There’s a saying that does the digital rounds that says buy something for $5 and sell it for $10 online and you’ll fast have a successful business. But as any online retailer will tell you, it’s probably not as simple as that, particularly if you’re selling something as personal as jewellery.
However, that hasn’t stopped the US online retailer BaubleBar having success in the lady bling business and the company’s vice president, Amy McDowell, is in Australia revealing the secrets of the company’s fast and global success.
BaubleBar began in 2011 and by the following year its co-founders were voted in the “30 Under 30 Coolest Entrepreneurs” by Inc Magazine. Mashable even called the business the “future of retail”.
But McDowell, who just presented at Melbourne’s ecommerce Conference and Expo, said the business wasn’t without its unique set of challenges.
“One of the challenges we’ve seen with selling jewellery online is that women want really want to try it on, especially necklace,” she told B&T.
“Women’s bodies are all shaped differently so many would prefer to try on apparel or accessories before finalising their purchase decisions. The industry average for return rates in fashion apparel is about 30 per cent. That is a huge number of disappointed customers! Fortunately for us exact fit for jewellery is not nearly as critical as it is with apparel and shoes but it’s still a concern,” she said.
McDowell’s five top tips for online retailers include:
Know your customers: Your customers are your best source of information about the health of your business. Integrate their feedback to the KPIs of your company and share with your entire staff, not just customer service.
Know your employees: Youremployees are the lifeblood of your business. At BaubleBar everyone from the interns to the executive team all have the same access to the founders of the company. Build a culture of transparency where your employees feel free to speak up if there are improvements to be made or challenges to overcome. This is even more critical if you are an online business and have no direct interactions with your customers.
Measure everything: One of the best things about an online business is that all your customer interactions are trackable. So do it! Make sure all the important website KPIs (conversion rates, add-to-cart rates, bounce rates) are tracked and monitored. Data is critical to determine if the strategies your team are putting in place are improving your KPIs.
Be human: Customers have relatively low expectations when it comes to shopping online. The products just need to arrive and do what you advertised. Here’s your opportunity to WOW them! For example, at BaubleBar, we include gifts and handwritten notes in shipments to surprise and delight our customers. We try to add a personal touch so that customers realise that there are real humans behind the website.
Evolve your business: As a start-up, we recognise that we haven’t figured everything out yet. So we are always taking the inputs of our business and using them to continually improve. That’s why number 1-3 are all about data gathering. As soon as a business is confident that it is in a stable place, it’s blindsided by the competition or by market conditions.