Marketing and growing a craft supplies store with Alana Banks of Fridays Off (episode 205)

Our guest is Alana Banks, Alana is the founder of Fridays Off Fabric Shop, an online only fabric store with a monthly subscription club. Alana launched the business in March 2013 and nearly 6 years on they’re achieving sales of over $150k per year.

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About the Business

fridays off podcast
  • eCommerce shop and monthly subscription box
  • Shopify Platform
  • Recharge for subscription

How Fridays Off Fabric Shop Started

Alanna started Fridays Off in 2013 as a part time experiment. Working full time at a PR agency, teaching at a community college and pregnant with her second son, Alanna jokes that she was just looking to add another thing to her plate.

In reality, she had become interested in eCommerce and wanted to build up some exit strategies from the PR industry. She had an interest in sewing and fabrics and took some off the cuff advice from her sister in law to start an online fabric store that offered modern, cool prints online.

Alanna modelled her store on some of her favorites in the United States. Because the vision for Fridays Off was to offer such a niche product range that didn’t include apparel or home decor fabric, it was easy for her to focus on manufacturers she wanted to represent.

Alanna started the business by buying product first and building her eCommerce business second. Starting with a local rep, Alanna used her savings to put together a collection of fabrics used to launch her eCommerce site.

Today, Fridays Off runs on the Shopify platform and Alanna says her number one favorite plugin is the email service, Klaviyo which provides endless possibilities for creating and managing marketing campaigns.

For her subscription box, Alanna uses Recharge for her subscription club and Yotpo for external reviews. Lastly, she says the Canadian loyalty app, Smile has been a favorite among customers.

Listen to learn how Alanna builds customer loyalty for high customer retention.

Customer Loyalty

Alanna says the fabric business has a lot of loyal customers and that 63% of her customer base are return customers, which is a massive amount in the world of eCommerce. Alanna does the bulk of the work, helped by an assistant, bookkeeper and marketing expert. She also works with a coach who helps her develop and grow the business on an ongoing basis.

Marketing Methods

Alanna’s background in PR has helped her successfully get the word out about her business, especially on social media platforms. She says that understanding how to communicate and foster a community has helped her build her brand. As a content creator, Alanna says that her background means she has been operating at an advantage and she takes extra time crafting campaigns that reach her loyal base through thoughtfully crafted emails. More than anything though, providing excellent customer service has been her touchstone. Alanna says she is overly thorough in her communication with  customers, ensuring she responds quickly with personalized communications.

Media Platforms

For the business, Alanna says that Instagram has been her go to media platform and the one she feels most engaged with, noting that it has been a great way to engage with her community.

Shop + Subscriptions

Alanna treats her online shop and monthly subscriber customers equally and encourages them to add additional products to their boxes to take advantage of free shipping. Shipping is a huge logistical consideration in a country as large as Canada and Alanna says that she has spent the last six years trying to figure out the best shipping methods. today, the business uses Shopify shipping linked with Canada shipping to maximize efficiencies.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Email Marketing – Grow your email list and create content that way

Tool Top Tip

  • Notebook – Write everything down, make lists and plan out your week.
  • Shopify app – Great for checking in on the go
  • Instagram app

Growth Top Tip

  • Setting Goals – making small goals to grow day by day

Interview Links

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