Kiti, a fiercely independent fashion boutique, swapped in-store consultations for live-streamed events to bring the runway into clients’ homes, as lockdown saw them embrace e-commerce for the very first time.
Fashion will never go out of fashion, but the pandemic did force Kiti to look at new ways of selling the labels you can’t find anywhere else in Wales.
Founded by Gwenno Williams, the Pontcanna-based boutique regularly features in fashion magazines’ must-see lists, most recently being pegged an ‘Inspiring Independent’ by iconic publication Drapers. But they needed to use their strong social media presence and a Shopify-built web store to be seen online, and to net some of the extra £5.3 billion spent online during lockdown.
Kiti’s Jane Rowlands explains: “We changed the way we marketed ourselves online. Instagram used to bring us most of our enquiries from clients; now we hold online store livestreams on Instagram to catch their eye also.”
This combination of e-commerce and live-streamed events helped them get the all-important sales they could no longer make from their bricks-and-mortar store. Not only did it help them showcase their latest looks to a much wider audience, it has created a new hybrid sales model that, like all great fashion, will stand the test of time as Wales’ high streets begin to open back up.
“If I can build a website from scratch, from my kitchen table, anyone can!”
Gwenno knew that they needed to find a new way of selling, Kiti turned to Shopify to build a website that not only looked the part, but secured them sales too.
Jane says: “The first few weeks of were hard, but with online tutorials and help from Superfast Business Wales, something just clicked. Soon, I was flying through and had our products available to buy online. And if I can build a website from scratch, from my kitchen table, anyone can!”
Jane then made sure the website was seen in the right places: search engines. By sharpening their SEO skills, Kiti were able to rank higher on Google and attract new sales from customers further afield.
“The magic of Google is that you appear in front of people who may not know your business by name,” says Jane. “They’re looking for brands, so their interest in buying is already there. But you’re also competing against everyone else in your sphere.
“The SEO webinar from Superfast Business Wales was a huge help in getting our SEO on point. We got a great overview of what we needed to know, and we revisit what we learned constantly to keep putting things in place to maintain our online presence.”
“A lot of our web traffic comes from Instagram, but we’ve managed to increase the visits we get from Google up to 37% and a lot of that is down to the hard work we put into our SEO. Getting seen on Google is bringing us a new stream of customers who may not have found us before.”
Google Analytics has also played a huge part in shaping Kiti’s content marketing strategy. Jane has used data from Analytics to tailor website content to what people are searching for, which will continue to increase the likelihood of Kiti showing up for relevant search terms and net even more online sales.
“Analytics is great because it points to where our orders are coming from, so we can make informed decisions about the business and what goes on our website.
“Using data from Analytics, we also spotted things like where people would put things in their e-basket, but then leave the website. Spotting things like this has helped us realise where we can make small changes to our customer’s journey that makes buying easier.”
“Instagram Live has been fantastic in showcasing our items and making sales”
As well as putting in the work on their website, Kiti have continued building their strong social media presence by using Instagram Live streams to bring fashion into peoples’ homes, with garments being sold as they appeared on screen. Jane says: “People are watching so much online these days, so we wanted to make the most of that. We’ve already got a strong social media presence thanks to Instagram, so running Live events seemed the right place to be.
“It was a huge success! As our models were showing off the outfits we put together, so the sales were coming in. Our clients love seeing real people wearing the outfits, so Instagram Live has been fantastic ways of promoting our items and making sales while the boutique’s doors are closed.”
“It has built my confidence: now I try things I wouldn’t have before”
“The one-to-one session with Catrin was great and gave me a lot of confidence. We’ve been told for years we needed to be online, and now here we are with a plan for the future to make even more sales online and in store. Even when our doors open back up, our online store gives us another way of selling, so we’re looking forward to making the most of it and growing the business.
“I’d definitely recommend Superfast Business Wales to other businesses. It wasn’t just about learning the practical things: it has built my confidence, so now I try things I wouldn’t have before.”