8 min read
May 06, 2020
Tech Trends

Tips From a Business Owner on Pivoting to ECommerce Quickly

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced small businesses to move their work online or risk going under. GetApp shares tips from one entrepreneur to write a business plan for eCommerce that will outlast the pandemic.

Lauren MaffeoPrincipal Analyst

A few months ago, Julia Carney made a fateful choice to move her business online. As the owner of Julia Rose Boston, a consignment company for luxury handbags, she knew that in-store traffic wasn’t enough to sustain her business. In order to grow revenue, she would need to make her first business plan for eCommerce.

“We started using Ecwid, an eCommerce software solution,” Carney explains, “and while it was new and unknown, I recognized we had to make a change in order for the business to continue to grow. Now, I look back and see our perfectly timed transition to eCommerce.”

Mere weeks after Carney moved her business online, the COVID-19 pandemic forced non-essential businesses to close. When the state of Massachusetts declared a stay-at-home order on March 23, 2020, Carney found herself selling merchandise from her dining room. 

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Creating a new business plan for eCommerce

Lacking access to her large office with diverse stock, Carney needed new ways to sell inventory. Thus far, her plan has combined seasoned intuition with experimentation—and it’s working.

In an era when so many small businesses are creating their first business plans for eCommerce, Julia Rose Boston has a wealth of knowledge to share. GetApp spoke with Carney to learn more about her store’s journey from brick-and-mortar to eCommerce. Read on to learn:

  • How to drive eCommerce sales using social media

  • Why buyer behavior can help you sell more with less inventory

  • What you can do if supply chains slow down

  • Why investing in content is essential for eCommerce

  • Which software tools you’ll need to start your own eCommerce business

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eCommerce interview with small business owner Julia Carney

GetApp: Your shop doesn't have an eCommerce website; instead, you conduct sales through a social media bidding process. How did you decide on this approach, and what impact did it have on your revenue?

Carney: Our products are actually listed on an eCommerce website with Ecwid; our social media is just the vertical in which we promote them. 

Our audience was trained to buy on social media before we started using Ecwid. I wanted to keep the buying process somewhat familiar to what they were accustomed to. Ecwid allows us to build an online storefront without having to disconnect ourselves and our audience from social media.

Our approach was well thought out in that we want to instill a sense of urgency when customers are shopping. Our sales approach gives an instant and immediate access that motivates the buyer to make a purchase. We needed an eCommerce platform that was easy for our customers to use and intuitive for our staff to learn. 

 Since switching to the new platform, before the pandemic, we saw an increase in sales month over month. More importantly, the feedback from our customers has been overwhelmingly positive. They are thrilled with the new and improved check-out experience!

GetApp: When did you pivot to full-time remote work, and how long did it take you to revise your eCommerce strategy to stay in business throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?

Carney: We pivoted to remote work when the governor of Massachusetts issued a stay-at-home advisory for non-essential businesses on March 23, 2020. 

We revised our strategy immediately. At our core, we remain nimble and fluid; we look closely at changes to buyer behavior and what is happening more broadly with the economy and supply chains, and adapt accordingly.

GetApp: Were you selling inventory online prior to COVID-19? If so, how has your strategy changed?

Carney: We were already selling online prior to COVID-19, but our strategy changed. We knew our volume and cash flow would decrease without regular access to our full inventory, so we shifted focus to high-demand styles and models that would sell easily. 

Our approach during COVID-19 has been to focus on a curated selection of products. We're closely monitoring the number of pieces that we post to ensure that we can keep them in stock. 

Our supply chains have slowed, so we also shifted our content to stock that we know we'll have more regular access to and prioritized low-cost items to keep interest high on our page. That involves looking  closely at buyer demand and seasonal trends, then limiting the items we showcase to pieces that we think will sell quickly.

We have also used this time to experiment with content. Maintaining strong content—high-quality photos, engaging videos—has been a priority for us even if we work in unusual settings. We have been humbled by our buyers who have been understanding with the changes to our typical processes.

GetApp: Describe your content strategy in more detail. How much time do you spend creating digital content per week?

Carney: Because content remains a high priority for us, we spend at least 25-30 hours creating digital content each week. We take high-quality product shots, flat lays, and use other media to showcase products.

We also use videos of our items on people of diverse sizes, which is missing in our sector. Some of our content is less about sales and more to personalize our brand, educating consumers about us and our process.

We have had to adjust the majority of our content under current conditions. We nevertheless try to showcase that we are in this together, and that we're doing our best with changing circumstances.

GetApp: You mentioned using Ecwid as your eCommerce platform. Which other software and tech tools do you use to operate your store?

Carney: Within Ecwid, there are tech and payment features that help us manage our inventory and customers (Back-In-Stock, Abandoned Cart Recovery, and more). 

It’s important for us to use those tools in order to maintain a relationship with customers, which is core to Julia Rose Boston. We also use Shipstation as a hub for everything related to shipping and tracking, Trello as a project manager, and Wordpress as a static site for our brand. 

GetApp: Do you foresee continuing this strategy once the COVID-19 pandemic has passed? Why or why not?

Carney: I believe we will continue to use many of the strategies we’ve set in place; this has made us more efficient. We've learned what we really need to survive and thrive: Great photography, dynamic content, and a stellar team of adaptable, reliable people.

The most important lesson is to stay nimble, and focus on the core products that resonate with our buyer base. We have also worked hard to be relevant to their changing tastes and financial situations.

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