How one brand used shipping automation to grow a fashion empire

2021-07-28

Written by Starshipit

Alyssa Salvo is the future-forward thinking owner of 'HER Empire', the online fashion boutique that sells luxe occasion wear, including a range designed by herself, which 20-something women looking for something special to wear can afford.

Six years ago, Alyssa, a journalism graduate, decided to leave the dwindling fashion magazine industry behind to return to her more lowkey coastal hometown of Terrigal, just north of Sydney along the Central Coast. Inspired by the growing Boho trend back then, she launched “HER Empire” on Shopify selling Boho luxe dresses that young women could afford. She was 23 at the time.

As a young woman with no previous business experience, Alyssa proved savvy-minded from the beginning as she focused on 2 things:

  1. Know your customer and what they want.
  2. Make delivery the very best it can be.

Alyssa knew that focusing on excellent customer delivery ensures a happy and therefore loyal customer, which is exactly what you want as the cost of acquiring a new customer outweighs the value of a long-term customer.

The challenge: scaling an online business & maintaining world-class delivery

When starting out, Alyssa remembers how time-consuming fulfilling orders used to be.

“It would take so much time! We would manually create every shipping label by copying and pasting addresses from Shopify into the back end of HER Empire’s Australia Post or DHL account. I remember many late nights watching orders come in and I would want to start doing up shipping labels straight away so that we could get the orders out in time for the next day.”

The global success of HER Empire has been incredible and challenging at the same time, as Alyssa has had to navigate the ins and outs of international shipping.

“There are also only so many addresses you can manually input before you go stir crazy!”

As Alyssa maintains delivery excellence as a business focus, she believes in giving her customers the quickest and easiest delivery to ensure she keeps her customers happy:

“DHL Express is our courier of choice. It’s a premium service but DHL Express are crucial partner in keeping our international customers happy. They deliver incredibly fast worldwide and we can also track our orders. For our Australian orders we ship with Australia Post."

The solution: easy to use multi-courier automation with customer support

Alyssa had done all her research. “I’m always searching for new design ideas, new ways to improve marketing, web design, logistics. My obsession with research is what keeps me pushing my business forward!” When researching shipping solutions she focused on 2 things:

  1. It must save time.
  2. It must be easy to use.

She had lined up a few options, but after speaking to the excellent customer support team at Starshipit she made her decision soon after.

“There were a few similar platforms we could have gone with, but with the level of support I received from Anthony at Starshipit even before I signed up, it was a no brainer for me to sign up with Starshipit.Starshipit’s customer service is great. I always factor this in, because if issues come up, having a number you can call straight away to speak to a technician who can talk you through how to fix any issues is a big plus.”

As so many customers are international, an important Starshipit feature for them is using the address validation tool, which auto-corrects addresses that have been supplied incorrectly. “This eliminates the margin for human error as Starshipit flags invalid addresses, so we can fix them before orders are sent with our couriers!”

Another huge benefit is the cost savings. Couriers charge penalties for every incorrect address, which soon becomes costly if you have no system in place to validate addresses. Learn more about address validation.

“6 years ago, we were shipping around 50 orders a month. Now, we’re shipping 650 orders a month!”

That’s a lot of orders and shipping labels to print, so “HER Empire” save hours using the batch print feature, which allows you to select multiple orders for bulk printing with the same courier. Learn more about batch printing shipping labels.

With customer delivery satisfaction indexing high on “HER Empire’s” list of priorities, using Starshipit’s automated customer shipping notifications and a branded tracking page was also a no brainer.

Managing your customer’s expectations along the delivery journey is crucial, especially if you’re shipping internationally. Sending your customer tracking notifications to keep them in the loop helps you reset their expectations, which ensures a much happier customer experience and hopefully more positive customer reviews.

Learn more about customer notifications, brand tracking and returns.

The outcome: saving 3-hours a day in handling time

Switching from manually fulfilling orders to having one login for any courier she chooses and automating fulfilment gave Alyssa the power-up she needed to scale her business without hiring additional resources.

“Starshipit has been an essential technology for scaling our business. The way it automatically downloads all orders from our Shopify and then bulk prints all our labels at the click of a button just makes it so worth it.”
“HER Empire” save 3 hours a day = 15 hours a week”

With hard work and focus it’s no surprise that Alyssa has grown her global following on Instagram to 168 000. Alyssa also believes in investing in the best tools and services, “It’s important to have the best and continue to invest in technology that is easy to use for your staff and also streamlines seamlessly with the technology you already have, which is also why we’re using Starshipit!”

The future looks set to impress, as “HER Empire” are moving into a new warehouse they recently purchased with plans to hire 2-3 more staff members, and with her insatiable interest in exploring new ideas we look forward to being a part of her next chapter of her stellar journey.

“I love learning about new strategies and new tools for online business growth. It’s an ever-changing online world and the possibilities truly are limitless. It’s an exciting time to be in fashion and eCommerce!”

Advice for small business owners

Alyssa has some useful advice for new business owners:

“Only start your own online business if you’re always happy to forever research and continue learning. There’s no magic start up time frame for a business that once it’s been 1-2 years it becomes easy. You have to be prepared to constantly re-evaluate your business and continue to research and learn new ways to make it better."
"The greatest lesson I have learnt is growth does not always equal more profit. It’s great to have a vision which when I started out that’s all I thought about but I’ve definitely had to become more realistic over the years to make sure we stay within budget and keep a healthy balance with our finances too!”
Starshipit

Starshipit

Starshipit is the best practice shipping and fulfilment platform that helps retailers save time and deliver great shipping experiences.

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