6 Tips to build a successful e-commerce brand – Words By Mike Chu of PTT Outdoors

Mike Chu Ching Hong, the founder of PTT Outdoor, a powerhouse e-commerce brand selling outdoor camping gear, recently shared his opinions on how to bootstrap and build a successful e-commerce brand.

Speaking at the Underdog E-Commerce Conference, Mike shared 6 key takeaways (that I will also try to expand on here)


Mike believes that building a brand gets you control over product quality, pricing and longevity. It’s one of PTT’s biggest game changer.

Without having your own products, it’s is very hard to determine prices and quality as they are already set by the brand itself. For example, selling a product from Fernleaf means you are adhering to their retail price and profit margin.

Adding to that, building a brand helps build a reputation which leads to more sales through testimonials, reviews and word-of-mouth. Having a brand means putting a stamp of approval to the items you sell. If people trust your brand, they will come back for more and bring their friends!


Mike believes that a lot of companies lose out on the opportunity to increase average order value by creating relevant product bundles.

The key word here is ‘relevant’. PTT Outdoors has done a great job essentially combining bundles that make it easier for customers. Instead of searching and adding 5 individual items into your cart, you can now just take the bundle. This not only helps save time, but also helps newbies!

Imagine all the videography starter kits – a backdrop, a ring light, a flash and a camera packaged into one single SKU. It’s almost plug and play!


Mike believes WhatsApp Automation and targeted e-mail funnels nurture relationships. However, it’s not just about blasting people with offers. It’s about educating and nurturing.

The key words here are educating and nurturing. You have to ask yourself ‘What message can I send to help my customer use more of my product while making their lives better?’ Think of how-to tips that involve your products. This even helps upsell some of your products if you do it well! Here are some ideas

  • What to do when you wake up with a pimple
  • Best core exercises with resistance bands
  • 3 easy tasty meals with a kuali when camping

Remember, your message is not a one-size-fits-all thing. Analyse the data you’ve collected from your sales and target different messages to the right people. Don’t send cooking tutorials to a person who bought beauty products, and don’t send rigorous exercise routines to a 60 year old man who bought a yoga mat.


You can’t escape it anymore, going live is a must. However, I personally dislike how Branded Livestreams have been treated in Malaysia. It’s so boring. It’s literally just a person standing in front of a camera screaming about discounts and how the item works.

Content requires personality, even when it’s live. Like what Mike has said about Smart Customer Engagement, it’s about educating and nurturing. Think about this from a consumer point of view “Why would I want to watch you? What benefit does this bring me?”


Mike believes that you have to be your own influencer as people trust authentic faces behind the brand. You need to show them your product does what you say it does, and that you believe in it as well.

It’s very true. There is nothing like a live demonstration. It happened in streets, then in malls, and now on video. Prove to the customer that your product works, and if they like it, they will try it.


Finally, if you are a small company, Mike says that you need to focus on branding, marketing and customer service. Outsource what you are not good.

I know for a fact that PTT Outdoors outsources their storage and fulfilment to a company like Flybear Sdn Bhd. A fulfilment company takes away the headache and pain of storage, picking, packing and courier management. This gives you the time, space and mental capacity you need to focus on getting that next sale.

At the end, you don’t want to spend just an hour focusing on sales because you need to go and pack 100 orders. After that, you’d be too tired to continue your sales efforts anyways!


There’s many ways on how to build a successful e-commerce brand, but what Mike has said is key. Remember, these are not just words from an e-commerce merchant. These are words from a businessman building an empire!