Top advice that set a fashion entrepreneur on the right path

In Australia, 60% of businesses that start today won’t be here in three years.

Not a very encouraging statistic for the 240,000 new businesses registered every year. Nor for the battlers slogging it out in their first couple of years of business.

One of the key reasons people fail is a lack of access to great advice. That’s why Nick Austin, the owner of Purple Cow clothing, decided to pick up the phone and pick the brains of some experts.

As the owner of three bricks and mortar stores and an online store, Nick wanted to up the ante and use smarter technology to increase sales. He sought advice from e-commerce experts on Top Expert: Kate Morris, Founder of Adore Beauty; and Nathan Huppatz, Founder of costumes.com.au.

Here Nick shares the best advice he received, and how the experience clarified the steps he needed to take.

I purchased Purple Cow in 2003 and immediately started building it into a sought-after brand for young women wanting on-trend fast fashion. I kept the name Purple Cow for its notoriety in the local market place and thought that one day this is the kind of the name that would cut through all the others in not only Australia but perhaps the US market.

My number one business challenge is technology. I need a better understanding of technology options and how I can use automation to help with the buying process, so the customer has a seamless experience, whether it’s in-store or online.

I knew what the issues were and what I wanted to achieve, but I had lots of questions that needed answers. I  needed more advice on what technology was out there. If I needed an app, what functionality would I need? How would I go about building it? What about my existing online store ­­– is it fully optimised? Am I missing a trick about managing the stock and buying process? And what about my customers – how do I improve their purchasing experience? I know my customers need to be inspired and entertained, so what’s the best way to do that? Brand ambassadors? Models? How should I best convey my message?

I had so many specific questions, and when I stumbled across topexpert.com.au I thought this is too good to be true. I now had direct contact to top ‘proven’ industry experts.

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from Kate Morris, Founder of Adore Beauty. Instead of looking and comparing my business to what others were doing, she told me to innovate rather than copy. This is now her top priority.

So many people copy her because she was an early adopter of online retailing. But she has stayed ahead of the pack by not resting on her laurels and constantly innovating and adapting.

Kate said that online businesses are very transparent, and everyone can see what everyone else is doing. But the issue with copying is that you are always trying to catch up, rather than thinking about how you can lead the way and implement something into the experience that hasn’t been done before and, even better, can’t easily be copied.

Nathan Huppatz gave me great advice about learning to read how my customers interact with my online shop. I need a better understanding of how my customers are interacting with different pages across the site and the different pieces of content. Where customers are coming from when they enter my site, and where they are exiting. How many pages they are going to and which ones they’re spending time on before converting.

I need to be reading my online business much better. I knew the basics of google analytics but, Nathan advised me to either start learning or hire people with the right skills to do it for me. Further to this, he advised me to get my developer to add code to my website so that google analytics can read actual customer behaviour.

Both Kate and Nathan advised me to invest in specialist help when required. Whether it be a graphic designer for design work or a social media manager to post incredible content and measure engagement – it was important to get the right people with the right skills to help with really specialised jobs.  

After speaking to the experts, I’m definitely clearer on the path forward. Top Expert gave me the ability to chat with experts that I normally wouldn’t be able to reach.

They gave me straight answers and advice – there was no holding back. They said that in the end, it was purely up to me to keep coming up with ideas, innovating and implementing – no one is going to do it for me.

I think the advice I received has stopped me from making heaps of mistakes. I’ve also been given a bit of a kick to just get on with it!

These guys will help you sort through and eliminate the things that you don’t need to worry about so much right now. It can definitely help with prioritising your work flow, and what you need to focus on in the immediate term.

My favourite thing about Top Expert was being able to speak to people who had been there, done it before and succeeded. That was the number one thing that made me pick up the phone.

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