Bohemia’s Rhapsody as E-Commerce Makeover Brings Upturn

by Scott Douglas

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009

Bohemia Design Website

SEE A FULL SELECTION OF PCIS FROM BOHEMIA AT THE HOLYROOD PARTNERSHIP PR PHOTO GALLERY

A Scottish fashion company is having to move to larger premises and hire more staff after experiencing an incredible upturn in ecommerce trading through its website.

Edinburgh-based Bohemia Design saw online sales surge – with orders coming in from across the globe – since leading multimedia development company Channel 6 revamped their online store.

Channel 6 now believe that the success for Bohemia Design, and for other clients on its books, shows how ecommerce is helping businesses to survive the recession.

Client Services Director Kate Little said with more and more people embracing online and mobile web shopping, many Scottish businesses are missing out by not developing ecommerce sites to catch up with shopping trends.

Dramatic increase in sales

Bohemia Design Marketing Manager Natalya Ratner said they are now firm supporters or ecommerce.

She said: “It’s no exaggeration to say our e-commerce shop has seen sales rise dramatically. In the last six months – since our redesign with Channel 6 – our online sales have gone up by 50%.

“This includes online sales from international customers – we have loyal customers from Norway, Sweden, Spain, Italy and even Kuwait – as well as a growing number of online purchases from local, Edinburgh-based customers. 

“In fact, our online sales have increased so much since the re-design of the site, we are now relocating our Dundas Street shop, where we also base our web shop, to bigger premises in order to allow space for the extra stock and staff.

“Our e-commerce sales comprise roughly 40% of our total sales at the moment, but we are confident that by December this year our online sales will exceed our shop-based sales.”

Another company which benefitted was furniture company Furnit. Their sales increase wasn’t as dramatic as Bohemia’s, but while they chose to go online with Channel 6, a competitor didn’t – and the competitor has now gone out of business.

Opening up new opportunities

Channel 6 believe that many companies are still not grasping the opportunities, such as with mobile shopping – and in a recession that can be fatal.

Kate Little said it is clear the companies in Scotland who do embrace the ecommerce opportunities are seeing rapid results.

She said: “For many companies, it still boils down to lack of planning. They think having a website is the be all and end all, but it’s not. After that comes having a good ecommerce site so people can buy from them. And it’s also about ensuring people can shop on any platform that works for them.

“It’s about being where people are when they have money. Customers are also a lot more savvy now in that they will see something they like – be it furniture, clothing, jewellery – and then shop online for it. So a company without the online store is missing out on all those potential sales.

“And now, given the massive increase we are seeing in mobile internet usage, thanks to more people having BlackBerries, smartphones like the N97 and the iPhone, mobile shopping is also more and more a reality.

“More than 1million iPhones were sold in the three days after the new model, the iPhone 3GS, and that’s people who appear to have decent incomes but are also very online-savvy.

PR for digital agency

“Companies who don’t have websites that are catering towards ecommerce and mobile ecommerce are potentially missing out, collectively, on millions of pounds of sales. What these businesses have to remember as well is that if a person has gone to their site, seen they don’t have an online store and then found a competitor who has, the odds are they will stay with their competitor.

“But you can’t just throw any old site up. You have to make sure you tie in with the store’s ethos. For example, Furnit went for a simple, yet stylish design which reflects their furniture. Bohemia’s website was designed to reflect the modern design and high standard of the shops.

“For Bohemia and others, we feel that it is largely due to the channel 6 technology and design of their websites that they are such a success. Channel 6 has 10 years experience in e-commerce and in this time has developed software that has been tweaked to maximise online sales and revenue for our clients.

“The long term relationship between Channel 6 and clients is also key to success, as we develop an understanding of their business objectives.”

Kate’s tips for companies thinking about doing ecommerce are:

  • Think and plan – the further you can plan ahead the better. If you don’t have a website up and running, make sure that you factor in for ecommerce and mobile
  • Ask who you are targeting. Make sure your site and online store offering appeals to your target audiences.
  • Have a good backend system in place. Websites aren’t just about how they look.
  • Online and off, ensure your customer service is top-notch, which helps prevent negative mentions online.

Research analysts Gartner estimates by 2012 there will be close to 200 million mobile payment users, or more than 3 percent of all mobile users worldwide. In China, for example, a country seen as the vanguard for digital mobile habits, spending is growing incredibly quickly and is expected to reach £23billion by 2011.

The research firm also predicts mobile payment transactions will soar 429 percent to nearly 4.5 billion in 2012, while payment association Apacs has stated that it believes noncash transactions will overtake cash payments in the U.K. by 2015.

Surveys have also shown that seventy-five percent of those willing to buy mobile are willing to buy airline tickets, hotel rooms, film or event tickets, music, mobile video or TV content, and games.

Kate added: “A lot of companies have good products out there, but by not having an online store, they limit who their customers can be which seems crazy when the whole point is maximising your business and your income.

Channel 6 brought in experts from Scottish PR agency Holyrood Partnership to help manage its healthy media profile.

 

 

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