Retailers struggling to boost the number of people coming through their doors can learn a lot from Lucy Given about embracing the web to drive sales growth.
Lucy, a designer and the founder of the LUC Design homewares store in Hobart, says she has developed a loyal global following thanks to her website and social media presence, leading to increased in-store sales rather than online purchases.
“I'm recognised as a global brand, but I'm just a retailer in Hobart, so a local store that has global recognition,” Lucy explains.
Contrary to the popular belief that an online store will drive sales at the expense of your physical store, Lucy says she is only able to compete by having that physical presence, and being online drives awareness of her store.
“I think every business at the moment has to have an online presence, but in my industry most of my suppliers have an online store now, so the wholesaler has become an online store. And in Tasmania we are at a bit of a disadvantage, because we have got to pay freight in and out of our state, which mainland suppliers don't have to pay, so ... I can't really compete in my online store,” she says.
The overwhelming success of her online business is seeing LUC Designs become something of a tourist attraction in its own right, says Lucy.
“People will visit me because of my online presence. So if they come to Tasmania, I've become a store that people will visit,” she says.
“I'm like a concierge desk! Because of the style of my store and the style of my staff and the way we interact, people just assume that we'd know where the good places were to eat and drink. And that's probably more so than anyone that had an invested interest in it, that they were either being paid or were required to promote certain places, we do it on a heartfelt 'we've been there, we've drunk there, we've eaten there' basis.”
However, Lucy says it is important that business owners know the difference between platforms, as not all social media platforms will achieve the same results.
As well as now attracting tourists from across the country and the globe via the likes of Instagram and her website, Lucy says she also relies heavily on the internet in-store as well.
She was one of the first in the country to benefit from the NBN rollout, given that its initial development was focused on Tasmania.
“I'm online I would say 15 hours a day,” she says.
“We run our point-of-sale program online – it's a ... cloud-based software program that we have constantly online – and I'm constantly online with showing customers products and checking via cloud-based price lists with some of my suppliers. So I absolutely require high speeds and no downtime, all day.
“Then I go home at night and I'm uploading and downloading product and inspiration and blog referencing photos, storing photos, etc.”
Such is the role that technology now plays in Lucy’s business that she says retailing without connectivity is “a disaster”.
“We had this hiatus around July  when we were moving stores, so we moved into a temporary pop-up store in the city in Hobart, and I didn't connect during that about eight-week period, and it was a disaster,” Lucy recalls.
“We bought mobile options, and it was constantly falling out, constantly too slow. We had music also online in a software program; we couldn't get the music connected. It was just a really clumsy, clunky environment without it.”
Business name: LUC Design
Industry: Retail, homewares and furniture
Location: Hobart, Tasmania
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.
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