Welcome to this e-commerce business case study! Today, we had the pleasure of interviewing George Stern of Overland Junction. I can tell you honestly that our conversation was quite interesting! We hope you enjoy it, and find this inspiring as you seek to start or grow your own online brand.
Interview with George Stern
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?
I worked as a consultant for a large management consulting company helping Fortune 500 executives improve their strategies and operations. I then started doing it for startups, and got excited about the entrepreneurial energy of young, small companies. Deciding I wanted to stop consulting for that energy and start living that energy, I acquired a few ecommerce companies that I was passionate about. My favorite right now is OverlandJunction.com. We help families and adventurers access the outdoors through roof top tents, roof racks, and other accessories. I love helping people get out into nature as it’s a huge part of my own life.
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?
- Care about what you sell and the customers you sell it to. When you’re building your brand, all of the headaches will come your way – delays, damage, angry customers, etc. If you don’t love the products and (most of) the people you’re selling them to,, that’s going to be exceedingly difficult to deal with.
- Focus on content and partnerships. Google Ads are great. Free traffic through SEO is better! Spend as much time generating content (that actually helps people in your space) and partnerships as you do tweaking ads. The results are slower, so it’s easy to prioritize paid over organic, but they are so much more lucrative long term.
- Always have an eye toward growth. Every year, more customers move to online shopping. And as a result, every year, more supply moves online. You can’t keep making the same profits you’ve been making by doing the same things. Competitors are coming for you. Keep focusing on the next path to grow – it keeps it exciting and financially rewarding.
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?
Anyone who was doing e-commerce during COVID will remember the supply chain issues intimately. And frankly, anyone anywhere will remember them in some aspect – even if you don’t shop online, you surely noticed the runs on toilet paper and Clorax wipes.It sucked. For consumers who wanted their goods, and for sellers who saw countless canceled orders and couldn’t make the money they needed to get more product quickly because they had no product to sell. The key for us was transparency. Even when we didn’t know how long the delays would be, and the estimates kept changing, it was always better to send our customers the fourth and fifth and sixth “sorry, your order is further delayed” email than to leave them in the dark. When we never communicated with customers, we got chargebacks and complaints and bad reviews. When we took the time to send short emails, our customers thanked us and commiserated.
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?
We’ve gotten pretty good at selling other people’s products, and we’ve learned from our customers what they want. So, we’re beginning to make our own. It’s exciting and challenging and risky all at once, but we’re pumped to further strengthen our brand and directly help our customers. Keep checking Overlandjunction.com for more updates on the best outdoor gear in the near future.
Sounds exciting! Any final words of advice for our readers?
The advice is cliche, but so few people are willing to take it, that I think it always bears repeating: Make the jump from safe to risky! I’ve gone from an advisor to some of the country’s top executives to a tent salesman and chief angry customer handler. But I’m way happier in the latter role, I’m excited everyday to be working for myself and seeing a path to big growth, and the risks have all been worth it. Go for whatever you’ve been thinking about doing!
Brilliant! We want to thank you for participating in today’s interview. Hopefully our readers agree that there is a lot to be learned from your brand’s story. What links can our readers use to follow along with your journey?
Check us out at OverlandJunction.com to figure out what the heck overlanding and roof top tents are or to get yourself the best camping gear out there and be the first to know when we come out with our own even better stuff in a few short months!