Case Study: Wayfair.com

I can’t quite remember how I first heard about Wayfair.com… I think it may have been a commercial on HGTV…  It’s my newest addiction.  Since buying our new home, I can’t stop scouring this website for fabulous finds.  My first purchase — a tufted arch upholstered king headboard in parchment, on sale for $246.00 with free shipping:

Tufted+Arch+Headboard+in+Parchment

I purchased the headboard during one of Wayfair’s Daily Sales, which they advertise as “Limited-time deals. Up to 70% OFF top picks. Launch every day at noon ET.”  The list price is noted as $339.00, but during the Daily Sale, it was marked down to $246.00 (and that includes free shipping!) — a steal if you ask me!  I have been searching high and low for a well priced, tufted headboard.  In fact, I pinned the very same headboard from Target.com for $409.99!

I opted not to sign up for expedited shipping for an additional fee because it said in the listing that the headboard would take 4-5 weeks to ship anyway… Well I ordered on a Thursday and by Saturday morning (moving day), the headboard was waiting for me at our new house!  Icing on the cake!

I would say that a great first experience is the ideal way to win over customers.  But, in addition, to my great first experience, Wayfair.com’s website is well designed and has a lot of great features that makes it easy for customers to keep coming back for more.

How Wayfair.com keeps customers coming back for more:

  • Great use of product photos all over the website
  • Ability to shop by style (i.e. Go For Glam: Vintage Chic Style, Tailored and Timeless Living Room)
  • Ability to shop by featured categories on things you didn’t even know you needed!  (i.e. The Bright Way: Lighting Updates, Cat Trees & Purrfect Perches)
  • Daily Sales with additional markdowns, sorted by categories
  • Wayfair Rewards (earn 3% back in Wayfair credits on all purchases, refer a friend and get $10 in Wayfair credit plus your friend gets 10% off their first purchase over $100)

Wayfair.com also gets it right with their product listings:

  • Each product listing has creative, descriptive copy along with product features from type of fabric to detailed measurements
  • Questions & Answers section features questions that shoppers have asked along with the answers (example: What are the dimensions of the buttons?  Does the back of the headboard have the same material as the rest?)
  • Customer reviews with star ratings (who doesn’t love customer reviews?!)
  • View more products from the same manufacturer
  • View more products from the same collection
  • Option to buy clearance items (i.e. returns of the same product with deep discounts)

Case Study: 6 Retailers Revolutionizing The Online Shopping Experience

I came across a great article on American Express OpenForm, a great resource for small business owners.  The article, “6 Retailers Revolutionizing The Online Shopping Experience,” talks about some innovative online shops that put a twist on shopping online.

Here are my two cents on the retailers featured on the article:

1.  Warby Parker

warby parkerHow it works:  The eyeglass shop features a “Home Try-On Program” where shoppers can pick out 5 eyeglass frames they would like to try, Warby Parker ships the selected frames, the shopper gets to try them on, and then pick the frames they would like to order, then they can return the try-ons for free.

What’s cool about it:  I have a very round face so trusting that an online picture of frames on a model will look good on me is difficult.  The Home Try-On Program is a great way to earn trust from customers.  Best of all, the website is well designed (nice to look at and easy to navigate through) and the eyeglass frames are very reasonably priced (most are $95 for designer-looking frames).

2.  The Dollar Shave Club

dollar shave clubHow it works:  For a few dollars a month, this Shave Club will “Shave Time. Shave Money.” by sending you a subscription of men’s razors each month.

What’s cool about it:  I know that my husband spends a lot of money each month on toiletries like razors, and razors can get very pricy ($15+ per pack of 4 blades).  With The Dollar Shave Club, their most expensive package is $9 per month and includes 4 blades and shipping.  As an added bonus, you don’t have to make a trip out to purchase razors (and probably pick up a bunch of other things you don’t really need too).

3.  LittleBlackBag.com

littleblackbagHow it works:  This online retailer features women’s’ handbags and accessories and works as part stylist, part social shopping club.  Step 1 – shoppers select one item that they like and would like to purchase.  Step 2 – a online stylist selects two other products the shopper might like.  Step 3 – the shopper either purchases the three final items or can swap bag items with other shoppers.  When trading is over, LittleBlackBag ships the items to the shopper.

What’s cool about it:  It’s a very different way of shopping that engages the shopper in a different way.  I do like how the site introduces the shopper to different products in creative ways.  It seems like shoppers could get really into shopping for products to trade with each other, but what if you can’t find another product you like?  What if you get stuck with an item that no one wants to trade with you?  I tried to browse the products but I was required to register first (which I didn’t do).  I guess one would have to try it to find out…

4.  Birchbox

birchboxHow it works:  Each month subscribers ($10/month for women and $20/month for men) get a goody box of samples of new products from skincare products to makeup.  If you like the product, you can buy the full size version online.

What’s cool about it:  I once ordered online a hair straightening iron from ULTA.  When I got it in the mail, it came with a free mini makeup bag with a bunch of samples of skincare products and makeup.  I actually quite enjoyed that little surprise and it looks like Brichbox has made an entire business of these kinds of goody bags.  Since shoppers get to try new products at low prices (full size version of the samples are about $20 – $50) and the products featured are hard to find (these are not your standard drug store products), it seems like a good deal for the shopper and the retailer.

5.  The Grommet

thegrommetHow it works:  The Grommet is not subscription based – anyone can shop on the site.  What The Grommet is is the birthplace of “Citizen Commerce.”  They create “a place for people who want their purchases to have meaning — to support what matters most to them: whether it’s technical innovation, green or social enterprises, the creation of jobs, domestic manufacturing, or the preservation of craft.”  The types of products featured on the site are endless (from clothing to gadgets) and shoppers can recommend products for the site to carry.

What’s cool about it:  For the hipster shopper that is looking for meaning in their purchases, here is the place for you.  With so many different types of products, it can be very overwhelming to shop but The Grommet has navigation so you can shop by Gifts (for him, for her, for host, for business, etc.) and by Personal Values (Made in the USA, Natural & Eco, Handmade, etc.).  Personally, I probably would only shop on this site for gifts, rather than for myself.

6.  ShoeDazzle.com

shoedazzleHow it works:  Shoppers take a fashion quiz, get personal recommendations, then shop their hearts out.

What’s cool about it:  I just did the fashion quiz, it was kinda fun!  Multiple choice, you just pick the style that best suits you.  After “making it official” and providing my email address, I got a message that says that “Our stylists will prep your showroom within 24 hours.”  Let’s see what they come up with!  I’m actually pretty excited to see what they recommend as I did really like some of the shoes that were featured in the fashion quiz.  I also feel like my style is all over the place so we’ll see if they got a good read on me…

Case Study: How to write a creative business plan in under an hour

Check out this great blog post from The Etsy Blog – “How to write a creative business plan in under an hour.”

The blog post slims down the business plan to as basic as it can be so it looks actually do-able in under an hour!  The important part is that it makes you think of the essentials.

Photo courtesy of The Etsy Blog

Straight from the blog post:

Let’s Break It Down (in under 140 characters)

To stick with the spirit of Twitter, here are descriptions of what’s needed in each section of your plan/pitch in under 140 characters.

Value Proposition: Think about what you would tweet if you had less than 140 characters to describe the gist of your business. This forces you to hone in on what you do and what’s special about it.

Market Need: No market need = no need to market your product. If you’re not sure, ask your customers/potential customers why they like your products. You’ll get your answer.

Your Solution: Describe your product and why it’s so great. Think what you’d say if someone asked you “what do you sell?”

Target Market: Be specific about who buys your products (ex: gender, geography, age, shopping habits, etc). Segment your markets if you plan on reaching them differently. Learn more in How to Find Your Target Market by full-time Etsy seller Brenda Lavell.

Competition: Think about who your customers will buy from (or do buy from) if your products didn’t exist. Knowing your competition is as important as knowing your customers. Learn more in 5 Tips to Stand Out From Competition.

Funding Needs: You may need some funds (even if it’s just $1–3,000 to purchase materials). Be sure you understand how those funds will help you, and when you can pay off the debt.

Sales Channels: This is where you will sell your items. Example: Your Etsy shop is a sales channel. Perhaps you also sell at a local boutique or craft fair, and your goal is to land several wholesale accounts. It’s good to have multiple channels.

Marketing Activities: How you will market your products. Examples: Etsy Search Ads or advertising on a design blog. You may need different activities for each market segment.

Financial Projections: How much does it cost you to make/market your products? How much do you plan to sell in a given time period? These questions will help you develop your financials.

Milestones: What have you accomplished so far, and what other milestones are you shooting for? This will help you stay on track. Examples: Buy supplies, hire a bookkeeper, create a pitch, etc.

Management Team: Don’t be afraid to brag about yourself and your team if you have one. Share why you’re the right person to be leading your venture. Also note the roles that are missing on your team.

Case Study: Philadelphia Public History Truck

Photo courtesy of The Philly Post.

I came across an interesting article in The Philly Post – “Introducing the Philadelphia Public History Truck: Can a former water ice truck help connect the city?”

The article is an interview with Erin Bernard, a Temple graduate student and founder of the Philadelphia History Truck (PPHT).

Here’s a quick description of the project from PPHT’s website:

The Philadelphia Public History Truck (PPHT) is a mobile museum devoted to telling the story of Philadelphia considering all of its parts from library records to oral histories, from old crumbling sidewalks to refurbished loft apartments, from death records to new babies on the block.  The PPHT community curatorial experience involves the community in gathering, planning, and designing each exhibit, making it possible to connect all people to the process of museums.  PPHT’s current curatorial focus is on neighborhood exhibits with the intention to increase local civic engagement and connect Philadelphia communities.

Mission
The Philadelphia Public History Truck’s mission is to make culture accessible through creative community building based in Philadelphia neighborhoods via history exhibits. Share stories, create, deliver history.

What I find most interesting about this project is how PPHT is using a recognizable Philly staple (the food truck) and re-purposing it for a new use.  From The Philly Post article:

Will people actually board the truck? Help me envision this.
We’ll pull up and open up the back, and people will climb in one at a time. It will look like somebody set up a street vendor site, but it’s a history exhibit. The exhibit will actually go up at a public space in the neighborhood for a month, and then my partner Jordan Klein and I will downsize it and take it neighborhood to neighborhood in Philly and tweet where we are, just like a food truck. We’re trying to engage specific neighborhoods and then understand how they connect.

PPHT just started so we’ll see how the project plays out!  Hopefully it will inspire locals to get even more involved in their communities and capture some of Philly’s gritty history.  Check out Philadelphia Public History Truck’s website for more information.

Case Study: The Men Who Built America

I just came across an amazing TV mini-series, History Channel’s The Men Who Built America.

About the series from The History Channel:

John D. Rockefeller, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Andrew Carnegie, Henry Ford and J.P. Morgan rose from obscurity and in the process built modern America. Their names hang on street signs, are etched into buildings and are a part of the fabric of history. These men created the American Dream and were the engine of capitalism as they transformed everything they touched in building the oil, rail, steel, shipping, automobile and finance industries. Their paths crossed repeatedly as they elected presidents, set economic policies and influenced major events of the 50 most formative years this country has ever known. From the Civil War to the Great Depression and World War I, they led the way.

Using state of the art computer generated imagery that incorporates 12 million historical negatives, many made available for the first time by the Library of Congress, this series will bring back to life the world they knew and the one they created. The event series will show how these men took a failed experiment in democracy and created the greatest superpower the world has ever seen. We see how their historic achievements came to create the America of today.

The show is one of the best docuseries I’ve ever watched.  The historical portrayals are very well produced, it’s like watching a big-budget feature film.  The music really sets a dramatic mood, it makes you feel the impact that these events had on American history.  In addition, they interject the narrative with commentary from today’s popular business men like Donny Deutsch (from The Big Idea – another great show) and Donald Trump.

I highly recommend this show not just for the entertainment value and probably one of the most interesting history lessons you’ll ever have, but also for the motivational commentary for entrepreneurs of all kinds.