Build An Online Community Around Your Ecommerce Brand - Fluff & Familia
Launched by a husband and wife duo in 2016, Fluff & Familia offers high-quality baby products at affordable prices. But they do much more than just sell baby stuff.
The inspiration behind the business came after Brandi had her first child via In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF), after which she dealt with postpartum depression.
While looking for help on how he could best support his wife throughout the pregnancy, David had a sense that most support groups and retailers were only catering to moms. He couldn’t find a lot of resources for dads in his situation. “We felt like dads were still not perceived as an equal contributor to the parenting role.” Brandi says.
Feeling motivated to break that stereotype, Fluff & Familia was born. Their mission was simple:
“Focus on providing great products while supporting families, regardless of their parenting choices or family structure.”
In just over a year since launching, Fluff & Familia blew up, allowing Brandi to leave her job of almost 10 years and work on the business full-time.
Their key to success wasn’t an expensive marketing campaign. In fact, they didn’t spend any money on advertising. Instead, they focused on building an online community.
What it takes to build an online community
“From the very beginning, we wanted to build a relationship with customers. That’s where our motto, ‘welcome to the familia’, comes from.” Brandi explains.
We learned that David and Brandi’s approach to building an online community can be broken down to 3 components:1. Provide exceptional customer service.
2. Give back to the community.
3. Create a support group for your customers.
In Fluff & Familia’s case, building community around their ecommerce business has helped their customers find support and overcome challenges related to infertility, postpartum depression, and parenting in general.
Depending on the type of products, services, and expertise that you offer, you can also build a community around your brand that helps customers overcome challenges related to parenting, weight loss, career development, mental health, or personal finances, just to name a few.
Customer service as competitive advantage
As Brandi explains, you can’t beat ecommerce giants like Amazon on low prices or fast shipping. But being small offers other competitive advantages that Amazon just can’t replicate.
Sure, Amazon will get you the product quickly. But if the community you’re serving has questions and concerns that go beyond the specs of the product, they’ll turn to someone who truly understands their struggles.
Brandi tells us that “In the case of our store, a customer might tell us that they’re buying a rainbow-coloured print because they had a rainbow baby.” A rainbow baby is a term exclusive to the infertility community to describe a baby born after a miscarriage.
“As an eCommerce shop owner, you need to know what you’re talking about so that you can assist them on a personal level. That’s where you can beat Amazon.”
David and Brandi will even makes notes in their CRM system about their customers’ birthdays, due dates, or particular challenges their struggling with. By doing this, they’re able to periodically check-in on how their customers are doing.
Give back to the community
David and Brandi did have a bit of money set aside that was originally supposed to be used to hire a marketing agency. But since they had done all of their marketing themselves, they decided to use that money to sponsor community events. Their first sponsorship was for an award ceremony at Mommy Con, the largest parenting conference in America.
“Everyone asked why didn’t you use that money to buy a booth where you could sell your products,” Brandi says, “and I told them, because we want to support something that we believe in. Messages speak louder and are worth far more than what I could ever sell in my store. And people got that! They thought, wow, you didn’t just try to make a profit out of this. You proved to us that you are supporting the causes that we believe in.”
Fluff & Familia has since supported other causes including a 10k run organized by an infertility group and hurricane relief efforts.
Create a support group
The third key to Fluff & Familia’s success was creating a support group for their customers. David and Brandi started a private Facebook group, providing their customers with a positive and supportive platform where they could discuss the issues that mattered to them, away from the public eye.
“We share our personal journey with our customers, and the challenges we’ve gone through together in terms of my postpartum depression and infertility,” Brandi tells us. “David offers a lot of support to other dads; how they can be more involved in the community and get more recognition in their parenting role.”
How Rewind helped the familia
David and Brandi were used to doing their own backups of their BigCommerce store but eventually they got so overloaded with work that they forgot.
“One night we were testing an app integration which caused all of our prices to be wiped.”
This put an immediate halt to all other activities. “That night, my husband and I spent 2 hours going back to cached pages in Google Search to get all of our price listings. That was 2 hours that we could have spent with our kids or even just catching up on sleep.” Brandi tells us.
After this incident, BigCommerce recommended that they use Rewind. By automating a daily backup of their store and allowing them to quickly undo unwanted changes, Rewind saves them valuable time that they can gear towards their customer service, creating a new product, or helping support someone within their community. For Brandi, the peace of mind that Rewind gives them is invaluable.
“The fact that Rewind reached out to us in the same way that we reach out to our customers shows that it’s a company that coincides with our values and that speaks volumes to us. I greatly appreciate that. At the end of the day, you want to work with vendors that actually understand your needs and do everything they can to help your business.”
Building your online community
Building an online community around your business is a lot of work. But if your business is mission-driven, as is Fluff & Familia, then it could be your biggest competitive advantage and the most personally fulfilling part of your work.
As an ecommerce entrepreneur, you’ll quickly learn that you can’t do everything yourself. Luckily, there's tools like Rewind (which automates a daily backup of your Shopify or BigCommerce store) to reduce some of your workload and save you precious time.