Arriving in the UK with qualifications in business, Myriam Duran researched the fashion industry before launching Fasionista-Outlet.com, a money-off store for style-concious online shoppers. Here, she describes why finding, snagging and retaining customers is her main focus for the business.
What were you doing before you launched Fashionista-Outlet?
After studying Business Management and Administration back in Madrid, I came to London to continue my studies in marketing. At that time I started to work part-time in fashion stores and boutiques, where I got the fashion business bug.
After that I went back to Madrid, and cut my teeth at fashion, earning a living behind the scenes of well-known names in the industry and learning as much as I could about the whole business model, from distribution to corporate strategy.
Why did you settle on the ‘outlet’ model?
In 2008, when the economic crisis started to hit, I realised there was a huge potential market for discount designer clothing. At that time there was nothing online offering high-end brands with appealing discounts and I decided to make that spot mine.
I wanted to offer to everyone the chance to enjoy good customer service coupled with key, timeless designer pieces and big discounts starting at 60% off.
By opting for an online business model I was able to cover a broader audience, not only geographically, but also socially too, as it is much easier to go on shopping without leaving your home or your office than having to find the necessary time to do it in the real world.
I truly recommend anyone thinking of setting up a business to do it in the internet as it is a goldmine for economy.
Why did you choose to this particular sector?
The latest data shows that the UK spends more money online peer person than any other European country. Some 30% of all online retail sales across Europe during 2010 were made in the UK, where trading reached a total of £44 billion.
Looking ahead, every entrepreneur should bear in mind that latest research suggests that UK sales made over the web in 2011 will rise by £6.2 billion, or 14 per cent, year-on-year.
What was the hardest thing about starting up online?
For a non-techie like me, the hardest thing is to understand the various ecommerce platforms available in the market and to manage the system upon which the business stands.
As I did not have experience in ecommerce solutions, I had to research for months before deciding the best solution for my store – which is a two-tier by gender shop.
It took time and I had to learn from my mistakes to figure out the best solution. It took me more that a year to understand the way the internet works and to be honest I’m still learning!
How did you get momentum going?
It is a very competitive market, which makes it very hard if the budget for marketing and PR is tight.
We fed out promotions on the products through, Twitter, our blog, LinkedIn and facebook. Plus we used Pay-Per-Click advertising on Google. It’s good to network with other members of your field, sign up for conferences, network events and become a member of entrepreneur networks. It’s a good source of tips and advice for your business.
How did you build it?
I used Magento because it is open source, easy to use and it keeps upgrading as the internet world moves. I looked into drupal but I thought it did not give me as many facilities and modules to add to my store as Magento.
How will you grow the business?
I plan to keep upgrading the site, we are now working to develop an e-magazine which will cover fashion trends, fashion style and advice. We’ll time the issues to coincide with the launch of new clothes and other product lines. We’re also translating the website into Spanish language.
If I could go back I would invest more in marketing at the beginning. If you have a good product or service it is important that people know about it. By approaching the right audience more effectively from the start we could have grown even more quickly.
Of course, there are people out there who would shop with us, but don’t know that Fashionista-Outlet exists. So I am constantly thinking of new ways to find potential customers and I have set aside budget to make sure I can act on marketing opportunities when they arise.
What’s your best tip for eSellers?
Keep costumer happy: before and after care sale is very important.