Welcome to this e-commerce influencer interview! Today we had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Haines – the owner of a fascinating 3D printing business. Our hope is that you find this interview to be enlightening and inspiring as you seek to start and grow your very own online brand!
Interview with Justin Haines
Thank you for joining us for this e-commerce business success story! We’d like to start by getting an understanding of your backstory. How did you come to own your business?
That’s been a long journey but I’ll try to give you the short version. I’m all about 3D printing, and have been obsessed with it as a hobby for years. A couple years ago, I wanted to start a 3D printing business in Canada, but was annoyed at the number of major brands who didn’t offer shipping to Canada because they didn’t want to deal with the import customs and duties and they didn’t have a local partner on the ground. So rather than starting a 3D print farm or service, I become the distribution partner on the ground buying wholesale 3D printers and distributing them to end users. Once I started distributing the filaments and resins as well, it made sense to launch an ecommerce site to also offer them direct to consumer. That lead me to Shopify and has grown our brand significantly. I hope it’s also helped 3D printing grow in Canada.
Terrific! Now, this article is about profiling successful e-commerce businesses. So – can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?
Listen to your customers.
Don’t compete on price. You should be offering unique value in other ways so your business doesn’t become a race to the bottom.
Have a strategy to your product offerings. Don’t just sell whatever you think you can.
Excellent. Now, I’m sure it hasn’t always been that easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake that you’ve had to overcome on the road to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?
The boring parts of business can be the most important to making a profit. I’m guilty of caring too much about the product and not paying enough attention to the minor business aspects that can make or break you.
Our first website iteration was ugly because I did it myself without even paying for templates. I’m sure that lost me sales. I didn’t use a custom broker on our first major sea shipment. That definitely caused major delays when the goods arrived at port and everyone knows time is money. I delayed on getting proper insurance, but luckliy that one didn’t cost me like it could’ve!
Thanks for that. Now – we want to know what’s next! What new initiatives are you rolling out at your business and what results are you hoping to see?
After working with so many small 3D printing businesses as their primary supplier, I’ve found a lot make similar rookie mistakes and can find the business lonely. I’ve long been offering advice to my clients because they order more from me when their business succeeds and grows, but now I’ve taken the next step and launched 3D Print Millions. It’s a new website centered around a free course, a community of other 3D printers, free resources, and an easy way to book coaching time with me.
One idea I’ve gotten from this community that I’m beginning to work on is having independent 3D printing businesses come together under one brand network to maximize marketing spend and benefit from bulk discounts on materials and shipping accounts. That feedback had me building Virtual Factories. It’s definitely my best answer to “what’s next.”
Sounds exciting! Any final words of advice for our readers?
Don’t be stubborn. If something isn’t working the way you imagined, embrace changing it. Listen to feedback from your customers and the market. They’ll let you know when a pivot is necessary.