In this episode of Merchant Stories, we talk to Laughing Buddha Games. You’ll learn how the store moved from an experiment after seeing a call for game submissions by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to getting significant order numbers through the use of creative marketing campaigns.
Can you tell us about your store and what you sell?
Laughing Buddha Games as an e-commerce marketplace offers extraordinary toys, games and gifts from around the world. We feature the best products curated from our suppliers and ship worldwide to our global customers.
We are also a game studio, working on developing VR/MR/AR and mobile games for kids of all ages and also offer an HTML5 game arcade that features the best indie games from around the world that you can play for free on any device, anywhere.
What influenced your decision to start Laughing Buddha Games?
Laughing Buddha Games was founded on the premise of “do good while gaming” and took form as an experiment when I saw a call for game submissions from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to raise awareness of global issues and ways to impact them.
I partnered with casual game publishers and built an Arcade featuring the best HTML5 games from indie developers from around the world: I offer them for free to play on any device, anywhere, and profit-share our advertising revenues with global non-profits.
As I went along, I realized that there was a void in the market for high-quality games and toys and then built a curated catalogue featuring extraordinary toys, games and VR headsets for kids of all ages.
How did you get your first products stocked?
My experience as a parent helped me research and identify the best educational toys and games. I then reached out to various suppliers to figure out the most cost-effective price-points for my customers. Shopify made it easy to upload the products into multiple sales channels and integrate with third-party apps for acquisition, retention and conversion.
How was your experience picking an e-commerce platform?
I researched and tested various e-commerce platforms like WooCommerce, BigCommerce and Magento, and finally settled on Shopify.
Not only is it scalable as an e-commerce platform, it simplifies the setup and customization of the storefront. The robust third party app marketplace allows me to integrate custom features that provide my customers with a seamless shopping experience.
Tell us about the experience running Laughing Buddha Games
It has been an incredible journey! From writing games to building a full-featured ecommerce marketplace for educational toys and games, I have had to wear multiple hats in the product development, engineering, marketing and operational logistics space.
For example, developing our Shopify storefront, sourcing products and managing shipping logistics, integrating with different payment providers, and generating marketing campaigns. As our customer base grew, we developed bots to automate our daily tasks and track metrics to identify our best selling products and price points.
It has been thrilling to watch our conversion uptick with creative marketing campaigns, seasonal sales and diligent customer service. Our Christmas season was especially fast-paced, and it was both a challenge and joy, keeping up with the spate of orders that came in. There is nothing better than the reviews provided by our customers to keep us motivated and focused on what we need to improve on.
How do you interact with your customers?
We use BudAI, our Messenger chatbot on Facebook that allows us to interact quickly with our customers. We also use emails and take customer feedback in our sales channels very seriously to stay focused on our daily priorities.
What are some of the challenges you’re facing now?
Some of our challenges are figuring out the most effective prices for our products, working with different shipping providers for the best prices for our orders, keeping our inventory fresh and relevant as well as addressing customer concerns
**What apps/plugins are most useful to you? **
We use Limespot, Ping, FOMO and JustUno. Limespot for targeted recommendations, FOMO for social proof marketing and Justuno for pop-ups and conversion marketing.
**Are there any personal business strategies you’ve developed with time? **
A strategy core to our business is to always place the customer first, even if this means losing revenue in the short term. We also automate as much as possible to minimize errors and reduce churn.
Any advice for upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs?
Building a business will leverage everything you know and will force you to learn everything you don’t, so keep an open mindset, have integrity and don’t be afraid to fail. There is always something to learn from every failure and success, so take risks and be innovative in what you do. Remember that your business is what you make of it, so throw yourself out there, seize every opportunity, however small and be a shining example of yourself.
About Merchant Stories
Merchant Stories is a blog series by Kudobuzz (a startup that helps you grow your business with social reviews, product listings and AI-powered SEO that highlights the stories of online merchants to give them more exposure and to serve as inspiration for upcoming merchants.
This is the first season in a long running series.
Want to get your story featured? Reach out to us firstname.lastname@example.org