How a DTC Cookware Brand Leveraged Product Bundling To Accelerate Growth


Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO of Caraway

In this episode of Minds of Ecommerce Podcast, host Raphael Paulin-Daigle interviews Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO of Caraway, to discuss Caraway's breakout product bundling and merchandising strategy. Jordan unpacks the details behind his company's highly successful product development blueprint and provides valuable insights on scaling a D2C ecommerce brand.

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Jordan Nathan is the Founder and CEO of Caraway, a fast-growing direct-to-consumer cookware brand. Launched in 2019, Caraway is on a mission to create well-designed, non-toxic, ceramic-coated home goods. Before founding his own company, Jordan was the CEO of Vremi, a kitchen and home goods company owned by the Mohawk Group. His strategic vision and leadership have been instrumental in Caraway's exponential growth and partnerships with notable wholesalers, including Amazon, Nordstrom, Zola, and West Elm. A graduate of consumer psychology from Colby College, Jordan was a Forbes 30 Under 30 honoree in the retail and ecommerce category in 2018.

Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:

  • Jordan Nathan explains Caraway’s product bundling strategy
  • Growth tips for D2C cookware brands
  • Product sets versus individual items in a home goods brand
  • Jordan outlines the most significant challenge faced by Caraway
  • Why are customer surveys critical in creating intentional product bundles?
  • How to scale a new brand by leveraging customer reviews and trials

In this episode…

Growing a new D2C brand is a challenging endeavor fraught with potential pitfalls, including a competitive market, high customer acquisition costs, and the demand for personalized customer experiences. How do you create a hyper-successful product development blueprint that can be scaled to meet the needs of a growing customer base?  

Jordan Nathan, who runs a rapidly growing D2C brand, is an expert on this topic. When he launched Caraway, the brand only offered its core product — a cookware set. Jordan pivoted to fill a gap in the homeware bundling space, offering curated sets based on targeted market research and customer surveys. This new strategy worked out well, and the brand has since expanded to retailers and Amazon, with sets and bundles playing a vital role in the brand’s growth. He emphasizes the importance of being intentional in product development to ensure you deliver value to your customers.

In this episode of Minds of Ecommerce Podcast, host Raphael Paulin-Daigle interviews Jordan Nathan, Founder and CEO of Caraway, to discuss Caraway's breakout product bundling and merchandising strategy. Jordan unpacks the details behind his company's highly successful product development blueprint and provides valuable insights on scaling a D2C ecommerce brand.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Sponsor for this episode…

This episode is brought to you by SplitBase.

At SplitBase, we design, test, and manage high-converting landing pages and on-site experiences for fashion, luxury, and lifestyle e-commerce brands. Our optimization program pinpoints exactly where your store is losing money most, and then we help you fix that.

The result? Increased conversions and profits for our clients.

With our team of conversion optimization specialists, performance marketers, and conversion-focused designers, we've got your back when it comes to testing and optimization.

Request a proposal on SplitBase.com today, and learn how we can help you get the most out of your marketing spend.

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Episode Transcript

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  0:06

Welcome to the Minds of EcommercePodcast, where you'll learn one key strategy that made leading ecommerce companies grow exponentially. We cut the bullshit and keep the meat in a 15-minute episode, founders and executives take us through a deep dive of a strategy, so you'll get to learn and grow your online sales. In the last episode, you heard from Alexandra Zatarain from Eight Sleep, who shared how they create partnerships with massive brands and figures to achieve growth and authority as an ecommerce brand. today on episode number 29, get ready. Jordan Nathan is the founder and CEO of Caraway. Caraway is a direct-to-consumer cookware brand that has seen tremendous growth in the past years. And yes, they're profitable too. And we'll be talking about how they utilize sets and bundles to lead their merchandising strategy. I'm your host rafail Paulin Daigle and I'm the Founder of SplitBase. This is Minds of Ecommerce. Now this episode is brought to you by SplitBase. At SplitBase we help leading DTC brands such as Dr. Squatch, Hyper Ice and Mica, AB test, design, build and manage high-converting landing pages and on-site experiences. Our optimization program pinpoints exactly where your store is losing money most. And then we help you fix it. The result, increased conversions, and of course, improved marketing efficiency with our team of conversion optimization specialists and performance marketers conversion focus designers, we've got your back when it comes to testing and optimization requests a proposal on splitface.com today to learn about how we can help you get the most out of your marketing spin. All right, Jordan, welcome to the show. Like I'm excited to have you here.

Jordan Nathan  1:47  

Definitely super excited to chat today. Thanks for hosting. Yes.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  1:52  

And as you know, this podcast is really all about going deep and dissecting one key growth strategy. That was key to your growth, so our listeners can get as much value and actionable value right away. So just before we actually start talking about bundles and sets and how that's been working for you guys, just for some context for how long have you been working on this brand?

Jordan Nathan  2:16  

Yes, of course, we launched November 2019. So almost four years ago. It took me about a year to get to market. So for myself have been working on it for about five years and started in mid 2018. Amazing.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  2:29  

And when we were chatting before we started recording, you mentioned that obviously you started as a b2c brand. But now you're heading into retail. Correct?

Jordan Nathan  2:37  

That's right. Today we sell with over 15 retailers both online and in store. I believe we're in around 800 retail locations. And then you can also find Caraway on Amazon on platforms for registry like Zola joy the not. And so yeah, the brand is a lot more distributed than it was when we first launched. Amazing.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  2:57

And for anyone listening, if you don't know the brand, I feel like at this point, this is a household name, at least in the in the DTC space. But you have to check out the products. They are beautiful. I have some old pans at home that I will definitely be replacing. And they look phenomenal. Now let's get to the meat. Jordan, let's talk about sets and bundles. So you've mentioned sets and bundles have been really instrumental to the growth of the brand. Tell us a bit more about that. And then we'll dissect it.

Jordan Nathan  3:29  

Definitely. So when we launched Caraway four years ago, we actually only launched with our core offering, which is our cookware set. We didn't have singles, we actually didn't have intention of launching ala carte pieces. And I think one of the whitespaces we saw in the market when we launched Caraway was there are a lot of sets in the market that are 1020 30 pieces, you're not actually sure what you're getting. A lot of the market is built on ala carte where customers are kind of customizing their sets and one of the opportunities we saw was to just make it really easy for consumers have care right? Do the curation you know talk with consumers before creating products make sure everything that's in the set is intentional, it's not extra pieces just to get extra piece count in the name. And so we've led with the set based strategy and it's been really successful to date we do sell singles today and have since rolled those out but sets are really the bread and butter of our brand and what we marked out what we merchandise with singles being you know there for adding pieces to your collection as you need.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  4:33

And now cookware is generally pretty expensive, right? We're still talking I'm thinking of an annual fee in the hundreds of dollars. When you guys started building the brand and starting things started thinking around acquisition and all of that. I know what I hear from a lot of brands that want to do sets and bundles as you know their main piece or main strategy. There's kind of to a different school of thoughts. And on one side, you've got brands that says, hey, well, we're going to provide them with something great. But that's not expensive going to lead to a higher conversion rate, which in your equivalent could be a single, right? And then hopefully they love the product enough that they come back, and they easily convert into a bundle. In your case, it doesn't seem like that was the case. And you guys went straight to the bundle. But I'm curious, is that something that you guys thought of? Is that something that you guys experimented with? Trunk? Do you singles as like a trip wire into the brand?

Jordan Nathan  5:32

Definitely, I think we're sets I've been great. As you know, I think one of the things about the Home and Kitchen market is you're not always in the market for these products. And when you are you might be moving into a new home or apartment, you might be having, you know, children and want something that's new and fresh and non toxic, you might be going through the registry phase. And so buying sets, I think, is a really great match for what consumers are looking for, where they don't need to kind of curate their sets. And one of the things from a business model perspective about why we love sets is you can get a customer in at a high price, you can achieve profitability on that first purchase, you get all the cash flow in at once versus waiting for it. And so there's a lot of those attributes that we like about the sets, I think, you know, from the start of the brand to where we are now we do sell singles. And I think one of our learnings, and something we're still looking to dive deeper into is how does the customer journey of a set customer or from a single customer? Because I think what we're noticing is there are there are individuals who just want to buy a piece or two and not upgrade into the set, you know, I think but for more general Mac marketing practices, we want to get people into the set just because the economics work a bit better than having to wait for the cash flow for a future purchase and you know, get a higher ARV on site.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  6:55  

Totally. Did you find what what was kind of the overall reaction, like when you guys launch, and I saw some of your landing pages, everything's really set based? Or look even like I'm looking at your website right now, like every category that you click on? It's a set first, right? Um, how are you deciding which sets to promote? I know, in the beginning, maybe there was just a couple, but you still have a lot of different singles? How have you been experimenting and trying to figure out what's the right combination of products? How you know, those sets could vary from 1000 bucks to maybe 300 bucks. So how do you determine what's best? Definitely. So

Jordan Nathan  7:36

every category we launch, today, we have cookware, bakeware, food storage, knives and utensils, and each one of those categories has a hero set. Our average r&d time is about three years, we take a lot of time to build each product, we do a lot of surveying to customers on Hey, you bought these other sets from other brands, are you actually using all the pieces what are the most important to you and as a brand philosophy, we don't want to just put things out into the world that people aren't using. And we want to make sure that everything that comes in your set is really intentional and will be used and so we do a ton of work on curation and making sure those sets have exactly everything the average customer needs. And so we do push those one of the evolutions of the brand that happened a year or two ago was the creation of this what we call Duo's which is kind of like our mini set where we'll kind of mini sizes of some of the larger sets. Sometimes it's different sizes and capacity other times it's just less pieces. But when you come into the brand you can buy kind of our hero set or if you don't need all those pieces, we kind of survey out and see what's the next customer demographic that might live in a New York City Kitchen alone and doesn't need you know for pots and pans and might just want to small ones and so we lead with the SATs we have the minis and then ala carts there for anyone who wants the individual pieces.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  9:04  

Amazing. Do you do create landing pages for each of those sets? How do you decide what to put money behind specifically

Jordan Nathan  9:14

we do so across most of our acquisitions spend. Pretty much all spend goes into sets the only place where we are majority we are majorly advertising singles is in search based platforms. So if you're on Google and you're searching for fry pan or knife set or you know baking sheets, we do put spend behind that same thing on Amazon or target.com that are search based platforms. When it comes to meta TV, podcast, direct mail, what have you. We always push our sets as the entry point into the brand. You know our sets are curated to really fit anyone's needs with the perfect amount of pieces and a very different approach from other categories and brands where you I don't want you to have everything at once versus kind of building up to it. And so that's our core strategy. And one of the things you'll notice too, with our sets is, as a brand, we don't discount very much we normally have about sale moments per year. One is during holidays, which you'll see on the site today. And typically a mid year summer event around Prime Day. And so as you approach the site and are looking for value, our sets always come with a set savings. So if you were to buy the individual pieces, it costs more, and the sets are a great way to get some savings on the products on the website.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  10:35  

Amazing. I love that you guys actually just fully leaned into the set. So when I mean you do have a product that it's pretty natural to do. So even though I'm sure a lot of brands in that vertical, don't even do that. But I can think of so many other brands, you're thinking of your product says, here's a solution to your cooking, right, and here's the one solution with everything you need. And I think so many other brands could think that way as well. Like I'm thinking, you know, skincare brands that are selling concern specific products, instead of selling a bunch of different products that can help with dry skin or acne or whatever, just sell the whole routine, try those bundles, throw those sets, when you build a landing page, try selling entire sets first, instead of just going with a single products that's gonna have a

Jordan Nathan  11:22

lower ao V. Right? And our all of our sets come with some type of storage solution that's part of you know, I think I'm gonna make a special is a lot of our design process. And r&d is yes, you cook with these items, but 99% of the time they're sitting in your cabinets and, you know, are disorganized. And so we really take this like systems based approach to product design, where everything in the sets are designed to work together, every category cross category are designed to work together. And you know, the storage is a nice element to pull everything together so that they can all store really nicely and you don't have a hodgepodge of things just sitting in your cabinets.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  12:03  

Amazing. Yeah, I think that that storage aspect is what I like to call a unique mechanism, right? It's like, hey, not only do we have great pans and pots and cookware, but if you're looking at competitors that may say the same thing. Well, ours actually come with great storage as well. And it gives you that little edge on top, which is which I think is pretty neat. Now, Jordan, I'm curious, what have you seen are the biggest challenges with having this type of strategy? Yeah, I

Jordan Nathan  12:34

think the obvious is, it's a higher price point. So you know, especially when we were launching the brand four years ago, we have no reviews, there's no press, you know, to trust a brand new product in the market with zero kind of reviews or organic word of mouth on it, I think that was a big hurdle to convince customers to spend $400 out of the gate on a brand new brand. And so, you know, I think that's still exists today. You know, some customers don't want to spend that amount up front. And especially when you're on a lot of direct response platforms, like metta, or, you know, TV, a lot of those are impulse purchases, and most impulse purchases are typically at the lower end of the price range. So I think that dynamic exists. But you'll see on our site today, we have I think 60,000 Plus Reviews across all of our products, we really lean into the consumer sentiment, the reviews to help people get over that hurdle. We've also introduced a 30 day trial. So if you buy the product and you don't love it, you can return it for any reason, you know, no questions asked and allow it to be a less risky purchase.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  13:44

Hmm, amazing. I'd love to know like when you think of bundles, and sets like you currently have sets, you said next year, you're gonna start focusing a little more on bundles as well. What's kind of the future of that? Like where like, are we thinking customizable sets quizzes that helps people build their own sets? What do you think is kind of the future for you guys?

Jordan Nathan  14:09  

Yeah, so the next year or two and if you go to our site today, you'll see a bundle section. Unsurprisingly, we see a lot of cross-category bundling across our sets, singles. And so we're starting to merchandise, new bundles that we're finding from, you know, consumer analytics that we're doing on the back end, kind of the next phase of this is launching more bundles on site, but also leveraging our retail partners and marketplaces. At the end of the day, too much merchandising on site, I think, extremely confusing. And so being omnichannel allows us to offer unique and special bundles within different marketplaces or retailers. And then to your point, there is a reason the brand is called Caraway home. Is you know, our goal is to expand to the home for Home and Kitchen over time and as part of that experience You know, in 510 1520 years, we want customers come into care away, we're actually helping you design your full kitchen through, you know, a digital experience and giving you opportunities, you know, as you kind of scale up and add more to your cart, possibly getting savings or loyalty points, whatever it may be, but really working towards filling your full kitchen with caraway products.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  15:21  

Amazing. You said something interesting. You said, We want to make sure we don't have too many options use customers, which I think is a problem with any brand. As they start to grow. They start adding skews. I literally wrote a post on LinkedIn about that yesterday. And then all of a sudden, people are confused. They don't know what's best for them. So what's your strategy for potentially reducing confusion or helping people compare with sets? How do you reduce confusion at the end of the day, when you are selling a lot of different sets that all contain pretty similar products,

Jordan Nathan  15:53  

I think it's really focusing on the UI, UX of the website, and that the navbar I think, is critical and surface saying, hey, here are the 123 items in this category you should be focused on and then you know, having like a shop all button if you want to go deeper. actually funny enough, I say that and you know, our sights shifted a little bit more towards kind of a grid of all of our products. And we've been doing a lot of testing and still have a lot more AV tests to run. But I think critically surfacing those top products before anyone gets to the rest of the assortment is important. And if you go through our homepage, or about page, our story, landing pages you land on from a meta ad, as you noted before, we're typically only surfacing those sets. And so kind of having those as the main marketing message, I think is really important.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  16:47

Totally. And again, like you guys really emphasize that there was like I'm seeing here, kind of the the navbar my screen is a little smaller right now. So it's probably the mobile version, but it focuses on best seller, and then you and then you have the all products, right? You have those major sets. Now, you know, if you were to start this brand all over again, um, what would you do differently.

Jordan Nathan  17:11  

From a merchandising perspective, I think it was great that we launched with sets, I think was a big reason we drove success to that product, and it's still our main hero today. It took us about a year to roll out singles, I wish we had a little like a cheaper product to get into the brand at the start to kind of, you know, get people into tasks. So might be like rolling that out sooner. You know, I'd say is one learning on the merchandising front.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  17:39  

Amazing. How much are you using I'm curious, singles as upsells to the mean sets, is that something that you're doing actively.

Jordan Nathan  17:49  

Quite a bit. And one of the things we've done this past year is we're starting to go deeper and existing categories that are successful. So we launched our squareline, which is like a square-inspired cookware set. And so what's really cool now that we can do is if we know someone who's buying a cookware set, comes back and buys baking sheets or our grill pan, or trying to surface those products that we know are typically bought together to get customers into those singles of the other categories that they're not buying the set from. We also sell linens, which funnily enough, we launched not to actually sell, we launched them as a product to kind of have a gift with purchase and toss in the cart. And, you know, there are other accessories we're working on that purely exists to just add to the cart or get you to convert, you know, as a gift with purchase. Awesome.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  18:40  

Jordan, we've got about two minutes left. So two quick questions for you. One, what's your one piece of advice that you'd have for a brand? To that isn't necessarily doing a lot of sets and bundling. But they want to get into it? What's that number one

Jordan Nathan  18:58  

piece of advice for I think surveying customers, friends, family is critical. I think bundling is great, I think what's in the bundle is more important. And I think one of the challenges of bundling as you're selling the set, but you also need to sell all the pieces within it right and share the value of why that sets worth spending the price point. And so I think taking the time to really curate what's in the set, make sure every piece is intentional has a purpose for being there. And then when it comes to the marketing side, the education on the value is really important and why someone should spend up for that and, you know, explaining why each piece exists and what their function is within the ecosystem of that set.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  19:42

Amazing. Great advice. Now I always ask this question at the end. Is there hood? Who do you look up to who is a mentor who's one person or two that you're like, oh, you know, or a brand that you really admire?

Jordan Nathan  19:58  

Yeah, probably a suit. For boring answer, but we love Apple here at Caraway. You know, I think we view ourselves very similarly in terms of how we approach design, I think the attention to detail, the thoughtfulness, the ability to create products that work together, we really love and so, you know, I think it's a brand we often reference and, you know, healthcare always in that same vein, longer term.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  20:27

Amazing. Jordan, thank you so much for joining us today. I really enjoyed this conversation. Now, if people want to learn more about you or the brand, where should they go?

Jordan Nathan  20:36  

You can check us out at Carawayhome.com, you can find us on Amazon. You want to head to your local Target Crate and Barrel or Container Store. You can also check us out in person. Awesome.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  20:47

Jordan, thank you so much.

Jordan Nathan  20:48  

Thank you, Raphael.

Raphael Paulin-Daigle  20:54  

All right. Well, that's it for today's episode. And thank you so much for tuning in. Now, if you like what you've heard, and you don't want to miss any of the new episodes that are about to come out, make sure you subscribe to the podcast. And well bonus points if you also leave a review in the iTunes Store, or wherever you're listening to this. Now, if you're working on an ecommerce brand that does over a million dollars in revenue, and you need help with conversion optimization or landing pages, well, I've got some good news because there's a pretty good chance we can help with that. Go to splitbase.com To learn more, or even to request a proposal. If you have any guest requests, questions or comments, tweet me at our Apollon Daigle and I'll be super happy to hear from you. And again, thanks again for listening. This is Minds of Ecommerce.