Things I learnt through selling my old clothes online (O2O)

It looks harder than you think. Much hard.

The story started when I had an over flowing wardrobe and my friend told me there’s a Facebook group that allows people to sell old clothes in our neighbourhood. So I signed up for that and finally took the time to take the photos of my clothes and made it look slightly better. To be exact, it wasn’t exactly online transaction, it’s more omnichannel online to offline (O2O). 

I didn’t plan well at all. Period!

Let’s break it down by 4Ps – Marketing 101.

Product – the things people sold were of all sorts, from designer bags, clothing, assesories to cosmetics. One thing I did notice is that most people only sold less than 10 items at a time. Or they would have an open house, taking photos of their clothing rack. -> I thought mine would look so much better if I take individual photos especially with a bit of styling too. (Now I know, it’s hard to be a Taobao shop owner)

Price – Some were selling claim-to-be authentic Prada for HK$2,000 (Not bad of a bargain if it’s real). But for most of the clothing items, it’s about $10-$300. Mostly, below $100 I would say. -> So I had a vague idea of how i should price my clothes. $10-$250 for casual clothing to designer night gowns. (Not too bad as a deal).

People – Here, I meant the members of the group. This group consists of both the house-wives (usually expat or foreign Chinese), working ladies like myself and domestic helpers. -> Not be a racists but my target audience should be small-frame Asians who look for a bargain.

Promotion – I saw bundled offers (all for $100 deal) but those products looked bad. -> So GWP (Gift with Purchase) seems a good idea given I have many old greeting cards and many untouched scarfs.

Before I actually started – the whole thing seems such a well-planned idea. I will have my wardrobe space and some cash. Well, things weren’t as easy as I thought:

Here’s what I learn:

1. Products

My dresses are nice but taking individual photos and styling them took time! It took up my whole morning and I was phsycially and mentally exhausted after taking 32 photos (I didn’t manage to take all). So feeling accomplised, I uploaded the dressesd directly and mentioned an open-house, at the afternoon the coming Sunday. (Which was also ignorant of me to consider my target audience). I also put up a few more with the pricing on and I also put another two boxes up with unified pricing ($20 and $10)

Also, with that size of assortment, I was not able to handle the customer service effectively.

2. Pricing –

The Native me thought I could handle all the enquiries later and price precisely better. The sad truth is, I put $10-250. and

a. I ended up with overwhelming responses asking me how much is a certain dress

b. I price the dresses differently and it’s extremely difficult for me to remember how I priced them and I was not as organised so I only put down the prices beneath each photos much later. Due to the arbituary pricing, I ended up spending another hour putting the stickers on the clothes individually and re-arranging my dresses according to its price.

c. Reservation is not a thing. I just couldn’t keep track of all the requests. So I ended up cancelling the reservation service I thought I could offer.

3. People

Well, many people said they could come or asked for a different time (unfortunately, I picked the wrong weekend. I was very busy that weekend too).

Most of the members who were interested in the dresses were domestic helpers. I did these wrong:

– Timing: I didn’t consider rescheduling my time-slot. Sunday is their day-off. Most of them would have made plans to go in town to meet their friends or go to church. Setting it in the afternoon was very unconvinent of them.

– Pricing: back to pricing again. Many of them are of lower income. They won’t be willing to buy second-hand clothes over $50. $20-$50 should be the sweet spot.

Out of the 30 something requests, only 2 people actually turned up. Good that I had 100% sell-through. I also managed to cross-sell a couple items. 

4. Promotion – 

The free greeting  cards I put on my post weren’t exactly a traffic driver. No one actually liked it. But I gave it to my second customer and she gladly accepted. These cards are nice and I hope they will make someone’s day.

OK, I wasted quite a bit of time setting up the open-house and waiting for people to come. I prisoned myself on a beautiful sunshiney day while I could totally be out at the beach roasting myself.  Consider what I made and compare to my normal hourly wage, it was not a good investment of my time.

What I will do differently next time?

1. Narrow the assortment down. 5 items tops so that once it’s sold. It’s gone. No open-house needed.

2. Lower my prices and offer unified pricing. $50 each, $100 each, $150 each for each batch. Cross selling is a good idea but it also needs manpower to back it up.

3. Open-house is not a good idea unless you are moving out of the place. It’s too hard to manage and too much preparation.

4. Timing! Posts on this group got sunk down pretty quickly. Your stock should be cleared before your post is down to the second page.

5. Model shots helps conversion. I show my Instagram photos with my #adressaday project and my customers were impressed and they were more willing to buy know how great it’ll look.

Well, it’s a valueable lesson. I’d never know if I never tried. It does take a lot to be a good enterprenuer.

One very wise man once said, the secret recipe for retail success is simple: 

Connect   Engage  Convert

I connected my potential customers on the Facebook group, I engaged with them through enquiry and the interaction while at the point of sale, last but not least, I had 100% sell-through – Convert!!!

Now, it’s time for a bath and unwind.

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Meet Zalora’s Popup Store – an O2O Story in Hong Kong

O2O has been such a buzz word that you can apply to the same high school sex metaphor again. 

O2O is like high school sex. Everyone talks about it; few actually did it; for who who did it, they have no idea what they are doing. 

Just fill in the first subject to something new and exciting. You get the idea. 

O2O becomes such a buzz word to a level that even in a local Personal Loan TVC, this very word was used in the ad copy. (Something like we offer you the O2O option. You can apply the loan online and go pick up the money at the branch). The first time I heard that. The first thing popped to my kind was “marketers are you target audience for the ad? So marketers tend to over spend on their credit card and need help?” Or the copywriter was too immersed into the buzz word and thought everyone understand what O2O stands for. (Sorry, completely irrelevant. I’m still yet to find out the answer yet)

O2O (online to offline and offline to online) is to use marketing means to bring online traffic to offline stores and vice versa. (At least, it’s my definition). 

Back to Zalora, Zalora is one of the major vertical fashion online retailers in South East Asia. The popup store is more of a showroom for customers to try on and experience the product/sample firsthand and but online through their app or their website. The products will ship to you. 

The store is located at Windsor House, Causeway Bay. It took us something to find it as we were under the impression that it was more like a roadshow but it was indeed a store.

First glance – 

 
The store is decorated with a post- Morden minimalist industrial style, with open display of products that encourages interaction – picking up, touching it or trying it on.

Wifi is there – thank god. That the most basic need in the new age Marslow’s hierarchy of needs. 

  
What’s so special about it?

There are Samsung tablets (you can shop directly from the app installed on the stanley) and a mac book attached to a bar code scanner (you can be your own shop assistant , scanning the bar code on the price tag yourself) for you ease to shop.  – you get 20% off if you download the app on your android and key in the promo code(not sure if it works on iOS too)

 
 
What’s my favourite part? The QR code on the price tag. Open up the Zalora app (it took about 1-2 minutes to actually load it – Not Cool) and scan the QR code. The item would be automatically added to your cart.

So I tried an item on for the sizing  – yes I’m a size 8 

Scan the QR code 

  
It’s in my shopping cart (or bag)

 
I’m yet to check out though. 

My colleague went back to the store after work. Apparently, it was one of the busiest stores in the mall. 4 of the 5 items were already sold out.  If you have HSBC credit card, you get 28% on selected items. I hope they replenish soon or they are missing out a huge opportunity. (Actually, this is the perfect opportunity for them to acquire customers database  –  leave your contact info, you’ll get a notification with an offer once we restock. Easy as pie).

My take – it’s a good way to get our spoiled Hong Kong shopper to have a taste of online shopping, encourage first time trial, and above all brand awareness building. Sales are a bonus I would say

As a shopper, I’m an advanced online shopper as in I shop everything I wear online; I don’t need further preaching on online shopping. It still felt good to try out the sizing saving me the hassle of returning or exchanging. 

Time to shop ūüėČ   

Showrooming – ecomm retail jargon in laymen terms

The term showrooming is so common especially with the boom of ecommerce. Showrooming, refers to the act that consumers look for products to buy in the brick and mortar and while in-store or after, go online and look for a cheaper price.

This was exactly what I did today. While waiting impatiently for my friend trying on every pair of pants and shirt in Ted Baker, some dress caught my eyes. A mom with two kids were looking for a dress for an event, according to her words. She picked out about a dozen dresses to try on and this particular Langley dress was one of them. She tried it on and it looked like a mini dress for her and not too flattering. To just fulfill my evil self that I look better in that dress than her, I tried that on.

When I zipped up and looked into the mirror, I was stunned, speechless.

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I set myself a trap. I fell in love with that dress! When I checked the price tag, it’s don’t within the price range for my dresses.

So I did what many others did – I went online to check. On tedbaker.com, the dress is about 15% cheaper already. The problem is it only shipped to the UK…

So I also did what I usually did – I went on Taobao and checked if they carried that dress. I found many of the nice dresses on Taobao but not the one I love.

And I went one step further – share on social media and sought for staff discount. And tah dah – someone I know has it!

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Now, I just need to wait, for my dress to arrive in due time;-)

Digital Marketing Vs ECommerce 101

I’ve been asked this questions too many times “What’s the difference between digital marketing and ecommerce?”

Interesting enough, it usually came from head hunters.

So here’s my take on the differences:

Digital Marketing 

It’s part of the overall marketing. It’s one of the many marketing means, like OOH, Print, TV etc.¬†Digital marketing includes anything marketing means with digital media, which includes but not limited to:

– Your Own Website

– Search Engine Marketing

  • Paid Search
  • ¬†Image
  • To put it on layman terms, you basically paid a few keywords/query related to your brand/products, when people type in these keywords, your ad appears on the search results as ad. It’s paid advertising
  • Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
  • According to Wikipedia, SEO isis the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine’s “natural” or un-paid (“organic”) search results. In general, the earlier (or higher ranked on the search results page), and more frequently a site appears in the search results list, the more visitors it will receive from the search engine’s users. SEO may target different kinds of search, including image search, local search, video search, academic search,[1] news search and industry-specific vertical search engines.
  • Search Results
  • Again, Laymen terms, you user different strategy to make your website attractive to the search engine so they rank you higher when people search

– Display

  • Display includes banners and text links (this is more important for cultures that love to read, eg. China)

Yahoo Home Page Screen Cap– eDM

  • Including sending emails to your own database and to the database of others – still one of the most cost-effective methods for driving quality traffic to your site especially in-house eDM
  • an eDM from Kate Spade
  • Social Media Marketing
  • For this I can go on and on… See 4Cs for Social Media Marketing¬†and blog
  • Facebook
  • Weibo
  • Instagram
A Shoppable online magazine

A Shoppable online magazine

– Mobile Marketing – any marketing done on mobile or tablet platforms including advertising, website, app SOLOMO etc.

ECommerce 

Ecommerce is according to Wikipedia, “commonly known as e-commerce or eCommerce, is a type of industry where the buying and selling of products or services is conducted over electronic systems such as the Internet and other computer networks. Electronic commerce draws on technologies such as mobile commerce, electronic funds transfer, supply chain management, Internet marketing, online transaction processing, electronic data interchange (EDI), inventory management systems, and automated data collection systems. Modern electronic commerce typically uses the World Wide Web at least at one point in the transaction’s life-cycle, although it may encompass a wider range of technologies such as e-mail, mobile devices, social media, and telephones as well.”

Laymen terms again, it’s the act of doing business on digital channels. For that you need marketing and operation.

For different industries, operation can be very different. Just to name a few:

– Hotels/Travels – Operation involves the payment gateway, booking engines on the site and how it links to the reservation system in the hotel or air ticketing system

– Online learning – Operation involves payment gateway, how the online subscription is manage. How you are billed monthly, when your subscription end etc

– Retail – This is very complicated. There’s a term called – Fulfillment. Basically, operation includes planning assortment and inventory for ECommerce, warehousing the products, packing the products, payment gateway, application integration middleware, ERP, shipping the product out, return & exchange and aftersales.

Of course, there’s the marketing side of Ecommerce which is quite overlapping with digital marketing. However, Ecommerce marketing is not just using digital means, you see OOH sides or print advertisement or even TVC promoting online sales. This is Ecommerce marketing too. So, it’s not purely digital.

Getting more confused?  One Sentence, digital marketing is one of the marketing means; ecommerce refer to the whole process of doing transaction with digital media. Hope it helps.

Why I love ASOS – From the Eyes of an Ecom marketer and an online shoppaholic

I wouldn’t say it’s a confession of an online shoppaholic. It’s more like putting things into perspective from a target audience’s eyes who happens to be a semi insider.

My Favourite eCommerce site of all time is ASOS! No doubt about it. It’s THE eCommerce site that got me addicted to online shopping and abandon brick and mortar as a whole.

Why do I love ASOS? Cheap and stylish isn’t just the only factors. [All images below are screen cape

1. Appeal to your Audience

Most of the customers, including me are almost always attracted by its deals and offering. Much too often, I didn’t end up buying just the discounted products, but a lot more full price products.

They know their target audience well. What are they looking for? They are looking for affordable fashion that gives you your character and make you able to stay up with the trend without paying your whole salary.

Deals on Home Page:

What grabs your first attention is the key visual that showcase “what’s in?”.¬†

And next – Deals! Prominent discount sign just beneath the top navigation:

What’s more? They appeal to both people who look for a percentage discount with image and also the people who look for a fixed amount off discount with plain text.

Image

2. Basics

  • Free shipping to over 190 countries. Try beating that.
  • 850 brands from fast fashion to high street fashion at outlet prices. ¬†
  • All prices are shown in my local currency.

3. User Friendliness

Easy Navigation 

  • All you have to do on Home Page is to pick gender and what items you are looking for.¬†To avoid cluster, you can filter by size, colors, price ranges and brands etc. The filters are all conveniently located on your left hand side that doesn’t distract you from the alluring products
  • Image
  • After filtering, you can actually see what fits you. You can choose the viewing options to display more for your to you see at one time. I can further sort by price and what’s newImage
  • If there’s multiple colors available, there’s a sign showing ‘More Colors”. When mouse over the products, you have the options to save or quick view, which is pretty normal for all fashion ecommerce site. What really got me is their Runway video of almost all products that helps you the visualize how the piece of clothing looks like on human (They give you the size of the model and what size they are wearing too)
  • ¬†Image
  • Fit Visualizer – that’s actually something new that I never tried. I personally just think it’s a good gimmick but not that friendly to use. Not that I will actually take out a dress and measure it according to the instruction and fill that in. – Nope, not for me. The size guide is actually more practical.
  • Image
  • Image
  • Enticing suggestion – they match a look for you that you can easily “buy the look” with a click and also the product suggestion are so accurate. The dresses they show are just what I also like.
  • Image
  • The checkout is just smooth.

3. Way to get you

  • Abandon carted email – after you put in a few items in your cart and you didn’t check out with. You immediately get an email reminding you what you liked
  • Limited Time offers – You get it all the time with a count-down ticking on the animated email
  • Fans only offers – there are landing pages that are posted on Facebook that are only available for a limited of time that builds your urge

Enough for today. Now I have some serious shopping today. Stay Fab! Guess what I will buy? ;-p