Could you tell us a bit about yourself, what you sell at Slightly Buddha and how you got started?
Sure, I’m a 48 year old that loves yoga, art and clothes. I have owned other businesses in the past but Slightly Buddha is my favorite as it is a way to combine three of the things that I love the most in life. We sell yoga inspired lifestyle/activewear. I previously owned a wholesale t-shirt business in the tourist industry so I had a little background in apparel and decorating but no knowledge of e-commerce. I just sort of dove into it.
Awesome. Love the name! How did you come up with it?
Actually, my boyfriend and I came up with the name during a brainstorming session. It stuck immediately and it’s a good fit for the brand. Our customers are women who are drawn to Yoga and Eastern philosophy but are also empowered critical thinkers.
What did it take to get your first products in stock? Has that changed since you started?
I did a lot of research ordering samples and working on designs, checking for quality, fit and functionality. All of our clothing styles have been sampled and tested. If it’s not comfortable or lacks quality, we won’t sell it. (Even if it comes with a tempting price tag.) We sell a combination of private label and custom production, and have also sold other brands in our store.
How did you get your first sale?
Our first sale was from a lifelong friend of mine. I vividly remember being both happy and sad to see that familiar name on the Shopify order page! We had a “real” sale a day or so later that was the result of social media advertising.
What obstacles and challenges have you overcome along the way?
In the first few months, I was disheartened because it was a lot harder to get website traffic and conversions than I had anticipated. I had to keep reminding myself that I had committed to give it an entire year before giving up. Things picked up after the first three months.
The biggest ongoing obstacles are getting consistent results from advertising as well as inventory management. We are often out of our most popular items and I know this means lost revenue.
What influenced your decision to use Shopify?
I looked at a few options but it seemed like Shopify was the most user-friendly. It also offered a lot of add on apps (which means I don’t have to pay up front to a developer to code something I may not want to keep) Also, I read reviews that the customer support was good and this was important to me since I knew basically nothing about web development and ecommerce.
What was the process like to get started? Is there anything you wish you had known then that you know now?
It was pretty straightforward, I did everything myself and just did it little by little, learning as I went. I wish I had known to crop all images to the same dimensions in the beginning as I ended up with all these photos that looked good individually but made the site as a whole look sloppier than I wanted it to. I had to go back and redo it all.
What Shopify apps do you currently use? Which apps are most important to your business?
I use A LOT of apps.
*Compass for benchmark reporting
*Also Bought/Recommendations is great for getting customers to add more items to their order. You can customize it to recommended specific products or let its algorithm determine which additional products to show your customers.
*Flexify to set up my Facebook product feed
*Pop-Up Window for my pop-up offer
*Mailchimp for email marketing
*Product Reviews (and the Product Reviews Ad-On) are very crucial to my business as reviews give the customer social proof and a 3rd party evaluation of our products. The Ad-On feature can be configured to be sent automatically so I don’t have to remember to solicit individual reviews.
*Quick Announcement Bar to advertise my shipping policies.
Wholesale Pricing by Supple for my wholesale customers
Recently I have added 2 new apps that I like a lot: SimplyCost which allows me to see the COGS of my sales and generates earnings reports, and Restocked Alerts which lets my customers sign up to receive email notifications when at out-of-stock item gets restocked. This lets me recover sales that I have missed and is also a good indicator of which items my customers are really excited about.
What theme did you choose for your site and why?
I chose Grid theme by Pixel Union. I liked the way it looked and it just seemed user friendly and shoppable.
What strategies have you used to attract more leads and grow Slightly Buddha?
I basically keep growing my email list and advertising budget! I have been using FB and IG ads and that has worked well so far. In the near future, I want to start focusing on Pinterest and influencer marketing.
What are some of the most effective ways that you interact with your customers?
I always try and answer incoming emails as quickly as possible. I don’t publish a phone number but do answer all email inquiries in a timely manner. It’s important to me that our customers are happy in their interaction with Slightly Buddha. I think this is the key to life-long customers and building a solid brand. I will bend over backwards in order to please a customer.
Are there any metrics you can share in terms of order volume, monthly sales, increased revenue, growth %, etc.?
We have been experiencing solid growth since the first year. We increased revenue 250% from 2016 to 2017 and are looking at a 50% increase over last year so far this year. At this point, we cannot support any more additional growth beyond the 50% until we get some support/logistical systems in place.
I suppose that’s not a terrible problem to have! To what do you attribute those positive metrics?
I work hard every day. But I love it, so it’s not really work.
What are you working towards now?
Right now is a big transition time. It’s time to hire employees and/or a fulfillment center so we can continue to grow.
Are there any blogs or other resources that have been helpful for you?
Honestly, I like the Shopify blog. It’s filled with good info and I read it a lot before I even opened my store. I am also a member of a few Facebook advertising groups which help me stay on top of the latest in marketing and advertising trends.
Based on your own success, what advice would you share with others who might be just starting out with Shopify (or with eCommerce in general)?
Don’t give up too soon! I was feeling like a failure and ready to throw in the towel after a couple months and I am so glad that I stuck it out.
Learn how to drive quality traffic to your website and don’t be afraid to spend money on advertising.
Lastly, the right picture can make a huge difference in product sell through rates so this is something that is worth experimenting with.
That’s great advice. Where can we learn more?
~ Jen Herrman, Founder of Slightly Buddha