Thanks to Irish Titan for underwriting our Minnesota Ecommerce Captains series focused on local leadership in the e-commerce industry.
Dan Canfield is the owner of Bellies to Babies, a Twin Cities-based retailer he took over and brought online in 2014. He’ll be speaking about the business at the next Twin Cities E-commerce Meetup on 10/25.
What do you sell online?
We sell previously loved maternity and nursing clothing along with a small line of private label Bellies to Babies clothes.
When, why and how did you get started?
When I bought the business in 2014, I saw a clear path to an extra revenue stream being an online store. The challenge was getting our inventory in the store, online without double selling an item since each piece of clothing is unique. 3 months later, the store was live and we had our first sale in the bag.
Is it Primarily B2B, B2C, or both?
We have around 1,000 products online at all times.
What do you attribute success so far to?
Providing an experience that goes beyond the product. With each purchase, we let our customers know that we are here to provide an amazing experience so let us know how we can make your day. Through this approach, we have shipped favorite food cravings to customers and sent free gifts to people who were short on money during the holidays. Going above and beyond just maternity clothing has helped spread our brand in ways advertising dollars couldn’t have done.
What’s the greatest challenge faced today?
Our average customer is only interested in our product for 3-5 months then they disappear. Creating a marketing approach around this short window is difficult and requires super targeted approaches which can be more expensive.
Where do you see your business one year from now?
As we increase our store count, online will not only be for selling items, but to also find customers who are interested in franchising with us in their city. We find that the more our online sales grow, the more franchising requests we receive.
What is your advice for the e-commerce entrepreneur out there?
Test, test, test! Today, Facebook ads are relatively cheap and yield strong conversions, but tomorrow it may be Snapchat or some other company that is in its infancy. It is important to try different approaches and treat each customer as gold, not just a data point.