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Jennifer Choi, founder of successful fashion and retail online shop Frockalicious, recollects her self-taught journey of web coding and transforming the business and sales platform from a simple Facebook page into an online shopping catalogue. Read on to find out more.

Please tell us more about your business.

As an avid online shopper, I was tired of feeling disappointed whenever I buy and receive poor quality clothes from blog shops on the Internet. I decided that with my passion for fashion, I would develop a more reliable and rewarding service. Hence, I started Frockalicious in March 2011.

At the start, we started out selling mainly clothing such as casual smocks, formal outfits, tunic dresses and sheath dresses. We curate a selection of fabulous looking clothes inspired by designers, runway shows and unknown designers from across the globe for our customers. Subsequently, we added pretty items for accessories such as bags, shoes, etc.

What are some of the challenges you faced in your business?

I had a partner for approximately 8 months, but she decided to be a full-time mum. Therefore, it is pretty much a one woman show at the moment. In this business, I encounter three main challenges.

  • Stock management – Customers often do not know their measurements and end up buying something that cannot fit. The exchanges usually result in plenty of leftover stocks.
  • Customer service – No matter how unreasonable or nasty the customer is, and how much you feel like telling the customer off, you know you have to hold back because that would be just as unprofessional. So you have to take a lot of care and attention while crafting a response. I realise I cannot please each and every customer; hence I am appreciative for my handful of loyal and happy customers.
  • Competitive pricing – With many blog shops selling at really low prices, some customers tend to compare them with our pricing without realising that it is not quite an apple-to-apple comparison in the fashion business because of the difference in design, trends and materials.

What was your marketing strategy and what ground work did you have to do before embarking on e-commerce?

Before embarking on e-commerce, my selling was handled primarily through Facebook as it was easier to do an initial set up. Low entry cost plus the ability to market new stuff through people’s Facebook wall when they “Like” what they see lets me grow my sales quicker than it would have been if I started with e-commerce.

As the volume of orders increased, I needed a more efficient platform. I did a landscape analysis to see what competitors from low to high end fashion retailers, as well as extremely successful local blog shops, are doing online. With that knowledge, I drew up a list of what I wanted, searched out for an affordable server host and purchased easy-to-use software that will enable me to develop the e-commerce website by my own. As I gained more experience through reading and learning, I am also starting to implement tagging, Google analytics and SEO technologies to increase customer traffic to my website.

What e-commerce platform did you use and why? 

I chose WordPress.org as it is low-cost, easy enough for a newbie (with some basic technology knowledge) to get started. All I needed to do was to search for a design theme that could be purchased at a reasonable price, install it and I was good to go. Right now, I am taking orders from the website as well as Facebook because that was how the business was started. Within the next year, I hope to shift all the purchasing to the e-shop.

Any advice for SMEs wanting to go into e-commerce?  

Invest in technology. Get an expert to build the engine for you so you have more time to think about other things like strategy, marketing, buying instead of fixing codes.

  • Observe what the competitors in the landscape are doing
  • Improve and enhance e-platforms and tools as volume increases
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