Thriving ecommerce business Room Shop started as an Instagram account. Founder and owner Shelly Horst started the business with her husband, posting and selling her whimsical, fun vintage clothing finds.
But it became cumbersome to manage all the sales through Instagram direct messages. So Room Shop launched its very own Shopify store to streamline the purchase process for customers.
Eventually, Room Shop started making its own products, transitioning from a vintage boutique to an accessories brand. Now, it sells via its Shopify store and Instagram.
Doing so has allowed their business to:
- Make the most of its sales online, 80% direct and around 20% wholesale
- Successfully navigate store closings due to the COVID-19 pandemic
- Build upon its success selling on Instagram by adding a Shopify website
- Make personal connections and build community with its customers
Room Shop launched its Instagram account selling vintage finds. It was successful but time consuming. “You’re touching the product a bunch of times. You have to just source it and then clean it and then shoot it, style it, list it, measure it, sell it, ship it—and that’s for one piece,” says Shelly.
Though vintage was how Room Shop got its start, it wasn’t a sustainable business model for long-term growth.
So Shelly tapped into her forecasting background and found her next trending product idea: hair scrunchies. “I just tried to make the biggest scrunchie anyone’s ever seen,” she says. “We made one version out of organza and it looked like a cloud. So we branded it the Cloud Scrunchie and it took off.” The scrunchie attracted a lot of press, and Room Shop couldn’t keep it in stock.
“What’s great about it, like anything else, is you can make a sample, photograph that, do the listing, and then you can sell it a bunch of times,” Shelly says.
With all those sales also come more messages. And Shelly likes to reply to customer inquiries promptly, because she knows a customer on her site is likely to be high-intent. “Someone’s on the website—if they go away and haven’t put their phone number in, then I’ve lost them,” she says. “So I want to reply as quickly as possible. If it’s something that’s too difficult to deal with through chat, or too complex, like filing a shipsurance claim, then I can transition that interaction over to email.” With Shopify Inbox, Shelly can have conversations with her customers all from one place.
Navigating Instagram DMs eventually became too much for the two-person team to handle. They needed something that could streamline conversations and also help them prioritize which ones to answer first.
Instagram has always been and remains a key sales channel for Room Shop. It’s where Shelly’s community started. “Our primary marketing is through Instagram,” she says. “I do a lot of videos through Stories and Reels, and some IGTV about product knowledge and styling.”
But Shelly wanted to build out her Shopify store to grow the business while still being able to have personal conversations with her customers—without the hassle of extra work on the computer. Rather than jumping back and forth between Instagram and Shopify, she tried Shopify Inbox (formerly Ping and Shopify Chat). It was simple enough to install the chat and messaging app, so she added it to the Room Shop website. Once she started using it, Shelly liked how easy it was to continue having warm and friendly interactions with each customer from anywhere.
“I interact with customers through Instagram DM in a similar way that I interact on chat with Shopfy Inbox,” she says. “It feels like I’m text messaging with someone. So, it’s very immediate and casual.” This matches what her customers look for when they come to the Room Shop brand: fun and not too serious. And it’s better than email, as she can answer shoppers’ questions quickly, which is important to her.
“If I can get something accomplished or get a sale through on the spot that you don’t have to deal with later, I want to get it done and take care of it,” she says. Shelly is looking forward to the launch of Instagram direct messages inside of Inbox, which will make it even easier for her to meet her customers wherever they are and manage it from one central place.
For Shelly, Shopify Inbox has proven a valuable sales tool—one that allows her to champion her brand and also be a cheerleader for her customers. She uses it to operate as a virtual stylist of sorts. “I get a lot of product knowledge questions, measurements, sizes, colors. I’m also asked about restock of sold-out items,” Shelly says. Each of those inquiries is an opportunity to build an authentic connection with a customer—they’re communicating directly with a product expert.
“They’re interacting with the owner and designer, and they’re getting my input and my thoughts on my favorites and what trends that I’m seeing, and I can communicate that with them,” says Shelly. “It’s a warm interaction. I want my customers to feel like they’re messaging with someone they know.”
It’s like I’m my customers’ cheerleader telling them, ‘This is going to look great on you,’ ‘I’ve seen it styled like this, and it would look great with this,’ and ‘If you’re in between these two colors, we have this promo so you can save by buying both.’
Shelly has created a community with her customers. She provides personal styling advice and customer service via chat and messaging. Beyond the ability to promptly respond to queries, she can give personalized discounts over chat—an expression of gratitude that nurtures each customer relationship and fuels her community at large.
At the end of the day, Shopify Inbox has been a powerful sales tool for Room Shop. “It helps me make customers feel confident about their purchases,” says Shelly. “Getting a customer feeling really confident about a purchase is Shopify Inbox’s biggest advantage for me.”