Making your first sales

In the fifth episode of the Startup Series, Jacqui Ma, founder of urban bag retailer Goodordering, describes how she made her first sales.

Growing sales has been a “slow but steady” process for Goodordering founder Jacqui Ma.

Jacqui spotted a gap in the market for colourful unisex bike bags in 2012 during the cycling boom. Her company, Goodordering, designs, manufactures and exports retro style practical bags to the cycling community and families with active lifestyles. The bags are sold online, at markets, selected retailers and at bike festivals.

Sales are the lifeblood of any business, but instead of rushing to shift her products, Jacqui has taken a long-term approach to growth. Having raised awareness of her designs using crowdfunding platform Kickstarter, Jacqui continues to build her brand online and by ensuring her products are stocked at a global network of carefully selected retailers.

Read on to find out how Jacqui grew Goodordering’s sales in five steps:

1. Breathe life into your brand through crowdfunding

Jacqui found her first customers on crowdfunding platform Kickstarter.  Kickstarter helps designers and other creative professionals such as writers, filmmakers and musicians find the resources and backers they need to make their projects a reality.

Jacqui explains: “My first sales came from Kickstarter because I did a campaign based on my samples. I asked people to pre-buy the bags for 40 per cent cheaper than they would at the retail price.”

The Kickstarter campaign gave Goodordering global exposure and the opportunity to gauge demand from different markets. Jacqui says: “The customers came from all over [the world]. Based on the demand that came from that, I scaled that up to reach the minimum order quantity that I needed from the factory in China to place my first order.”

2. Get your products seen in the right places

“When the order came through, we had a bunch of Kickstarter products to send out and I still had a storage unit full of stuff - full of bags that I had to sell,” says Jacqui.

It was important for Jacqui to get her products in front of her target customers through face-to-face sales.  She says: “There was a kind of desperation to move the stock on and sell as fast as I could. In the early days, I took any opportunity to sell product, whether that be bike festivals, markets, selling to friends and family through discounts at work. Just trying to get as much product out there as possible.”

3. Open your own online store

Following on from the Kickstarter campaign and markets and events, Jacqui turned her attention to online sales. She used ecommerce platform Shopify to set up her store and sell direct to customers.

“In the first month I made £61 worth of sales - the next month it was a little bit more,” says Jacqui.

4. Think of sales growth as a marathon, not a sprint

Goodordering products are stocked by specialist cycling retailers, department store John Lewis and London museums including the Design Museum and London Transport Museum. The bags are also available from global stockists in Sweden, France, Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Indonesia.

Jacqui’s products may be available through a number of channels but her sales growth has been steady. She explains: “I’m really surprised to look on, four years down the track, how much it’s grown. But when I look at the graph, it has grown really slowly.”

“There was never one point in time where something happened, like I got some press coverage and suddenly everything sold out. It was pretty incremental.”

5. Choose the right stockists for your brand

Goodordering bags combine retro styling with practicality and an eye for technology. Her target customer is fun and busy, but likes to be organised. It’s important for Jacqui to ensure these values are reflected in the places her products are stocked.

“Being selective with what kind of retailers I got into was important, because of the positioning of the brand,” she explains. “I was really trying to build a brand that was long lasting. That meant sometimes I had to be really strict on stockists, as much as I wanted to make sales.”

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