Panelists for the e-commerce seminar included (l-r) Emily Taylor Young from Brass & Burl, Whitney Moore from Meadow Blu and Colleen Waguespack from Fig & Dove along with moderator Rachel Gerli of Nina Reeves Communications.
With trends showing that more business is moving online due to the pandemic, many brands are investing in their digital presence. But, experts say, it’s important to remember not to put all your eggs in one basket, such as relying on a sole supplier.
This is one of the tips shared during the seminar “When life hands you a pandemic, build an e-commerce business,” held at the Universal Furniture showroom during the High Point Market.
“I thought e-commerce would be easy, but I found out it was so much harder since it’s a 24/7 process to go online,” said Moore, founder of Meadow Blu, an e-commerce site based in Mouth Pleasant, S.C., that offers furniture, lighting and decor. “With e-commerce, you are not just dealing with competitors locally, but (also) nationwide. So, it’s important to get yourself distinguished in an ongoing way. You can’t be complacent and always need to be on your game so you can zig and zag when necessary.”
Moore, who started with an online lighting business called Candelabra, eventually added furniture and décor, and then re-branded the site as Meadow Blu.
“With e-commerce, you need to constantly drive people to your website by creating content, sending emails and using Instagram,” said Waguespack, founder of Fig & Dove, an e-commerce line of home décor and gifts based in Baton Rouge, La.
Waguespack’s business had a bad experience with a manufacturer out of Houston, which taught her not to rely on one sole vendor.
“Our lesson learned was to not put all our eggs in one basket. We can’t control natural disasters, viruses or a family member who gets sick, so it’s important to keep all our manufacturers happy so we have a backup, and a backup for our backup,” Waguespack said. “We feed small bits of work to all of our producers, so we can be more prepared.”
The panel agreed that the importance of having an adequate number of images can’t be overstated when it comes to e-commerce.
“Photography is so important. We sell $7,000 buffets and have invested in imagery heavily, including the back and side of the cabinets. We found the more the better,” said Young from Brass & Burl, which offers high-end furniture, lighting and decor and is based in East Hampton, N.Y. “Also, scale is important, so we highly recommend investing in lifestyle photography.”
Other e-commerce tips include the importance of having online reviews, the necessity of responding to all customer inquiries, the usefulness of collaborating with social media influencers in your space and the need to scale and grow effectively.
The group also agreed that brick-and-mortar isn’t dead.
“People still want to see it, touch it, feel it and be sure of the color,” Moore said. “I truly believe it’s not gone, but it’s important to have both online and in-store working in conjunction with each other.”