Everyone who has invested a substantial amount of money in starting a business has probably thought about how to make it profitable. It’s an important consideration so that you can get your venture off on the right foot and avoid unnecessary pitfalls that could put you out of business before you get started.
For Damien and the rest of the Change Toothpaste team, however, profitability is just one thing that led them to success. Among others, they wanted to bring forth significant, sustainable, and environmental change. This unwavering motivation served as the backbone of their e-commerce store.
Change Toothpaste is currently one of WooCommerce’s most celebrated wholesale stores. Fortunately, we were able to score an interview with Damien, and he provided some fascinating insights into how Wholesale Suite contributed to the company’s success. And we’re here to share it with you!
When did you launch Change Toothpaste? What prompted you to enter the toothpaste industry?
So, after our bath bomb business flopped terribly in 2018, Mike Medicoff (my business partner) and I came up with the concept of launching a store that focuses on sustainability and the use of natural materials. Initially, we had our eyes on bathroom and kitchen eco-friendly products.
There weren’t as many widely available eco-friendly products in the 2018 green market compared to today. This means that our idea required quite a push, but we decided that the moment was right to carry it out anyway.
The toothpaste concept first started with Mike and his daughter while they were doing random refills. After further brainstorming and research, we decided to give it a try and got in touch with the manufacturer to order the first batch.
To our surprise, the journey from the US to Canada took 11 weeks. Plus, due to the exchange rate and other cost considerations, the landed cost was $40, making the product highly unsustainable from a customer perspective. Long story short: we dropped the ball.
Mike and I sat down one day and thought: how hard could it be to make a tablet?
We proceeded, and after numerous consultations and trial-and-error runs, we were able to perfect our own formula in 2019! By June of the same year, we had the recipe we currently use today.
We sold our first product at a farmers’ market on July 27, 2019.
We participated in farmers’ markets all summer long, and soon, we established a solid consumer base. People were purchasing (and were coming back!). At this point, we also took the initiative to strengthen our audience by educating our customers about the dangers of using plastic.
We’ve been building the business since then.
Why did you choose to use WooCommerce?
Personally, I don’t like being put in a box. I’m not a fan of doing things counterintuitively because unless it’s flexible and easy to use, you’re stuck doing it and are up for a huge productivity loss.
This is why WooCommerce made perfect sense to me.
I’ve been familiar with WordPress for years simply because it adheres to standards, is an open-source platform, and allows for self-posting. I was definitely drawn to stay because of the convenience and freedom.
Plus, every plugin you get from WooCommerce is relatively inexpensive, even after the add-ons. When you start including them on top of the base charges made by other websites, it’s a no-brainer just to stick with WooCommerce.
What did Wholesale Suite help you achieve?
The funny thing is, I was totally against wholesale when we first started. I didn’t want to do it because many stores had been asking for our products as a result of our media appearances.
Mike, however, convinced me that going wholesale was the way to go.
So, we’ve done a decent amount of wholesale throughout the years. Between 30 and 50% of our monthly sales have stemmed from wholesale customers… and this process has always been difficult and complicated for me.
I did all the wholesale ordering myself for two years. It works this way:
- A customer would email their phone number.
- I’ll take the order.
- Enter it manually into our WooCommerce dashboard.
- I would need to figure out how to do invoicing (WooCommerce invoicing doesn’t work very well).
All in all, this process was really cumbersome for me. I then came to the realization that I actually don’t need to do so many things. So why not take advantage of technology?
That’s when I found Wholesale Suite.
This plugin worked fantastically out of the box. A lot of features made sense from a wholesaler’s perspective, but what I loved the most was how it made ordering and registration a whole lot easier for us and our customers. For one thing, I’m able to create a single order page now for our shoppers.
I also value how quickly I can onboard customers. For instance, I am notified as soon as a customer registers, which allows me to approve them almost instantaneously. The customer is then notified.
They could now enter into their account from that point and view a single page listing all of our wholesale products along with the prices they must pay. After that, I can waive any shipping fees that exceed a specific amount. I’m only able to charge them one shipping fee.
So yeah, it’s been incredible. I accomplished what I wanted to accomplish at the end of last year, and it’s mostly thanks to the Wholesale Suite plugin.
You mentioned that 30–50% of your company is wholesale; do you constantly seek new wholesale customers? What does that look like in your store?
We sell niche items, and so, our products don’t fit nicely on every shelf. Because of this, we put a little more effort into locating additional wholesale customers who share our cause. For instance, we seek out new boutique stores whose products complement our offers and, likewise, focus on sustainability.
Then, we make cold calls and send emails to as many people as we can to spread the word about us and pique their curiosity. From this point on, we see relationships developing on their end as well. The contacts we all make over time are then shared by us, so you could say that we are all growing together.
What gave you that first burst of growth in your wholesale business? Maybe it’s something you’d love to share with store owners in diverse markets?
For starters, I mean, just keep at it.
Knowing your market fit is critical, but your drive is what propels you to success. Somebody told me at the very beginning that if you build it, they will come. So as long as there are people knocking on your door, wanting to purchase your product, keep going.
On a technical note, however, what really helped Change Toothpaste grow is our customers—and we made sure to keep them engaged and a part of our journey as much as possible. This is our unique way of customer support.
We see it this way: the vendors/wholesalers that purchase from us aren’t really our direct consumers. Instead, their retail buyers are our customers. So, for us to succeed in the long run, it’s important that we support and help our wholesalers succeed first and sell most of our products.
We do this by providing them with sales tools. You need to give them product knowledge and you need to educate them on what makes your product different from everybody else’s. We believe that it’s not just about profitability and affordability, but rather their ability to sell.
Sales Tool: Digital Content
One of the things we are very fond of is digital content. We schedule quarterly photoshoot sessions of our products so our consumer base has a regularly updated stock photo of our items. This way, they can use these images on their social media posts, stock product flyers, POS systems, and many more.
Additionally, because our products require a bit of an educational component when selling, it’s important that our wholesalers can keep in conversation about the toothpaste too. Apart from digital content, we also provide knowledge-based support about internal product factors like ingredients.
So again, remember that in wholesale, it’s not just you selling. It’s key to send in as much support as possible to keep the supply chain thriving.
What’s next for Change Toothpaste?
Since fluoride is an item that is restricted in Canada, we have been working for the past two years to add fluoride to our tablets. Our primary concern at the moment is making sure that all of the items we’re developing comply with the laws and regulations.
But yes, we’re happy to announce that we’re just about finished testing the ‘+ fluoride’ formula we’ve been working on. We just passed that test’s requirements!
We are also involved in production, packaging, and distribution, so we intend to soon launch that. Instead of relying solely on online orders, we want to get them into the hands of our wholesale customers before conducting a big launch.
We’ll have it available in everybody’s stores for as long as they’d want before releasing it in our store. This is just another way we can express how much we value and support our customers.
Where can people find you?
You can check out our website, changetoothpaste.com. All of our products, FAQs, knowledge-base articles, and the like are available there.
Change Toothpaste’s rich history is definitely one for the books! More than their incredible use of Wholesale Suite’s features, they’ve continuously grown into one of the biggest WooCommerce stores today because of their unique customer support strategy.
Want the same transformation in your store? Download Wholesale Suite today or check out our full list of Case Studies here to learn more about we’ve helped other wholesalers grow their businesses!