Soraya Quigley is the owner of an online fashion boutique, Coze di Roze. Founded in 2008 as a bricks-and-mortar boutique, Coze di Roze moved to full online sales in 2011. Coze di Roze still offers a personal and one to one service for every customer. Via Facebook.
Rodolfo Melogli: Soraya, how has ecommerce and social media changed your business?
Soraya Quigley: Using social media allowed me to move from owning a stand-alone unit with associated overheads such as rental, rates and salaries to a cost-effective business which has been in profit for 2 years.
Rodolfo Melogli: Wow, that’s something to be proud of! So, given your experience, what is the biggest mistake small bricks-and-mortar store owners do?
Soraya Quigley: Well, one of the biggest mistakes a small retail business makes is to overstock and spread their range of products. Concentrating on smaller ranges of products and carrying smaller volumes of stock, keeps customers interested and keeps your quality high.
Rodolfo Melogli: Very interesting. Is this another way to say that ecommerce and social media should be used to test new stock without investing too much on it first?
Soraya Quigley: Absolutely! Using social media is an effective way of testing the water. You can pose questions to your online community and calculate the responses in order to help gauge whether to invest in new stock or how much to take on board.
Rodolfo Melogli: And you can even use your ecommerce website to test new products, just by uploading them at zero stock and checking the website analytics to assess their sales potential.6. Together with testing, what’s the main advantage of using social media as a way to drive online sales?
Soraya Quigley: Well, most social media platforms are still free to use so you can reach thousands of potential customers without paying out large marketing or advertising costs. And if you do decide to pay for advertising on social media, you are in full control of how much you spend.
Rodolfo Melogli: OK, that makes a lot of sense. Let me ask you something very important: what’s the worst consequence of not having an online presence for small businesses?
Soraya Quigley: Probably two fold: firstly you keep your business restricted to footfall customers and/or word of mouth and secondly, in today’s business world, not having an online presence can look unprofessional and not trustworthy.
Rodolfo Melogli: Exactly. The important thing to highlight here is that business owners think having just “a website” is enough to convert sales… but unfortunately an eCommerce website needs to be well-designed, well marketed and optimised. What do you think?
Ecommerce website requirements
Soraya Quigley: I would feel having a user-friendly and uncomplicated eCommerce website one of the most important things in business today. Not every purchaser is online savvy and in their 20’s or 30’s. Using a trusted payment partner such as PayPal is also vital.
Rodolfo Melogli: Plus, online trading requires a lot of “engagement”. How do you engage with your audience and enhance trust, in order to turn prospects into a buyers?
Soraya Quigley: Using the Coze di Roze Facebook page has been vital in developing a trust between customers and myself. Offering a quick and honest response to queries means I’m not just interested in that sale, I’m interested in the person becoming a regular customer.
Rodolfo Melogli: That’s great. It’s all about Customer LifeTime Value: and great customer support is definitely the best investment you can make. 10. How important are customer reviews?
Reviews & Word-of-mouth
Soraya Quigley: Customer Reviews are always important and look good as testimonials on Facebook and on your website. I do feel though that a word of mouth review is far more effective plus depending on your target audience and your product, customer reviews may not be as sought after.
Rodolfo Melogli: That’s a very interesting point of view. Let’s now talk about your USP. How vital is your USP, and how does that translate into “buy from me, right now”?
Soraya Quigley: My USP has not changed since I first opened my business in 2008. It’s what made my business different in a very competitive market and it’s not about “buy from me right now” – it’s about “you can trust me and I will look after you”, so you will then return again and again to purchase from me.
Rodolfo Melogli: So, on a scale from 1 to 10, how important is customer loyalty?
Soraya Quigley: Customer loyalty for me is a 10. I have a very strong customer return statistic. Facebook has been vital in developing trust between customers and myself.
Rodolfo Melogli: That’s awesome! This is a great lesson for ecommerce entrepreneurs: Facebook can be the easiest and most personal way to enhance customer trust. Finally, what’s the biggest reason physical shop owners should use ecommerce?
Soraya Quigley: Using ecommerce allows your business to have the widest and busiest shop window. You can reach a far wider audience and allow them to purchase from you without them physically making the journey to your shop unit. People are now time constrained almost as much as financially constrained.