Business > Merchant Voice

9 innovative ecommerce companies, for inspiration

Happy holidays, ecommerce family! 2017 has been a good year for FringeSport. 2018 looks to be even better.

Many ecommerce brands inspire my work. In this post, I’ll list several of them. I am a friend of the owners of some of these companies. Others I have no connection to. All of the companies are innovative.


Rhone develops and sells men’s luxury sportswear, utilizing its own ecommerce platform as well as pop-up shops in Equinox gyms.

Rhone first came to my attention when it commissioned a few photo shoots of CrossFit athletes and CrossFit gyms. I bought a few sets of Rhone’s clothes, which I loved. Many companies make clothes for runners, soccer players, basketballers, and other athletes. But few if any companies make premium activewear for men that actually looks good, feels great, and performs.

If you are a weightlifter, you likely know what I am talking about. The problem of a small waist and huge thighs can easily mean you look comical in shorts for a “normal man.”

Beyond the high-quality clothes, I also love Rhone’s niche focus and its unique go-to-market strategy in blending online with pop-up shops.


GoRuck sells backpacks — high-end, military-inspired backpacks. The principal marketing channels for these backpacks are GoRuck’s own signature events, where participants pay to be put through the wringer for 4, 14, 24, or even 48 hours in military-inspired “challenges.”

It sounds a little crazy. But I’ve participated in a few events, and I still keep up with a number of people I’ve met on there. When I see someone carrying a GoRuck backpack, I tap him on the shoulder and state, “Nice ruck.” Can you say that for any other backpack supplier?


Similar to GoRuck, Cotopaxi’s main marketing channel is a recurring event called a “Questival.” Unlike GoRuck, Cotopaxi designs camping gear and packs with more of a Patagonia-vibe. But it builds customer loyalty through events in a similar manner.


Kammok designs and sells high-performance camping gear. The company is based in Austin, Texas, where FringeSport is located. Being an industrial design dork, I love how Kammok approaches camping “problems” with a fresh eye and comes up with innovative designs to age-old problems.

Plus, I’ve had enlightening conversations with the Kammok crew over its distribution strategy, the double-edged sword of Amazon, and more.


Beardbrand is another Austin-based brand. I greatly admire the company’s content strategy. Beardbrand says its ideal customer is the “Urban Beardsman.” All of its marketing revolves around helping this person. Got a question about beard grooming? Growing a beard? Or, God forbid, shaving a beard? Beardbrand’s YouTube channel reveals all.

The idea of helping consumers so much that they can’t help but buy from you is extremely compelling. It’s seemingly the consumers’ way of saying “thank-you.”


FluidStance produces “beautifully designed tools that bring motion to any common work or meeting areas.” I’m a recent convert to the standing desk movement. And I recently picked up a FluidStance balance board to help minimize my fatigue while I work. The thing is beautiful. Having an interest in industrial design helps me appreciate the astounding engineering work that went into FluidStance’s boards.

Natural Stacks

Natural Stacks formulates and sells nutritional supplement. Working in the health and wellness industry makes me skeptical of dietary supplements. They are lightly regulated with questionable claims. But I love Natural Stacks.

I love the company’s marketing and the ethos behind it. Natural Stacks is much more reputable than similar suppliers. And the effort it spends (similar to Beardbrand) putting out solid content to help consumers, rather than just using celebrities to sell high margin products, is admirable.

MeUndies, Mack Weldon

Finally, MeUndies and Mack Weldon recently came on my radar since I needed new underwear. I purchase some from each of these companies and I am now fascinated by the underwear space. Among other things, both companies have a policy of “it fits or it’s free” for your first pair of undies. I had to utilize this policy due to my previously-mentioned “weightlifter proportions.”

I was shocked at how easy the process was in each case. Now I have underwear that fits. Plus, both companies continue to send me new colors and styles. I imagine their repeat customer rate must be high.

I order many products and services online. I have been a believer in ecommerce since the 1990s. Many companies are still pushing and innovating the business model. Those are the ones that inspire me.

What do you think? Which companies, in your view, are doing interesting things in the ecommerce space? Let me know in the comments below.

Peter Keller
Peter Keller
Bio   •   RSS Feed