What’s the first thing you notice when you receive a product that you purchased in the mail?
Is it the company name on the return address? Or are you more likely to rip through the packaging without a second glance to get to your shiny new thing?
There’s something special about unique packaging. It makes the unboxing experience more exciting and holds your interest instead of boring USPS packaging that you’ll throw in the recycling bin.
At Vortic Watch Company, we wanted to design a unique packaging experience that you wouldn’t find with any other sort of purchase — something memorable that would elevate the entire experience of opening your new watch.
Unfortunately, however, things don’t always go as planned. As with any business, you run into unexpected problems when you try something new, and that’s just something that comes with the territory. Today, we will discuss the challenges you face when attempting to build an exceptional packaging experience for your customers.
Specifically, we’re going to discuss how in the world we figured out how to put this fantastic Military Edition watch inside an ammo can and transport it all over the world to our devoted clients! Let’s get into it!
The Best Watch Packaging Experience Ever
Let’s rewind back to when we were shipping our very first Military Edition watches — circa 2019. R.T. had this brilliant idea to ship all of the 65 Military Edition watches in real ammo containers. Sounds cool in theory, right? Well, it was certainly cool, but it proved to be a massive production issue. Keep in mind, this whole ammo container idea was very last-minute.
After we scrambled to cut foam for the containers and began packaging them with the watches, we learned that as soon as you open the containers, the entire ammo box just wants to flip over backward. Suffice it to say, it was not a good packaging experience, and certainly not the one we had envisioned for the Military Edition watches.
Our solution to this problem was to create something heavy and put it in the front of the box. After some brainstorming, we came up with the idea of putting a display stand in the box to balance everything out while also giving the watches a nice display.
“I think people liked the stands. They were made specifically for all the tools, and the winding tool and all that type of stuff came out pretty neat. It was hard to make, but it was the first time, and it was cool. Then the second year, we made them again, and we were making them on the mini mill. You’ve got to remember, normally, we're making watch cases — the small stuff. These shipping stands are larger. So we're making a ton of chips and aluminum chips are very fluffy.” - Tyler Wolfe
All of these fluffy aluminum chips would accumulate at the bottom of the mill, and it quickly became a problem. Luckily, we were all still learning how a lot of this process worked, so in the end, this whole experience taught us a lot about how to do things correctly.
“Without getting too deep into it, chip disposal is a big thing in production. If you want a machine to run all day, every day, you need to get a really good way to get rid of these chips as you're machining. A mini mill is just an entry-level machine. It's not made to do everything perfectly. So you'd have to just sit there with a broom and keep sweeping out the bottom of the mini mill multiple times. ... And these parts were taking like an hour, hour and a half per stand.” - Tyler Wolfe
It turned out that all of our hard work was worth it — the stands were a huge success. Not only did they look awesome and give each customer a unique unboxing experience, but we got tons of feedback from everyone on how much they loved the boxes and the display stands!
Learning from the Past and Making Changes
Overcoming roadblocks is a great learning experience. Not only was it rewarding to solve a problem that surfaced out of nowhere, but we learned so much about how we can improve and make things easier for ourselves the next time around.
“Fast forward to now, and we’ve made a few changes to the watch. The strap tool is different. We made the crown a lot easier to wind, so we don't have a winding tool. We have the DMU — the five-axis machine — which is totally set up to handle all of these situations. I mean, this machine will cut aluminum all day, every day. So it's just totally optimized to do this kind of stuff.” - Tyler Wolfe
The boxes and stands weren’t the only thing that got upgraded, however. Tyler took the engravings we did for our old Military Edition watches and changed the style for the stands. He even googled aircraft warning signs and implemented some of the designs onto the boxes to make them look more like a full package instead of a paperweight.
“I think it turned out really well. And I think that's the level of intention that we put behind all the products, but especially the Military Edition. I feel like most companies don't really do that. And we don't have to do any of that. We're just putting pocket watches and wristwatches in there. We could just slap it in there and send it to you, but I feel like the packaging for this product really makes that experience.” - R.T. Custer
You never know just how much work goes into such a small part of the process until you do it yourself. Something as simple as figuring out how to package a product can turn out to be a huge concern. Believe us, we found this out the hard way learning how to package our watches into ammo containers!
We put so much work into our Military Editions, and we try to make the experience better for everyone each year. We’ve gotten extremely positive feedback every year, and we couldn’t be more thrilled that our customers are happy.
The Trouble with Thermostats and Colorado Weather
If you didn’t know, we’re based in Fort Collins, Colorado. And we get a fair amount of snowfall and winter weather every year, but this year was special.
Something interesting that we didn’t anticipate, however, was the inefficiency of your regular thermostat. It turns out they really only have a hot and cool button, but we needed more for our facility.
“It's hard to remember to keep switching the switch on the thermostat. It seems like a stupid little issue, but if somebody makes a mistake and all of a sudden it's 60 degrees in the machine room, we have to kind of warm everything up to get it up to temperature.” - Tyler Wolfe
Our awesome windows, unfortunately, also contribute to the wildness of our indoor temperature. Depending on where the sun is, it could either raise or lower our internal temperature by a wide margin.
“That was one of the huge, huge reasons that we spent as much money as we did on the machine room. When we can hold that room temperature consistent both with the machine room and the assembly room and inside the machines, too, it's a pretty noticeable difference in accuracy.” - Tyler Wolfe
In the end, it all turned out okay after we learned we had to invest in specific thermostats that you can’t just buy off the shelf. However, this really makes us think twice about opening up that second location in Arizona! We would need some really good thermostats to combat the desert heat!
Celebrity Appearance: Jack Ryan
Years ago, we sent some Military Edition watches to John Krasinski and Michael Kelly, who star in Amazon Prime’s hit show Jack Ryan.
Just before the launch of this year’s Military Edition watches, we got some exciting news — new interviews are hitting the press in which the star actors are promoting season 3 of Jack Ryan, and they’re wearing Vortic Watches!
“It's so cool. We've started some conversations with [John and Michael] and maybe I can do a whole episode about product placement and how that works. But, what happened there was we got a watch on Michael Kelly in season three of Jack Ryan and that was the first edition. I think he's actually wearing my personal watch because we didn't have many extras. And John Krasinski saw it on Mike Kelly's wrist and was just like, Why don't I get one? So they emailed us and they were like, can we get a watch for John Krasinski?” - R.T. Custer
Michael Kelly can actually be seen in season 3 of Jack Ryan wearing our first edition military watch, but John Krasinski didn’t get his until after shooting was complete, so we’ll have to wait until season 4 airs in the next few years to see that!
It’s super exciting to think about all the people who will be watching see our watches on the star’s wrists! That’s some incredible advertising.
Stay in the Vortic Loop
We’ve had an amazing year at Vortic Watch Company, and we can’t wait to see what the new one brings us. We’re hard at work preparing to release all the new products and attend all of the events we have scheduled — you don’t want to miss what we’ve got coming this year!Subscribing to Custer & Wolfe's YouTube channel will also keep you informed on all things Vortic. There, we'll keep you up-to-date on everything that's happening with us, including our warehouse growth, production process, and ideas for creating an impactful business!