It was 2015 and Hangatu Wyld was searching for cufflinks for her soon-to-be-husband Sean to wear at their wedding. Despite trawling the internet and hunting through jewellery stores, Hangatu couldn’t find anything in Australia that suited his personality.
“So I thought, okay, well there’s a gap in the market there,” says Hangatu.
The savvy marketer got to thinking, if she couldn’t find what she was looking for, others might also have the same problem. Set to move to Geelong after her wedding, Hangatu was about to walk away from her marketing career in Melbourne. The timing to start a new venture couldn’t have been better. Could an online accessories store be the answer?
“We were thinking about starting a family and I thought, what an opportunity to see if I can get something started using my skills and working from home. Something which would allow me to be able to have the flexibility to travel and be with my kids. It was opportunity and life circumstance that led me to start a small business and work for myself,” she explains.
Being based in a regional area, Hangatu says a bricks and mortar store was never part of The Salty Fox plan.
“I’d be very dependent on what location I picked, what street I was on, the walkthrough traffic and all that host of problems that come with a bricks and mortar store,” she tells KBB. “I think that because we’re so small, being online opened us up to a much bigger market than if we had opened up a bricks and mortar store.
There is little doubt Hangatu made a wise decision. Australia Post’s Inside Australian Online Shopping 2019 Trends Report reveals 73 per cent of Australian households has made a purchase online. Australians are embracing eCommerce in growing numbers. Yet running an online store comes with its own set of challenges. Fed on a diet of content on-demand, today’s consumers operate from an ‘I want it now’ mentality. For retailers like The Salty Fox, this impacts day to day operations.
Hangatu says with this in mind, managing customer expectations has been built into her business. She wants to provide a great product alongside a delivery service that caters to her clients’ expectations. To keep control of her stock, Hangatu ships all her products from her Melbourne premises and processes orders as they come through. Working with a trusted delivery service like Australia Post allows her to provide the speedy service today’s consumers expect.
“We dispatch orders almost immediately upon receiving them and follow things up and make sure that things get delivered ASAP,” she says.
“Because customers will chase you if they don’t get something straight away. They are purchasing from us because they know that we’re based in Australia and they can get what they want when they want it.
“A lot of these people are last-minute Larry’s who – and usually it’s a groom – will contact us on a Friday and say that my wedding is this Saturday and I need X, Y, Z. So, you have to try and move heaven and earth to make that happen.”
Since launching her business with a range of quirky cufflinks, Hangatu has expanded The Salty Fox’s product range to include wallets and Apple Watch accessories. In an on-demand world where customers have high expectations, keeping up with the latest product and delivery trends is vital for this small business owner.
“We have to try and anticipate all of the different styles and quirks that people have. We’ve got to be pretty nimble. When new products are launched we have to get them in straight away so that we are the first one to stock and our products are the most unique. There were hardly any competitors when I started the business but now there are a lot more people in the space and so you have to differentiate yourself from your competition. The way that we differentiate ourselves is that we have the biggest range and we are the most unique, and we can send it to you straight away!”
As an online business, having great customer reviews is also key to The Salty Fox’s business success. Hangatu tells KBB she always wants to deliver exceptional service but it’s not without challenges. Sometimes things go wrong, a customer makes a bad choice and a return has to be made. Having clear policies in place and dealing with any negative customer feedback immediately can be the difference between a disgruntled customer and one who is an advocate for your brand.
“We’ve got a pretty clear and detailed return policy on our website,” Hangatu explains.
“Usually when people come to you wanting to return something, they’ve got two moods. They’re either really unhappy with what it is that they’ve bought or they sheepishly decided that they bought it on impulse and they don’t want it.
Rather than be upset by this Hangatu says you need to treat disgruntled customers as well as you would someone new to your store.
“You can really turn those relationships around if you are quick to respond (to the complaint). You simply make it really easy for them to return an item and you make it really painless. You find that someone who may have received an item that they didn’t quite love, ends up coming back and repurchasing from you or recommending you to other people; because even though that initial purchase wasn’t what they had planned, they think, ‘this is actually a pretty decent company to deal with’. You build that trust with them.”
To facilitate returns Hangatu provides customers with a free Auspost prepaid return label. Hangatu believes this simple gesture of goodwill goes a long way to building trust for her brand. It’s a convenient solution that puts the customer first.
“So, they contact us for that and then they can print off the label and just drop off the parcel in the post box or post office and it gets sent back to us. It’s that extra step that you do that makes it seem easier.
“I go through every single customer service email that comes through and I’m still looking at things and making sure that people are responded to in a timely manner. My brother who works with me, manages most of that, and he probably doesn’t enjoy me looking over his shoulder, but it does mean that I end up with happier customers and people who are happier can become repeat customers.”
Now that she has her local logistics sorted, Hangatu has her eyes set at overseas expansion. She’s testing the waters with New Zealand but has plans to go global in the future. Having a trusted delivery partner like Auspost has made the New Zealand expansion simple. Hangatu says she can continue to focus on growing the business without having to worry about logistics.
“We’re sort of dipping a toe to see how it’s going. So far, it’s going really well. And the crazy thing is I haven’t actually had any returns!”
Not that she’d have any trouble if she did… thanks to those prepaid post labels!
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This article is provided for general information purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice for your business needs
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