealing to this market so we ditched the attractive girl in a bikini with a beer and opted for an attractive girl in a Santa hat with a Coke®. So remember that during this gift buying time of year your customer is often not the enduser.

Christmas advertising

Make sure that you can deliver on time!! As the majority of the stock sold during the November and December period are gifts it’s more important than ever to be able to get your products to the customer as fast as possible. You need to work out the last day before Christmas that different countries can order and expect the goods to arrive before the 25th December.

For example all of Annex Products® goods ship out of HK, UK, USA, and Australia so within these countries we are able to deliver express all orders placed before the 21st where orders placed from South America and Europe need to be placed before 12th to be confident that they will arrive.

Don’t think that this information will scare off your customers and loose sales, because it will actually give them confidence to order and if you don’t communicate it clearly you won’t spend half of December responding to customer inquires on the matter.

Target your PR. Last Christmas the Opena Case was featured in a number of both online and printed gift buying guides which all converted very well. Everybody has that person that’s impossible to buy for and these list are the best way of getting your products, price and where to buy information in front of that potential customer from a source that they trust.

 

Lately I have been reminded of the importance of quiet time, I’m not the quietest type so I find I have to make an effort to get some quiet time other than sleeping.  I really think your subconscious is a smarter than your conscious by a decent multiplier, not sure what it is, but it’s defiantly smarter. I think your subconscious is especial great at taking in multiple complex factor processing them and delivering the best solution.  I always find that my subconscious makes the best decisions and have to remind myself to use it and more importantly give it time to work.

I believe this is the reason we always return from holidays or long weekends where we really take some time off with a few good ideas and/or better ways of doing things.  I think my brain capacity (granted it’s pretty limited) spends most of it’s processing power in the present and that it needs to be released from the present to really operate at a higher subconscious level.

So things I’ve been doing lately to help include driving with the radio off, walking with nowhere to go and fishing by myself. I have also tried to use my daily tram ride to do nothing (not play with my iPhone) but this has lead me to believe that 15 minutes isn’t long enough.  I think 30 mins is a minimum to get things working on a subconscious level and the longer you stay there the better it gets.

Music: Human Era – Horrorshow

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3D Printers AustraliaMy first blog was started back in 2011 with my Co Founder of Annex Products Chris Peters.  The blog was a place to throw all the useful information that we could find on the fast growing entry level and open source 3D Printer industry.  A year later and a few machine reviews in we found ourselves with 3D Printers Australia the number one site for all things 3D Printer related in Australia. We made a few phone calls and filled all the advertising spaces within a day, many of which still advertise today!

Rapid 3dWe then had this great audience and ended up even selling a few entry level machines, which turned into a full time gig and a spin of business Rapid 3D. Rapid 3D has now sold to almost all the Universities and many high Schools and Design firms throughout Australia including Melbourne Uni, Swinburne, RMIT, QUT Canberra and many more…

So I guess it shows just being involved in something that you find interesting and accepting opportunity when it presents itself works, and that not every business needs to be a well defined plan with a set course.

 

 

Facebooks adsSo I’ve told a few people about this over the last few months and most people didn’t know so I think it’s worth a post.

I’ve been using Facebook ads for a couple of years now and the truth is that the majority of our customers have been acquired from the social network. However using Facebook properly is almost a full-time job as it’s in a constant state of flux.

I think managing Facebook ads is like Fly Fishing your favourite river, you know what you’re doing and you’ve been there before but every time you return it’s a little bit different, there’s a new snag been pushed down stream, the rivers running higher/faster or the fish have seen all your flys and their not interested.

So imagine if every Trout you caught while fishing was let go in a small pool off to the side of the main river. After a few fishing trips you’d be able to catch a Trout on demand from the pool as you’d know exactly where they are and what made them bite the first time.  You wouldn’t have to wade miles upstream and spend all your energy trying to find a single Trout in a torrent of water.

Well you can do this with Facebook ads Custom Audiences and I’m not talking about retargeting, well its sort of retargeting but different. (if you don’t know anything about FB ads go have a play then use this technique).

Facebook ad manager

Firstly you’ll have to be using Google Chrome as the browser and you’ll have to open up you Facebook Ads Manager and the click on Power Editor from here you can quickly make and manage your ads.  If it’s the first time you’ve used the Power Editor you’ll have to download all of your data by clicking Download to Power Editor.  From here you can then click on Audiences > Custom Audiences and then upload your complete customer list.  Facebook then matches their email address with the Facebook Database of users and reports back on the matches. You now have a custom Audieance that you can target with laser focused ads just like the Trout in the side pool.

The coolest thing about this style of advertising is that it’s very passive and not as intrusive as email adverting so some may choose to include their entire list not just their opt ins.

Through this techniques we’ve very successfully sold up sell products to our existing customer with the lowest Cost Per Acquisition of any marketing we’ve ever used.

So go catch a fish for the second time as it only gets easier!

Facebook power editor

 

Evolve Electric Skateboard Review

On 22/08/2013, in Product Design, by Rob Ward

Evolve Electric longboard

I’ve been riding my Evolve Electric Skateboard for almost a month now and I have to say it’s fricking awesome! The build quality, battery life and the way it rides are all just awesome. Not being from a longboarding background I really didn’t have any idea just how great longboards in general rode in comparison to a skateboard. The Evolve board effortlessly roles over stones, sticks and pavement expansion gaps that would send you flying on a skateboard. The other thing I didn’t realise is how the Evolve board would be more similar to Snowboarding or Wake Surfing! The twin kingpin Super Carve trucks have an awesome feel and the Abec 11 Flywheels grip like crazy!

CP and I riding the Evolve Board and YikeBike to a StartUp event in Melbourne (3rd ride)

When I first started ridding the Evolve board I thought I was carving pretty hard… turns out I wasn’t. Now I’m carving 10 times harder and the thing just holds on. The flex, the carve and the grip all work so well together and feel super natural and it doesn’t take long to get super confident rising this thing. The other thing I didn’t realise is that even though it’s a long board it can still turn super tight.

I haven’t even got to the part where the board is electric and that’s interesting because although it’s cool the way the board feels and performs was what impressed me at first.

Evolve electric skateboard

I remember playing on a whipper snipper (weed whacker) petrol powered skateboard and it was pretty much unridable when I was younger. The Evolve board is nothing like it as it’s super easy to ride, it has plenty of power, but it comes on super smooth and the ABS breaks work well. The break come on just enough to slow you down to a comfortable bail speed without the risk of sending you over the front of the board.

The first weekend I had the Evolve I rode around Melbourne for about to 2 hours and my legs were stuffed but the battery was still going strong and I couldn’t believe it.  As seen in the video below I have since been riding about 9K’s to work charging there and then riding home without an issue. Buy 2 charges!


Commuting to work on the Evolve Board 90 (4th ride)

Things I like about the Evolve Board

  1. Great Design
  2. Awesome Feel – you end up never riding in a straight line.
  3. Great Speed – you really can get places quick.
  4. Awesome support!
  5. Battery life
  6. Easy to ride
  7. Surprisingly good uphills
  8. Weight – only 8. something KGs

Things I’d like to see improve

  1. Bit smaller controller
  2. Ability to adjust the breaks. After riding for a while you could crank up the breaks a little.
  3. Can’t think of anything else?

Evolve Board charging

 My Evolve Electric Skateboard on charge

Pricing

I think the pricing of the Evolve board at $1000-1099AUD is about right, but a few people have said to me that they think it’s expensive. To these people I say  “you’d buy a snowboard for $1000 and ride it twice a year while paying $120 a day for a lift pass and not think twice ?” The Evolve board is so much more than just a skateboard as it’s a reliable  valid mode of transport, it’s eco friendly, get’s you home from the pub, it’s easy to jump on and off public transport with and super fin to ride. I’d say in the month I’ve had my Evolve board I would have spent more time riding it than snowboarding/wake surfing in the last 2-3 years.

Overall the products is awesome, the support is great, the shipping was quick and I’d definitely recommend the Evolve board for anyone looking for an electric skateboard or alternative form of transportation.

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Samsung Galaxy S4 bike Mount Case

galaxy s4 bike case

Our First Android Product!

So after many customer requests and a few months of development we (Annex Products) have come up with our first non iPhone product. We have decided to make our first product for the Android market in our Quad Lock range and what better place to start than with Samsung’s flagship smartphone the Galaxy S4.

Chris started on the design back in May when we first got our hands on a Galaxy S4 and started by printing a few prototypes on our Cube 3D Printer as seen in orange on the left.

After a few iteration and a few commercial prints later we were happy with the overall design and have since moved into tooling first for the case and now the Poncho water resistant cover.

galaxy s4 prototype 3d printed

Lately we have been using Shapeways for 3D Printing of a number of prototypes our prototypes including these new flexible SLA 3D prints. From these prints above we were able to test the Samsung Galaxy S4 case on our bikes and we are very happy with the products performance.  See pics below of the SLA 3D Printed prototype Galaxy S4 case installed on my bike for testing.

galaxy s4 prototype mounted on bike

We now have the case very close to full production and soon thousands of Android users the world over will be using the Quad Lock to attach their Galaxy S4 case to their bike and car.

Quad lock prototypes samsung galaxy s4

Comparison between the SLA prototype and pre production Quad Lock Galaxy S4 case.

 

 

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After launching the Opena in 2011 it still amazes me the amount of media attention this product has captured. This Fathers Day after a joint PR venture with Apple Canada the Opena appeared on a number of notable TV and media publications such as The Rush and Global News Tech Talk. This has made me realise that although it’s not new to me it’s still new to others and still news worthy!





 

Quad Lock iPhone 5 Bike Mount Review

On 19/02/2013, in Product Design, by Rob Ward

DISCLAIMER  - I’m part of the team from Annex Products that made this product

We spent a couple of days a week back putting together a new video for our latest product offering the Quad Lock Bike Mount Kit for iPhone5. I have been using the pre production product for over a month and I think this kit is one of the best and most complete products we have  made to date.  I love that it’s the complete package and absolutely everything you need to mount your iPhone 5 to you bike is covered in this kit.

Quad lock iPhone5 Bike Mount Kit -

  • Poncho weather resistant cover. Simply slip the clear cover over your mounted iPhone and you phone will be protected from rain, sweat, mud and dust while still offering access to all the buttons and touch screen while riding.
  • Bike Mount Pro which can be attached to you bike using the supplied UV stable rubber O-rings (large and small provided) or more secure zip ties.
  • iPhone5 case with composite construction of tough TPU and strong Polycarbonate. This case provides great protection both on and off the bike.  I think users will love this case as a slim protective everyday case

 

Another good site with plenty of iPhone bike mount information is www.iphonebikemount.net

 

Bike Ride – Filmed with iPhone

On 21/12/2012, in Uncategorized, by Rob Ward

Went on a ride with the Just Ride It team on Wednesday night, which ended up being half bike ride and half pub crawl.  Was a lot of fun and I’m sure there will be a few more fixie and single speed only rides to come in the new year.

While riding from the Just Ride It store in Fitzroy to St kilda we all started shooting footage on our iPhones and Dylan Perry was good enough to do a quick cut for us all to enjoy. Some of the footage was shot by hand and some was shot GoPro style using our iPhone Bike mount the Quad Lock. I have started a new website For more info on iPhone Bike mounts.

I get asked a lot what are the best iPhone photo Apps I use to edit my Instagram shots, so I thought I’d put together a list of the top 10 best iPhone photo Apps that that I use all the time. I find most people that ask me this question expect a simple single App answer, but thats just not the case. I often use two, three or even four different Apps depending on the shot and effects I want to achieve. As soon as I start describing this process I see most people eyes glaze over and they start thinking this is going to be way too hard and too complicate, but this couldn’t be further from the truth.

The fact of the matter is that this isn’t the case at all as most Apps are good at doing just a couple of things; either cropping for Instagram, adjusting colours or stitching together a series of pics to make a panorama just to name a few.  So once you understand what each App does and how to use, it it’s actually quiet quick and easy to obtain the desired photo effect for your next Instagram master piece.

 My Top 10 iPhone Photo Apps

Listed below are my top 10 Photo apps that I use to edit my pictures before posting to Instagram, in no particular order.  As mentioned I often use a number of Apps in conjunction.

Camera+ Photo App iconCamera+

Camera+ is a great all round  iPhone photo App and is one of the best selling of all time. Camera+ is a great place to start as a beginner in mobile photography as it does a good job of everything. It’s a good Camera replacement app (although I never use it myself ) and its really fast and easy to edit your pictures with some awesome effects. To get started a few nice combination effects that will impress all your friends are  set Scenes to Clarity and FX Effect to Vibrant, then adjust the vibrancy using the slider to get your desired effect.

The picture below was edited with Camera+ using Clarity and So Emo combination.

Edited with Camera+ iphone photo app

 

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