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.