If you’re looking for some real motivation, we’ve got just the thing for you. eCommerce can have its up and downs, but sometimes you just have to look at a booming brand that’s come out the other side to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Wee Squeak is a highly successful brand that designs, manufactures and sells fun shoes for kids. We sat down with owner Susan Bradley to bring you a real-life inside look into what it takes to build and run a winning online store.
Describe Wee Squeak
Our shoes actually do squeak when little ones walk. It’s heartwarming to see how happy the squeak makes them, and, and it’s like having a built-in toddler tracker! All shoes come with “silent squeakers”, so when it’s time for quiet, you don’t have to change shoes!
How did you decide that this was the niche for you?
Wee Squeak was born in 2005. The founders discovered the product while they were in China, and soon after had their own designs made for the American market. I was a customer first, and when I sold my company, I was hired by Wee Squeak to expand the business. A few years later I bought the company. I know first-hand how much fun toddlers and their parents have with our shoes, so I knew this is the right product for me.
How did you make your first sale?
Our first sales were to retailers. In fact, for many years that was our focus. At one point, we had more than 800 wholesale accounts in North America. In 2013, our sales were down for the first year ever. By 2014, we decided to close the majority of our wholesale accounts. We felt the best opportunity for us was in direct-to-consumer sales. It was almost like starting over again.
How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
We’re based in Dallas, Texas. Before we made the switch from wholesale to direct-to-consumer, we had a 15,000-square-foot warehouse, more than 75,000 units on hand at all times, and a large payroll. When we decided to change to direct-to-consumer, we moved to 3rd party fulfillment right here in town. The benefit to us was reduced inventory, and we now control our costs – we have fixed cost for shipping each pair we sell.
Tell us about your successes and failures on finding your most profitable sales channels.
We’ve learned by trial and error, but over the last few years, we’ve used Facebook to generate a constant stream of leads for our business. We’ve built a series of email funnels that convert leads into customers. It’s very effective, and now we have reliable revenue every day of the year.
Our biggest mistake? Inventory. It’s taken me a few years to understand that individual consumers don’t shop like wholesale buyers. Wholesale buyers would want a style produced in 3 or 4 colors. They’d buy full size runs. Not consumers. There are clear favorites, and we have a core range of sizes that sell far more than others. Because of this, we’ve sold out of some styles very quickly, and lost opportunities.
What is the biggest mistake you’ve made?
The biggest mistake I’ve made is not allowing extra manufacturing time. Because of this, we’ve faced times where we just haven’t had enough product. So while I haven’t had to write checks, it cost us in lost sales.
How is StoreYa’s Traffic Booster helping you with your business?
I’m learning that I can’t be an expert at everything. We do an amazing job at generating leads on Facebook and Instagram, but I hadn’t used Google Adwords in years. Traffic Booster brings us new leads that we may not have otherwise had. It’s an inexpensive way to increase our reach, and I don’t have to manage it.
We’ve had great success with getting well-qualified, low-cost traffic. The conversions have been good, and, I know that because we have a system in place, even if the traffic doesn’t convert on the first visit we have an opportunity to convert the leads we get over time, in our email funnels.
What is your no.1 recommendation for new store owners?
Focus on getting quality traffic to your site.
The number one thing I see in the forums is that people ask for input on their site because they’re not getting sales. But when you ask about traffic, it turns out that they’re only getting 20 or 30 visits a day. Frankly, that’s not enough. They will thank themselves if they take the time to understand eCommerce conversion rates and run the numbers. At 1% conversion, you need 1,000 qualified visitors to get 10 orders. And most of these people aren’t getting 1,000 visits in a month.
We’ve built our eCommerce business from the ground up, and I feel like we’ve made almost every possible mistake. Along the way we figured it out. It’s not easy. Because of this, we started The Social Sales Girls. We share a behind-the-scenes look at how we do it at Wee Squeak. I think it’s helpful, because people get to see how things really happen, and how even though we do very well, often the things we do aren’t perfect.—
Go Wee Squeak, thanks for showing us what goes into building a successful brand! Susan has a closed group called Shopify Brand Academy. We’d encourage anyone that’s building a brand to join us there!
Nicole is a content writer at StoreYa with over sixteen years experience and flair for storytelling. She runs on a healthy dose of caffeine and enthusiasm. When she's not researching the next content trend or creating informative small business content, she's an avid beachgoer, coffee shop junkie and hangs out on LinkedIn.
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