From Passion to Profit: The WOD Life

Ally Feiam By Ally Feiam | 11 Jun 2019

What started out as a passion project has turned into a range of highly-curated fitness products. We sat down with the Co-Founder of The WOD Life, Andy Lee, to discuss the company, reaching a global market and staying on top of the game.

Two aspiring athletes and gym junkies, Andy Lee and Ben Dineen, were unable to locate appropriate training products in Australia. Sick of ordering equipment from overseas, they decided to launch their own e-commerce platform.

The pair got the idea for the business in 2013 but had no business plans, funding or go-to-market strategies. But that didn’t stop The WOD Life from gaining traction – soon they were able to put their previous education and skills into practice to build a scalable business. “From the early days of this passion project, the business has evolved from our first ever product of a jump rope to over one thousand products with hundreds of vendors,” explains Andy.

The WOD Life aims to showcase products that ‘assist the demands of athletes in their training’, and now sells performance-focused activewear and accessories, alongside equipment and recovery products from brands such as Nike and Reebok. As consumer habits change and adapt, e-commerce platforms catch up. The WOD Life has made its mission to provide this to its consumers, offering a seamless experience, from product discovery, checkout, and express shipping.

It wasn’t always smooth sailing for Andy and Ben. When the pair began the e-commerce platform, there wasn’t much to work with. “Back in 2013, the e-commerce landscape was much less sophisticated and there was not as much information out there to successful start a business today,” says Andy. “We luckily did our research and backed ourselves in to create a store on the Shopify platform. We’ve seen the platform constantly evolve from the early days with an amazing partner support network and ecosystem around it. From web developers to marketing agencies, there is an ever-growing wealth of knowledge to help support and grow your business.”

Without a solid business plan in place, the company found another challenge in being bootstrapped. The WOD Life has continued to finance itself this way, which the company prides itself on. “What this has taught us is the importance of analytics and return. Given that there are finite resources, it’s important to be across your business and understand the levels of investment and potential returns. This has helped us to build the business with growth, with a sustainable long term focus,” Andy tells us.

It’s not just the high-quality equipment and apparel that makes The WOD Life stand out amongst its competition. The WOD Life is powered with Shopify Plus, which affords them to connect to a myriad of third-party applications within its e-commerce ecosystem. “Product recommendation functionality based on an algorithm to deliver a personalised experience as well as machine learning help centre features also aim to be at the forefront of the customer experience,” Andy adds.

It’s no surprise that e-commerce and omnichannel companies need to keep a core focus on the optimisation of mobile. The WOD Life relies heavily on the use of mobile, with more than 70 per cent of its sales coming from the platform. “From discovery on social media platforms such as Instagram, through to clicking through to our e-commerce store, as a business, we are fixated on creating a market leading mobile experience,” explains Andy. “Mobile is a great microscope because even for a business as large and with such a deep product catalogue as The WOD Life, it ensures that we really distil the experience into its simplest form. Identify what actually matters to the customer and communicate that effectively.”

The WOD Life has launched a refreshed brand as the ‘Home of Training’ and are re-launching in the US and Europe in July. Both Andy and Ben are passionate about e-commerce, entrepreneurship and business growth, and have learned a significant amount throughout their journey. “Online is fast-paced and ever-changing. The ability to learn and quickly iterate is amazing. The analytics tools available allow you to track business performance and direct energies to drive impactful change,” Andy tells Power Retail. “The ability to change pixels is significantly easier than uprooting a physical retail location! Also, being located in Australia the online retail space allows you to open up, have conversations with consumers all over the world and shape your business globally.”

Some advice from Andy:

1. Stay Focused – Often it’s easy to be blinded by the shiny light. It’s important to establish the one thing that you can be the best in the world at. If a particular opportunity doesn’t align with that, learn to say no and keep focused on the big goal at hand.

2. Do It Once, Do It Right – Whatever you do, understand that whatever you put in you get out. Everything from building your website to develop your product. Although it may take more time at the front end, it’s worth doing everything necessary upfront to ensure that you don’t have to spend more money and do it again, later down the track.

3. Pressure Over Time – What wins in business and e-commerce is pressure over time. It’s important to ride the rollercoaster, be consistent and keep putting in effort day after day. It’s going to be a challenging, lonely road. But remember you can’t defeat someone who never gives up.

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