Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I watch a lot of tv programmes and films. Loads. Possibly a really unhealthy amount. And from this love of pop culture came our own brand of stamped pencils, which feature foil slogans and quotes made famous from these shows and films, along with popular quirky sayings from social media and sub-cultures. We have introduced new products such as our own range of clothing, homewares, artworks and jewellery, that sit comfortably alongside our favourite brands and artists. We stock lots of different brands and artists' work, but our own range of homewares is all made (or in the case of our POPCULT PENCILS, stamped) in-house.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We had a pre-existing brick'n'mortar shop in Glasgow which launched the same time as our online shop (previously hosted on a different platform) in late 2010. After almost 4 years, our online sales were far exceeding our store sales, and we decided to close the store and focus on expanding our online presence. We moved to Shopify in January 2014, opened a office/studio in Glasgow city centre, and haven't looked back! We find that most of our sales come from our social media posts. We also employ a PR company that promotes our products to the press and influential bloggers and social media tastemakers. Instagram and Pinterest, the more visual social media avenues, are generating the most sales for us. Product placement in the press and also our customer emails via Mailchimp.
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?
I use Excel for my accounts and Google Docs for EVERYTHING. I cannot reiterate enough how great they are for being able to access important info across all my different devices. Same goes for Dropbox. I am self-taught on Photoshop and edit most of my product images, but I use a great Shopify App called Pixc which edit your product photos for you by removing the background. They are great value for money for when I don't have the time to do it myself. I use Better Coupon Box for special offers discount codes - they get used a lot, and whenever I have one in action, my sales definitely increase. I offer free UK Shipping on all orders and one of my plans for the future is to offer free worldwide shipping. As a customer, I love seeing a price and knowing that is all I will pay.
Shopify Order Printer allows me to customise my invoices, and I believe they look really professional and add additional branding! I use Mailchimp and app to send emails. I have only started sending them out on a frequent basis - once a week. Before, it was more infrequent. The great thing about Mailchimp and Schedugram is that I can schedule emails and Instagram posts for months in advance - leaving me with two less things to worry about. Shipping and fulfillment is done 100% internally. Due to offering a lot of custom items that are made in-house, we find that this is best done from our office/stock-room/studio.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Social media is king. Do (and sell) what you love. If you try and jump on something purely because it's a trend, but you have no interest in it personally, your customer base will notice.