Kristine Kirby, CEO of Deramores on Ecommerce, Digital and Multichannel Retailing
As part of my series of Business Insight Interviews for the Craft & Hobby Association, I caught up with Kristine Kirby, the new CEO of Deramores, a company that specialises in knitting. Kristine is a modern-day retailer with a vast amount of experience in Ecommerce and digital and has been taken on board to help this failing brand. With senior roles at Hackett, Lipsy, Monsoon Accessorize, Fat Face, we ask her about SEO, Multichannel and Social Media.
What advice would you give someone who is starting their own Ecommerce business?
“Make sure you know the business basics; from how to set your business up, to paying taxes and employees, to choosing the right software. There are no shortcuts, so talk to people who have done the same, take advice, and do research. Know what you are good at, and where you need help. Don’t skimp — it always costs more later.”
How important is design and User Experience (UX) to an Ecommerce website?
“Critical. Without excellent UX you make it harder for a customer to find what they are looking for, and the harder something is, the less likely the customer is to complete a purchase. I am a huge advocate of UX being at the centre of an excellent customer experience. And regardless of the UX, test, test, and test to make sure it resonates with the largest audience possible, unless you are focusing on a very specific group.”
What three tips could you give a small retailer who is thinking of starting a digital marketing campaign?
“Watch, learn, apply / test. Look at what your competition is doing, learn how they use it across channels, and create and apply your own digital campaigns, and always remember to test (I really mean test, you may notice!). Never rest on your laurels.”
What are the pitfalls against digital marketing?
“Not understanding digital metrics; things such as ROI (Return on Investment), COA (Cost of Acquisition), or not knowing how much you are willing to spend to acquire a customer, and the real pitfall is not measuring customers once they are acquired to see if you are acquiring the ‘right’ type of customer.”
How important is customer service to an Ecommerce company?
“It is everything; without customers, none of us would have a business. In Ecommerce, it is even more important, because the customer can’t see us to interact with us; we rely on the website, other channels and voice calls.”
How do you track trends in your industry?
“Multiple ways, as looking at year-on-year performance is key, but belonging to groups such as CHA, TNNA, and UK Handknitting Association, as they all produce great reports and share valuable insight.”
What mistakes have you made so far in this business and what have you learned?
“None — we don’t make mistakes; we just find better ways of doing things. I’ve also learned to always ask questions, never assume. You might need to ask my boss to see if he has a different answer!”
What is the true definition of multi-channel and how could it benefit smaller retailers?
“Multichannel is selling through multiple channels; so if you are a store, and you sell online, you have two channels. If you have a catalogue as well, then you have 3. For smaller retailers, focusing on getting one 90% right before even considering moving to another is key. Too many small businesses try to do everything at once, and that is what gets them and creates failure. Slow and steady wins the race for a smaller retailer.”
So many smaller retailers are daunted by SEO, what advice could you give them?
“Read a lot — there are so many great newsletters and Twitter accounts out there dedicated to SEO. Subscribe to Medium, and the collections that focus on SEO. Technically, ensure your platform is SEO ready, from keywords to page naming conventions. And always be ‘white hat’ — anyone who says they can get you to number one in 2–3 months is not being honest. Organic (SEO) takes a while to bed in. So do it right, and don’t rush it or try shortcuts.”
Do you think social media is important in supporting an Ecommerce platform?
“Yes, it is just standard now.”
What is your favourite social channel for business?
“Hard to say, as each channel has a really specific purpose. Do you want engagement? Do you want to inspire? Do you want to drive a purchase? Each channel has a different angle, so knowing all channels is really important — my favourite one is the one that delivers the best ROI. Although I am partial to a bit of Instagram.”
Craft still has an older demographic who aren’t so internet savvy. What can retailers do to reassure / persuade these customers to shop online?
“That is a fallacy. If you look at brand such as We Are Knitters, or Wool and the Gang, or the yarnbombing phenomenon, to knitting cruises and tours, there are knitters across all ages. That is what makes knitting (and crochet) so special, the sense of continuity from generation to generation. And so called ‘Silver Surfers’ are underestimated. They are quite savvy!”
I’d like to thank you Kristine for taking time out of her busy schedule to share this invaluable insight into Ecommerce retailing. If you have a craft business or your are a designer thinking of selling online then join the Craft & Hobby Association. You’ll have access to business advice from fellow members, industry research and insight and the opportunity to network with like-minded craft professionals.
About the Craft and Hobby Association UK
The CHA-UK is a not-for-profit organisation with ALL membership fees being pumped directly back into the association to benefit ALL members. The aim is to keep membership fees as affordable as possible with the bonus of members being able to gain access to numerous exclusive benefits. New members will become an essential link in the CHA-UK chain, immediately granted access to the advice and experience of all fellow members worldwide, to free webinars, access to survey results and free up-to-date reports on what’s hot and what’s not. These are the tools essential to helping you not just run but build your business, optimising returns and therefore bringing financial success.
The aim of the CHA-UK is to:
- Unite the UK craft industry
- Grow the craft industry in the UK and help members achieve and maintain success
- Organise a trade association that’s unique to the needs of the UK craft market, governed by the leaders of that industry
- Offer UK-centric benefits to all members
- Offer affordable membership and tangible returns unique to the UK craft industry.
For more information or to become a member please visit www.CHA-UK.co.uk
Update November 2016: Since this article was published, Kristine has left Deramores with immediate effect.