Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
We love the California surf brands and decided the UK needed one that reflected our cold hard landscapes and surf scene. The majority of our products are stock apparel which is printed in-house here in the UK alongside a few accessories that are imported from overseas. We try to keep as much as possible in the UK!
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
We tried market stalls and used social media to gain some traction. We did as much as possible for free. Running competitions and giving away free products to bloggers worked really well for us. Our first internet sale took a while but starting local really helped get the word out! We get most of our sales in-store using Shopify POS. The websales have started coming in a lot more regularly and we hope to really push this side over the coming year. We will be opening our second shop in the centre of Newcastle in a couple of months and the plan is to push it further next year.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
The main one is Shopify POS. This is great for linking our shop and websales together and allows us to control everything. Better Coupon Box is a great free one that always seems to increase our websales whenever we use it, but we try to use it sparingly so it's more of a special offer and not just a constant discount. And Panda Catalog has been really useful for creating a quick catalog to send to potential stockists. We handle full fulfilment in house using Royal Mail and also offer free returns with Royal Mail's returns service. You just stick a prepaid label in with the order and our customers can send their order back hastle free. This gives potential customers confidence they can buy from us and won't have any problems if the product isn't quite right for them.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Biggest mistake is thinking "if you build it they will come." You have to put the work in and get people to your website or store. Don't get downhearted if the sales don't fly in from the start. If you're on a limited budget do your research and get as much free and smart advertising as you can. Use social media and get opinions on your products before committing to buying in bulk. And biggest of all NEVER GIVE UP!!