MN E-Comm Captains: Brenda Boehler, Bellacor

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Brenda BoehlerThanks to Irish Titan for underwriting our new MN E-Comm Captains series focused on leaders in the online retail sector!

Brenda Boehler has been in retail for over 25 years and the CEO of Bellacor since 2014.

Located in Minneapolis’ North Loop, Bellacor is an Internet Retailer Top 500 lighting and home furnishings multi-channel e-commerce company with revenues of $40 million and a team of 70.

She will be speaking to her success in person at the next Twin Cities E-Commerce Meetup on 3/29.

What do you sell online?

Bellacor is a lighting and home furnishings online retailer offering over 500,000 unique home products. For us, home is a life in progress. True to form, we carry 500 quality brands including 251 First and Mill & Mason – our own Bellacor brands – to address life’s many at-home needs.

When and how did you get started?

Bellacor was founded in 2000 by the owners of Creative Lighting, a St. Paul lighting showroom. We are now two independent companies. Bellacor was also one of the first retailers to launch a wide assortment of lighting online. Over the following 17 years, we expanded our assortment to be a one-stop-shop for lighting and home furnishings for consumers and to-the-trade professionals.

Irish Titan

Do you sell B2B, B2C, or both?

Our business is a unique mix of both B2C (Bellacor.com) and B2B (BellacorPro.com). Our consumer website offers customers opportunities to easily shop a wide assortment of products to find decorating solutions for their unique style and aesthetic. We are also known as the lighting solution for trade professionals within the B2B channel. Our B2B business has gained high loyalty with Interior Designers, Residential and Commercial Construction and Hospitality Groups. We also offer trade pricing via our trade-only website.

How many unique products/SKUs do you offer?

We offer over 500,000 unique products covering every category within home furnishings and lighting. With unique products to furnish your very first home or items for multi-family housing or vacation homes, we’re uniquely positioned to cover the full spectrum of home lighting and furnishing needs.

What do you attribute success so far to?

Our competitive advantage starts with our team. We are well-versed in understanding consumer trends and needs and ultimately winning new customers. Online retail is all about strong execution across many complex and deeply varied customer touch points. We love the fact that this scrappy MN company is winning against the big guys in our space.

What is something — tech, mindset, book, person, etc — that really positively impacted sales?

As you grow a business, you need to ensure that you have the right team and the tools to sustain sales growth. As a company, we are in our second year of utilizing EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System). EOS is simply an operating system that helps us run our business more effectively. It has done just that. A core component of EOS is centered around the team. When we put the right people in place – aimed at very clear goals – success and sales growth follows.

What’s the greatest challenge faced today?

Traditional retail (brick and mortar) needs to regroup and look for other growth channels. Many are closing stores and are looking for growth opportunities online. This increased competition will drive up ad spend online. We will continue to grow our unique product offerings and improve every touch point of our customer experience to ensure continual double digit growth.

Where do you see your business one year from today?

A year from today, I see our team celebrating another year of double digit, profitable growth. Consistent, predictable results are delivered by a team that expects success. We will continue to win new customers and keep them coming back to our business. With the right team, we simply expect success.

What is your advice for the new e-commerce entrepreneur?

Opening an online e-commerce store is really quite simple. But now you have a site and only you and your family know about it. The hard component is understanding consumers and getting noticed. Whether it is a robust social media marketing campaign or paid search campaign, spending your time to understand and become an expert on digital marketing is critical. There is no silver bullet in e-commerce. Simply put, you must become an authority in your space. It is all about executing across hundreds of different aspects of retailing. Adopt EOS and it will help you bring focus to achieving your goals.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

We’re a company of dog lovers. We continue to grow and we may have an opening in the future that is perfect for you. Stay connected with us on LinkedIn!

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