Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Two friends set out to revive the age-old tradition of the patterned back dress shirt. A tradition hailing from the British Army, where officers would remove their jackets after dinner to display their colourful and humorous creations. A chance encounter with a London tailor turned the idea into a reality and a small run of shirts was produced.
Our first run of shirts where originally manufactured in London, originally an important part of the brand. However it soon became apparent that the cost of producing them there was unfeasible and the target customer was unwillingly to pay the high price point required to make a good margin. Producing our first shirts in London allowed us to make a small run to test the market with little investment up front. After a roaring response we later flew out to Portugal to visit a factory recommended to us by a fellow shirtmaker. We have a fantastic relationship with this factory and each order has more than doubled each time.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales came through attending events such as country shows, horse trials, and polo matches. Selling product within a pop up store environment, handing out promotional cards and driving traffic back to the website. Social media was an early traffic driver; we held competitions and giveaways to increase our page likes and spread awareness amongst our target market. Facebook was our strongest channel and still is.
Word of mouth was key at the beginning. We had a very unique product which helped spread the word and create interest. We have had incredible success with Facebook advertising the R.O.I is great and has taken our sales and order volumes to a new level. Its a great strategy to continually acquire new customers. Email marketing is our strongest marketing channel and now with a loyal and growing database it produces fantastic sales for an incredibly low cost. The key is planning, producing interesting content and enticing offers. A combination of selling and story telling.
SEO has also played an important role but can by no means bean relied on. We where fortunate enough to have low competition on our initial keywords which gave us some traction, although low search volumes, conversions were good.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
Email pop up app has been great for collecting prospect customers and building our database.
Order Printer and order printer templates have greatly improved our operations. When you scale up the volumes it's essential to have tools in place to help with the back end. We use a combination of the two apps and print our orders / invoices straight onto S1 integrated label paper allowing the shipping label to be peeled straight off the invoice and onto the shipment. A huge time saver!
Zendesk for customer service is a must for delivering and amazing service, we simply couldn't keep track of it all without it.
Conversio has helped us drive existing customers back to our store with upsells and offers on their order conformation.
Yotpo has been a great reviews platform. Demonstrating social proof greatly improves conversions especially when you're a new brand. Our shipping and fulfillment is handled in house. We feel is important to keep total control over this, which allows to be more dynamic, fix customer service problems easier and ensure that every package leaves to our standard.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
It doesn't happen overnight. Acquiring customers costs money!