Heroes of Ecommerce: Wingstuff
What would your 14-year old self think of you if you’d followed your passion for decades after to establish a premiere e-commerce website?
That’s exactly what Founder and CEO Rick Arnoldo achieved with Wingstuff. Wingstuff provides Honda Goldwing products and services. The company has a long and rich history based on Rick’s passion for Goldwing motorcycles, a passion his staff and the community of tens of thousands he serves also share.
Ryzeo talked with Rick and Wingstuff Marketing Director Matthew Mentley about the business to find out their secrets to success as an e-commerce company. Ryzeo specializes in website and email automation solutions for ecommerce sites.
Here, Rick shares some tips for e-commerce success and how Wingstuff’s partnership with Ryzeo has boosted its success and outreach even further than before.
Rick established Wingstuff in 1999, long before ecommerce had entered mainstream vocabulary. His vision was to serve the community of enthusiasts who were fans of the Honda Goldwing motorcycle. Actually, when Rick was 14-years old, he knew where his heart was: to serve and connect with people who loved Honda motorcycles as much as he did.
The first motorcycle he bought was a Honda XR 75, with a little help from his Uncle Frank. Rick said, “Uncle Frank put a deposit on that bike and we went back to my house and he told my mom about the bike. And when he did the first thing that she did was she was gonna let him have it!
“Uncle Frank said, ‘ Let him have the bike. All his friends have the bike. You don’t want him to have the bike? Just let him have a bike. And my mom just got quiet and never said another word. It was over.'”
He invested in his first Honda Goldwing when he was 19-years old. Working his way through every aspect of Sales and Service at Honda motorcycle dealerships on both the East and the West coast, Rick could no longer tame his overwhelming desire to become a Goldwing entrepreneur himself. Having moved from Rhode Island to California, he wanted to share the wealth with other fans of the motorcycle around the world.
An Ecommerce Pioneer
From the beginning of his entrepreneurial career, he knew he was going to sell his products online. He hired a young programmer. Rick said, “The guy was fresh out of college to be honest, a young guy, and he was so good at what he did and I told him my vision.” But Rick’s vision back then didn’t just stop at selling products online. He wanted to build and connect a global community through the Internet.
Ryzeo & Miva Give a Hero a Hand
The team at Ryzeo helped Wingstuff take its community-building to a new level back in 2018. Wingstuff was about to launch a major redesign and upgrade to its website to Miva. According to Matt Mentley: “Miva has been a great partner with WingStuff since day one. Not only do they make a great software, but the people that work there have all been awesome. They understood what we were trying to accomplish and helped us find our way. The back end is easy to use and we have been able to customize many things that make sense for our business.”
Wingstuff also knew there was a better way to do its email campaigns. They had found their mailings constantly blocked and not getting through to members. Their email server was also getting blacklisted. Not only did Wingstuff find that it was able to help them send emails from clean lists, but Wingstuff found it had discovered a partner in Ryzeo that understood Wingstuff.
“First of all, you were a partner with the platform that we use,” Rick told Russell Miller, General Manager of Ryzeo. “It made it easier and we also liked the personal feeling that you guys gave us. We felt like you did have passion.”
Rick continued, “We felt like you guys could share our passion and dial in and focus and be on point with what we’re trying to achieve, instead of having to remind you of what we’re trying to do.”
Matt, the Marketing Director at Wingstuff, added, “Before working with Ryzeo, we were never doing any sort of welcome series emails, no cart abandonment stuff, post purchase. We wanted someone that was going to be a partner and help us with this launch of the new website.And it was great from the beginning.
“Ryzeo has been on board with us since then and they helped us go through that whole process of onboarding and developing all those emails, getting all the stuff going and those things have been great. Those features we never had for almost 20 years in the company.
“Now we can give the customer a more personalized experience. Even if we’re sending him a greeting email or we’re sending him an abandoned cart email. It’s all about a personalized experience..
“We can ask, ‘do you still need this’?” Matt explained, “Is this something that you’re still interested in?
“We can suggest something else a lot of times or ask, ‘Would you prefer this?’ It’s not robotic, that vending machine feeling. It all flows from everything that we’re trying to accomplish with our mouth, our hands, our eyes,” Matt said.
Wingstuff Tips for Being a Hero
Wingstuff shared its top three tips for becoming a premiere ecommerce vendor:
- Have a Passion for Helping Others
- Build a Community and Staff of Like-Minded People
- Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
Have a Passion for Helping Others
Rick insisted, “I have a true passion for what we do as a business, which has made a big difference in being effective in helping people. Notice I say helping people, not selling things. Helping people.
“And by helping people we sell things. So I’ve been able to take care of people and create a community of people that love this Honda Goldwing motorcycle that we specialize in and that we love ourselves.
Build a Community and Staff of Like-Minded People
Rick was adamant about his passion for the Goldwing community. “We’ve been able to reach people all over the world through the web. There’s our online presence both in selling products, but also community videos engaging them on social media. We help and support their demographic in terms of teaching them how to do maintenance — Do It Yourself maintenance, to be exact.
The Wingstuff Dashboard enabled enthusiasts to find and contact like-minded members and to communicate with them through a centralized messenger service. Members could feel safe that Wingstuff did not expose private data, and that the people with whom Goldwing fans were chatting were into the same things as whoever had started the conversation.
In addition, members can upload photos of their bikes and accessories onto the website to share with the community. Sharing what they love has proven a key growth and retention driver for the community.
Rick added, “We have a video series where I show people how to change your oil and so on. We love what we do. And we love helping people.
“And it’s not all about me,” Rick said. “It’s about our team. It’s about Matt, and it’s about everybody else. We have a whole team of people here that are important at Wingstuff. And I have to think that we all love what we do and that’s the kind of vibe and community that we have internally here at Wingstuff.”
Don’t Be Afraid to Make Mistakes
And Matt, the Marketing Director, added the final tip, “Don’t be afraid to fail, because we failed a lot in the last handful of years. And we tried different things, right? … But you have to try those things to learn.”