Here at Upfront Digital, we believe no one is ever finished learning. As such, we are interviewing Irish E-Commerce store owners across Ireland, asking them what it took for them to succeed. Sinead owns and runs The Lovely Little Label, a one stop shop for wedding accessories, from brides-wear and grooms accessories to hen party accessories. The store specializes in Jewellery and Bridal accessories featuring only the best quality items from our handpicked suppliers, and it all started from serving a very specific need: wedding umbrellas!
What made you decide to start selling online?
I started selling online because it allowed me to try running my business without losing the safety net of my full time job. I ran The Lovely Little Label part time for 18 months before committing.
What is the main thing you would attribute to the success of your store?
I think starting small and growing slowly are one of the key reasons why the store has been successful so far. We launched The Lovely Little Label with one product and we didn’t add a single other product until I was sure we could sell the first one. Each time we add a new range we buy in the minimums and test it and see how the customer responds.
What was your background before you started your website?
I worked in Commercial Finance before starting The Lovely Little Label, so I was in the corporate world for around 10 years. Luckily I find that most of the skills are transferable and those that aren’t I have to learn on the way.
What do you think were the most important mistakes you’ve learned from?
Most the mistakes I’ve made are around Finances. Cash flow can kill a business pretty quickly. As I’ve got a Finance background I’m pretty good at keeping a close key on the bank accounts but I’ve certainly made many mistakes on what I have chosen to spend money on. Particularly in the early stages, we got approached by lots of ‘wedding websites’ that could send us x traffic and x guaranteed sales for so much a month. They never delivered. The other core mistake that I’ve made is not knowing what the outcome should be and more importantly not being able to communicate that outcome, if I’m are hiring someone to provide a service whether its product, or content related service i expect that they know exactly what i want. Over time I’ve realised that people are not mind readers and that when i’m communicating with a third party I need to be super specific about what I am expecting and when!
Do you have in mind a particular type of customer whose needs you try to meet?
Yes, I’ve met 1000’s of brides online and offline in the past two years and from that, I have developed two core customer personas, Emma & Gemma. When I am writing a piece of content or selecting a new range I think who of these personas would be interested, what would they tell their friends about the content or product or even how much they would pay for it. We try as much as possible to put our customers at the centre of decisions at The Lovely Little Label. One of my favourite things to do is to watch ‘Say Yes to the Dress’ and try and guess which persona the bride closest fits before they reveal any details about her. Obviously not everyone will fit the personas exactly but we can get pretty close.
What advice would you give to someone considering making the jump and starting their own E-Commerce store?
Do your research. It’s easy to assume because you would buy a product that (enough!) other people would. But more than that it’s important to validate your price point, and choices. My first product was a white umbrella because I wrongly assumed everyone wanted white. It was months later before I learned that ivory was the most popular colour for brides in Ireland, and guess what our second product was – Yes an Ivory umbrella!
When it comes to social media, what is one thing you always make sure of?
Keep it simple and personal. Especially on social media people are looking to make a connection with people, not brands. Great imagery and a sincere message will always get engagement.
What’s the next big thing in online commerce?
VR – I think video has become standard for e-commerce and we will see a big jump into virtual reality and being able to virtually try on goods from your own home.
What’s next for your company?
We are designing our own range of apparel for brides to be and bridal parties that you would actually want to wear again. We are also launching a new website this month.
Sinead’s new site can be found at www.thelovelylittlelabel.com