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Today we are speaking with perhaps the youngest and most popular Polish clothing brand owner. Please welcome Mariusz Mac, the owner of Aloha From Deer. We talked with Mariusz about the UX of an online store, stationary stores and, of course, the success of printed sweatshirts.
#5. Customer Success: Aloha From Deer
Michał Blak and Diana Drobniak: Hi, Mariusz! I know you play Pokemon Go. How are you doing?
Mariusz Mac: Mariusz Mac: Pokemon are going well – I have reached level 21, but I slowly stop playing – I simply do not have the time. Pokémon have become the protagonists of our last series. We try to react to current trends in pop culture, releasing such short series. We have managed to work out a production process that allows this.
DD: Looks impressive! Let me ask you about the origins. How did you sell your first sweatshirt?
MM: First I posted the designs of my sweatshirts on Facebook. Surprisingly, the profile has grown in strength, quickly gathered tens of thousands of fans who expressed their desire to buy such sweatshirts. When we managed to make the first sweatshirts, we put them on sale on the Big Cartel platform. We sold 20 pieces in 2 minutes.
MB: You stormed the market for street clothes. What was your success based on?
I think it is due to the fact that we just fit in with the needs of the market. There was a trend for sweatshirts that would have cool, cosmic motives (hipster at the time), but these were nowhere to be found. Such designs were inspirations or even some kind of folly. Everyone wanted it, but could not get it. And we have made a small collection and when managed to make the first batch (which was not easy), the sweatshirts were very popular.
MB: When did you notice the need to build your own online store?
From the very beginning, we had planned to build an online store, but we wanted to improve the manufacture first so that the product quality would satisfy us. The first store was set up in 15 minutes on a very simple platform, the Big Cartel. Then we moved to Magento, where the store was more complex. We have been modifying and extending its capabilities for two years. A year ago we switched to the new design of the Aloha From Deer store and that store was made from scratch.
DD: Speaking of design, did you pay attention to usability while designing the store?
Yes, we checked the purchase path of a customer, made sure they do not feel discomfort at any stage and keep them from leaving the store before buying.
DD: Do you think that usability studies are important?
I think they are very important, and I would soon like to undergo an actual audit of my e-store for user experience.
MB: Your customers are young people. Do you have any observations on how they make purchases, what they are guided by?
I think that a young customer who asks something will be satisfied and feel safe when they get a quick response on Facebook or Instagram; this results in them making purchases. For our customers, it is important that our product is heavily hyped on Facebook or that it is worn by a celebrity. I agree with the assertion that social media secure sales. We focus heavily on showing celebrities in our clothes.
MB: How did you manage to reach such stars like Anja Rubik, 50Cent and Snoop Dog?!
There are many more stories like this. Some time ago, Robin Williams’ agent has called me: Hey Mariusz, we want to buy one piece of each of your designs in XL size. I do not even know where they got my number from! We issued a VAT invoice at the company’s address. We sent a set of our clothes and after a few weeks, we found a photo of Robbie online, made by some paparazzo. Most often, however, we learn about celebrities wearing our clothing post factum. That Kiesza wears AlohaFromDeer we have learned from an article published in the Billboard magazine, which described her as the best-dressed star – showing her wearing AlohaFromDeer clothes. However, these things do not always happen by themselves.
We have met Anja Rubik in Paris at the opening of our PopUp Store. Her picture in AlohaFromDeer clothes was also taken by a paparazzo. Anja is happy to help Polish artists, but you have to contact her; she is very helpful if she likes something. We managed to reach most celebrities thanks to our contacts and cooperation with PR agencies and regular fans. Such a fan follows where their favorite star would appear and goes there to ask for an autograph. While there, they would hand a gift, such as our FullPrint.
DD: What is most important to you in e-customer service?
First and foremost, express contact with the customer by a website chat or reply to an email.
DD: A lot of stores have moved from trade to e-commerce, and you’ve been online from the beginning. However, you are very popular. Do you think about opening a stationary store?
We have been looking for a nice location for a long time, to open a flagship store in Warsaw, but had abandoned our search for the time being. We had a pop-up store in Stary Browar for three months and it worked out very well. We are waiting for our dream location to present itself and we will be working with a stationary store.
MB: What did you use before to contact customers? Why did you decide to use edrone?
We used MailChimp before, but we switched to edrone because it has a lot of functionality compared to MailChimp, such as sending newsletters. It also has an unlimited number of e-mails and many additional options that our previous system did not have at all. The price is also good.
DD: You are already very successful, both in terms of brand recognition and offer size. What’s next, what are your plans for development?
We would like to focus on seasonality, releasing two large collections yearly. They will respond to current trends. We want to focus more on making products with which we will identify with the most. We reject a large number of designs and create consistent collections using newer and more interesting materials. Everything will be more seasonal.
MB: You have started your business with your family. Aloha From Deer is a thriving business now. How many people do you employ?
Invariably for two years, I employ 5-7 people.
MB: What do you think the challenge for e-commerce would be in 2017?
Certainly, the challenge for e-stores will be to maintain sales at the current level. It will also be important to find new sources of customer reach. Caring for regular customers to return to the store for more.
DD: What do you think is the biggest sin of an e-commerce manager?
Not taking into account the usability aspect of an e-store, allowing mistakes during purchases. As regards customer support, the biggest sin would be the unwillingness to engage in dialog and not answering their questions and doubts.
Thanks for the interview.
Customer Success is a cycle in which you meet one of edrone CRM customers every Tuesday. We talk to owners and managers of the largest or fastest growing e-stores. The interviews are free of marketing buzz, and we want you to know first-hand how big Polish e-commerce players are building their position and what mistakes you can avoid or what opportunities you can take advantage of.
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