If you’re thinking about launching your own online retail website then you’ll love these tips from Daniel Murray, Co-Founder and CMO of Grabble.
Grabble is a new online fashion platform that gives you a Grab button to save all the items you love, wherever you’ve found them online, to make your ultimate fashion wishlist. They then pull loads of fashion Grabs together to create an addictive discovery platform featuring lots of brands; and you can even get sale alerts as soon as your items drop in price. Every item on the site has been endorsed by one of their users which creates a shopping environment that is all about community discovery.
Grabble was developed by Joel Freeman, Daniel Murray and Rob Durkin, to be a useful way for people to discover, recommend and purchase fashion online – all within the same platform. But also as a means of introducing fashion retailers, especially boutique chains, to a larger market audience through social commerce. What they didn’t expect however, was the uptake of big well-known big brands such as Topshop, ASOS and Urban Outfitters, who were keen to jump on-board.
We love your idea – it’s like Pinterest for shopping! How did you come up with it?
By talking to our target market! We actually did focus groups with a bunch of concepts that didn’t fare so well in our conversations, and then when we asked people how they shopped they mentioned bookmarking (something we weren’t all that familiar with as a consumer habit) and apparently Pinterest was not the right place to save these items. Delving into the story further, we realised Pinterest didn’t work in data, and we could provide users with sale alerts on all their Grabs – like Pinterest with a purpose! We have since moved our concept quite heavily with a focus on mobile, and “Tinder for Fashion”.
Do you have a Tech background? Did you develop the app yourself?
No I don’t have a tech background – my family business is fashion so I’ve grown up with that around me, however I love a challenge, and the fact I hadn’t run a tech business was as exciting an opportunity as I could give myself. I’ve learned a lot, mostly through mistakes, but it’s been worthwhile – obviously our first challenge was hiring a developer, and learning how to manage him, and the process – it hasn’t been easy!
How did you finance the website/technology and app?
We raised external finance. We knew no one, and had never raised money for either of our previous businesses, so we went to pitching events and eventually after a lot of hard work managed to raise our first £70K to get the product to market. After that we raised a further £250k. We are currently raising a further £250k as a bridging round before our intended Series A.
I read that despite only operating for a few months your site has already attracted lots of big name business customers. How did you get these big brands to sign up to your start up before you had even launched?
We tried to sign up the smaller retailers and they wanted to know who the big guys we worked with were. So we forced a meeting with Asos, followed it up by sending brownies to them and had them as a client the next day. After that, it was easy; you can tell each competitor you work with the other one and they all start to panic until you have a bit of a domino effect.
You have estimated that you will get 100,000 users signed up to your site by the end of this year. How did you grow your audience from nothing? How did you drive traffic/people to your site?
It’s actually the app that has had the biggest impact – there has been a slow but steady growth of our website user-base, whilst our app has absolutely blown up with well over 1,000 downloads per day, rising to number 7 in the app store for lifestyle apps. That kind of result has been out of a natural word of mouth fondness for our product, and it actually went viral over the weekend – we received over 10,000 tweets about how much people loved our app, which was amazing.
Once you have driven people to your site how do you convert them (get them to sign up)?
Again, with the site its more complicated – we actually convert 1 in 8 visitors to our site as a sign up (usually with discount vouchers from retail partner brands), but on the app, its so much easier because its created quite a buzz and people are really keen to get swiping and find products!
You have 6,600 Facebook followers and almost 7,000 Twitter followers – What has been your social media strategy? Have you done any Facebook advertising?
To be honest, growing our social media pages simultaneously is part of our strategy – we don’t want one to outgrow the other at any particular pace (consequently its almost 7,000 on Facebook now). With twitter it’s a much more natural thing, whereas with Facebook we find it hard to grow the page unless we host competitions. Critically we generally don’t spend on growing our social media audience though. We have a large following on Instagram (around 13k followers) but our most valuable asset is definitely Facebook in terms of driving clicks.
Is social media key to the growth of your business? How are you converting social media followers to sign up to your site?
Absolutely – we have a cheeky, fun, but helpful approach to social media – we create new collections for users to click on and view trending items, if they have the app, this opens in the app, if they don’t we encourage them to, and if they are on web they can view those products on a landing page without logging in, but similarly, if they do, they can receive a shopping voucher (currently £10 off Motel or 30% off Converse).
Do you do your own PR?
No, we use Rebecca Abigail PR who are fantastic – we have tried PR in house but being totally honest, it’s a complicated area far beyond our business understanding. Our PR requirements change at a rapid rate depending on where we are with the business and the only way to manage this process is to work with experts.
What are the main ways you promote your site?
Through social media and content – we produce a lot of content that gets picked up and shared and at the end of whatever we write is always a link back to a collection we have created that makes the products or stories shoppable.
You are planning a global launch in Hong Kong in 2015 – How are you able to expand the business so quickly?
We have a really engaged user-base that is global, we have orders coming in from retailers all over the world, the internet makes the world a pretty flat surface – and everywhere is pretty easy to reach. Hong Kong makes sense for us as Asia is an amazing emerging market for apps and Mobile commerce.
Based on your experience, do you have any top tips for digital start ups?
Test and tweak your product in the early days trying to understand what features consumers actually like, and most importantly work out your revenue strategy in the early days – it took us a long time to get that right and I wish we had driven towards working that part out sooner – would make life a lot easier!