Q&A with Deirdre O’Hara, owner and chief buyer for Fabucci Footwear.
We recently met with Deirdre O’Hara of Fabucci shoes (pictured below) for a chat about her experience availing of our Online Trading Voucher. Deirdre utilised the voucher to upgrade the existing Fabucci website and she gave us a great insight into the world of online retailing from the perspective of a high fashion retailer based in Naas Co. Kildare.
Hi Deirdre, tell us about Fabucci?
Fabucci footwear is a ladies footwear boutique owned and run by myself and my sister Fionnuala O’Hara here in Naas, Co. Kildare for over 17 years. We find our inspiration in this pretty market town and on our exciting shopping trips to Milan and Madrid. We currently employ 1 full time member of staff and 2 part time.
How did you get into business?
I came from a hotel and catering management background and I had spent a lot of time travelling, experiencing new cultures and fashions. My sister and I both had a passion for fashion and shoes and we decided 17 years ago to give it a go and open up our own store and haven’t looked back since.
How did you find out about our Online Trading Voucher?
I had attended many training courses which were run through the LEO/Entrerprise board here in Kildare and also in Dublin and always found them very informative and useful as a small business owner trying to make it in a highly competitive fashion retail market. At one of the training schemes in Dublin, I heard that they were running a trial scheme in Dublin and once this was rolled out to include Kildare I was eager to find out more about how I could avail and how it could help develop and build on our current online presence.
Outline the problem/challenge which you felt that the Online Trading Voucher would help you overcome.
With the changing dynamic of the business environment in Naas such as many of the large supermarkets relocating outside the town and the reduced footfall of potential customers in the town centre as a result of this. We noticed a decline in passing trade. We decided to be proactive about this and look at it as an opportunity. We first of all created a brochure website which contained a detailed list of our fashion collection on offer. As this evolved we found that customers were increasingly eager to purchase the product online and not just view our range online. With this in mind we decided to use the online voucher to upgrade our existing website and to develop ecommerce capability. In doing this Fabucci wanted to ensure that everything was in place to ensure that the customer felt comfortable enough to make an online purchase. We also felt that customers wanted to use many payment types and we wanted to meet these requirements.
What happened as a result of availing of the voucher?
We applied for the grant and were successful in obtaining funding towards upgrading our current e-commerce website and online presence in terms of developing a new payment gateway, a free return service, effective Google Adwords, Search Engine Optimization and training on each of these aspects to allow me to manage these in the future.
We found that choosing the payment gateway cost can vary wildly from supplier to supplier so it is important to shop around and determine the most suitable for your business needs. In the end we went with PayPal as they were the most suitable for our volume of sales and have a charge per transaction system in place. We have trained all our staff on managing the online payment system and this is working very well.
We have seen a 10-15% increased growth in sales since developing our online e-commerce site. We are still working on the social media marketing side and we are getting there eventually. We are currently looking at a marketing and PR plan to promote the website and this is very different to preparing a marketing plan for the shop. We are working with Frances O’Loughlin business advisor at Kildare LEO on this. We have supplied our shoes to customers in the UK, Northern Ireland, Poland, France and Switzerland since developing our ecommerce and with that comes certain challenges so we have worked with our accountant on the legal implications of supplying outside the EU etc.
What are your top tips to people thinking about developing an e-commerce site and applying for an online voucher
- Know exactly what you want from your website
- Know exactly who your customer is and what their needs are
- Make the customers journey from entering the site to completing payment as hassle free as possible
- Ensure that people get their purchase the next day
- Ensure you get the most suitable online payment provider to suit your needs and cost
- Training and up skilling is essential when it comes to developing your online presence. Attend as many training sessions as possible and ask your local LEO for training in areas which you need to up skill.
- Transporting your goods to the foreign consumer can be costly. An Post offer a commercial service which I would highly recommend small business look into.