Mass Customisation – Mon Purse rises to the Challenge
For most budding online entrepreneurs, it is a daunting task to get a business off the ground. Adding the challenge of customisation is not an easy thing to pull off online either. Much work needs to take place to make a website function well enough to create configurable options that allow you to customise products online. We hooked up with Lana Hopkins to find out her reasons for starting this business and what her journey has been like since she commenced operating her startup business Mon Purse, a custom purse and handbag online retailer.
How did the business come about?
“The idea came about in late 2013/early 2014 after spending way too many hours pounding the pavements looking for my perfect handbag. Knowing that I want “the perfect handbag” and that I wouldn’t pay premium price for something that’s not exactly what I want, I thought there simply has to be a better way. While working on my last ecommerce business (which we sold in 2014) with a beautiful supplier in Turkey I decided to head out there to investigate the quality of manufacturing, and to set up, and tap into the high European craftsmanship available. We had a vision… to create an elegant, state of the art bag builder, and then follow this up with high quality, customisable and bespoke creations, delivered to your door. Think Shoes of Prey, but for handbags and clutches.”
A few years ago, mass customisation was seen as the next thing in eCommerce, do you think this has matured or is it just the beginning?
“Customisation is set to become a big trend and has been growing over the last few years. Shoes of Prey has grown online and through its presence in David Jones stores, while established brands like Nike, Prada, Louis Vuitton and others have also began to offer products that can be customised in some way. Mass Customisation is the future as it will lead to more profitable revenues, connected customers & lower production costs. Sellers are discovering the value of letting customers create their own unique products. Retailers use Big Data to present a personalised set of products to their customers—it’s been a driving force behind Amazon’s success. Now brands are taking personalisation a big step forward into mass customisation. They are discovering that they can elevate customer loyalty and engagement—and use their customer base as an engine of advocacy to potential buyers.”
Who are your customers?
“Women who love high quality handbags and clutches that they can personalise and customise which are also affordable (mass market). The Mon Purse lady is not defined by age, we have customers as young as 18 and some in their late 60’s. rather they are shoppers seeking a unique, special one of a kind experience in a cluttered market place. They live in metro and regional Australia as well as in the US, UK, New Zealand.”
What marketing channels do you use, and which are the most successful?
“It’s a combination of everything. Testing and trying everything is key- we’ve allocated a bit of budget everywhere to see what works, and ensure that we track everything digitally to ensure we don’t keep going with bad strategies.”
Channels used and learnings:
- Focusing on SEO is an important medium to long term strategy.
- Content is king; blogs- drive traffic.
- Collaborations are great opportunities- our collaboration with The Collective magazine has been good for sales and also awareness.
- Press (mostly digital) is good for brand awareness.
- Gifting bloggers and industry influencers (if they genuinely love your product and its top quality) they will share it with their audience. This has been very effective. The key is to get your product into people’s hands so they can smell, touch and feel the quality.
- Meaningful EDM’s – relevant communication is key. Sound awareness of your customers/database is vital.
- – Retargeting through AdRoll and other similar digital campaigns are great.
- – Grow social in a smart way. Buying 1000 fans in India isn’t worth it.
“For us creating an unforgettable high quality product and exceptional customer service has always been key. People never forget how you made them feel. We have a lot of repeat business – its important to focus on the 80/20 rule. In other words, 80% of your sales will come from 20% of your customers – so it is important to know who they are.”
Where to from here?
“The Mon Purse team is currently growing. We are very fortunate to have exceptionally talented individuals coming onboard, with incredible experience in Retail Operations, Technology, Digital Marketing and Analytics, Fashion Styling, Social Media and Customer Service. Concurrently we are also in the middle of finalising our second capital raising round. Our next step will be to create an exceptional Omni channel platform and add more features and functions to our 3D bag builder technology and scale to the US market. There are also designer and talent collaborations in our busy roadmap – so a lot is happening. It is a very exciting time for us.”
Lana Hopkins will be presenting at the Onine Retailer Expo and Conference 21-23 July in Sydney