Guara is a Romanian brand dedicated to fashion art, as the owners like to describe it. Wearing Guara clothing makes one feel proud as each design is original and made with that passion for fashion everyone is looking for. A few years ago, the wonderful Guara dresses became available online, so that customers who couldn’t regularly visit the physical stores got to make easy e-shop purchases. A new online store is also a great way to keep customers informed with all the news and updates on the brand’s collections.
It’s now been more than a year since the online store was migrated to the Gremini platform. To mark the anniversary, we talked to Bogdana Boar, Guara manager. Among other things, we asked how to expand an online business, what are the challenges along the way, how to overcome problems and, of course, a bit about how migrating to Gremini helped with the brand success story.
Q: When and how did the story of Guara’s online store begin?
Bogdana: The story of our online store started five or six years ago, when we decided we had to offer our products to clients who didn’t have easy enough access to our physical stores. Our collections are small and often include one-of-a-kind designs, so we had clients that were disheartened to travel long distances and visit our stores in Bucharest, Cluj, Iasi, Timisoara, Mures or Brasov, only to find the items or the sizes that they wanted already sold out. Through an online store, customers are able to buy what they want much more easily. Another reason why we decided to start an online store was to raise brand awareness, because we believe we represent beauty and authentic fashion art. From a fashion standpoint, we want women to benefit as much as possible from quality designs, sophistication, elegance and femininity. We are very dedicated and proud to be creating our designs with all these lovely things in mind.
Q: What kind of problems/challenges have you come across when developing the online store and how did you overcome them?
Bogdana: We had problems with the website functionalities because, at the time, we didn’t have well-trained software staff and did not get efficient counseling services from the online store developers. Things improved after we decided to invest more time to develop the e-shop by having just one person in charge of data centralizing. Coming up with a clear and consistent vision regarding online store development was also very important. What we did was invest precious time and energy to plan and implement specific steps of developing the online store, and only then things started working.
Q: How did you decide to migrate the store to the Gremini platform? What were your objectives?
Bogdana: We needed more guidance and better communication with the people who provided maintenance services. To work with a friendlier platform than Magento was also part of the decision. We got all these things after we decided to migrate the website. Gremini has fast and great guidance, efficient communication and a friendly, flexible platform so our objectives were met.
Q: How did the migration go?
Bogdana: The migration went very well. First of all we established the steps together. After that, the Gremini team took over everything related to our old online store without excessive involvement from our side. They worked together with our accounting and inventory partners, and at the new online store launch everything was functional.
In the following weeks, small issues caused by the characteristics of our business came up, but were fixed really fast. We love the fact that we receive immediate assistance, sometimes even past usual working hours and during weekends. When it takes a bit longer to fix a complex problem, Gremini offers alternative solutions that ensure website functionality.
Q: How did this migration improve your business?
Bogdana: Actually, the online store was launched by this migration. Like I said before, the fact that we designated someone to exclusively handle the e-shop, to invest time and energy to serve this purpose, was the best decision. However, without the right and easy tools, without fast and efficient support when dealing with technical issues, without proper guidance to optimize the processes, things were not going to work out, especially for the short term.
Q: Could you provide a few details about sales growth, website visits, conversion rate after store migration
Bogdana: There are major improvements. Before the migration, we had very low sales. We had entire months without any online sales. Presently, the online store grew to the level of our physical store. There is a steady flow of sales and we have a growing base of loyal customers. Even the customers that love to shop in our physical stores first visit the website to see what’s new and what’s on sale.
Q: Some advice or recommendations for online sales success for our readers?
Bogdana: You need to have a clear vision from the beginning. Decide what you want from your online store, then invest time and energy in making it happen. Also, an e-shop needs great partners, for platform support and optimization. Last but not least, find great ways to promote the online store for maximum results with minimum costs.
Q: Did you already plan how to further develop the online store?
Bogdana: Short-term strategy / mid-term strategy is to grow sales volume, raise it above physical store level. The objective occurred pretty much naturally, considering our wide range of customers. We are also trying to advertise more efficiently. On the long-term, we want to expand business outside of Romania.
Q: If you could start over with this online store, what would you do differently?
Bogdana: We would establish a clearer purpose, quantifiable from the get go. Another thing would be to start with contributing and highly involved partners for technical, support and optimization areas.