Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
I have always had a passion for the beach and everything related to it. Growing up I acquired the nickname Bikini Geek because I was so obsessed with different bikinis and bikini styles. Living in Miami I quickly saw that there were a lot of ultra popular designers here that had little or no online presence. I decided to reach out to some of the designers and see if they were interested in selling online, the results were really mixed, the majority of the designers were not interested or asked for huge purchases of inventory before they would even consider selling with me. I kept at it, my favorite quote by Colin Powell being. "A dream doesn't become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work."
One of the first brands to believe in my vision was Peixoto Swimwear. This is a gorgeous line of luxury swimwear created by Colombian-born Miami resident Mauricio Esquenazi. He was extremely supportive as well as helpful in showing me how the bikini and swimwear world worked. The next designer that was fundamental was Montce Swim. I had been friends with the designer Alexandra Grief and when I approached her about selling her swimwear she was very supportive and helpful.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
I already had a personal instagram account @bikinigeek. And I was able to leverage that to start a new Instagram account @bikiniluxe. As we had something that nobody else had — limited-edition swimwear pieces directly from the designer here in Miami. A combination of word of mouth and social media created our first sales and it snowballed (yes, snowballed in Miami) from there! The majority of our sales currently come from the SEO work that we have done, we rank high for many luxury swimwear terms. Highend Bikini, Luxury Bikini, Designer Bikini Etc. Our Instagram presence is also another factor as well as our Pinterest boards. We currently receive over 1 million impressions a month on them alone.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
I can not say enough good things about Shippo. This app has the most incredible customer service you can imagine. They charge a tiny fee of 5 cents per package and offer a great discount on shipping that you could never get by yourself. They listen to our suggestions and advice on how to improve the app and are just an amazing company to work with! Another app that we really like is foursixty. This app integrates our store with our Instagram accounts and makes them shoppable with one click. And in order to keep those sales make sure you install Persistent Cart as well as Abandon Aid. Both are fantastic at retaining sales. Studies have found that 67 percent of your customers will leave without clicking purchase, these apps will help to remind them that they should come back. We have a warehouse in Miami that we ship out of, in the future we may move to a fulfillment center but as we carry so many different styles and brands of bikinis (currently we are the 3rd largest online shop for bikinis in the world). This may be a difficult move.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Find a niche that you have a passion for and the work won't feel like work at all. Work hard, and don't be discouraged when the sales don't come flying in. It takes time and lots and lots of work to build a successful store. Some of the best advice I have gotten has come from the Ecommerce Forums — a fantastic place to have your store reviewed. Get feedback and talk to other online sellers who have already jumped through the hoops that need to be jumped. You are in good hands with Shopify, I can not even explain how many times we have been online with Shopify support at 4 am in the morning trying to figure out some app, or aspect to selling online. I can not say enough good things about this company, they have been absolutely fundamental in the success that we have had online!