Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We are an online boutique offering beautifully simple, contemporary sterling silver jewellery with an emphasis on effortless everyday luxury and quality. It was whilst managing a small independent jewellers on high street that I noticed the same quality and workmanship we sold in the shop had not filtered through to online selling. Traditional jewellers have been slow to tap into the ever growing market of people wanting to buy timeless but affordable jewellery online. With a background in buying, merchandising and e-commerce I decided to put all my experience into starting Tulip.
I was also mindful with aiming at an older target market that I needed to create a calm and uncluttered environment to shop in, with carefully edited collections and images that represent the jewellery beautifully. We love to celebrate and support UK suppliers and designers so our products are mainly sourced from the UK. The majority of our jewellery is designed here in the UK and all of our packaging is sourced from the north of England. Our chain manufacturer has been making chains here for over 40 years.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
Our first sale was my mother in law! You need to start somewhere and word of mouth is wonderful and should not be dismissed, tell EVERYONE about your business. Start with friends and family, old colleagues, anyone you meet and ask them to spread the word. I wear our jewellery all of the time and have been asked countless times were it's from, then my trusty stack of business cards come in handy. Our first 'proper' sale was generated from Google Adwords, thank you Ken! Adwords still remains strong for us. Make use of the added help they provide, I've learnt valuable tips and tricks from the free consultations they provide. In the beginning I bought myself a 600 page book and got to work. With time we have built up our email subscription list and have stepped up our email marketing campaign. This is fast becoming our next best channel for generating revenue and it's free. Just a few hours on Mailchimp will be time very well spent, we found it so easy to integrate with Shopify.
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?
We use Yotpo reviews which have been amazing, very easy to install, use and easily customisable to compliment the look of the site. Customers love the fact they can review by typing directly into the email sent. We were a little hesitant at first to have reviews on the site but we have worked hard to make sure the quality of our jewellery is amazing so decided to go for it. 5 star reviews so far and looking at the analytics this is definitely persuading customers to buy. We also use the Google Shopping, Facebook and Mailchimp Apps. All shipments are handled internally.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
- Customer service - We can't overemphasise how important this is. It's amazing how often customers get bad customer service and how much they appreciate it when it's done well. We answer every email and query and make sure it's friendly, helpful and relevant. Acquiring new customers costs money so turning them into repeat customers must always be the aim. Don't be afraid to actually speak to them; we get the best insights into what customers think about our company and products when speaking to them on the phone.
- Make friends with analytics - Invest time each week looking at Google Analytics and getting to know your customers and spotting any problems.
- Test, Test, Test - Everything from the wording of your Google Ads vs click through rate, the headline on a email marketing campaign vs open rate, what % discounts makes customers bite, social media posting times vs number of likes or click throughs. Things will start to stand out eventually and help you improve.
- Learn - Even with a background in e-commerce I've been reading every blog and Shopify forum discussion possible and have learned so much more. Being an entrepreneur often means a workforce of one and being the only person in the marketing, packing, accounting, customer service, buying and IT departments. Don't think you should know it all at the beginning, there is so much helpful free advice out there. Don't be afraid to ask for help - If you've picked Shopify you're lucky, a quick email (several in my case) and the problems I've worked myself up over are dealt with and explained in a way even I can understand.
- Know it's hard work but so worth it. Try to bite your tongue when you tell people what you do and have them think that running an online company involves a working week of coffee mornings followed by afternoons watching t.v. Be prepared to work harder than you imagined but feel satisfaction when processing your first or 1000th order knowing nobody made that happen but you.