Things to Know BEFORE Starting an eCommerce Store

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Here at Shopanova, we talk a lot about growing your online business, but we haven’t spent as much time talking about what to know before launching your store.

On a recent episode of The eComm Growth Show, our founders Daniel and Robby talked with Ember and Elina, founders of The Clothes Rak, about how they got started and lessons they learned along the way.

The pair started their online store in 2018 after meeting two decades prior while working for Nordstrom. Both partners had loads of experience working in retail, and it has drastically shaped the way they run The Clothes Rak. When they joined the eComm Growth Show, they offered many great insights into what it takes to start an online business.

Here’s what you need to know!

Love What You Sell

Like most small businesses, The Clothes Rak struggled throughout its first year. There was a lot of learning and growing through each challenge that Elina and Ember encountered.

One lesson they learned was to sell what you love. They had been focusing on doing the same things every other online clothing boutique was doing. They bought products that they assumed everyone would like, and they ran promotions that they thought would be popular, but they weren’t happy with what they were selling.

The store began to carry clothes that Elina and Ember wanted to wear, and they carved out a unique niche in the online clothing market. Now, people constantly ask them where they are finding products, but to Elina and Ember, it’s second nature.

“Wait a second. Like.. this business is for us. We want to be happy with what we put out, and if we’re not happy with the product that we sell, they’re not going to buy it from us.” (3:27)

When you sell something you genuinely love and believe in, your audience will see that and want to buy in on it. It has allowed Elina and Ember to be more personable with their customers, creating a unique connection that has people coming back.

It’s Like a Retail Store

Because of their vast experience in retail, Elina and Ember have treated The Clothes Rak as they would a retail storefront.

Every day they have to come in and unlock the door, but for them, this means posting a photo on Instagram. They’ve taken all of their retail practices and translated them into actions that work for an online store.

“One thing that we do a lot here is we relate everything that we do online to a retail store.” (2:11)

One example of this is the way that they have organized their website. Ember previously worked in retail merchandising, and she’s taken those practices and implemented them at The Clothes Rak. Everything is coordinated in a way that products that go well together are listed near each other. If you like something from one collection, you’ll find the rest of that collection all around it.

“We’ve just learned so much from retail. Everything we do on the website is based off of our knowledge and a retail store.”(20:56)

Working with a Good Team

One of the biggest challenges that new business owners face is carefully crafting a team of people that work well together and establish a positive culture. Often, this process begins with choosing the right business partner. While some people say that you shouldn’t go into business with family or friends, we don’t necessarily see it that way.

As you may know, Daniel and Robby are friends and family, and Elina and Ember are longtime friends. As long as you maintain an honest, open line of communication, we believe that you can prosper.

Many businesses also have a hard time knowing when the right time is to hire people. Do you hire someone to prepare for growth, or do you wait until the company has grown and you are overwhelmed by the amount of work on your plate?

Everyone handles this differently, and there isn’t always a correct way to go about it.

“No one’s ever going to tell you, ‘Hey, you need to hire so-and-so.’ You just kind of have to come to that yourself. You know, if it’s taking too much of your time, that’s when it’s time to offload that responsibility.” (20:25)

Are you an online business owner looking to grow your store?

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