Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
The UK is a huge market for dedicated Italian food deliveries. What we bring to the market is a range of fresh food that is made to order by Italian chefs, in addition to greatly priced imported Italian brands. We partnered with an established wholesaler and launched this offering in 2013. To this day, there is no online store in the UK offering our range of fresh food fro nationwide delivery. The majority of our products are sourced from our wholesale partner who, in turn, either imports them from Italy or produces them right here in London (see our "Daily Made in London" collection). This allows us to either minimise our inventory levels or list products that are made to order.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sales were a mix of word of mouth and paid Google ads. We reached out to ex colleagues, friends, family and bloggers as part of a large launch campaign via email and social media. That led to our first sales. Soon after that we launched our first Google Adwords campaigns (both search and shopping) that proved very effective for us too. Organic searches thanks to our early and ongoing SEO efforts generate approximately 40% of our traffic and sales. Paid advertising (a mix of Facebook and Adwords) is responsible for about 35%. Email marketing makes up another 5%-10%, depending on the month and our immediate focus.
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?
Local Delivery allows us, along with some additional customisation, to differentiate between London and non-London customers. Specifically, it gives our London customers the ability to choose their preferred delivery slots. We also use Yotpo and Olark extensively. The latter results in sales, but more importantly it allows us to provide professional customer service to our visitors. Bold Apps' Customer Pricing has allowed us to introduce a wholesale offering alongside our retail offering, which is a major area of growth for us.
We also use a SQL database into which we import our daily orders. This database churns out everything we need, e.g. delivery routes, orders to our suppliers and profitability figures. It also houses all our reference data, e.g. product costs and packaging costs. We handle our London deliveries ourselves. Customers pick their delivery slots and our own drivers fulfill these orders. Orders outside the immediate catchment area served by our drivers, are packed and handed over to a courier service for next day delivery. The process is not overly complicated, but requires attention to detail. It is part automated (through Shopify, customised code and apps) and part manual (we manually tag orders to classify them, print out packing sheets, pack the orders and create postage labels for our courier).
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
1) Find ways to collect emails from prospects and once you have emails from prospects, target them (and your existing customers) frequently without becoming overbearing. Mix it up: offers, relevant content and giveaways. Our communications aren't always sales focused and people appreciate that.
2) Don't say no to anything. Consider everything that could generate a sale and test it. We do a lot of different things and are constantly testing: paid advertising, email marketing, SEO, social media, affiliate marketing, trade shows, selling at markets, working with bloggers, selling on Amazon, refer a friend programs etc...