I was originally based in New York City. When I first started the website in 2009, I was selling handbags on a different website. I decided to start a 2nd website, selling women's fashion sunglasses, which happened to be in abundant supply in New York City's wholesale fashion district.
At the time, classic wayfarer sunglasses were a huge deal for both men and women ages 18 to 34. The opportunity was too good to pass up. The demand and supply were both there.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Sales were scant during my first 2 years of business. I mainly used social shopping websites such as Kaboodle and Polyvore to bring traffic to my website. I tried Google Adwords but didn't have know how to leverage the traffic it was bringing to the website. I lost way more than I earned.
Then, at the beginning of 2011, I accidentally stumbled upon a YouTube video for a natural hair styling tutorial. What struck me immediately was the large number of views the video had accumulated in such a short span of time. I wrote her an email, introducing myself and my company and asked if she'd be interested in reviewing my sunglasses on her YouTube channnel. This was the beginning of my YouTube influencer marketing strategy. Since then, I've been using YouTube "gurus" to drive traffic to RetroCitySunglasses.com. Most of the gurus who review my sunglasses are makeup and fashion influencers.
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 currently use Justuno's promotional app to offer visitor's 10% off for Facebook sign-ups. I have a free shipping promotion that awards $0.00 shipping on U.S. and Canadian orders that have a subtotal of $40 and over. I use BoldApp's drop-down banner to alert customers when they've reached the free shipping threshold for their orders. About 20% of the orders I receive use the free shipping promotion because of Bold App's drop-down banner.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
If you're in the fashion retail industry, YouTube can be an excellent source of traffic to your website. Email promotions can be a large source of revenue for your website so before sponsoring product reviews on YouTube, make sure that you devise a way to collect visitor's email addresses once they reach your website. YouTube channels have the potential to bring thousands of visitors to website within one week.
Make sure your website is set up to capture as much visitor email addresses as possible. The Shopify app store has apps which display pop-up lightboxes that can be used for email sign-ups. In addition to YouTube, an Instagram account is an absolute must.
Make sure you include links to your business's Instagram account on your website, in your email promotions, and on your customer's sales receipts. Encourage your customers to post images of them and their products to their Instagram accounts with a hashtag. This will give your products some virality
Along with way, never, ever, ever forget about customer service. I'm a huge online-shopper so I understand how important is to be treated with respect as an online-consumer. Both small and large companies sometimes think there's no need to be accountable since they never come to face to face with the customers. However, face-to-face or not, there's no excuse for late shipping, late customer replies, or short and curt emails. It might sound cliche but it's an incredibly useful tenet to live by: treat your customers exactly how you'd want to be treated.