All the speakers were great and I made lots of notes from each one, but there were two particular speakers that stood out, Rob and Andrew. They have successful businesses and I found it inspiring to hear about their experiences....
First up was Rob, one half of Gandys Flip Flops. If you haven't heard of them, check out their story of how two brothers help other orphans. It's so inspiring how they came up with the idea after suffering tragedy to do something that would honour the spirit of their parents and give back to those less fortunate.
Rob's top tips for success:
1. Make it easy to for customers to refer you to their friends and family.
2. Use social media to get everyone talking. Everything they do has a story which encourages conversations on social media.
3. Find relevant ambassadors to make noise about your product and brand. They have collaborated with the likes of Richard Branson.
4. Be persistent!
You can read their top tips for success on their website
Andrew from Coconut Grass was another success story, after 3 years he has 27,000 customers! I can only hope!
Andrew started selling through the marketplaces and now has his own website. Andrew's top tips are from his experiences and if you sell through your own website or, you are thinking of doing so read on:
- You need a full range to give customers a reason to visit your website. Focus on product development, you are only as good as your next idea! Also applicable if you sell on a marketplace.
- When choosing a website builder, choose one which is right for your business
- Websites should be designed to solve a customer's problem. Customers want or need information / to make a purchase / to be entertained / to be part of a community.
- The 4 second rule ~ Can your customers understand what your website and your brand is about in less than 4 seconds
- Don't get in the way of a sale with barriers such as pop up ads
- Think about the customer experience ~ is your website easy to navigate and does it offer an easy and reliable checkout service?
- Photography is important, use detailed and lifestyle shots.
- Keep your website updated and fresh so customers have a reason to come back.
Don't behave like a small business, be John Lewis!
It's always reassuring to hear success stories, it makes me feel inspired and think, "I CAN do it!"
Also on the panel were two experts....
Remy Jansons from Ve Interactive gave his top tips on converting online visitors into retail customers. This was focused on those who already have a website but if like me, you are thinking of selling through your own webpage the following tips are useful to know:
1. Replicate offline, online.
Make customers feel welcome, think about exceptional customer service.
2. Responsive design.
Content shifts when it is resized from PC to mobile platforms
3. Compare other e-commerce technology
If you visit Ghostery.com you can see the apps that websites use. If you know what your competitors and your favourite online retailers use you can replicate.
4. Re-engage with abandoned customers
Utilise online tools to encourage a purchase. For example, offer free shipping or a discount.
And last but not least....
UPS are one of the sponsors of the event and they had their Director of Marketing, Matt Guffey, to give us his five tips to introduce products to global markets:
1. Do your research.
Don't let preconceptions hold you back
The global marketplace is smaller than ever.
2. Understand the needs of your customer
3. Get organised
Get a system in place to streamline paperwork.
Ensure the right tracking systems are in place to address any problems before they escalate.
4. Get to grips with the paperwork for the regulatory bodies.
You can visit UPS' website for helpful resources.
5. Be able to send your product to customers, wherever they are.
Make sure logistics are fool proof. Obviously this was an opportunity for UPS to plug their services but using the services of a logistics company may be of value to you.
Final words of wisdom ~ Start slow, get smart and make sure that you take on each market one at a time
I'll definitely be there, I have found them very useful and I have enjoyed meeting with other small business owners. They are free events so it seems silly not to take advantage of the opportunity to hear from e-commerce entrepreneurs willing to share their top tips for success, and have I mentioned there is wine and beer available after!