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MBA 061: Find your Feet in E-Commerce with TRACY KRUGER
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Website: Legwear Safari
MBA 061: Find your Feet in E-Commerce with TRACY KRUGER
Founder of the online hosiery store, Legwear Safari.
Elevator Pitch: Who is Tracy Kruger?
Tracy created an online hosiery store called Legwear Safari.
Tracy worked as a hairdresser for 10 years before she opened her own salon at her home. After that she also did freelance copywriting in-between hairdressing which she eventually stopped completely. She learnt a lot about SEO and content creation for websites whilst working as a freelancer. This led her to start her first e-commerce store in an attempt to present crafters with a global market. Her husband then suggested that she opens an online legwear shop. Legwear Safari was founded in 2013. They started with a Facebook page for the brand and were blown away by the response and requests they received. It was a challenge to develop a functioning online shop while another hurdle was to find local suppliers. They eventually found suppliers abroad who were extremely helpful and knowledgeable.
Looking for Suppliers
From Tracy’s copywriting days she knew to search for suppliers through the images on Google. They came across Falke Hosiery in Cape Town who was willing to supply them in small, manageable quantities. Finding a local supplier allowed them to slowly phase out some of the more expensive international brands. Legwear Safari currently has suppliers locally and in the UK.
Finding Your Niche
Right in the beginning Tracy stocked those items that she would like to wear until they received enough feedback from customers. It surprised them to see that hosiery sells throughout the year.
Tracy feels as if she severely underestimated the amount of advertising one needs to do for an e-commerce store. They started out with only a Facebook page. Tracy now manages all of the digital marketing and advertisement campaigns as well as e-mail marketing. Legwear Safari also makes use of Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook to reach their customers. She uses Google Analytics to track their reach. She urges entrepreneurs to find out exactly where their traffic comes from before investing in an avenue.
Technology of E-commerce
Do research on the various platforms and find the one most suitable for your site. They use WordPress and Woocommorce – it’s easy enough for Tracy to upkeep herself. When starting out it’s not the best idea to try and do this yourself. Find a reputable company or individual developer to build your site in such a way that you are able to learn to manage it yourself. Also look at the after-sales support that they offer. If you are not technologically inclined you may want to look into keeping them on some kind of retainer, so remember to budget for that.
Any external supplier that you make use of as part of what you offer immediately becomes an extension of your business and contributes to your brand image. Examples of these are the courier company you choose to use and where you decide to host your website.
Legwear Safari makes use of Sage Pay as payment gateway. After interviewing all of the major local payment gateway companies, Tracy decided on Sage Pay. Firstly because of the way they deal with fraud and secondly for the confidentiality of the customer’s information. She also chose it for ease of use, not forgetting that Sage is a reputable international company.
Couriers remain Tracy’s largest nuisance. Because of how remotely they are located in Tulbach, transport costs get quite expensive. If the courier fails to deliver the package on time, it reflects badly on your company, not that of the courier. Most courier companies provide a free plugin for your online store where customers can track their parcel. The couriers require all parcels to be sealed, but each package from Legwear Safari is individually wrapped to look special.
Live Chat Facility
Customers love the fact that they offer a live chat facility on their site. It’s the quick alternative to sending an email and having to wait for a response. A small business owner can even link the live chat to his or her mobile phone to answer queries when not in the office. At Legwear Safari they find that more customers make use of the live chat than calling them on the phone.
Local vs. International
Tracy would prefer to keep as much of their business in South Africa, but unfortunately even local suppliers import their yarn. Customs take a big chunk when you import textiles. At the moment it is cost-effective for Tracy to import some of the products from the UK. When they first started out, Legwear Safari’s customers comprised of about 40% from abroad, but that’s dwindled since.
Legwear Safari comprises of a team of four people who work in a virtual office. Tracy does not expect her employees to move to Tulbach. Find people with strengths in their industry that complement yours to join your team. She suggests you find someone to do your bookkeeping and another person to manage the technical side of things. The third person you need is someone who is good with customer service. When starting out you should be prepared to roll up your sleeves and take up any one of those roles in your business.
Starting an E-commerce Store
Do not underestimate the costs of advertising for an online store. According to Tracy you won’t be able to run an e-commerce store part-time. The first few years will require a tremendous amount of work and time. To have an online store built will cost you anywhere between R5 000 and R50 000 today. You can start off with something very basic. The advertising will cost you about R3 000 to R5 000 per month.
Reset Button: If you had to start over in a different industry, what would it be and why?
Tracy would start another e-commerce venture. She enjoys all the possibilities it brings. Small, non-perishable items that don’t weigh a lot would sell well.
You don’t need all of the skills required to run a business. Bookkeeping, digital marketing and web development are all things that can be outsourced. Reach out to a colleague or someone in a similar direction to bounce ideas off of each other. You will need to reinvent your brand each day. Keep changing all the time to stay relevant.
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