Every week, millions of college students and young adults across the country attend themed parties dressed in unique, outlandish clothing. 80's Ski, America, Tacky Christmas, Tight-n-Bright, Robert DeNiro Appreciation Night, and the list of themes goes on and on.
The problem is that finding unique, outrageous clothing for all these events is hard. Thrift stores are unorganized and inconveniently located and eBay is a time-consuming hassle. Every week millions of young adults in the United States face a very serious and very tragic problem when they realize they haven't found the perfect neon pink rhinestone bedazzled dance onesie to dominate 80's night at their local tavern or party locale of choice. We created Shinesty to help solve this horrible problem.
Shinesty is an online store where people can find outrageous and absurd vintage clothing for themed parties and events. Our value proposition is simple, curation and entertainment. Shinesty is a place where people can go to quickly and easily find the best curated collection of rare and outlandish clothing in the country. The Shinesty brand is sarcastic, in your face, and as funny as the clothing we sell.
We source our product from a network of buyers located in different cities all over the United States. Our buyers work on commission and are paid once an item sells. We love the way we source our clothing because it allows us to connect with people all over the country who are passionate about awesome clothing, it reduces risk for us, and it creates a network of brand ambassadors for us who want to be a part of our mission to rid the world of life-sucking, smile-stealing clothing. Our buyers love it because they work whenever they want, they can make what they are worth instead of an arbitrary salary, and come'on...shopping for crazy, unique clothing is fun.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We earned our first sales by promoting our brand on Instagram. This is our most powerful social media channel and it contributes a ton to our growing brand reach and our ability to make sales.
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?
Shopify is an amazing platform that gives non-technical entrepreneurs a chance to take advantage of technology and sell products online.
We use a ton of applications with great success. For marketing purposes, we use Modify Promotional Light Box to capture email addresses for our mailing list using a popup window with a special offer. This has been a great way for us to gather user information and it was super easy to integrate with out store. For logistics and order fulfillment we use OrderCup. I can't even imagine running a store without OrderCup, it would be a complete nightmare trying to buy shipping labels and manually fulfill orders. For UX and customer experience we use Metafields, which allows us to add custom fields for each product, and Magic Zoom Plus, which gives customers the ability to zoom in on all the details of each products. Both of these apps are fantastic and have worked flawlessly for our store.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
(1) In today's digital world, you can learn almost anything you want, for free, on the internet. We've used the magic tool that is google to learn how to accomplish a ton of stuff that we knew nothing about when we started our company, setting up a photo shoot and taking professional pictures, managing inventory, SEO, social advertising, web design, and so much more.
(2) Use as many Shopify apps as you can to automate your store's processes. Shopify is such a powerful platform in part because of its large network of third party applications. Focus on making your product as awesome as possible and engaging with your audience as much as possible and leave the rest to Shopify and the third party developers on the platform. If you want to add any type of functionality to your site 9 times out of 10 there will be an app on the Shopify app store that can do exactly what you need. Use it!
(3) Listen to your first customers, the people who are willing to try out your product or service before everyone else, you can learn a ton and incorporate that learning into making your company better. We randomly facebook chatted with hundreds of people we thought might be in our target market before we built or bought anything and we continue to try and get as much feedback as possible. Really listen to the people who complain or have suggestions for improvement, if you don't get defensive these people will be honest and tell you what your mom won't. It's easy for a company to say they talk to customers but it's a lot harder to actually do. We aren't talking about sending out a passive survey and asking for responses, we are talking about actually getting on the phone or on a live chat and having a one-on-one conversation.