Friday, December 30, 2011
Zazzle, one of the leaders in the customisation space are running a competition to develop a new mass customisation concept. Details on the competition follow:
Million Dollar Zazzle Open Innovation Challenge
Calling all innovators and entrepreneurs! Do you have the next great customizable product idea bubbling up and ready to explode on the scene of today’s revolutionary global customization market? Well, we’re ready to put a million dollars in technology, marketing, and distribution on Zazzle to work to launch the innovative concept that resonates most with our panel of industry leaders, academics, and investors as the next big thing!
That means we’ll invest in building the online design tools and 3-D product visualization, develop a marketing plan, and launch it on the Zazzle platform to a global audience of tens of millions of potential consumers! And, as an additional bonus, we’ll put you in front of the right investors, who may even finance your idea and help you turn it into a fast-growing company.
One Minute Could Win You The Opportunity of a Lifetime
Entering is simple. (1) Brainstorm an innovative concept for a new customizable product, (2) create a one minute video explaining it in a compelling way, and (3) complete the application below. You may become part of the growing customization movement...
Mass customization is all about better serving customers and building shorter, more sustainable supply chains. It’s about building a business the right way, by avoiding the typical guessing game of inventory and perceived demand. Most importantly, with customization you have an opportunity to offer a product and service that enables your customers to get exactly what they want!
Entries will be accepted through February 17, 2012. Five semi-finalists will be announced by Zazzle on Feb 23, 2012, judged on innovation and economic viability. During the following month, select finalists will be mentored by the team of Professors Frank Piller, Henry Chesbrough, and Solomon Darwin, to refine their concepts and plans for final evaluation. The presentations will be judged by academic experts, industry executives, and active investors.
Bing Gordon, Investment Partner, Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers
Jeff Beaver, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Zazzle
Professor Frank Piller, Co-Director of MIT's Smart Customization Group
Professor Henry Chesbrough, Faculty Director of the Garwood Center for Corporate Innovation
Professor Solomon Darwin, Associate Director of UC Berkeley's Center for Open Innovation
Elizabeth Litten Miller, Head of Creative, Global Licensing and Publishing, Hasbro
More details at: http://www.zazzle.com/challenge
Tuesday, December 27, 2011
Fab.com is a New York based e-commerce site offering design inspired products in a flash sale site format. At only 6 months old they're on track to shortly reach $100m revenue. More than half their 1.4m members have joined the site via social media platforms.
Fab Live Feed' which is essentially a Facebook style news feed showing what other Fab.com members are buying, liking, tweeting and sharing, live. Fab.com CEO Jason Goldberg says, "We envision that Fab users will be able to easily and quickly discover what other people are buying, what’s popular, what’s being most discussed — all in realtime as it happens."
For me the feed achieves two things:
1. Social Proof - increasing conversion rate
The live feed highlights, in a magazine style format, new products I may not have otherwise found browsing the site by categories. In addition, when I see a products with hundreds of comments, likes and purchases, it tells me that other people have judged this product to be a good one and I'm more interested to purchase it.
2. Awareness - introducing new people to Fab.com
I've liked, +1'd and commented on a number of items I've seen in the feed and these interactions then spread to Facebook and Google Plus introducing my friends to Fab.com and they're products.
Fab.com just closed a $40m round of funding at a ~$200m valuation and the biggest area they'll be investing that money into is social commerce. CEO Jason Goldberg says, "We’re going to take social shopping to the extreme. This is just the start."
How are you approaching social commerce in your online retail business?
Thursday, December 22, 2011
There has been some interesting discussion online about the ethics of this practice. Bricks and mortar bookstores provide a great service, they allow people to browse books in a comfortable physical environment, their staff are knowledgable and can help customers find new books in more natural ways than sites like Amazon can, and they often run in-store activities such as having authors present and discuss their new books. But they can't compete with Amazon on price, and Amazon are doing everything they can to point this out to consumers, and actively encouraging consumers to browse in physical bookstores then order online from Amazon.
There's no doubt this is pushing the boundaries of what's ethical, but the reality is that this is one of the directions retail is heading. For commoditised products like books, it's challenging for retailers to compete on anything but price. Most of the value from the purchase is tied up in the book itself, with only a small amount of additional value provided by the shopping environment, staff and customer service.
Retailers need to understand this shift. Consumers doing price comparisons and ordering via a mobile phone is only going to get easier. If you're selling a commoditised product and aren't aiming for a lowest cost strategy it's important to start thinking through how you can differentiate your offer to avoid suffering from this trend. An alternative is to look to switch to selling products under your own brand, rather than selling commoditised products. Harder to do for a bookstore, but potentially simpler for other retailers. At Shoes of Prey and Sneaking Duck we avoid the commoditised product issue by selling products that aren't easily replicated and offering them under our own brand.
Cross-posted to Power Retail.
Monday, December 19, 2011
Friday, December 16, 2011
- It's a nice perk to sometimes be able to work from home in your PJs.
- It can be more productive to occasionally work in an environment free from distractions.
- If you have a long commute, working from home can save you the commute time.
- If you feel yourself getting sick you might still be mentally able to work but physically not be up to traveling to the office and working in an office environment where you might make other people sick. Working from home might allow you to still get your work done in this instance - particularly important for a startup that may not have other people to cover your role while you're out. (Note: if you're sick, you should still take a sick day to recover!)
- Communication - in a fast paced startup environment, with a team of ~17 communication is critical. While online text and video chat is great, it's harder to communicate with people working from home compared with being in an office environment. We see this in the communication challenges we have across our China and Sydney offices with things changing so rapidly. Lots of people working from home compounds this.
- Office culture - we aim to create a fun, exciting office environment. Our office is open plan, we have regular drinks and we provide lunch to our team and eat together every day which has helped to build a strong sense of team. This is all harder to achieve if we work from home.
- Some roles require software on our office desktop machines, being able to access our collection of shoes to take photos for customers or involve other tasks that require items only available physically in our office.
Overall we figure it's better to be in the office but some work from home flexibility is a good thing. We'd love to hear your thoughts on this. How have you approached working from home in your startup or in other work environments? Image Credit
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
5:30pm - 8:00pm, Wednesday 14 December, 2011
10:am - 3:00pm, Saturday 17 December, 2011
Shoes of Prey Headquarters
Studio 12, Level 1
285A Crown Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
(30m from The Winery)
*Please note that this sale is only of samples that we have ready-made in our headquarters. It does not extend to custom-made shoes.
Cash and EFTPOS available.
You're welcome to pass this invitation along to your friends and family.
Monday, December 12, 2011
Thursday, December 8, 2011
The creation of Mike McEnearney, ex head chef of Rockpool, Mike's Table is a once a fortnight pop up restaurant run every second Sunday in the beautiful Surry Hills French antique store Ici et La.
Mike came around and served the Hors d'oeuvres, Anchovy + Stewed Spring Onions on toast. *Delicious*. We were seated at a shared table and the environment encouraged us all to chat - something I've never experienced at another Sydney restaurant. We sat next to one of Mike's ex-colleagues from Rockpool and her partner, the owner of Ici et La, who's seat Marcel the French bulldog (who lives in Ici et La) would promptly take over whenever he got up and another couple who work in the advertising space who we got on so well with we've invited around for dinner to try my Australian/Indian fushion Kangaroo Korma!
felt right at home!) and Mike emailed a thank you along with the menu to everyone the day after we dined.
All in all it was an amazing experience, one of the best dining experiences I've ever had, both for the food, and the step up in the experience stakes from dining at a normal restaurant.
Mike's fully booked out through to the new year and isn't taking new bookings as he's planning to open his own restaurant. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Thanks to Zac for the recommendation!
How can you turn your product into more of an experience?
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Great post on the Harvard Business Review website by Ron Johnson, former Senior VP for Retail at Apple and now CEO of J.C. Penney. I particularly like this quote:
So the challenge for retailers isn't "how do we mimic the Apple Store" or any other store that seems like a good model. It's a very different problem, one that's conceptually similar to what Steve Jobs faced with the iPhone. He didn't ask, "How do we build a phone that can achieve a two percent market share?" He asked, "How do we reinvent the telephone?" In the same way, retailers shouldn't be asking, "How do we create a store that's going to do $15 million a year?" They should be asking, "How do we reinvent the store to enrich our customers' lives?"
and this one:
People come to the Apple Store for the experience — and they're willing to pay a premium for that. There are lots of components to that experience, but maybe the most important — and this is something that can translate to any retailer — is that the staff isn't focused on selling stuff, it's focused on building relationships and trying to make people's lives better. That may sound hokey, but it's true. The staff is exceptionally well trained, and they're not on commission, so it makes no difference to them if they sell you an expensive new computer or help you make your old one run better so you're happy with it. Their job is to figure out what you need and help you get it, even if it's a product Apple doesn't carry. Compare that with other retailers where the emphasis is on cross-selling and upselling and, basically, encouraging customers to buy more, even if they don't want or need it. That doesn't enrich their lives, and it doesn't deepen the retailer's relationship with them. It just makes their wallets lighter.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
My friends told me the story of a small, local coffee shop attached to a suburban tennis court that they were supplying their bottled juice to. The older clientele of the coffee shop were buying lots of my friends' pomegranate juice and so the owner of the coffee shop approached my friends about ranging more of their products and adding a fridge to stock only my friends' products. They agreed verbally to go ahead with this.
Then the Coca-Cola representative moved in. He offered the coffee shop a free Coca-Cola fridge and an impossible to beat deal on Coca-Cola products for the coffee shop. The coffee shop owner called my friends and sadly explained it was a deal he just couldn't refuse so he wouldn't be able to add the fridge and range more of my friends' products.
On the one hand it's a shame for my friends that they're not able to compete with a company who are willing to make a short term loss on a deal to retain their distribution, but on the other hand it's incredibly impressive that a global company the size of Coca-Cola care about their distribution in a small coffee shop attached to a suburban tennis court, and are able to operate so successfully at such a local level.
How well have you set up your systems and processes to ensure you're putting this much effort into all your small, profitable customers?
Published to Startupsmart.
Monday, November 28, 2011
Thursday, November 24, 2011
It's a fantastic new report, you can read the article here or watch the video below for an introduction.
Tuesday, November 22, 2011
We recorded Brendan's presentation which is embedded below. Brendan's presentation provides a fascinating insight into how a large company like Google drives innovation, and there are lots of fascinating ideas that can be applied to startups. Well worth a watch.
Friday, November 18, 2011
We love it even more when customer's are so enthused they publicly share their happiness and it inspires them to write a post on customer service philosophies more generally, as Cian McLoughlan, a customer who purchased a gift certificate for his sister recently did on his blog.
Here's Cian's email to us (published with his permission):
Hi there,Thanks to Cian for his kind words and wonderful blog post and congratulations to Susie on providing such great service!
I wanted to drop you a quick note to say a double thank you to the team at Shoes of Prey. Firstly thanks for your great product offering and customer service, which I have now used twice to buy gifts for my wife and sister (who were both chuffed to bits). Secondly thanks for providing me with the central theme for my latest business blog post, it was inspired by my interactions with one of your team members and nicely encapsulated for me the changing face of the retail industry.
Monday, November 14, 2011
Catch of the Day are Australia's largest online retailer and earlier this year they raised a whopping $80m at a $200m valuation. I've bought quite a few things from them over the past few years including headphones for everyone in our office and significant quantities of wine for the office and home. Their deals are excellent and it's no wonder they're targeting revenue to reach $250m in the 2011/12 financial year, up from $100m in 2010/11. Catch of the Day also run the Scoopon and Grocery Run brands and in the video Gabby mentions they'll soon be launching a fashion retail site.
Apologies for the camera shake, I recorded the video on my iPhone.
Thursday, November 10, 2011
- Straightforward, simple and fair
- Priced to make owning multiple pairs a great deal
- Better value than offline
- Make a reasonable margin (i.e. share the cost benefits of being online with our customers)
Tuesday, November 8, 2011
Another feature of Google Plus that might be interesting is hangouts. We could run video sessions discussing different shoe designs and given they're live, they could be interactive. These will all be fun things to explore.
If you see any brand pages doing anything interesting on Google Plus let us know and to add us to your circles and +1 us visit our page here.
Any additional feedback on the 3D designer is most welcome.
Monday, November 7, 2011
The table below shows the top 9 pages on our site by goal conversion and the number of page views each of those pages received, with the far right column showing the ratio of conversions to page views.
As you can see our leather page, the highlight of which is our leather videos, ranks by far the highest. Visitors to this page are 7 times more likely to convert than normal visitors who visit our designer page.
The data isn't perfect, users who are looking to convert are more likely to explore our website in detail but the leather page converts 2.4 times as well as our FAQs page or 4.5 times better than the deep parts of our old gallery (page 4), so clearly it works really well.
This makes sense. One of the challenges we have on our site is that we're trying to sell $300 pairs of shoes off a pretty average 2D drawing. We're working on a 3D version of our shoe designer which will help alleviate this, but another way we can get the quality message across is through video on our website.
We recently put together a video showing how our shoes are made and we've added video content to our wedding shoes and bridesmaid shoes pages.
What other areas of our site do you think we should add video content?
Posted to StartupSmart.
Friday, November 4, 2011
The point I wanted to add is that many entrepreneurs with a tech background try to avoid startups with physical products because it’s outside their realm of expertise. That's potentially a mistake. The physical parts of many traditional industries, including the fashion industry haven't experienced a great deal of innovation. While it’s been a steep learning curve for us operating in this space it's been very rewarding and the fact that it's hard means we have less competition and are creating more significant barriers to entry than many purely tech businesses have.
If you're contemplating ideas for a startup don't be put off by businesses with a physical component to them. There are pros and cons to doing this but I suspect the pros will outweigh the cons with many of these ideas.
Thursday, November 3, 2011
More details here.
via @nottinghillg1rl and @disneyrollrgirl.
Wednesday, November 2, 2011
We're also firm believers in this trend. The growth of experience sites like RedBalloon of which we're part highlight this.
Thomas Dux is a simple and fantastic example of experiential retailing. Rather than walking into Woolworths to buy a packet of corn chips off a standard store shelf, walk into Thomas Dux and you'll see a beautiful centre aisle display of corn chips where you can taste them, try them with salsa and where, when I took this photo, they suggested picking some up for the football finals in September. When I took this photo they were also serving slices of smoked salmon pizza cooked using ingredients all available in store.
And most of all, the trend towards mass customisation sits with consumers moving towards experiences. Why would you want to buy a normal pair of shoes when you can have the experience of designing your own shoes and have them made for you? Why settle for off the rack shirts and suits when you can design these yourself too? And you have a number of great companies to do this with like Blank Label, YouTailor, and Indochino who are all doing well in the space, as well as Sydney based Joe Button and InStitchu who have both launched recently. And why settle for a standard chocolate bar when you can select the ingredients?
Mass customisation businesses are no longer just small businesses. NikeID turned over $100m in revenue in the niche category of custom sneakers last year (I love their product).
What other examples of experiential retailing have you seen?
Posted to Power Retail.
Monday, October 31, 2011
Last week we welcomed Lucy Beynon to the Shoes of Prey team. Lucy joins us on a 3 month contract working with Jonaye on customer happiness over the Christmas period. During this time Susie will transition into a full time creative role managing photoshoots and a website redesign as we've got some major updates planned.
Lucy joins us after spending 4 years at Macquarie Bank as a Business Analyst Manager. She studied a Bachelor of Arts at Reading University in the UK majoring in Italian (which she speaks) and management studies. Outside work she enjoys photography and has been taking some photography courses, as well as netball and yoga.
We met Lucy when we made her wedding shoes earlier this year then again at our recent friends and family sale.
Welcome to the team Lucy!
Friday, October 28, 2011
We sell a unique and interesting experience/product which makes for a great gift and gift certificates make up 16% of our sales. Last December that jumped to 54% of our sales as we sold more gift certificates for Christmas.
We're wanting to beat that performance this year so I thought I'd post our plan here and ask for your feedback and ideas. Any thoughts and ideas are very welcome in the comments.
1. PR - Men's Publications
- Get in touch with men's magazines and online publications, most of these will run gift guides in the lead up to Christmas and it would be great to be published in those.
- Offer them Shoes of Prey gift certificates to give away as part of a promotion.
Which men's publications do you read and you think we should contact? Please let me know in the comments. And if you have contacts you could introduce us to that would be fantastic.
2. Facebook page promotion
We're about to hit 28,000 fans on our Shoes of Prey Facebook page. I'd love to come up with a promotion that encourages those fans to spread the word about our gift certificates.
- Run a promotion to win a Christmas gift certificate and ask people to post a link to the design they'd order if they won? Any other more creative ideas?
- It doesn't encourage spreading the word but we could run a promotion where 1 in 10 people who buy a gift certificate for someone else win one for themselves. Not sure how that sits with the fact we don't discount, but I think that might not devalue the brand if messaged in the right way. Alternatively we could offer a free belt with every gift certificate purchase (we had some made up recently).
3. Facebook ads
We tried promoting our gift certificates for Valentine's Day via Facebook ads earlier this year but the campaign didn't work. Based on all the great suggestions in the comments from our previous blog post about this, some changes we'll make to a new campaign:
1. A better photo targeted to men. Perhaps an attractive female leg/foot with a brightly coloured shoe.
2. A version of our Facebook gift certificate page on our website. The advantage of this is we can then modify the headline in our ad rather than being stuck with 'Shoes of Prey' which men may not recognise, when we point to the gift certificate page on our Facebook page. The downside is that we lose the social element to the ad. An A/B test is required to see what works better here!
4. Google AdWords
I've optimised our Google AdWords account and added in some more gift certificate related keywords, and increased our bids on gift certificate related terms.
5. Gift certificate panel on home page
The panels on our home page allow us to swap different images in and out and about 50% of the time we have a gift certificate promotional panel up. We'll keep that up 100% of time between now and Christmas.
6. Mention gift certificates in all PR between now and Christmas
We get a good amount of PR and do quite a few interviews with business and fashion publications. We should mention the fact we do gift certificates in those interviews to spark the idea of buying one with potential customers.
7. A/B test our gift certificate page
Our current gift certificate page is very basic, it doesn't promote the gift certificates and explain why it's a great idea to buy one. We should create a second page and A/B test it.
Any thoughts on the above plan? Anything else you think we should do?
Thursday, October 27, 2011
1. Our wireless network is not working, this is the third Bob modem/router we've used, I've spent over 15 hours on the phone with your team and you can't get a wireless network working for us. I've been very patient, we've been using our kind neighbour Posse's wireless connection (thanks Posse!) on and off for months now but we can't keep doing this.
2. Our wired connection continues to drop out at least twice a day. Again, I've spent part of the 15 hours on the phone with your team trouble shooting the ZyXel modem and you've sent a replacement and still it doesn't work. Usually it only drops out for a couple of minutes which interrupts our office of 10 people, but sometimes it drops out for hours at a time and we have to send the guys without wireless cards in their computers to work from home. This is not productive and has cost us thousands of $ in lost productivity. Again I've tried to be patient with this because it always seems like you almost have the problem fixed but it's been 6 months now.
3. Yesterday I was invoiced hundreds of dollars for an 'incorrect call out' (see invoice below). Your team suggested this after I'd spent 15 hours on the phone and you couldn't solve our issues. I was informed if there were no issues with the line I would be charged an incorrect call out fee, but your team member was confident that was the only issue that could be left after all our trouble shooting. The first technician that came out who didn't work for Telstra told me there was a lot of noise on the line which might be causing the drop outs and that he needed to get a Telstra technician sent to fix it. The Telstra technician came and said he wasn't able to test for the same things as the first technician. He explained Telstra only warrant that 3 tests which they perform will be successful and he said all those were fine. To me, this isn't an incorrect call out. a) It was the only option left to us and b) the first technician said there was an issue which could be causing our connection problems. It's unreasonable and frustrating of you to charge us for this.
Your service which doesn't work has cost us:
- 15 hours of my time. We are a 17 person business so don't have dedicated technical support. I'm an owner of the business and this role currently falls to me. My time is valuable and I should be spending it trying to grow our business, not trouble shoot your crappy service. At a conservative $200/hr for my time (the opportunity cost is much higher) you have cost me $3,000.
- We've had periods with no wired drop outs and periods with 3+ drop outs per day. We've averaged around 1 per day and they generally last 5 mins each if they're not a major one. Over 6 months that's ~100 drop outs, 500 minutes or 8 hours. We have 10 people in our Sydney office so that's 80 hours of lost productivity. At a conservative $50/hr for our team members that's a cost of $4,000.
- We've had multiple periods where the wired connection has dropped out for 4 hours + at a time and we've had to send people to work from home. This results in lost productivity as our team are not on their normal computers and communication is more challenging. This has happened 3-4 times and results in 5 people being sent home at a conservative cost of ~$1,000.
- As I have it we've paid iiNet $2932.71 for 6 months of internet access that hasn't worked.
- ~$50 on Krispy Kreme donuts that we've been purchasing for our friends at Posse to thank them for the loan of their wireless network. :)
I've been patient, I've done more than is reasonably required of someone to try and solve these problems and that's because you used to provide such great service with my home connection, clearly something's changed within your business. I've put up with iiNet team members not calling me back 80% of the time they say they will. I've put up with your business support line almost always putting me through to your residential team who can't help me, then waiting on the phone for long periods while they try to find a business team member who can help me. I've put up with having 4 people tell me a manager will call me back to discuss this case and no manager has ever done so. Your business support team member who contacted me after our last blog post promised he would get back to me last Friday and I haven't heard from him since. I emailed the above points to him 24 hours ago and said he had 24 hours or I would post to our blog again. I received no out of office message and haven't heard back from him.
Here's where we go from here:
1. We are going to switch ISPs and iiNet will maintain our connection until our new connection is established. A few people have recommended Internode so we'll try them.
2. iiNet will refund the $2932.71 that we've spent on iiNet services since establishing this connection. This is a reasonable request given your service has never worked correctly and the conservative $8,000 in lost productivity we're experienced due to iiNet's terrible service as outlined above.
3. Once we have our new internet connection established I will send back the 2 x ZyXel modems and 3 x BOB modems that you've sent us to date.
Please get back to me within 24 hours or I will be taking this up with the telecommunications ombudsman.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Bob is a Product Specialist at Google and his role is to inspire Google's large Australian clients to try new, innovative approaches to their marketing. He's across all Google's innovation, developments and strategies and I love chatting to him to get ideas on how we can apply those to Shoes of Prey and Sneaking Duck. It should be a really good presentation.
Join us at our offices at 5:45pm for a 6pm start. RSVP either in the comments or to email@example.com.
Monday, October 24, 2011
We've experimented a lot along the way and have finally settled on what our customers tell us is a fantastic experience to open.
Recently a customer Lucie, posted to our Facebook page a 9 part photo she'd put together showing the process of unwrapping the packaging for our shoes (posted below with her permission). In it you can see:
- Matt black Shoes of Prey branded shoe box
- Shoes of Prey black ribbon and tissue paper
- Shoes of Prey branded silk shoe bag to keep your shoes in
- Matt black envelope with wax seal
- Developed photograph of your shoes
- Handwritten note introducing you to your shoes
- Bag with different shoe inserts to assist with comfort and sizing
- Most importantly, the shoes themselves!
This sort of packaging isn't going to work for all brands. It costs us a couple of dollars more than standard packaging so if the brand proposition for your online retail business is the lowest price this type of packaging might not work well for you. However it fits nicely with our brand and when viewed as a marketing investment rather than an operational expense, we get a great return on investment from the money we spend on our packaging. It's another 'purple cow' reason for customers to talk about our brand as Lucie has. In addition to the time and effort she's gone to to put this photo together, I love her comment, "You got me pretty emotional Shoes of Prey! Thank you so so much! ♥"
How do you approach packaging in your business? Which online retailers have you seen who do packaging really well? Posted to Power Retail.
Friday, October 21, 2011
4. Measure which posts engage customers best
We experiment with a range of different posts on our Shoes of Prey Facebook page. 2 of the posts that we find work best are:
1. A simple post briefly discussing a fashion trend, for example, "Loving vintage inspired trans-seasonal Mary Janes..." then displaying two shoes we've made that match that trend and asking which shoes people prefer, the ones on the left or right.
2. Whenever Jodie is attending an event she'll choose an outfit and Susie will photograph her wearing 3 different pairs of shoes to go with that outfit. We'll then ask our Facebook page which shoes she should wear to the event.
Both of these posts are simple to put together, get great engagement and most importantly lead to sales of the shoes in the photos.
5. Use targeting options to your advantage
We recently held a friends and family sale at our offices. Because this was an offline sale held online at our Surry Hills offices, we wanted to only target our advertising to customers who lived locally. We created a Facebook ad targeting people who like the Shoes of Prey page and live in Sydney. This was only 2,060 people however the ad got an excellent click through rate and we had about 200 clicks for $70 of spend.
At the sale we asked customers who made a purchase how they'd heard about the sale and we recorded this information. Nearly $10,000 or revenue could be attributed to customers who heard about the sale via these Facebook ads, a fantastic return on our investment.
6. Time of day to post
This one is getting quite detailed. We created a custom report in Google Analytics that tracked sales referred by Facebook by the time of day those sales occurred. We then mapped that data to the time of day we were posting to Facebook. What we found was the times that converted into sales best for us were 3-4pm and 6-7pm. That makes sense, we're a fun shopping experience so customers are shopping with us in their afternoons at work or when they get home in the evenings.
The times of day might be different for your business, so creating a custom report like we did to measure this for your own business could be worthwhile.
7. Multi-Channel Funnels
Google Analytics recently released a feature called Multi-Channel Funnels. Say a customer first visits your website after clicking a link on Facebook. A few days later they search for 'design your own shoes' on Google and visit the site again. A week later they type www.shoesofprey.com directly into their browser and make a purchase. Most analytics software would track this sale to the last visit, in this case a direct visit and no attribution would be made to the Facebook or search visits even though these contributed to the sale.
Multi-Channel Funnels changes this and allows you to see which sites contributed to the sale as your customers moved through your various sales funnels. It's very useful for seeing which sites, like Facebook, introduce customers to your brand who later go on to convert.
Using this report we've found that Facebook contributes to 8% of our sales while driving 4% of the traffic to our site, so it's a marketing channel that's well worth us continuing to invest in.
Are there any other tips you have for converting Facebook likes into buys?
Slides from my presentation below:
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
In 3 years they've grown their business to a team of 150 people and are continuing to go from strength to strength.
Monday, October 17, 2011
Earlier this year I wrote a post about whether it's better in a startup to focus purely on the one business or diversify into related areas. When I wrote that post I had in mind the online glasses retail concept Sneaking Duck that we've just launched.
We initially had the idea for Sneaking Duck 18 months ago, not long after we launched Shoes of Prey. Spending a lot of time in China we could see all sorts of products which would be great to sell in Australia, but the one that stood out most was prescription glasses. Jodie, Mike and I all wear prescription glasses and in China it was easy to get very fashionable frames at very reasonable prices. After our second or third trip we each had 5 different pairs of glasses and were accessorising with them, matching them to different outfits. As entrepreneurially minded folk tend to do, we put together a business plan for an online retail glasses business and loved what we saw.
At the time though we were super focused on launching and ramping up Shoes of Prey so we left the business plan on the 'to think about' pile. As time went on we couldn't shake off the idea. We saw Warby Parker launch successfully in the US with a near identical concept. We were keen to go ahead but Shoes of Prey was tracking very nicely and we didn't want to lose focus on that business.
So we decided the only way we could go ahead with Sneaking Duck was to bring another person in as a co-founder and CEO. They would take the lead on the new business and utilise the experience, relationships, team and infrastructure we've built up with Shoes of Prey. Mark Capps joined us in this role and we think we've struck the perfect balance between diversifying into a fantastic new business opportunity, while maintaining our focus on the Shoes of Prey business.
That's not to say it's been an easy decision and it's not been a clear case of black and white as to whether we should be maintaing a laser like focus on Shoes of Prey or diversifying with Sneaking Duck. We've been speaking with a number of investors about potentially investing in Shoes of Prey and the response from them to this decision is indicative that this is a grey area. Some love the move we're making and see it as a plus, others dislike the loss of focus on one business.
We're confident we've made the right decision and that we've taken a smart approach in bringing on Mark to co-found and lead Sneaking Duck and we'll be keeping in mind the focus issue so that any impact on Shoes of Prey is limited.
Do you think we've struck the right balance? How would you have approached this?
Thursday, October 13, 2011
I've spent over 15 hours on the phone with you, we've had to send staff to work from home because our internet has been down for days at a time, your business support team, particularly your managers often don't call back when promised and you just don't seem to care.
We've blogged before about how Facebook is fantastic for word of mouth focused startups. While brand building and awareness is great, the key outcome from any marketing activity for an online retailer is sales. I recently put together a presentation discussing how we convert our Facebook page fans into buyers and I thought I'd share the slides and content here.
1. Purple Cow Your Brand
I've discussed Seth Godin's Purple Cow concept in an earlier post, but essentially you want your product to be unique and interesting so that consumers want to share it. Particularly in this age of social media, if customers want to share something they now have some fantastic tools in Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to do that. Get customers sharing your product through those channels and your product will be introduced to their friends and ideally lead to sales.
We've "Purple Cow'd" our product in 3 ways:
- Offering customers the opportunity to design their own shoes is something unique in the shoe retail market.
- We view our customer service as a marketing activity to be invested in for the best return rather than an operational expense to be minimised, and we go out of our way to ensure all our customers are ecstatic with the service we offer.
- We pay a lot of attention to our packaging. Our customers receive their shoes wrapped in a beautiful shoe box, with a silk shoe bag, a developed photograph of their shoes, a handwritten note introducing them to their shoes and some inserts to help with comfort and fit.
Each of these points is regularly talked about by our customers on our Facebook page and these comments form great testimonials encouraging other fans of our brand to buy from us.
2. Encourage the Facebook experience to be personal About 12 months ago we started signing off posts and comments on our Facebook page with the name of the Shoes of Prey person who was responding. Overnight engagement on our Facebook page tripled. Customers love talking directly to Jodie on Facebook after seeing her in the videos on our site, or Jonaye after speaking to her over email or the phone.
3. Customer service on Facebook converts A couple of days after we started doing this a customer asked Jodie if she could post a picture of someone wearing a particular peep toe we have in our designer, because she wanted to see how it looked on a foot. I photographed Jodie wearing a pair of wedges that a customer had designed with that peep toe. 4 days after the post had gone live it had 67 likes, 21 comments and most importantly we'd sold 13 pairs of wedges and quite a few other shoes with that peep toe design, higher numbers of those shoes than normal.
The customer wrote in to us on Facebook and we could have responded via email or with a private Facebook message and we would have had a happy customer. Responding directly on the Facebook gave a much better result both for us and more of our customers.
You can read part 2 of this post here.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
This is part 5 of 6 about Mark's experiences leaving Google to set up Sneaking Duck. Read parts 1, 2, 3 and 4.
After just 4 crazy months, we have just launched Sneaking Duck. I am personally so thrilled to see all the hard work of many people coming together, and kicking off the next step of the start-up adventure. I cannot wait to get our frames out to our first customers.
Here’s our launch mail, with details of the $25 gift card offer for all our first customers:
We are so excited to let you know that Sneaking Duck has launched - thank you for waiting patiently while we carefully prepared the site and polished frames! You can browse and order at www.sneakingduck.com.
Everyone who places an order by Wed 19th Oct can claim a $25 gift voucher. To get yours:
- Buy a pair of frames from www.sneakingduck.com
- Forward your receipt to firstname.lastname@example.org with the phrase “I can’t wait for my $25 gift card”
- We’ll send gift cards in a few weeks
This offer is open to everyone, so please forward this to any friends who might look good in Sneaking Duck frames.
We really hope you love our frames. Don’t hesitate to contact us at email@example.com or 02 8006 0704 with any questions.
There are so many people to thank: Friends and family have been generous with good advice and time. An incredibly useful team of beta-testers shared great views on our range and provided us with orders to test our suppliers and processes. They are the lucky first customers! Colleagues and other contacts have helped in innumerable ways. My wife, Allegra, has been tolerant of my new obsession. Most importantly, my co-founders and the teams here and in China have worked tirelessly to pull everything together. Thank you all so much.
As I said in my first post on this blog, leaving Google to start up a new business was not an easy decision. However, there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was a good decision. It is an exciting and rewarding experience to be part of creating something new, and today perhaps the most exciting day of all. . . so far.
However, there’s no sitting still. Now we have the site up, it’s on to driving our operations and marketing, and ensuring that every one of our customers has a terrific experience.
I invite you to take a look around our site - Please do share any thoughts and suggestions on how we can make this even better.
Friday, October 7, 2011
Last Friday saw the announcement of the New South Wales Telstra Business Women's Awards and out of thousands of entrants, our very own Jodie Fox was a finalist in 3 categories, and won the Hudson Private and Corporate Sector Award in amongst a seriously amazing and inspiring field of candidates.
Congratulations to all the other winners and finalists from all over Australia. The other NSW winners were:
- Catherine Burn of the NSW Police won the White Pages Community and Government and the overall award for NSW.
- Maureen Houssein-Mustafa won the Commonwealth Bank Business Owner Award
- Professor Veena Sahajwalla won the Nokia Business Innovation Award
- Jo Heighway won the marie claire Young Business Women's Award
As a winner in NSW, Jodie proceeds as a finalist in the national awards which are held in Melbourne on 18 November.
The Telstra Business Women's Awards are a very well organised and impressive program and past winners include some of Australia's most talented business leaders. Hats off to Telstra and the other sponsors for putting together such a great program.
And congratulations Jodie!
Thursday, October 6, 2011
There were a lot of questions on practical issues like the best way to approach journalists and how exactly to pitch a story. Prue has kindly offered to write a guest blog post on these topics which we'll share at a later date. In the meantime I've embedded the videos below.
Our next TechTalk will be by Brendan Forster from Google presenting to us on the topic of innovation at Google. Brendan will be presenting on 1 November (Melbourne Cup day). More details to follow but feel free to mark the date in your diaries, it will be a good one!
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
We held a mid week sale and sold $6,475 worth of shoes followed by a Saturday sale where we sold another $12,075 worth of shoes, a total of $18,550! This was about 200 pairs of shoes. Approximately 1 in 2 people who attended the sale made a purchase. The average customer who made a purchase, purchased 2 pairs of shoes.
We marketed using 6 different channels to spread word of the sale. On Saturday we tracked how purchasing customers had heard about the sale. The channels and % of customers who came through them were as follows:
- Email to Sydney based Shoes of Prey account holders - 19%
- Facebook ad targeting Sydney based fans of Shoes of Prey - 26%
- Old school letterbox drop to 500 residences in the local Surry Hills area - 11%
- Blog post on 22michaels.com - 7%
- Posting the sale to various Sydney based online sale sites - 4%
- We encouraged people to pass the sale on to their friends. We're not sure how the original friend heard about the sale, so this result should partly be spread across the previous 5 channels - 33%
All channels delivered a great ROI on the time spent on them, so we'll repeat them all next time.
One of our initial concerns was that the sale might have a negative impact on our brand with customers devaluing the shoes after seeing them sold at a cheaper price. We helped negate the negative impact of this by only advertising the sale to people in Sydney. Based on comments from customers on the day, the sale, if anything had a positive impact on brand perception. A number of customers were thrilled to be able to come in to the office, try on the shoes and see the vast range of styles and colours we offer. Many said they now felt more comfortable to purchase from us online.
Customers could still see the added value that being able to design their own shoes offers them, they could clearly see the distinction between our ready made pairs and custom shoes and so the price difference is justified in their minds.
This approach won't scale as our business does, so we'll need to work out other methods for selling returned shoes in the future, but it should work nicely in the short term.
Cross posted to Power Retail.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
Prue Healey will be coming in to present on how to manage public relations and get press for your startup. She'll be spending some time particularly focused on the fashion industry where Shoes of Prey, Sneaking Duck and Prue all operate, but the lessons will be applicable to all startups. We got to know Prue recently when she was working on PR for the Rosemount Sydney Fashion Festival and she's been a great source of advice for us.
Join us from 5:30pm on Tuesday October 4 at our offices for drinks. Prue's presentation will kick off from 5:45pm. RSVP either in the comments or to firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Last night saw the 2011 Online Retail Industry Awards gala dinner as part of the Online Retailer Conference & E-Commerce Expo being held in Sydney this week.
Shoes of Prey matched our efforts last year as a finalist in 4 categories amongst some fantastic Australian online retailers though this year we didn't manage to take home any of the prizes.
One of the great things about this years awards was the strength of the traditional retailers in the online space, particularly the performance of Woolworths owned brands with Dick Smith and BigW both taking out awards, including the big one, Online Retailer of the Year. SportsGirl also took home an award winning Most Innovative Online Retailer. Hopefully this is a sign of things to come from the rest of Australia's large, existing retailers.
It was fantastic to see Paul Greenberg from DealsDirect take out the Industry Recognition Award. He's built a fantastic business and has been a great mentor to Mike, Jodie and I.
The dinner itself was a fantastic event, it was great to catch up with and meet so many people from the industry. There's a few sore heads in the Shoes of Prey / Sneaking Duck offices this morning and no doubt at the conference today too with a few of us only just managing to make it home by 4am! It was fun celebrating with our peers.
Finalists for each category listed below with winners bolded.
BEST PURE-PLAY ONLINE RETAILER
- Appliances Online
- Shoes of Prey
BEST MULTICHANNEL RETAILER
- Big W
- Dick Smith
- Ted’s Cameras
- Bing Lee
- ABC Shop
- Barkers Online
BEST NEW ONLINE RETAILER
- Dan Murphy’s
- Le Domaine
- Joe Button
BEST USE OF TECHNOLOGY
- Appliances Online
- Shoes of Prey
MOST INNOVATIVE ONLINE RETAILER
- Joe Button
- Appliances Online
BEST ONLINE RETAIL MARKETING INITIATIVE
- Appliances Online
- Catch Of The Day
- Big W
BEST CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE
- Appliances Online
- Big W
- Shoes of Prey
BEST AGGREGATION CHANNEL
BEST SITE OPTIMISATION & DESIGN
- Appliances Online
- Ted’s Cameras
- ABC Shop
- Le Domaine
INDUSTRY RECOGNITION AWARD
- John Debrincat, CEO, eCorner
- Ruslan Kogan, Founder and CEO, Kogan and Milan Direct
- Paul Greenberg, Executive Chairman, DealsDirect.com.au
- Michael Fox, Co-Founder and Director, Shoes of Prey
- Peter Pakarinen, Founder/Director, Niche Fashion Technology
- John Winning, CEO, Appliances Online
- Gabby Leibovich, Director, CatchOfTheDay.com.au
ONLINE RETAILER OF THE YEAR (Chosen from finalists in all the above categories)
- Dick Smith
Grant Arnott organised and presented a well deserved Special Recognition Award for Online Retail Conference organiser Mark Harvey who though a range of industry events, including the ORIAs, has helped bring the online retail industry together over the past 3 years.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Feel free to join us this Wednesday at 6pm.
Friday, September 23, 2011
Here's another ridiculous campaign that some in the property industry are attempting to peddle, and it seems they're trying to loop the retail industry in on it. The gist of it: "The retail and property industries are suffering so we need to increase immigration levels so we have more people in Australia to buy houses and the stuff to fill them."
Immigration policy is well worth discussion but there are much more important issues to factor into this decision making than short term retail and property sales numbers and whether we have enough people to sell stuff too.
(It's off topic for this blog but speaking of immigration policy, the current debate in parliament about refugee processing is even more ridiculous than this PR campaign. It would take 25 years to fill the MCG with refugees at the current rate of 4,000 per year. We're a country of immigrants, our culture is, or at least was, to give people a fair go, people travelling here by boat are almost by definition desperately in need of help, offshore processing is ludicrously expensive = process refugees onshore and work with Indonesian law enforcement to break the people smugglers business. Then get on with more important issues like capitalising on our once in a lifetime mining boom and working on an international solution to global warming. /political rant)