When we first began working with Sparkle Club, it was a brand new name in girls shoes, with no name recognition and a relatively modest budget.
Through an SEO plan that returns £10 in sales for every £1 spent, the company has been able to succeed against household names such as Debenhams and Next. Introducing an advanced inventory system has saved two days of work per week for the team and empowered the company reach its largest ever audience.
Read on to learn how eBusiness UK enables Sparkle Club to succeed in a highly competitive industry.
Sparkle Club was launched when a Blackburn-based shoe company was left with thousands of products in hand after a major high street customer went into administration.
The company had the stock but no immediate audience, which was when eBusiness UK introduced the idea of selling online, initially through marketplaces such as Amazon and eBay, and later through its own website.
“To begin with, we had all these shoes, and we knew that people wanted them because our customers had been selling them, but we didn’t know how to find the end user,” said Jane Procter, Sparkle Club’s managing director.
“Eventually, we had so much success selling online direct to the consumer that it became our main focus. Selling to high street retailers isn’t much fun, they are always looking to squeeze your margins, but ecommerce has allowed us to find a whole new target market.”
Today, Sparkle Club sells shoes, jewellery and dress-up items aimed at girls. “We specialise in anything that sparkles,” says Jane.
Sparkle Club was an all-new brand created to sell shoes online, there was no name recognition, no existing customers and ultimately no brand capital to build upon.
Further complicating Sparkle Club’s challenge of marketing a fledgling brand is a marketplace loaded with iconic names.
Sparkle Club must compete against Tier 1 retailers such as Debenhams, Monsoon and Next in the girls footwear market. While the products may be competitive, these companies have reputations built up over decades of selling, loyal customers, and multi-million-pound marketing budgets.
One of Sparkle Club’s most effective routes to market was embracing existing sites such as Amazon and eBay. Using these sites adds a level of customer confidence, brings a far wider audience and helps retailers reach many more customers.
However, maintaining each marketplace takes time and effort. The more marketplaces Sparkle Club joined, the more the workload increased.
“In the end, we avoided listing all of our products on all of the marketplaces,” says Jane. “If one product was out of stock, we’d have to log into each site and update it all manually. It was too much work, so we were more selective about which sites we used and which products to list.”
Sparkle Club was missing out on potential sales, but didn’t have the resources to keep on top of the work required to maximise each marketplace’s potential.
At eBusiness UK, our offer is unusual because we also run our own multi-million-pound ecommerce operation and all our advice is built on what we have seen working first-hand.
We shared our experiences and insights with Sparkle Club, so that they could benefit from our years of knowledge. The products that we recommended have already been tested by our team; we know the methods that we suggest will work because we have already put them into action on our own site.
“We are your test lab,” says eBusiness UK’s Nasir Kothia. “We experiment with new services and techniques so that we can pass on the best to our customers.”
One of the most cost-effective methods of building an online audience is to optimise to make it easily found on the major search engines – where most customer start looking. Organic SEO is low-cost, highly effective, and is particularly good at attracting customers who may not have been aware of your brand before.
It’s not necessarily a quick-fix, but by methodically building up Sparkle Club’s SEO equity over a matter of months, eBusiness UK was able secure first-page rankings for major search terms, ranking among – and often above – high street competitors such as Debenhams and Next.
Like so many offline and online retail operations, Sparkle Club’s stock management system was largely based on Excel spreadsheets. So cumbersome was this method that the company opted out of listing all its products on each of its marketplaces in order to reduce working hours and conserve resources.
When we introduced Sparkle Club to Linnworks, it changed everything. Linnworks is software designed to bring together your own ecommerce operation, your marketplaces, your stock control, your sales orders and all your essential paperwork and reporting into one, central portal.
Jane previously found that updating the stock levels across all the sites was too much work. But now, with Linnworks, stock levels are automatically updated when sales are made, and this information is immediately fed back out to all of Sparkle Club’s outlets.
“Installing Linnworks was like adding another member of staff, but for a fraction of the cost,” says Jane. “We have saved one day per week for one member of staff, and freed up around an hour and half a day of my time.
“Before Linnworks we had to be selective about where we listed which products, now we can list everything everywhere. In addition, we have introduced our product to two completely new marketplaces.”
In addition to more listings on its current marketplaces, the multi-channel ecommerce system allows Sparkle Club to join new marketplaces with much more ease.
“Instead of loading in each product one by one, we can join a new site, link it with Linnworks, and our catalogue is already populated,” said Jane.
Since we began working with Sparkle Club:
“We like working with suppliers who are local and a similar size to us,” says Jane. “eBusiness UK always have time for us in a way a big city company might not. Added to that, their experience running their own ecommerce operation has been very valuable to us.
“eBusiness UK has played an integral part in the birth and growth of Sparkle Club and their input has been fantastic and helped us achieve success.”