Our remarkable journey started when Sandra came back from her 9-5 job with an idea to open a market stall selling vintage clothes. When she ran her idea by me; I was very interested, not only because we both love fashion, but we both have are passionate about how businesses operate. I suggested to her that the only way for us to save on cost was to open an online store because if done right, the start-up cost is low and we can reach a larger traffic of people. We both agreed and went straight to work researching into the market. We had major milestones to overcome because we were both inexperience when it came to knowing how to launch an ecommerce site.
We didn’t let this stop us and we identified a niche in the market. We decided that the best way forward was to partner up with fashion stylists and offer hand-picked selection of vintage items to who are looking to change their look but tired of wearing the same thing as the girl next door. These are women who wanted to be unique and stand out from the crowd. It was also helpful that Sandra is a Model/Stylist and I work for a tech startup company in London. Between us, we have gained the contacts we needed to get the ball rolling.
We thought it would take us 3 months to launch but it actually took 8 months to roll out the Vinchi brand into the marketplace. One of the biggest huddles was finding the right developer to build the site for us. We lost a significant amount of money at first because we choose the wrong development team but after the effect of this loss on our savings, we decided to build the website ourselves. I am a Technical geek so it didn’t take me long to get my head around it and by building the site ourselves, we saved thousands of pounds.
After the website was built, we then turned our attention to the question of how to market the website. The good thing was; Fashion has a social community which can be found on Facebook and twitter. Rather than spending thousands of pounds on Ad banners and Google adwords, we decided to interact with the online community and grow the site gradually. This has worked really well for us. In the month of August we had 120, 563 hits on the site with 27,929 page views and over 17,000 site visitors. Over 70% of these site visitors are returning customers. Since we launched in June 2011, we have grown the team to 5 people and we are now currently on a few partnerships with Fashion Magazines in United Kingdom and Abroad.
Overall, by creating and building our own business ourselves, we have learnt a lot. For anyone thinking of launching an online site; you must first find a gap in the market. You do not have to wait until you have a perfect product before you launch. You just need a product that is good enough to test the market and you can improve things as you go along. Make sure you are interacting with your customers and collect as many feedbacks as you can.
You do not need a lot of money to launch an online website. There are lots of tools out there that you can use. When it comes to partnership, make sure you are only working with someone that compliments your skills. There is no point if both of you share the same strengths and weaknesses. You must always devote your time to continuous improvement. Always ask yourself, how can I provide better value to my customers?
And finally, all you need to do is start. Do NOT wait for the perfect time because if you do, you will be waiting for a long time and someone else will beat you to the punch. There are a lot of factors to consider when starting an online business but the most important thing is to identify and research into the market you are going into. Ecommerce is a massive landscape with a lot of competitions but there are still opportunities for people who can find a niche within a market.
So Good Luck.!!
Charles Aji and Sandra Aji are young Nigerian entrepreneurs based in London and the co-founders of online vintage store (www.vinchi.co.uk). Charles is 24 years old and Sandra is 20 years.
Contact Info: Please email us at email@example.com