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How South Bend Woodworks Crafted a Standout Brand on Amazon: A Conversation

SupplyKick
Aug 3, 2021 11:48:30 AM

Amazon Consultant Partner Interview: South Bend Woodworks

 

At SupplyKick, we have the incredible opportunity to partner with smart, forward-thinking brands like South Bend Woodworks. To learn more about how we’ve teamed up to grow their business on Amazon, read their Case Study.

We recently spoke with Michael Lindburg, Managing Director at South Bend Woodworks, about their challenges with navigating the pandemic as a small business and finding massive success selling customizable and handmade goods on Amazon.

In this conversation, you’ll read about:

  • Strategies the small business used to quickly expand their ecommerce presence
  • Their advice for successfully selling customized, handmade products on Amazon
  • How strategic brand marketing tactics can elevate an Amazon Storefront and accelerate marketplace sales
  • What it’s like working with SupplyKick as an Agency partner

Tell us the story behind South Bend Woodworks and your company vision.

My dad started the Woodworks around 10 years ago with the idea of building a business that provides good jobs for people in South Bend, who maybe don’t have a college education or previously had a hard time holding down a job. We partnered with Goodwill, their job training program, and some services geared towards integrating people from incarceration or addiction treatment services. The idea behind the Woodworks is that we want to make nice wooden products, nice wooden gifts for kids and families, and also provide a really great environment for people who just need something stable in their lives.

When the pandemic hit, we wanted to be more focused not just as a manufacturer but as an ecommerce business. We do the vast majority of our sales through ecommerce platforms and felt that we were really great at making toys, making cutting boards, making things, but we needed to be more professional when it came to selling them. That is a big reason for us pursuing this partnership with SupplyKick.


What are your goals and top priorities for 2021?

The biggest growth we saw in 2020 was fueled by us doing the basics correctly, going from zero to one in terms of being thoughtful about our ad budget and how we presented ourselves online. Now, it is about being more sophisticated and improving the customer’s experience from start to finish.

We're working on a new line of early childhood development tools that are natural, safe, and nontoxic—all the things that South Bend Woodworks already is. But these are also tools that are built with specific uses in mind for young children struggling to learn or working on being more comfortable with early math concepts. We're working with some professionals over at the Early Childhood Development Center at Notre Dame to create an institutional focus on making useful tools for children, so we're excited about that and what that means for us. And I think the next six to 18 months are really going to be about doing everything that we did in 2020, just a little bit better.


Why did you choose an agency partnership with SupplyKick?

From a tangible aspect, it's so easy to quantify how effective you all have been. And that's been great for us—it's helped us grow. 

From the creative side, SupplyKick helped us change how we presented ourselves. We shifted how we talked about our own brand and how we attempted to present ourselves in a coherent way. We ultimately wanted our Amazon Storefront to reflect that the Woodworks is about personalized, handmade wooden products.    

Your team put together creative that presented a story to our customers so that when they land on our Storefront, they understand what we do and why, and it lends itself to tell the story of our quality. The ability to bounce ideas off of a set of professionals has been invaluable. It has led to us reevaluating how we develop our products.

Working with SupplyKick has been a crash course, a support system, and more than that because of a group of folks who took a ton of ownership over the results that we have. As someone who's worked with consultants and agency partners before, I know that is not always the case, and we've been really happy and grateful for that level of care.

Amazon Agency Consultant Benefits: Amazon Storefront

 

Amazon Brand Marketing Lookbook: Creative Inspiration for Your Amazon Store. Learn More.


What have you most enjoyed working about with the SupplyKick team so far?

What I've enjoyed most is the range of voices on your team that provide specialized expertise. The level of detail and the results are outstanding. And our creative was leagues away from how great it is now. I couldn't ask for a more responsive team. They took the time to understand our brand and dig into these really niche products and develop a level of focus and care about what is ultimately a partnership and a brand. They have certainly taken a ton of work on and made this partnership successful. 

From a professional standpoint, I think it's provided me a window into what a professional small business does when it is talking through some of the changes we’ve experienced. When we have encountered challenges in the past, y'all have been incredibly helpful. Coming to the end of last year, we had some serious concerns about what the next year would look like and we had to be really careful about that. Ultimately, as we got through the first quarter of the year, we found some really encouraging realities in our numbers and are able to make investments to support that. Beyond the results, it's also just been a pleasure to work with Chris and Kristen on a regular basis. I just can't speak enough to the work that they have done.


Do you have any advice for brands and small businesses looking to sell customized or handmade goods on Amazon?

First and foremost would be to really understand your production process, because we are made-to-order. Everything we make, we can't make until someone orders it because of the customization. So there's so much information that we have to have nailed down on the front end to make production on Amazon's timeline possible.     

Amazon Agency Consultant Benefits: Product and Lifestyle Photography

Number two would be to understand that you want to be realistic about what you can provide, because Amazon is not going to be any more forgiving because you are a small business, or because the weather is bad and the mail is delayed. You have your timeline, you have your metrics that you gotta hit, or they're going to penalize you. So I think you want to be honest about what you can and can't provide.

If you're looking to do small handmade or made-to-order products, customized or not, understand what those challenges are and how quick you need your turnaround to be because it is a real challenge. That being said, once you get that sorted out, Amazon's a great marketplace to be on because once you are in that space, the access you have to just the number of consumers on Amazon daily is more than anywhere else, especially right now.


What do you look forward to most when it comes to the future of South Bend Woodworks on Amazon?

I’m looking forward to the opportunity for the Woodworks to develop itself as a brand on Amazon with a larger presence, so that folks can come to identify us as a brand and not just a vendor. That, to me, is how we take the next step. And that is a true challenge. 

As someone who shops on Amazon, it is rare that I go looking for a specific vendor, and we're lucky that our marketplace is niche enough that we can continue to expand our presence that way. That's my hope, and that's what I think is a key for us to be successful in the long term: to elevate the brand to a level where our customers are more aware and more inclined to seek us out specifically.

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Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Michael! Looking to develop your brand and navigate the Amazon marketplace with an Agency consultant or perhaps even a Wholesale seller? Connect with SupplyKick.

Read the Southbend Woodworks Case Study for more on their Amazon story and results—including a 630% increase in ad-attributed sales during Q4 and doubling their Amazon revenue year over year.

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