What began with 7,000 units has ballooned into millions, with one portable blender sold every three seconds on BlendJet.com, according to co-founder and CEO Ryan Pamplin.
“It’s a portable blender, and our demographic is pretty wide spanning and appeals to anyone with a mouth,” Pamplin says.
Sales in 2021 increased more than 50% year over year as the brand focuses on its long-term relationships with customers. One-third of BlendJet’s online sales are to repeat customers buying additional BlendJets, JetPacks, accessories, and/or items from its marketplace, according to BlendJet checkout information.
“We expect to continue at that same level of growth in 2022,” Pamplin says. BlendJet declined to share total online sales.
BlendJet sells portable blenders and seeks to appeal to millennials and Gen Z shoppers looking to supplement their meals or post-workout shakes with healthy smoothie infusions made from fruits and vegetables. They can also add BlendJet’s ready-to-use JetPack blender packets to eat healthy on the go.
Pamplin says BlendJet’s overall appeal includes a smooth online shopping experience that accepts a variety of payment options. BlendJet offers two options for one-button express checkout: Amazon Pay, owned by Amazon.com Inc.; and PayPal, through PayPal Holdings Inc. Customers can also pay with credit card, and buy-now-pay-later service AfterPay Ltd. Cryptocurrency users can pay using Coinbase Global Inc.’s Coinbase, an American company that operates a cryptocurrency exchange platform by selecting the option at checkout similar to PayPal, which redirects the customer to log into their Coinbase digital wallet to select it as the payment option. The customer is then redirected back to BlendJet.com to complete the purchase.
It also offers accessories like its insulated blender sleeve and products like smoothie ingredients and recipes in the “marketplace” section of its website to maintain long-term relationships with customers.
The inspiration behind the BlendJet came after Pamplin suffered a brain injury during an accident. He says his health and recovery became his focus in life. Pamplin realized smoothies allowed him to blend healthy ingredients together for a quick and convenient meal.
Kathryn O’Malley, his girlfriend at the time and now his spouse, later helped Pamplin launch the brand by modeling product videos for social media platforms. Once recovered, Pamplin launched BlendJet in 2018 with friend, co-founder and post-workout shake enthusiast John Zheng.
Building the BlendJet brand
The first 7,000 BlendJet units sold out in three weeks, and now the retailer sells over one million BlendJets per year on BlendJet.com and also sells more than one million BlendJets through retailers including Target Corp., Walmart Inc., Macy’s Inc., Kohls Corp., Bed Bath and Beyond Inc., CVS Pharmacy Inc., and other retailers in the United States and more than 50 chain retail stores – the majority of sales through retailers occur in store, Pamplin says. According to BlendJet, it sells its blenders in more than 10,000 store locations worldwide including the U.S., Canada, Mexico, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and South Africa.
The average order value (AOV) increased nearly $10 a year since 2018 as the retailer expanded its accessories offerings. BlendJets cost about $50 each.
“We have really high-net-worth customers as well as people who might skip a few Starbucks runs to have the extra cash to spend on a BlendJet,” Pamplin says.
In 2019, BlendJet added its 6-JetPack Smoothies, which customers can use to mix with ingredients when using the BlendJet, and also expanded its BlendJet model color offerings.
In 2020, the retailer offered the BlendJet 2, which is a more powerful 150-watt model and 33% larger compared with the original BlendJet’s 5-watt model. That same year, BlendJet began offering extended warranties through Extend, a technology provider that enables online retailers to offer longer warranties and protection plans. The retailer also launched its JetSetter insulated sleeve and tote accessory and next-gen blending recipe book.
In 2021, BlendJet released its 6-JetPack protein smoothies, and additional model colors. This year, the retailer plans to launch new drinking lids and jars as well as a premium BlendJet 2 model.
Through Shopify, BlendJet also launched its BlendJet marketplace which offers products from dozens of other retailers using Carro, an influencer marketing platform that uses software to discover influencers, press and media that already promote a brand.
Through Carro, BlendJet’s marketplace offers customers relatable consumer packaged goods that it cross-sells to BlendJet customers. Carro allows BlendJet to sell products that customers can use with their BlendJets without having to physically hold inventory. Supplying brands receive the order notifications through BlendJet’s marketplace in the Shopify backend as if the BlendJet orders were purchased on their own site, according to Carro. Brands in the marketplace include Tenzo, Soylent, Orgain protein powders, and LadyBoss Lean shake mixes among other products.
Steering customers to BlendJet.com
Pamplin says he is wary of redirecting online traffic to other retailers’ websites when a retailer approaches BlendJet to carry the product at its retail stores and website.
The exposure at big retailers is invaluable, Pamplin says, but that doesn’t mean he is ready to relinquish his hold on online sales. Pamplin says BlendJet will sell to retailers like Target and Walmart in store but “online sales through these partners are small compared to their in-store or our online sales,” Pamplin says.
BlendJet also does not allow retailers to bid on its trademarked BlendJet name in search ads. Trademark bidding, also known as brand bidding, is the act of targeting paid search advertisements to branded keywords. This includes searches that include a brand name like BlendJet, which Pamplin says the retailer has invested “significant social ad spend” to build up.
“Retailers talk about being omnichannel, but a big piece of my pie is the online DTC business,” Pamplin says. “When a retailer comes to us and wants us in-store or online, we will go in-store but not online — unless we’re getting full chain distribution. This is because they’re going to take some sliver of my online pie, and I’m not giving it up for free.
“I have to make sure that if my BlendJet is at Walmart or Target, they’re going to be in every single store because if I’m going to start promoting my product as available at your local store, it better be there,” he continues. “I don’t want to send customers away from my website to your store and not have the item be there for purchase.”
Retailers like Target.com or Walmart.com will suggest where to find BlendJet in stock in real time. Shoppers also will soon be able to go to BlendJet.com and see where they can purchase a BlendJet from a different retailer. While BlendJet expects some shoppers to leave BlendJet.com to buy from familiar and well-known retailers, Pamplin says selling BlendJet blenders via popular retailers also gives the brand valuable credibility by association. Pamplin does not believe this redirection will be detrimental to BlendJet’s DTC online sales, but will be interested to see how the BlendJet locator on its DTC website will influence where customers buy from.
The shift to allow for other retailers to sell BlendJets is one way to stand out in a sea of DTC retailers vying for limited exposure in a competitive landscape, says Polly Wong, president of Belardi Wong, a consulting marketing company.
“DTC brands have to activate all distribution channels, and this includes leveraging wholesale partnerships to sell through both physical and online retailers who carry third-party brands,” Wong says. “As the cost of digital marketing on Google and Facebook continues to sky rocket, we can expect to see more and more brands wherever their target consumers are shopping.”
Customer surveys provide valuable insights
Post-purchase survey software from EnquireLabs allows BlendJet to offer customers “Thank You” surveys after checkout seeking to obtain feedback. Questions cover topics like asking how the customer found out about BlendJet and what payment methods they’d like to use. 35% of BlendJet.com customers answer the survey.
“I trust this survey data more than anything. It’s my No. 1 source of truth,” Pamplin says. “It’s answers from real people checking out on my site.”
Post-purchase customer surveys also reveal that typical customers use their BlendJets twice a day, compared with traditional blenders, which survey results said customers used less than three times a month.
“That’s a pretty stark difference and pretty exciting for us,” he says.
Survey results also indicate that BlendJet customers typically replace or supplement one meal a day using their portable blenders, Pamplin says.
“The most commonly replaced meal is from the McDonald’s drive-thru,” he says, citing Thank You survey results.
Based on an EnquireLabs Thank You survey campaign, Pamplin says 70% of respondents that bought BlendJets during Q4 2021 were given as gifts.
In Pamplin’s view, BlendJet isn’t a one-time buy. He wants to establish a long-term relationship with the customer.
“I don’t want a transactional relationship because we’re not trying to sell to customers one time and that’s it, the relationship is over,” he says.
That’s one reason BlendJet does not sell on Amazon, he says. Plus, a BlendJet store on Amazon would likely outrank BlendJet.com’s DTC website, Pamplin says. The other reason is Pamplin does not want to sell the BlendJet against what he says are copycat versions on Amazon.
“I don’t want to be pitted against sellers on marketplaces like Amazon that try to copy me and infringe my intellectual property,” he says. “I like owning that customer relationship and having that lifetime value go up, up, up. I don’t know what the ceiling is on my lifetime value because my customers continue to come back over and over again.”
Buy now, pay later test and implementation
In 2019, BlendJet surveyed customers over a few weeks to determine how customers wanted to pay. When customers were asked to answer what type of buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) methods they’d like to see at checkout, AfterPay topped the list.
Over the span of a few weeks, 396 customers responded to the Thank You survey with 133 responses for AfterPay. Other BNPL options like PayPal followed with 34 responses, 27 for Affirm, 12 for Sezzle, 10 for Zip and 3 votes for Shop Pay, Shopify’s installment payment option.
Pamplin says AfterPay appealed to the retailer also in part because its name is straightforward.
“It’s easy recognition — if I see AfterPay, I know what it means. I don’t know what Affirm or Sezzle means,” Pamplin says. “AfterPay communicates what it does in an intuitive way that leads to a high rate of adoption.”
On average, customers choose to pay for their purchases with their credit card 38% of the time. PayPal accounts for 23%, followed by international payments, which account for 17%. AfterPay accounts for 15% of customer payments.
Before implementing AfterPay in 2019, BlendJet performed a split test where some customers were offered AfterPay as an option while a separate group were not. BlendJet did not disclose how many customers were tested. BlendJet conducts these split tests periodically, with the most recent one completed in January 2022. The results showed that, on average, 15% of BlendJet customers used AfterPay at checkout. Conversion increased 15% for those checking out with AfterPay compared with those not given the option. BlendJet’s overall conversion rate is 4% and AfterPay users’ conversion was 4.6%.
“I think that 15% for AfterPay is an exceptional number that exceeded my expectations,” he says. “The impact to our conversion rate is proportional to the percentage of customers who use AfterPay, which means that 15% of people probably would not have bought a BlendJet without that payment option.”
AfterPay’s AOV is also higher at $71.70, compared with credit card transaction AOV of $66.21 and PayPal at $65.49, BlendJet says, based on data from January 2022 through the first week of March.
Pamplin declined to disclose the fee BlendJet pays on AfterPay transactions, but noted the company did negotiate a rate with the payment service. AfterPay typically charges retailers a $0.30 flat fee plus 4-6% of the purchase price. AfterPay is free for customers to make interest-free payments, but they are responsible for any late fees if they miss installment payment deadlines.
“People are interested in eating healthier,” Pamplin says. “I think convenient food is not healthy and healthy food is not convenient — and I think we’re helping fix that.”