Ah, blogshops! My favourite way of making money since 1992. “Uh, that’s a lie.” No it isn’t. I was stealing classmate’s diaries and hocking them for a buck twenty. Diary = blog. But don’t worry, I know the kind of fancy schmancy Internet blogshop you’re referring to. Here’s how you can make about a grand a month doing it:
Introducing Ms. Mia Tan
Mia Tan is the owner of the fashion & beauty portal Styleshoppes. It’s a directory she set up to:
“…boost confidence for online shoppers, so they can browse the directory of online shops available, and review them before making a purchase.
They can also obtain fashion & beauty tips from our panel of experts, who are fashion & beauty gurus in their field.”
I asked Mia about the ins and outs of the business:
What are Some Successful Blogshops to Check Out / Emulate?
So we can see what they’re doing, and take a page (or rip out a whole chapter) from their book. According to Mia, the ones to watch are:
(I guess it’s mandatory to sound like the name of a 1980’s Boy George album.)
“Her Velvet Vase and Love, Bonito are a few of the pioneers in the blogshop business, whereas MDS has now branched out to having physical outlets.”
Marketing consultant Andrew Chiang, who usually deals with B&M (Brick & Mortar) stores, also threw me a quick comment about these hit blogshops:
“Clearly they’re doing something right. Conventional wisdom is that blogshops don’t last. And many blogshops don’t make it past the two year mark. But blogshops like MDS defy the naysayers. It proves the business model of blogshps is viable, with the proper management.”
Okay, So Why Do Some Blogshops Make $1,000+ a Month, and Others Burn Out?
$1,000+ a month is my standard for a “successful blogshop”. Why? Because it’s the minimum return that justifies the effort involved. And believe me, it does takes effort.
“Selling online has always been a challenge, because you need to get three things down pat:
- Shopper Confidence
- Price Point
To be successful, a blogshop needs to address all three points. It’s also important to have a good variety of clothing: Dresses, tops, bottoms, and accessories.”
1. Shopper Confidence
Because shoppers can’t physically handle the product, they’re a bit more wary. Then there are issues like payment portals and delivery, which some Singaporeans are still uncertain about.
“Everyone is skeptical about buying online,” Mia says, “They’re wondering: ‘Will my products arrive? Will it fit? Will it match the photo? What’s the quality of the fabric? Is it authentic?'”
That’s a lot of questions. The good news is, if you’re the one blogshop that can answer them, you leap way ahead of the crowd:
“A successful blogshop is able to address and assure a shopper’s insecurities, by delivering on time. And it delivers the goods as described, with a return policy in place.
It will also help if the blogshop displays the photos of the product clearly, with a zoom function on key areas like zips, seams and buttons. Those make it easy to spot if a dress is well made.”
2. Price Point
This refers to your pricing policy. A customer’s price tolerance is different when shopping online, as Mia explains:
“Managing the bottom line is a challenge, as you need to provide good quality outfits. But you also can’t out price the competition, as the online market can only take a certain price point.
Once it’s past the $60-$100 range, people prefer to shop in physical stores for brand names and the assurance of quality.”
(PS: If you’re buying from a blogshop, using the right credit card can sometimes get you a discount. Useful for pricier buys.)
Like any other business, you need differentiation. Think about something your blogshop can have or sell, which the others don’t.
“In the early days of blogshops,” Mia says, “Many got their stock from wholesalers in Singapore or Thailand. When it became saturated with similar designs, many ventured further to Hong Kong, China and Korea to source for good quality design.
Some blogshops have even started to manufacture their own designs.”
So be warned, you will have to get creative to stand out. Mia also points out that variety leads to leftover stock, so make sure you have a storage plan.
What Sales or Marketing Techniques Will Create a Successful Blogshop?
According to Mia, this involves:
- Facebook Ads
- Recruiting a socially influential blogger as an ambassador (not the writers from here, unless you’re selling a diet program)
- Partnering with other lifestyle or fashion portals, to raise visibility
- On the ground marketing, with flyers or vouchers
For new blogshops, I suggest you focus on finding an ambassador, and on partnerships.
Ground marketing and Facebook ads cost money. For more on managing these costs, follow us on Facebook. We’ll tell you more about running an e-commerce start up very soon.
How Long Should It Take Before a New Blogshop Breaks Even? Or Turns a Profit?
“Depending on the structure of the business and cost, it would take at least 6 months before you start to break even,” Mia says, “This is a better option than having a physical retail store, as you do not have to deal with overheads such as rent.
And some blogshops become profitable the moment they start!”
A stop-loss isn’t just important in stocks. Give your blogshop six months to break even. If you’re still losing money after that, do a Gordon Ramsay and shut it down.
Don’t fall into a sunk cost fallacy, and decide you “must” continue because you’ve “already invested so much”.
Is There a Market for Blogshops, Considering There’s So Many?
“As with all businesses, it will reach a saturation point,” Mia says, “And the first movers and shakers will claim the biggest market share.
But this doesn’t mean a new blogshop cannot catch the eye of shoppers, if they indeed have unique merchandise to offer!”
Translation = Conform and die. Blogshops, as you can tell, are very much dependent on sourcing and logistics. The products you can find, and re-sell, will make or break you. Some stellar examples of shops with unique product offerings are online stores such as The Damn Good Shop, which has started selling Singaporean memorabilia and also partners with other retailers to provide a wide range of nifty items at affordable prices.
And the first step to earning that $1,000 is finding the right contacts. So stay tuned; in the next part of this article, we’ll examine how to:
- Make your blogshop stand out (without spending too much)
- Handle inventory, and
- Manage supply costs
Do you run a blogshop? Comment and tell us how you made it a success!