From eBay seller to recognised industry brand – One retailer’s rise to fame
Over the years I’ve seen many businesses launch on eBay and largely remain as an eBay business and for many companies that’s fine. There’s nothing wrong with being a successful marketplace seller, but for those that want to grow beyond the safe confines of a marketplace there’s a massive step from being a merchant to becoming a recognised brand.
That’s why I was thrilled this week to see my friends Claire Haines and Melissa Burton at Lingerie Outlet Store profiled by Lingerie Insight as the up and coming lingerie brand with aspirations to become a national retailer. Selling on multiple channels as well as their website, they’ve made the jump from eBay trader to recognised brand and are now mentioned alongside industry giants such as Bravissimo and Figleaves.
“Sometimes, brands burst into our lives with little or no apparent support, as was the case with Lingerie Outlet Store.”
– Lingerie Insight
You might think it’s all down to hard work and in part it is, but it’s also taken some exceptional business insight and a touch of genius as well. With over 20 years in sales and advertising, Claire who set up the business has had to sell the proposition of marketplace selling as a channel (through Lingerie Outlet Store of course) to major lingerie manufacturers – not an easy job when you’re starting out and just selling on eBay. Getting your first brand on board is the toughest part and took Claire months of negotiations.
“It took all my 20 years of sales experience to really sell to Triumph because nobody at that point wanted you to sell on eBay”
– Claire Haines, Lingerie Outlet Store
Since then, Melissa who comes from a career in blue chip companies, has overseen the day to day buying strategy, operations and cash flow and helped steer the business to where it is today.
To become a brand it’s not enough simply to become a big seller, which Lingerie Outlet Store have certainly done – they turn over well in excess of £1 million per year on eBay alone. You also can’t simply wake up one day and decide that you want to be a brand, it’s not an accolade that you can simply adopt but something industry insiders will attribute when your business has widespread recognition with consumer awareness.
Having become a recognised industry brand the duo aren’t resting on their laurels and are planning for even bigger and better things. With the goal to become known nationally, the masterplan is not yet completed but Claire and Melissa are laser focused and have the experience from a lifetime in business to chart a path for the future.
“We make profit, but we reinvest it into the business and that’s how we have grown. We want to be synonymous with a national and in order for us to get there we need to grow, so we are not taking all the money out and living the dream.”
– Melissa Burton, Lingerie Outlet Store
Have you built a brand or do you have plans to do so? What are you goals for your business and where do you see yourself in five years time?
If you are on your way to becoming a brand we’d love to hear from you so drop me a line at email@example.com.
They have started with ebay first, as they say in the article a website can be a bottomless pit with Google ads (it is). bringing on someone with operational experience (something we need) but have never found anyone willing to take a risk.
We have been building our brand over the last two years, since we had our site up and running which is slowly but surely starting to get found. We tend to use FB a lot were actually some 3000 likes above these guys.
We also try and get the name and logo everywhere. From being 100% eBay in 2014 to over 8 marketplaces in 2018. Getting that website seems to give you some legitimacy we have had suppliers (stupid) turn their noses up at us being eBay/Amazon sellers.
The only one we are not on right now is Amazon as we feel confident enough now to drop it, as we are generating organic traffic now. Marketing is all self taught now, ask me to list a FB ad two years ago I would not have had a clue, now it is second nature. I want to keep building our brand and want to have control over my business. At the end of the day we are a marketplace seller and we use that to fund this, however what if eBay shut down overnight how many people have actually got anything else. It does not always have to be sales to add value to your business, we have actually cost ourselves sales by doing this but long term fingers crossed it pays off.
Great to hear a success story built our of damn hard work! It’s a seriously tough retail world out there right now and this is a gentle reminded that it is possible and to keep on working at it if you are trying to build but finding it tough.
Brand is everything in a world where price drives most things. Gone are days where you can just expect people to come to you and read loads of stuff on your website about how good your service etc is and then spend. People don’t have the time…. yet when they see a trusted brand name, they dont need to read all that, it speaks for itself.
Never miss an opportunity to put your brand name out there, facebook, articles in local mags and on community boards, sponsorships of local events…. even raffles etc. It all builds and for every one you convert…. they will spread news of your brand to a dozen more.