Sebastian Galbraith-Helps runs the online only eCommerce business HoneyTreePublishing.com, with his wife the artist Lizbeth Holstein. HoneyTree is the UK’s leading bespoke stationery boutique, where customers can pick from over 2,000 unique designs and have the high quality stationery of their choice delivered next day. Sebastian and his team have mastered the logistical and technological challenges of selling bespoke online, to turnover in excess of £500,000 a year.
This may seem familiar as Sebastian has been on the show before – back in episode 15! This time he’s back to update us on one what he’s been up to, including Migrating to Magento AND adding a subscription product to his business – HoneyTree By Post.
About the business
- eCommerce Business Structure – Online Only
- Product Range Scale – niche
- Based in the UK – selling globally
- Honeytree Publishing, the bespoke site, is on Magento
- Honeytree by Post, the subscription site, is on Shopify
- Team of 7 is split into the Today and Tomorrow teams (learn about that in our last interview with Sebastian)
Listen to hear what’s been happening since we last caught up with Sebastian
Challenges of Honeytree by Post – the subscription business
Honeytree Post, the subscription side of Honeytree, launched in October 2015, and continued to grow by 23% per month throughout 2016. Of the eleven subscription clubs in the niche that began in 2015, only Honeytree and two others are still going. This may be because subscription customers have an entitlement mentality, which takes a disproportionate amount of customer service time. The Holy Grail of success with subscriptions is to make sure you’re really looking after your customers. Don’t underestimate their expectations.
Another issue is cut-off dates, or what day of the month you close that month’s subscriptions. Sebastian started with the cut-off being the fifth of each month, so the customer would receive the product mid-month. However, that meant if someone subscribed on the sixth of the month, they wouldn’t get their box until the subsequent month. It’s a long time for the customer to wait.
To help with cut-off date issues, Honeytree tried giving discounts, but customers were quick to let them know that they weren’t interested in discounts. They wanted the product. So now no matter what day of the month a customer subscribes on, they receive a welcome box worth £12 that is dispatched on the day of the customer’s choice.
Listen to learn how the trend of subscription boxes on social media has helped, and why retaining subscription customers has not been difficult for Honeytree.
Migrating to Magento
Sebastian and the team knew they wanted to be on Magento. They wanted the site to be mobile-responsive and have a CMS that would enable them to have something familiar. The website is incredible, but it was six months late, which meant that they missed Christmas 2016, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day 2017. This was not an issue with Magento, rather, it was the complexity of what the team was expecting. The site had to be put together in an incredibly skilled way, and had to be done right.
Listen to learn why it’s important to have someone between the person buying the site and the person building the site.
Segmentation example by the Foo Fighters(!)
Sebastian took a lesson in caring for customers, or fans in this case, from a band who doesn’t really need to, yet exceeded anything he’s seen before.
In June 2015, a friend of Sebastian’s named Kim had tickets to go see the Foo Fighters at Wembley. Dave Grohl fell off the stage and broke his leg in Sweden, and the Wembley gig was cancelled. Within a week, Kim and her husband’s tickets were refunded. The gig was rescheduled for September of 2015, but Kim couldn’t make it to that one.
Two years later, on February 18th of 2017, Kim received a first class letter with two airline tickets and boarding passes for a fictional airline. She went to the url, which redirected her to the Foo Fighters’ website. The site had the band’s tour dates for Europe, but with one date blanked out. Kim received instructions to check the boarding pass and register for a code.
She then received an email inviting her to a secret gig for free in a village local to where she was to see the Foo Fighters doing their first tour after a year and a half. She was one of only two hundred people at the event.
The Foo Fighters had segmented their list by postal code, found out who had wanted to see them but couldn’t make the rescheduled gig, and let them know that two years later, they were still thinking of their fans. They even sent the invitation as a proper first class letter to be sure it didn’t get lost in spam email.
Segmenting to such degrees lets your customers know that you really care.
eCommerce Book Top Tip
- Customer Persuasion: How to Influence Your Customers to Buy More and Why an Ethical Approach Will Always Win by Chloe Thomas
- The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom by Don Miguel Ruiz
eCommerce Traffic Top Tip
- Become an expert in your field and share your expertise through blogs and vlogs
You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…
Tool Top Tip
Start Up Top Tip
- Start at the end. Know where you want to go when you start
- Ensure that your market is sufficiently big,
- Hope you have someone to provide competition for you.
- Live your brand.