Apex

Apex is a performance materials company. We currently specialise in socks, specifically grip or non-slip socks, built to give athletes across a wide range of sports more stability, speed, agility, and comfort when running and changing direction. We are launching two products - the Apex PRO and the Apex SL. Primarily used for football and rugby, we also want to target weightlifters, and runners initially, expanding into other sports moving forward. Eventually Apex will produce innovative sport-specific products that combine innovative materials and design to bring elite performance to everyone.

Our Goal

We are going to produce the leading performance sock on the market. Apex will be directly competing with Trusox. Our aim is to offer a premium, yet slightly cheaper price option, with a more focused brand, and keyword (KW) driven advertising plan. We are focused on the launch of Apex initially and will expand this goal based on performance. The next 12 months KPI's:

12,000

Units sold in the 12 months

beginning April 2021

4.0

Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) for campaigns

£30 / $40

Price Target for Shopify and Amazon

1

Major online retailer stocking Apex

£144k

Net Income for financial year 2021

100

Pro players wearing

Apex socks

Our Advantage

Our advantage is simple. We must maximise exposure to Gen Z across Instagram and Tik Tok with video first free and paid content. Combine this with highly targeted KW's across our Google Ad and Google Shopping campaigns. Throw in a sock with an exoskeleton and premium packaging.

Unique Product

Unique exoskeleton, graphic design, and premium packaging. Our socks are built to be comfortable and durable at a leading price point.

Generation Z

Our brand is future proof. Less about socks, and more about elite performance. Vibrant and unique branding combined with simple CTA's.

Maximum Eyeballs

Video first, social media heavy, short and sharp interactions. We must use influencers, paid Reels and Tik Tok to reach mass audience quickly.

Our Culture

Apex is a vehicle for experimentation and learning. Whether combining social media and ecommerce, exploring radical paid advertising channels, sourcing new materials for our products, or building key stakeholder relationships. Apex thrives on calculated risks. We want to move fast, be close to our community, and be unique amongst the market. Apex will never take it's self too seriously.

 

Though we are selling socks. We are not selling socks. We are selling the notion that everyone is an elite athlete in their own right.

Products

Our launch products - the Apex PRO and the Apex SL - are two competing products to gauge the market. The market leader Trusox, is the only sock that utilises a "suede" patch system, where all other competitors use a variation of "silicon gel" grip patterns. In the PRO and the SL we are testing the demand for each separate material as our initial exploration into the market.

USPs

  • Exoskeleton: Apex socks are made to be 'fitted'. Around the heel, under the arch of the foot, and at the toes we have implemented  elastic strips, that wrap into the foot. This stops internal slippage of the foot inside the sock. This is unique to the market.

  • Aesthetics: Our socks are not a conventional white base and a black logo. We have a graphic across the sock that fades into the lightweight mesh upper of the sock. Our branding in minimal. The logo is embroidered to enhance that premium feel.

  • Experience: We want our customers to feel like high performing athletes. The packaging, the internal information cards, (contain information for amateurs and pro athletes), and the sock itself makes them feel special. No cardboard or cheap plastic packets.

Apex PRO

The Apex PRO is designed to directly compete with Trusox. Using "suede patch" grips that are activated by sweat and moisture, effectively offering more texture surface area than just the base sock material alone. Our grips are highly structured into clear rows and columns to fit the maximum area of the foot. The PRO is built to offer more speed and stability to our athletes.

$4.50

COGS / Unit to

the UK

500

Minimum Order Quantity (1st Order)

Apex SL

The Apex SL is designed to compete with the wider market. The SL uses "silicon gel" pads to give immediate grip to the athlete. Our grips are again highly structured into clear rows, with a low profile to minimise discomfort. The SL is built to offer more grip and agility to our athletes, primarily in dry weather, and intense multi-directional sport.

$3.50

COGS / Unit to

the UK

1000

Minimum Order Quantity (1st Order)

Improvements

  • Grip Pads: The grip pads are solid and have been extensively tested. But we will upgrade the suede patches from the suppliers material to our own selection after the first batch. The silicon gel will be experimented with to find optimum grip x durability.

  • Multiple Sizes: Offering a small (5-7), medium (8-10), and large (9-12) sock would give greater flexibility to the customer. Currently our sock size fits UK 7 - UK 10 (or UK 11 at a push).

  • Colours: Offer a black sock (with black silicon pads for the SL) would give a secondary selection to our customers. Then we would expand into other key team specific colours.

  • Softer & Lighter Base Material: The base material is currently a cotton-spandex hybrid. It can get "dry" and "rough" after 5-6 washes if not tumbled dried occasionally. A softer, more breathable base would help improve lightness and airation of the foot.

Packaging

Our packaging is simple and yet unique in our sector. We use a Stand-Up-Pouch (SUP) design, with a zip seal top, and the ability to be stood up if needed. Our SUPs are made from fully recyclable plastic and was chosen to be flexible and lightweight. The pouches measure 190mm x 260mm and are thin enough (with the socks) to fit through a post-box. This gives us the ability to post the socks as a "Large Letter" which averages to be £1.06 per item, instead of £3+ when sending as a "Small Parcel". Our total package weight is less than 90g. Unit cost for external packaging is 33p. Unit cost for Internal packaging is 30p.

Premium Experience

  • Exterior Design: Contrasting and striking design. Adds a feeling of mystery and intrigue. We use black and white for each separate style of sock. We have purposefully not alluded to an image of the sock on the packaging. 

  • Information Cards: With each pair will be information cards. These will have a "Play Fast" card with our mission statement on. A "Care" card with washing and care details for both amateurs and professionals. We want our customer's to "see" how pro players would care for their socks. We will also include a "Membership" card for use in the future.

  • Drastically Different: Our packaging is very different to the competition. We have removed the cardboard sleeves, and the cheap plastic wallets most competitor products arrive with. The first interaction with our socks as they come through the post is vital.

Apex PRO

Apex SL

Shipping

Our socks will be shipped as Large Letters. To begin with we will package and ship orders manually from the local post office. The goal is to reach a critical point where we need a Royal Mail Collection for UK orders, and a DHL Collection for International orders. In the future (in particular when we expand into Amazon USA) we will use fulfilment centres, or use Fulfilment By Amazon (FBA) - this will automate the shipping process for us. 

UK Shipping

1st Class Standard > Stamp & Online > £1.06

RM 24 > Business Account (Min 1000/year) > 91p

RM 48 > Business Account (Min 1000/year) > 70p

FBA

UK Local Shipping $3

EU Local Shipping $4 / UK to EU Shipping $6

US Local Shipping $3

Europe Shipping

International Standard > Up to £20 Compensation> 3-5 Working Days > £3.25

Worldwide Shipping

International Standard > Up to £20 Compensation> 6-7 Working Days > £4.20

Shopify

Shopify will be our central selling hub. All links from Google Ads, Instagram Reels, Tik Tok content, and wider reach will land on the Apex Shopify store. We will manage stock, payments, returns, pricing, pre-orders, and flash sales from here. It will have a simple "Home" page and two separate landing pages for the PRO and the SL. Our store is targeted at Gen Z customers. As such it will be vibrant and mobile optimised. We want the confidence of Nike, with the edge of Sneak Energy.

Design

Our website must be simple and yet unique. Our goal is to not to sell the technical aspect of socks, but instead an affinity to the brand and what we stand for. As such here are the things we must avoid and things we must implement:

Avoid

  • Photoshopped socks

  • Football players wearing socks on astro-turf

  • Infinite white space

  • Boring headers, title, and content

  • Overly technical jargon

Implement

  • Vibrant contrasting colours

  • Lifestyle images NOT related to football socks

  • Banners and eye catching quotes

  • Large images and font

  • Key USPs as simple keywords

Buy Fast

We want to maximise the number of clicks between landing and checkout to 2.

 

Our customers want streamlined buying. Our product landing page will be split into two parts. The top is the product, multiple images, quick description and key information, plus a Buy Now button. The second part is beneath the fold of the page. Here is more detailed images and descriptions of the socks USPs, some more affinity quotes, and then at the bottom another place to Buy Now.

Key Shopify Apps

There are a range of useful Shopify apps we can use to enhance how we sell, retarget, reward, communicate, upsell and build relationships with our customers. Many have a free trial, but the key ones are paid at a price between $10-$30 / month.

  • Bold (Subscriptions)

  • Klaviyo (Email)

  • Smile or Swell (Rewards)

  • Pre-Order Manager (Pre-Orders)

Nike Football

  • Tidio Live Chat (Messenger)

  • Product Reviews or Loox (Reviews)

  • Candy Rack (Upselling)

  • Aftership (Returns)

Sneak Energy

Amazon

Amazon is our gateway to the most number of customers actively looking to buy. We will begin in Amazon UK, with a view to expand to Amazon US very quickly. The goal with Amazon is to use it as an alternative buying channel, a place to test our pricing, and a more

"secure" place to build brand recognition. Amazon takes 15% fee for each sale.

Listing Design

Our approach on Amazon must be similar to our approach on Shopify, except all our messaging, imagery, reviews, and information is geared towards actively selling the product:

Lifestyle Imagery

Unique exoskeleton, graphic design, and premium packaging. Our socks are built to be comfortable and durable at a leading price point.

Listing Optimisation

Our brand is future proof. Less about socks, and more about elite performance. Vibrant and unique branding combined with simple CTA's.

4.5 Star Reviews

Video first, social media heavy, short and sharp interactions. We must use influencers, paid Reels and Tik Tok to reach mass audience quickly.

KW Ranking

Ranking Apex socks on the first page is the top priority for the first 3 months after launch on Amazon. The KW's we use will be similar to what we pick for our Google Ads, however will be optimised to perform on our product title, description, and PPC. It is vital we rank highly - this is a combination of a good listing score, multiple reviews, consistent PPC, and early sales.

Within the product listing the Title will contain a minimum of 5 KW's, the description another 10 KW's. We need to identify the Highest Relevance KW's (HR) with over 500 searches per month and use these wherever possible.

Amazon PPC

Amazon expects the highest performing products to pay in part for their successful ranking - particularly new products entering searches. Alongside our KW rankings, we will spend 20% of the sock value ($5) on PPC per day at launch to boost ourselves in the rankings and secure early favour with the Amazon algorithm. Conversion rates on Amazon are generally strong (5% to 15%) as customers are primed to buy immediately. We will be able to see the best performing KW's that we pay for using PPC by tracking the conversion rate for each individual PPC ad we run.

Reviews

Strong early reviews will make or break our launch. Amazon tracks IP address for review origins, so we need to find a way to secure and promote positive reviews, without asking for them (this breaks Amazon TOS). A minimum of 4.3 star reviews will show 4.5 stars on the listing. Combine this with a conversion rate of 2.5% of sales lead to a positive review and we can gain a competitive edge. There are some key ways to do this:

  • Amazon Early Reviews: Amazon has an early review program whereby we pay $60 / ASIN to Amazon and they ask customers to post a review (in exchange for $3). It's a simple way to get 5 quick reviews, it's safe and encouraged by Amazon for new listings.

  • Customer Comms: Once a sale has been made we can build a rapport process. Initially it's about checking if the item has been delivered and "is everything okay?". If not we then get in front of any bad reviews and troubleshoot the problem.

  • Platinum Ticket: In selected Amazon sales we will add a "platinum ticket". This ticket gifts a free pair of Apex socks by redeeming a code that we set aside for them. Limit numbers to 100 and "encourage" a feedback (aka a review) on the insert.

  • Discount Code: In selected Amazon sales we will add discount codes 30% - 50% off. This is to instigate a social sale (to a friend or teammate) or in turn provide a catalyst for a review.

Social

How we brand Apex is at the crux of any success we will have. We are looking to be a video first brand, with a focus on Generation Z, showcasing our products with vibrant imagery and unique short form video. Our social presence will be a cross between Nike Football and Sneak Energy - a mixture of lifestyle imagery and graphic design overlays on gifs and video. We will not have a heavy Facebook presence, instead using Instagram and Tik Tok as our main vehicles for exposure to our target demographic.

KPIs

Our social goals are very simple. We want a highly engaged community (influencer heavy approach, UGC "platinum ticket" posts etc). Our approach will focus on finding 10 early stage influencer with growing followings and high quality content. We want to build long term relationships with these people and grow alongside them. 

4%

Engagement across Insta and Tik Tok

10

Dedicated Influencers across video and social

3.0

ROAS for DTC social media video content

Sneak

  • Product Images always have background graphics

  • Short form video is has element of intrigue and mystery

  • Vibrant colours and fonts that give their brand imagery contrast

  • Upload a lot of desks, workstations, neon lit areas (where the product is not central)

Nike

  • Product Images are lit in very dark or very light areas

  • Short form video has graphic overlays and special effects (speed, smoke, rain etc)

  • Football focused content is of a whole human, with the product as a minor focal point

  • Lots of group/human imagery that focus on sport, togetherness, everyday football

Marketing

Our competition does not market efficiently or with enough aggression for a single brand to dominate the sector. The goal is to combine hyper targeted KW adverts alongside paid Instagram and Tik Tok content (via Influencers) to funnel customer's to our Shopify landing page. We have a Google Ad target of a 4.0 ROAS and a paid content target of a 3.0 ROAS.

Google Ads

Our Google Ads will be our main channel to grab and convert customers. We will launch individual adverts for each KW, for example "grip football socks" and pay around $50 a day (across the campaign) to rank highest across both Google Search and Google Shopping. The advantage we have is in finding 50 keywords of about 1000 search volume/month each (Total Volume= 50,000) and creating ads specifically for the keyword we use. We will use Google Ads to gauge our sales before we commit to our first bulk order.

Google Search Ads

  • These appear above the Google results as "sponsored" or "promoted" ads

  • Launch budget of $10/day, with a target budget of $50/day

  • Our locations will be set to UK, USA, CAN, AUS, EU

  • Bidding will be Manual CPC (with no enhanced CPC)

  • Every 24 hours we manually manage the KW. Low performing ads get removed and added to the "Negative KW List".

Google Shopping Ads

We need to access our Shopify Merchant Centre and use an app "Google Shopping Feed" to maximise our Shopping Ads

  • These appear directly under the results bar as a product image thumbnail and title or under "Shopping"

  • Test budget of $10/day, with a target of $50/day

  • Location set as "People in, or regularly in your target locations" - Exclude "people in excluded locations"

  • Bidding will be Manual CPC (with no enhanced CPC)

  • Use the "Product Shopping (Individual) option

  • Remove negative keywords and manage the campaign from a single list of ads

Single Keyword Ad Groups

Single Keyword Ad Groups (SKAGS) are individual ads for each KW we choose. Within a campaign we will have 50 separate ads with separate conversion rates, ROAS, and impressions that helps us trim poor performing ads, and double down on high conversion keywords.

Paid Instagram and Tik Tok Content

We will advertise on Instagram Reels, Stories, and Pages looking to pay $30 to $100 per 24 hour slot. These "ads" will be managed through DM, and we will use our own videos we make. On Tik Tok we will pay a similar $100+ fee for unique UGC that will be a short form video actual with our product being used.

@theseballers 76.9k

@fedfreestyle 42.8k

@akkamist 388k

@radheya.marca 77k

@theacademyplayer 124k

@kimfootball 139k

@vkfoot 42.3k

@soccertrainingfc 9.3k

@xntonio.ig 23k

@skillafc 45.2k

@janwehner 29.6k

@_lukas_568 55.9k

Customers

Our target customers are simple to define. Initially we will focus on football players (across different ability levels) and access them through the places where they will be found the most often. Football has a very large total addressable market (TAM) meaning we have to remain niche in who we target and how we target people to begin with.

It is important to remeber we want to be an international brand. However, during our early sales we will see patterns of customers - where they are from, age, social group, engagement - it is vital we act on these and are very flexible to the people (and sports) we should be selling into. We begin with football, and expand into rugby, weightlifting and running.

Generation Z

  • Amateur Football Players: Saturday and Sunday league players. Love playing football. Hobby and an obsession.

  • Age: 13 to 20 Years Old

  • Found: FIFA, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitch

  • Influence: Celebrities, Pro players, Youtubers, Social Influencers

Football Players

  • Football Players: Amateur, Semi-Pro, Youth Teams, Academy Level

  • Age: 16 to 30 Years Old

  • Found: FIFA, Instagram, Twitter

  • Influence: Looking for an advantage and willing to pay for premium (as long as there is social proof)

Pro Players

  • Football Players: Top 6 UK Leagues

  • Demand: Steal players from Trusox, Tapedesign, Gravity

  • Desire: High Performance athletes want premium new technology

  • Access: Direct Messaging (DM) on social media and Free Handouts (premium team boxes)

Future Customer Segments

Expanding into rugby, weightlifting, and running (with specialised products) will help us reach more customers. We don't want to box ourselves as a "football only" brand, when our competition hasn't infiltrated various other sports, our flexibility to attach these other sports will provide a sales boost when we are driven to expand.

Business Model

Our model for building Apex is simple. We sell single pairs of Apex PRO and SL and bundled pairs of the PRO and SL on Shopify and Amazon. We are also looking to implement a subscription model so customers can have new pairs of Apex socks delivered to them every 1,3, or 6 months at a 30% discount on our single sale price. On average Apex socks are to be priced 20% cheaper than the premium competitors on the market (£20-£30 instead of £30-40).

Shopify

Shopify is our store front. It is our primary source of sales as it is the fastest route from adverts to checkout for our customers. Shopify will be used to sell single pairs of PRO's and SL's, as well as a bundle deal where they can buy both the PRO and SL in a single transaction.

Single Sale

We will sell the Apex PRO and the Apex SL as single items. To begin with they will be priced at £20 as our launch price, and then will scale up to £25 (target price - low) and onto £30 (target price - high) if demand moves the price.

Bundle Sale

The PRO and the SL will be bundled to allow our customers to try both style of grip. The Bundle will launch at £38, and then will climb to £45 (target price - low) and then £50 (target price - high). Shifting stock early, combined with greater cashflow will help us invest into the next order, whilst also accelerating our advertising.

Amazon

Amazon has access to millions of customers without the need to pay people to find and access our Shopify store. We will initially sell the PRO and SL as single items, with a view to add a bundle as we rank higher in the search result. We are using Amazon to help find our competitive price on the market.

Pricing

We launch on Amazon at £20. We need early reviews, so will keep this price for as long as we see viable. The reason we use Amazon is to access new customers, get the 4.5 star review, and pay off large parts of the initial order. Of course Amazon takes a 15% fee, plus we need extensive PPC campaigning, but the upside of a strong Amazon launch is it makes expanding into Amazon USA and EU far far easier.

Subscription Model

Our ultimate goal is to implement the first subscription model for performance socks in our sector.

Here are the key thoughts:

  • Grip football socks trend in July to Sept and Nov to Dec. Peak sales coincide with the start of various worldwide sports seasons.

  • Players often need 2-3 pairs of socks at the same time (for training and matches).

  • Professionals rotate socks every 3-4 games.

  • If people love the socks offering a guaranteed way to get them 33% off is an easy decision.

Competition

There is a single leader in the market. Then two European based brands. Behind that is a plethora of average brands, with solid sales, and yet no distinctive technical, market, or brand advantage. Apex will compete directly with Trusox, aiming to render every other competitor useless, riding the demand from Trusox to launch Apex to a new generation of players and professionals.

Trusox

Market leader and main competition. They have the most visually obvious sock, most pro players, most sales. They are the most established brand. However, they do not offer a silicon option and there IN/EX tech is challenged by our exoskeleton approach.

Tapedesign

2nd largest seller. Mainly sells to Europe and European players. Has broken into rugby more recently. Cardboard packaging.

Gravity

European seller alongside Tapedesign. Has some pro players in Spain and Italy. No marketing or ad presence on Google or TikTok / Instagram Reels.

Vypr 5

Small seller that has made minor inroads into the Premier League (Ederson, etc) No real unique edge. Standard social and brand.

Botthms

Run by Harlequins rugby player. These are cheap private listed socks with rubber grips and basic branding. Strong Google ad and social presence.

Falke

Premium sock on the market at £35 per pair. European brand that has small exposure to football. Featured by Unisport on YouTube.

Pure Grip

YouTuber that private listed a sock. Strong Instagram presence, diverse colours, and reasonable sales. Nothing unique technology wise.

Financials

The financials are based on quotes received from our sock and packaging suppliers. Alongside a marketing spend of 12.5% to 20% of the sale price of the sock to ensure we are aggressively selling the products. Shipping behaviour will differ between Shopify and Amazon. This finances will be updated upon final order of goods pre-launch and further updated upon initial 1-3 month sales.

Costs

  • COGS: Our cost of goods sold includes the production price of the socks, shipping to the UK, external and internal packaging, marketing and advertising.

  • Shipping: We will ship to the UK, EU, and USA (with Worldwide considered). The UK will have Free shipping, the EU and USA shipping will initially be subsidised by us partially.

  • Fees: Shopify has a transaction fee of 20p plus 2.2% of the transaction. Amazon takes 15% of all sales.

Projected Finances

Our projections for Shopify and Amazon are slightly different. This is due to differences in transaction fees, shipping costs, and whether we will offer free shipping at launch.

Shopify

  • Shopify has a better margin than Amazon on average.

  • On Shopify Apex will always pay for UK Shipping costs.

  • There are different projections if Apex pays EU and Worldwide shipping OR if customers pay for shipping.

  • Marketing costs of $5/sale (between 12.5% to 20% of sock price) will be due to Google Ads and Influencer paid content.

Amazon

  • Amazon has a lower average margin than Shopify due to the high 15% fee.

  • We pay this fee to access millions of primed to buy customers.

  • On Amazon we will look to use FBA. This means customers will generally pay for shipping, but we pay the fulfilment fee.

  • We can offer free shipping by manually editing the price if we wish. However, we still incur the FBA shipping fee.

  • Marketing costs of $5/sale (between 12.5% to 20% of sock price) will be due to Amazon PPC campaigns.

Notes

We have 3 prices to work towards:

  • Launch

  • Low Target 

  • Target

APS = Apex Pays Shipping

CPS = Customer Pays Shipping

In the CPS sheets we have still left in the shipping price to display what the customer will pay. However, this has not been included in the "Total" counts for the costs Apex incurs.