Over the last few posts I’ve been hinting at something new, a new ecommerce project. It’s an idea I’m really excited about, as it stands I’m about 50% of the way to putting it into practice and making it a reality. So, what is this new ecommerce project?
It wasn’t long after launching NailPolish.co.uk that I began having a few doubts. Maybe not so much doubts, but questions.
Before I entered this market, I [wrongly] assumed that nail polish was the be all and end all of nail care. After all, a guy like me has never use nail care products before (honest!).
We started getting calls and emails from customers looking for the complete package – not just a great selection of nail colors. This got me thinking, how could I offer the whole package to my customers? Could I do it on NailPolish.co.uk, or was there a better way to do it?
In the end… after a couple of months spent agonizing and canvasing the opinion of anyone who has ever painted their nails, I’ve decided to launch Manicure.co.uk. It will be the one stop shop for everything related to manicures. That’s nail color, nail tools, base coats, top coats, treatments, and everything else.
Is this the end for NailPolish.co.uk already?
The answer to the above is a resounding “no”. In fact, NailPolish.co.uk is only in its infancy. But, through launching NailPolish.co.uk I’ve realized that there’s so much more to the market than just nail polish.
Here’s my plan for the websites going forward:
- NailPolish.co.uk will be a kind of “encyclopedia” of nail polish. I’m not talking about a Wikipedia; I’m talking a web store that sells every brand and every shade of nail polish. It’s will be the “go to” place for anyone looking for nail polish, whether it’s a shade from a current collection, or a shade that has been out of production for a couple of years. I want NailPolish.co.uk to be the ultimate website for buying nail polish. I can’t just click my fingers and make this happen overnight, so it’s a long-term goal we’re going to work towards. Stockpiling copious amounts of nail polish is not cheap!
- Manicure.co.uk will be the place to go if you’re looking to treat yourself to a whole new home manicure kit. We’ll have a large selection of manicure tools and treatments available, from nail files and buffers to base coats and top coats – as well as nail polish. On Manicure.co.uk we’ll only stock the most current nail polish collections – along with some handpicked classic colors. Manicure.co.uk will be about buying “the package” – which contrasts with NailPolish.co.uk where most people buy just one or two colors
Why this will work?
It might seem crazy that I’m planning to launch a new ecommerce project so soon after NailPolish.co.uk, but it seems like a brilliant idea to me. The fact is we already stock a large range of nail polish, so we don’t need to worry about stock acquisition costs.
After launching NailPolish.co.uk I was able to understand the nail care industry better, and as a result I now feel is a huge gap to be filled. Only time will tell whether or not Manicure.co.uk is a stroke of genius or a ridiculously bad idea, but I’ll be sure to keep you updated via the Sellbrite blog!
One thing I want to mention is what keeps me going, and, I believe, makes me successful as an entrepreneur: focus and determination.
It’d be super easy for me to sit back and say, “wow, I spent ages developing NailPolish.co.uk – I don’t want to do the same with Manicure.co.uk just yet”.
The simple fact is, however, I spent a fair amount of money on the Manicure domain name, so at the moment that money is tied up in an “asset” that isn’t really doing a whole lot. I come into the office each morning and work hard on my plans for Manicure.co.uk because the sooner it starts turning over money, the sooner I can see a profit – and a return on my investment.
It’s definitely not always easy to maintain focus and drive, but something inside of me just keeps me going. I’m passionate about each and every website I run – and I’m passionate about this idea because I think it’ll really work (and I really want to prove my girlfriend wrong – she says it won’t work).
If you’re someone who has big ideas but you never do anything about them, now’s the time to “take action”. I hate that little cliché because it’s what all the “gurus” say to the lemmings who buy their “make millions online” courses, but without taking action you’ll never get anywhere with your venture – online or off.
A reader response
I just wanted to take a little time to respond to a comment posted on my #EcomLaunch 3 blog post, by one of our readers. Cheri commented:
Hi Nick, I really enjoyed this article. The website looks like it’s off to a great start. In my experience, a few of the professional brands prefer to be sold salon or spa only — forget about them. Congrats on the sway! I can think of a few great indie brands for you to add.
I imagine it’s hard to buy PPC traffic for a $5.99 nail polish — and these are super competitive brands. I assume you are selling across multiple channels (hence the need for Sellbrite). How do you stay firm on retail pricing with so much competition? Can you elaborate a bit more on your PPC strategy? Are you drop shipping, using fulfillment (FBA?) or stocking? Super curious, as I’m in beauty and sell my own line of cosmetics in the US. – Cheri
The problem with ignoring salon brands is that they’re the brands everyone is looking for. We’re trying to stay away from “retail” brands that can be bought in the local shopping mall. You might think that sounds a little strange when over in the USA you can buy OPI in Walgreens, and Essie in various retail locations – but here in the UK, OPI in particular, is a lot harder to find. My plans for the future include opening a salon so that we can secure more salon brands to sell via our website. That’s some ways off at the moment, but in order to increase the range of products we offer, opening a salon is definitely in the cards!
With regards to selling across multiple channels, we’ve actually stopped adding new stock to eBay – and only a small selection of our nail polish can be found on Amazon.
There are various reasons for this, including the fact that a lot of these nail polish brands might not be too pleased if we list their items anywhere but our website.
We don’t really want to upset anyone, so we’ve made the decision to sell a few lines on Amazon, but the rest can only be found on our website.
Truth be told, we don’t really pay much attention to retail prices. On a few of the lines we sell above the MSRP, in order to maintain a margin. On most of the lines however, we actually sell below the MSRP. Even though we sell below MSRP, we don’t get sucked into price wars.
The nail care market in particular is rife with stock of dubious origins – as well as merchants who provide shoddy service. We believe that by providing an amazing service and selling only genuine stock sourced from official suppliers, we’ve got enough of a unique selling point without having to worry too much about pricing.
Pricing is hugely important, but there are equally important things, like quality of service, after sales care, authenticity and so on. Some of our competitors might not source from official distributors like we do and may be able to sell their items cheaper. The playing field isn’t really very level, so in a lot of ways price isn’t something we can control as much as we’d like.
Of course we’d like to be the cheapest, but the reality is that we’re not, and we can’t be without taking a huge loss. To be crystal clear here, I’m not talking about any competitor in particular – I’m talking about the industry as a whole.
Our PPC strategy centers on super granular ad groups with one or two keywords in them. So looking at the website you mentioned, we might have six or seven different ad groups just for the “Acai Eyeshadow” that you stock.
Initially we made a loss via PPC, but if you continue to put in the hard yards and you spend lots of time refining your campaigns, you can squeeze out a profit.
It’s also worth looking into Google Product Listing Ads. When they first launched they were really profitable, but as more competitors have started to use them, they’ve become a bit less effective.
That said, they’re still a great source of sales! PPC tends to be my specialty, so I could have written a 10,000 word reply to that very short question. If you need any clarification or help with regards to PPC strategy, just drop me a message and I’ll see what I can do to help. 🙂
All of the products you see on our website are held in stock. We’re currently in a very large office, and in the next couple of months we’ll [hopefully] be making the transition to a purpose built warehouse facility.
In the past I looked into drop shipping and 3PL, but I found the best margins were in taking care of your own fulfillment. Believe me, taking responsibility for fulfillment is complex, tiring and draining – but when your fulfillment ticks over just nicely in house, you know it was worth the hassle.
For us, it made sense to fulfill our own orders, but I’m not sure how that translates to other countries around the world, where the cost of fulfillment services might be different.
I’m really enjoying my journey through this business. I learn new things every single day. At the moment I’m trying to speed up the development of Manicure.co.uk so we can see some traction before the busy holiday period. I’m also hard at work in procuring new brands and lines for NailPolish.co.uk – I’ve got a list of six new brands we’re hoping to stock in the next few months.
If anyone else has any particular questions, like Cheri, please feel free to leave a comment and I’ll do my best to answer them as well as I can!
Next in the Series: #EcomLaunch 7: Strategies That Fuel Growth