Mandatory quarantines, shelter-in-place orders, and lockdowns during the COVID-19 global pandemic have severely affected how luxury resale commerce is being handled around the world. To comply with social distancing measures, a reimagination of how to conduct business is required, and for many Entrupy verified businesses, e-commerce is now the only viable way to operate. Some businesses that are unaccustomed to selling online, such as traditional brick-and-mortar stores, may find the digital landscape overwhelming and difficult to navigate and even those that are accustomed to it are facing obstacles. We wanted to share this article to provide practical recommendations that support luxury resellers with business continuity during this challenging time.
We reached out to a few Entrupy verified businesses to learn about the changes they’ve had to make and their advice for fellow business owners. Here’s what they had to say about everything from sourcing inventory, to customer relationships, to how their roles as business owners have changed during this increasingly digital time!
1. Adjusting inventory sourcing and shipping to current logistical constraints
“I’d say the overall number of consignors has dropped since most people can’t ship from home, however the people that do send in bags have been sending in more. Probably, because they have more time to go through their closets!” – Opulent Habits
Many Entrupy verified businesses like Opulent Habits in New Jersey and The Hula in Hong Kong have actually reported an increase in customers looking to sell their items. Even though meeting one on one is no longer an option, businesses have been able to coordinate curbside drop-offs in lieu of customers coming to their stores. Businesses that previously relied on in-store interactions are seeing an increase in email and phone correspondence with customers wishing to buy, sell, or trade with them.
Businesses that primarily send and receive inventory through the mail are encountering snags and delays as well. For those that support international buying and selling, delays can be even longer — up to four or five weeks, according to The Purse Affair in Australia. Drops in local currency values can also put a strain on businesses doing international business, lowering their margins until economies normalize.
The good news is that consumers are still looking to buy, sell, and trade, and Entrupy verified businesses have been succeeding by adjusting their inventory sourcing, pricing, and shipping methods accordingly. The key has been in finding alternatives that work for them and setting clear expectations with their customers.
2. Focusing on interpersonal customer relationships – in a digital world
Corresponding virtually with customers
The way Entrupy verified businesses develop and maintain relationships with their customers is more important than ever, but the approach is now vastly different for those that previously relied on in-person relationship building.
“Mostly losing the in-person interaction which is very important for us in both buying and selling and getting to know our local customers. Everything is now done over the phone and email so it’s a lot harder in this sense.” – Modaselle
The transition to digital-centric customer relationship management presents both problems and opportunities to luxury resale operators. Business done over the phone or email can be cumbersome, as cited by Modaselle, however, for those able to increase their presence on other channels like social media to connect with customers, there is a huge opportunity to reach a wider audience and deliver more personal customer service.
Engaging customers with content and virtual experiences
“Engage customers with more content and your customers will believe and trust you. Trust is the most important thing in the resell game.” – The Purse Affair
Across the board, our verified businesses agreed that finding ways to stay authentic and connect personally with their customers has been key to their success these last couple of months. The Hula is now offering its customers a virtual shopping experience through video calls, and Brooke’s Boutique has found Facebook Live to be a useful tool, because it enables them to broadcast to their audience in real time.
I’m authentic and they appreciate that. Facebook algorithms have been on our side and opened up our viewer base exponentially which has provided a large new market of both buyers and consignors”. – Brooke’s Boutique
Picking an allotted time slot to jump on Facebook (or Instagram) Live and staying consistent week to week is a great way to keep your audience coming back for more!
So what can businesses do to keep new customers they’re attracting online? We recommend seeing if implementing a customer loyalty or affiliate program is right for your business. Platforms such as Growave — an all in one marketing platform that offers loyalty rewards, reviews, referrals, and much more — are recommended by our verified businesses, but there are many tools on the market to help you establish and maintain a strong customer loyalty or affiliate program depending on your businesses’ needs.
3. Implementing digital marketing and e-commerce
Social media selling
Business owners have taken on many new roles, but nearly everyone we reached out to mentioned the increased need to utilize social media for sales and marketing. Luckily, Facebook and Instagram are both great platforms to sell on, and setting them up is pretty easy. You don’t necessarily have to have a website to sell on Facebook or Instagram either, so it’s great for businesses looking to pivot quickly from in-person to online.
In fact, many Entrupy verified businesses sell primarily on Instagram by linking products from their website to Instagram. When they post pictures of their inventory, they can directly link it to their website! For guidance on how to set up Facebook and Instagram shopping, check out this article from Facebook. Fun fact: Instagram shopping actually requires product catalogs to be created on Facebook first (so if you set up one, you can have both)! Facebook and Instagram recently just took this feature one step further by rolling out “Shops,” which enables businesses to turn their pages into storefronts.
Is it time for your business to launch an online store? When it comes to choosing an e-commerce platform, Entrupy customers agreed that Shopify is #1.
“Frankly it is the best. Short of developing a custom platform, Shopify is super powerful and really the best platform for high end selling.” – Opulent Habits
The Purse Affair also agreed that Shopify offered the easiest set up and most powerful selling tools. Other popular platforms include Wix, Squarespace, and BigCommerce. Most of these platforms offer apps that can add more functionality to your website like loyalty programs, SEO help, pop-up offers, and more, and Shopify seems to be the leader in apps. Check out this article for help choosing an e-commerce platform that is right for your business.
For larger businesses that are looking for an even easier way to list and manage their inventory, Upright Labs is a great tool that makes it easy to navigate and scale your e-commerce business. Companies like Goodwill trust them to streamline their e-commerce journey. Take photos, list to multiple platforms, and more all from their interface.
With everyone online these days looking to connect, it’s prime time for social media advertisements, and many Entrupy verified businesses have decided to start running ads on social media for the first time. They’re a great way to reach new audiences and help build brand awareness. Plus, if you’re putting in effort to create great, engaging content and perhaps even virtual offerings like Facebook or Instagram Live sessions, getting more eyes on it is well worth it!
Here is an article by Hootsuite on how to prepare for and launch your first Facebook Ad, although experts in this field are well worth the investment! When choosing if you should run ads on Facebook or Instagram, it’s all about who your target audience is. For businesses targeting an audience of 40 and up, we recommend Facebook! If your target audience skews younger and you have great product photography to showcase, then Instagram might be your best bet! The good news is that whether you choose Facebook or Instagram, they are both set up in Facebook so you can easily try out one or both!
If you don’t have the budget to invest in ads, no problem! As The Purse Affair mentioned, continuing to create strong, engaging content to connect with your customers can be a powerful tool. Here is a guide on how to craft a compelling content marketing strategy in 2020.
4. Maintaining trust with consistent and reliable authentication standards
Image courtesy of Opulent Habits
When asked if authentication processes have changed at all due to closures, we were thrilled to hear responses that reinforce our motto “authenticate anywhere, anytime.” For businesses that utilize Entrupy as their primary authentication method, nothing has changed!
“Entrupy gives a small business like us enough clout to sell high end designer bags without the need to hire expensive authenticators.” – HULA
Not only does our service reduce reliance on in-person authenticators, all of our authentications come with a verifiable certificate of authenticity that cannot be faked or replicated. It’s a great way to establish or maintain trust with customers that are transacting primarily online. We also recently launched the Virtual Trusted Seller Network, which hosts a number of Entrupy trusted sellers from around the world who are currently operating online. If you are interested in being listed contact the Entrupy Support team today at firstname.lastname@example.org.