Online shopping site start-ups

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At my E-commerce class, we had a guest speaker, Michelle M McCormack, who is a founder and digital director of the website, lovethecool12. She has plentiful experience in terms of digital and art. She majored in photography at School of Visual Art (where my younger sister goes!), worked with magazines, worked as a flash/web designer, owned her digital agency, started a digital community of a size of about 15,000 fans and is a fashion/tech blogger. With these interesting and colorful backgrounds, she launched lovethecool12 on September, 2013.

Love the cool 12 is an e-commerce website that the website runs a monthly item and people can buy it with $12. In South Korea, it is common that successful bloggers initiate group buying and then the blog becomes a shopping site. Michelle’s e-commerce also has a similar characteristic, except she fixed the price at $12.

As a start-up company, Michelle stated that that digital optimization and email were more important than social in terms of customer acquisition. This actually makes sense because SEO & SEM and email can be targeted and specified.

Digital Optimization

I think that CPC is somewhere between push and pull strategy. With a small crumble that people type in Google or Bing (meaning keyword), brands have to find the way to meet them (meaning optimizing keyword.) Higher position in the search result would increase traffic to the website, and visitors will stay or make a purchase if they like.  Google Analytics is a way to analyze keywords, and you can bid on keywords on Google Adwords based on Google Analytics. Google Analytics allows you to evaluate each keyword’s performance that led audiences to your website.

Email

Michelle regretted that she did not collect email addresses from her online community for the new business from the start. She knew her audiences in terms of their demographic, interests, age range, gender, etc. Buying a list is somewhat expensive and burdening to a new startup. She could have more customer acquisition if she collected email address from the start. However, there is a way if you don’t feel to buy a list. You may borrow an example of strategic collaboration with keep.com and refinery29.com.

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Refinery29.com is a lifestyle platform that circulates articles about fashion, entertainment, art and lifestyle. Keep.com is also a similar blog about the similar topic. In terms of audience size, the story is different. refinery29 has 527,470 Facebook likes as of today (10/23/2013), but keep has 43,600 Facebook likes. I’d subscribed refinery29 on Facebook, but I had no idea what keep.com is. In order for keep to increase its audience, Keep and Refinery announced a sweepstake that a winner could have a Phillip Lim bag. I fell into the marketing activity and subscribed keep.com for the Phillip Lim bag. (Why  they chose a Philip Lim bag is another story. Target and Philip Lim collaborated and introduced stuffs at that time. People were talking about the brand, and this giveaway could attract people.)

Ok, I have talked in Michelle’s point of view that email and digital optimization with SEO and SEM is the king. I agree that the two things are the important tactics to raise acquisition, but I kind of understand why she thinks that way. Although Michelle had a strong presence in SNSs in the past, but SNSs are not a powerful weapon for lovethecool12. Some improvements can be added in her SNSs in terms of brand integrity and content strategy.Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 10.00.29 PM Screen Shot 2013-10-23 at 9.59.54 PM

I understand that lovethecool12 just started last month, but she needs to enrich her website with fashion/tech related topics with a certain schedule like she did for her blog lovethecool. Since the website hasn’t settle down, SNS lacks contents and the brand page of each SNS is not integrated. For example, lovethecool12’s website has just updated, then Facebook’s cover and profile picture have to be updated with same or at least similar pictures.

I understand starting own e-commerce site must be tough, and I don’t even know how to start. Many applauds for start-up owners, and thanks Michelle for sharing her valuable experience.

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