Founder Candice Galek on how Bikini Luxe has Succeeded in a Competitive Ecommerce Industry
Owain Powell | December 6, 2016
Owain Powell | December 6, 2016
Founded in 2013, Bikini Luxe has quickly become one of the world's fastest-growing online swimwear and fashion companies. We spoke to founder Candice Galek on how the company has succeeded in a highly-competitive digital retail industry.
Please introduce our audience to Bikini Luxe - what was the inspiration behind launching your brand back in 2013?
Bikini Luxe is the online destination for all things designer swimwear, resort wear, and accessories related. Essentially, we provide everything you would wardrobe wise for a luxurious vacation. I founded www.BikiniLuxe.com by combining my knowledge of sales and customer service, with the hope that it would create a long-lasting career for myself and for other young women who are interested in the swimwear industry.
What level of planning went into understanding your customers and accommodating them through your website?
Early on my goal was to offer women the friendly and helpful customer service that came with shopping at a brick and mortar boutique. My customers became repeat customers, and I started to learn more about them and their shopping patterns over the years.
I’ve always aimed to go above and beyond in ways that my large scale competitors gave up on a long time ago: by offering a personal touch. Whether it was a complimentary gift or a handwritten card, I believe it’s the small touches that matter most. We are still working on better understanding our customer data, and it’s an exciting process.
What's the biggest misconception that start ups new to ecommerce face?
I believe many people assume that selling online is easier than in store, and that you simply add products to a website and they just being flying off the shelves. I have many friends who have seen my success (but not the hard work then went on behind the scenes) and they tell me if their job doesn’t work out they’ll just, “Sell some clothes online.” It’s not for everyone, and it’s definitely not a part-time job - if you want it to be successful you have to constantly be learning and adapting.
How long did it take from initial concept through to your first conversion (sale) on the website?
I was planning months in advance before the website ever went live. I took my time building the website with the help of Shopify experts, and taking the time to find products that fit my niche at the time. I joined social shopping websites like Keep and Polyvore back then, and they helped me to spread awareness of the brand with their customer base.
I remember the first sale that came through, I was at a baseball game and my phone made this strange sound. I hadn’t heard that ringtone before so I checked it and saw that I had my first sale. I was overjoyed, bouncing around with happiness.
How do you engage with your customers to understand their ever-evolving needs and wants?
Choosing products that best fit your customer's expectations can be difficult sometimes, as we’re constantly onboarding new customers so the dynamic shifts. We keep a well-rounded stock of styles ranging from inexpensive to high end women's swimwear, as we’ve now obtained both demographics.
I enjoy adding brands that are not sold at other locations, or are based outside of the U.S.A. We also do polls and ask which brands they want to see on the website, and have gotten some great feedback that way.
Which social channel commands the highest level of engagement and why do you think this is?
The online swimwear industry is very visual, so we get a lot of interaction on Pinterest. Currently we’re getting over 2 million hits per month on our boards. I would say the stunning locations and influential models are probably a part of that.
What are your targets for Bikini Luxe moving forward in terms of pushing further beyond the USA to the global market?
Women in the U.S. alone spend around $8 billion on swimwear per year on bikinis, I would like Bikini Luxe to begin by cornering at least 1% of that market. I would also like to begin manufacturing, and offering more competitive shipping rates worldwide.
What level of success has Bikini Luxe had as a result of your strategy since launching?
Bikini Luxe has far exceeded my expectations, however our strategy is constantly changing. We never want to give up on that casual and friendly feel, but we are making moves to offer the largest selection of women’s swimwear worldwide.
Do you plan to trial any new ecommerce technologies to help you better understand your user journeys?
The problem with running an online store is that there’s never a shortage of exciting new apps and programs to apply. We’re focusing on growing steadily, and keeping our customers entertained with up-to-date applications, but at the same time it is a fine balance timewise with implementation to constantly be teaching employees new programs and reimagining the website. In all considerations, the customer must always come first.
Can you offer any tips for other start ups looking to sell their products online?
I would say making the best use of your time early on is key. There will be a ton of new hats to wear per se, get organized and use your time wisely. Eat breakfast, get enough sleep, and power through the day with your goals in mind.
Get the full lowdown on how to measure and improve experiences with our ultimate guide to ecommerce and online retail.