A few years ago I became a fan of Pin Collar style shirts. I began wearing these around the office and received a lot of positive feedback. Nice as this was, I wanted to take it further by designing the shirts themselves.
At the time you couldn’t buy them at regular stores, so I used to have mine personally tailored, quite an expensive hobby! I spotted a gap in the market for high quality, distinctive shirts at non-bespoke prices. The quality of off-the-rack shirts seemed to be deteriorating while prices were rising. This was around the time of the credit crunch (2008). Companies were squeezing their supply chains, offering poor products and customer care to appease their boards and shareholders. I saw the opportunity to build something I believed in and could be proud of.
Sales came relatively quick yet inconsistent so the challenge was to make the sales more consistent .
We're always trying to grow and maintain a loyal global customer base. The best people to sell to are those you’ve already sold to before.
We focus on customer care and engaging with our customers with relevant information - not just bombarding them with sales pitched emails.
For us, our own blog, social media and celebrity endorsements are key traffic drivers to our website. With endorsements by David Gandy and features in Vogue and GQ have helped the brand 'find its feet' in a very tough marketplace.
The back-end processes are as important as the products you are selling. We use Shopify (obviously) with PayPal payment gateway. We sell globally so PayPal was chosen for ease of integration and a trusted global brand. We then have our fulfilment warehouse in the UK called 'myWarehouse' app integrated with shopify. For accounting we integrate Xero and for marketing we use the apps Chimpified by MailChimp and Yotpo product reviews.
What are your top recommendations for new ecommerce entrepreneurs?
First things first: before you launch start with clear objectives. Know what you’re selling and who you’ll be selling it to. Then don’t be afraid if you have to deviate or change the plans midway through; flexibility is important for any business but even more so when you’re conducting a lot of your business online where everything is changing so fast.
I would suggest starting online; this gives you lower operating costs so you can test your market before going big. You need to build a good brand, then a good website. Your website needs to check the three ‘fs’: fast, functional and familiar, as well as having a clear path from product to checkout.
Try to make the purchasing part of the business as automated as possible and focus your time on sales and marketing.
Enjoy it and make sure you’re passionate about it before you even start. If you are not, then you can’t expect your customers to be.