I couldn’t have asked for any more this year. Havetolove has been named in Vogue’s ‘Best Boutiques in Britain 2010’ and sales are continuing to increase dramatically in the store and, especially, online. Customers are tired of the long English winter and we all want to spring into summer and reflect this in our wardrobes.
It’s been six months since we refurbished our website, Havetolove.com, and it’s thriving, and already an important part of our business. We all love a boutique that offers personal service, as Havetolove does, but the website offers convenience to a faster pace of life. Ecommerce customers tend to follow the crowd and go for highly recognised brands that have been around for years. We offer recognised brands but also offer something different. We feel this gives us the edge on our competitors.
Our regular in-store customers trust our buying eye and tend to regard the brand as secondary to our personal recommendation, whereas the website customer is more of a fashion follower; this is evident by the brands they search for. I feel the more established we become the more our online customers will also start to trust our eye and we are already seeing online customers repeat buying. Regular customers are just as important online as they are in the store, so when buying for your website don’t forget about all the regulars that buy season after season.
You have to be prepared to update the website with new products - as with a shop window. If your independent store is working well then why shouldn’t others around the world want to buy from you? However, if you are going to launch your business in cyberspace, be prepared to put in extra time (especially in buying periods) and budget. And you’ll need extra storage space.
Kate Walton is director of young fashion indie Havetolove in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne