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Nock Co. was born running. The company, which produces high-caliber pen cases, began with an earnest handshake between its 2 co-founders. But ever since their $5,000 Kickstarter goal was blown away with the $78,000 they raised, Brad Dowdy and Jeffrey Bruckwicki have been trying to catch their breath.
Oh, hai! My name is Kasia, and I’m a marketing writer for MailChimp. I recently visited Nock Co. to find out about their biggest e-commerce challenges.
“It’s a good problem to have,” Brad told us when we visited their small-but-charming workspace. Brad has chronicled his obsession with pens for the last decade on his blog The Pen Addict. When he met Jeffrey — who, at the time, was making cycling bags — in the summer of 2013, the two realized they could merge their passions.
But with the Kickstarter victory came a lot of sleepless nights trying to keep up with reward fulfillment. The following summer, the company’s first production run started, and their online store opened. Now, 3 years after their Kickstarter triumph, Nock Co. is finally available to retailers.
“Ever since then we’ve been chasing our tails,” Brad says. “We’ve never been able to catch up.” Here are 3 ways they’re trying to stay on top of stuff:
All of Nock Co.’s products are made in the U.S.A., and Brad and Jeffrey are very particular about their craftsmanship. Traditionally, pen cases are made of leather, but Nock Co. uses nylon, a material that’s as durable as it is playful. Finding a good manufacturing partner was arduous, though, primarily because most nylon manufacturers produce medical or military items.
“We tried several different local outsourcing partners and they couldn’t meet our quality demands. This trial and error went on for about two years until we found the right partner in the U.S. that could work with us,” Brad says. “We are very picky, which surely slowed down the process!”
When Nock Co. first started, they offered 6 types of cases. As they grew, they wanted to add new designs into the mix, but they didn’t want to keep increasing the number of SKUs they had. And so they eliminated 2 of their original products that were lagging in sales.
“While some people were disappointed, this allowed us to manage our best products in the best way possible,” Brad says. “While we would like to make everything for everyone, sometimes you have to say ‘no’ to make the company the best it can be.”
Customers sometimes get flustered when they can’t get Nock products, which can sell out in a matter of hours. To ensure fans could get their hands on a case, the guys cleverly launched a made-to-order service. “We discovered that selling based [solely] on finished product inventory was holding us back,” Brad says.The move changed their ship time from same-day to 2–3 business days, but customers didn’t seem to mind. All they cared about was being able to order the case they wanted when they wanted it. “And we were able to eliminate too many zeroes in our inventory and have a more consistent product offering,” Brad says.