Online Store Guys

Building and advising eCommerce businesses that want to do it right

In mid-2013 I was ready for a new challenge and to move on from dealing with micro-business budgets and mindsets. eCommerce was the area of Engage Marketing that I enjoyed working most and I had a few clients wanting me to dedicate more time to it so I sounded out the two best operators in the eCommerce space that I could find.

I ended up being asked to build Sydney-based streetwear brand ZANEROBE‘s first website & blog. They asked if I could add an online store to it. I said yes (I had no idea how) and went about learning how the hell to do it.

I started by trying to build a site on WP eCommerce, a then terrible WordPress plugin that accepted payment via Paypal. I quickly moved to WooCommerce, launching their first ever online store. They started to make sales every day. Soon enough sales were coming in every hour and then every ten minutes. The zanerobe crew had a great feel for what customers wanted and I learnt the ins and out of retail and started to pay attention to the finer details about selling online.

I’ve worked with them ever since and have helped to grow online into a multi-million dollar sales channel that far outperforms far bigger competitors that don’t know online very well.

I’ve been fortunate enough to have some great wins along my eCommerce journey. A brand that I’ve enjoyed working with is Garden Express. I had to design for usability instead of beautiful design, and the results have been a 49% sales increase and an extra seven figures in annual revenue through their online store. It was a big build and something that I still work with them to optimise and improve on every week, but its a thoroughly enjoyable experience seeing something like that grow.

That spurred on an obsession with eCommerce. I’ve been soaking up everything I can from the best of retail, brand and eCommerce technology as well as formulating my own thinking around mobile commerce, online shopping UX and how brands can translate offline success to online.

Building an amazing team

Jordy & I had worked together previously. Jordy ran a marketing agency called North Black and had my blog design business do some of the WordPress development for his clients. We’d worked together on a few projects eCommerce brands that led me to call him last August expressing interest in moving into eCommerce and seeing whether he’d be interested.

I knew of another fella of a slightly older vintage who knew eCommerce better than anyone I’d met. I’d seen a few tweets from Scott Kilmartin that suggested that he’d sold his award-winning retail brand Haul and had just returned from a few months of hard-earned travel.

I tweeted him one day and we grabbed a coffee where I told him about my plans for starting a business making online stores and that I felt he’d compliment our team perfectly.

After a few meetings we decided to give it a shot. I learnt a lot, grew a lot as a personal and had a lot of fun building the eCommerce agency in the process.

Prana Chai

Making happy customers

The web industry is an interesting one. Speak to any business and it’s likely that they’re not happy with their ‘web guys’. Is it because the industry is filled with introverted developers that don’t get people or care about anything from code? Maybe there’s some truth to that but I don’t think thats the full picture and still don’t know why service levels are so low across the board.

All I know is that we’re driven to build stores that we’re proud of, would want to shop from ourselves and to have our customers rave about the stores that we built for them. We spend a lot of time crafting our own service experience and working out ways of delivering eCommerce quality that was usually reserved for million dollar budgets to people spending $15-70k on a beautiful and heavily customised online store.