Tips on how to run a blogshop

Singapore-based Momoteapots shares some pointers on how to handle the logistics and marketing behind a blogshop, and explains the benefits of resisting the change to a dot-com Web site.
Written by Ellyne Phneah, Contributor

[CASE STUDY] Unlike many other blogshops who have migrated to a dot-com Web address, Singapore-based blogshop Momoteapots has resisted the move, based on cost calculations and customer feedback.

The blogshop's co-founder Serene Chow told ZDNet Asia in an interview that customers preferred using the LiveJournal site because of the more personalized customer service offered, such as chronological dialogue format that made it easy to browse.

It also allowed for more personal interaction, as compared to an automated invoicing system on big brand online shops such as Nasty Gal and ASOS, she added.

Chow explained there was also high costs in migrating to a dot-com Web site with proper online store features, which can typically go up to S$20,000 (US$14,660).

Co-owned with a good friend from school, Matthew Ang, Momoteapots today has approximately 1,000 transactions a month and launches new collections every two weeks. It had started out in 2007, when Chow, a university student, used it as an online platform to rid her wardrobe of old clothes and earn extra allowance.

With the blogshop scene being very saturated at the moment, we are often challenged to think out of the box to keep improving ourselves and keep ahead of competition," she said.

ZDNet Asia spoke to Chow to find out more about what it takes to run a blogshop.


Q: How do you source for your clothes?

Chow: We get our supplies of female apparel in Singapore and abroad. We make sourcing trips within Asia monthly to scour for clothes with the latest designs for our blogshop. We have also begun manufacturing our own designs, by working with middlemen and suppliers here.

At the moment, we work with a few trustworthy and reliable suppliers, since it is difficult to find a single supplier who is good at manufacturing every single apparel. For example, one supplier may be better at manufacturing blazers while another may have a niche in making dresses, so we will choose to work with both.

We meet our local suppliers weekly to order designs. Locally, off the rack stuff can take one day for delivery while our self-manufactured designs can take up to three or four months to arrive.

How do you market your products? 
On average, one or two Momoteapots' manufactured designs arrive every week, along with readily available pieces from suppliers. With these pieces, we try to pick out which designs we want to showcase as part of a collection based on "what's hot".

We will then do a photoshoot mostly indoors, and occasionally we will have themed ones to inject some fun. I still model for the site, and the images are then edited by us--which helps save costs.

Preview pictures will be uploaded on the blog's social media page, and we will also announce the latest collection through our e-mailing list.

This is a good way to hype up the interest and buzz for a collection, as customers anticipate the upcoming designs. It also gives them some extra time to consider purchasing a particular piece. p>We will then prepare for the online launch by listing the measurements, writing out item descriptions, and doing up the inventory.

How is invoicing and payment done?
Customers who are interested in buying a particular item will leave a comment on the post, noting the item of their choice and their e-mail address.

With this "invoice", a customer will then be given 24 hours to make their transfer via ATM fund transfer or Internet banking, and then inform us of the transaction details. If they do not or are uncontactable, we will "blacklist" the e-mail address, and give them lesser priority on their next order.

Invoicing on a blogging platform, as compared to a dot-com site can be troublesome and inefficient because you have to go through every single comment to create an invoice. The up side is they get a more personalized invoice from us as compared to a generic automated invoice from a dot-com side.

We consider a collection a success when at least 70 percent of the stocks are sold, which happens in almost all of our collections.

What other efforts do you make to get to know your customers?
Knowing our customers is very important to us as it puts a face behind those we correspond with online. Similarly, when our customers get to know us, they may feel more comfortable buying from us in the future.

We hold private sale events once or twice a year only for customers who have signed up for our mailing list. At this event, the customers get first-hand previews of upcoming designs and priority access to our sale items.

With our online success, we have also opened a brick and mortar store.

The brick-and-mortar stores can give our online customers an additional outlet to shop with us, and reach out to a wider customer base. There are still customers who hesitate shopping online with us as they worry about quality and fit.

New or potential customers will now have more faith in our products when they have the opportunity to touch, feel or try our designs.

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