The Dot-com Era Lives on with ‘City of Sales’ – Jay Goodey, Onceit

What if we counted all the times that a great idea has been pitched with a question, starting with “what if.” Would the trend show that most ventures conceptualised with the question “what if,” had eventually found success? Business is all about gaining a competitive advantage, either by being unique, or by being better than your competitors. Whenever the “what if” question is asked, someone is thinking differently, creatively. They’re coming up with something new; a different approach of solving things. When starting Onceit, Jay was asking, “What if the fashion forward all over could have easy access to the covetable sales found in Auckland.” What if.

“The premise for Onceit was taking physical designer sales, and putting them online in a way that kept brand integrity and excitement [intact],” said Jay.

Straightforward as it sounds, the marketing concepts behind it are not. Designer brands induce such hefty reductions on your wallet because of two things: quality and brand equity. Lower either of those, and in most instances, the price will fall. Inversely, if the price is lowered, the value of the brand falls. Onceit preserves the value normally found in the brand equity by only offering the discounted prices for a very short period of time, therefore maintaining the product’s perceived worth by communicating to the customer that they were fortunate in securing the deal.

“For one, retailers work on much bigger margins than most people realize. Most fashion retailers are marking up one hundred, to one hundred and twenty percent from wholesale prices. We work on smaller margins on the basis that we move the quantity through our databases, and we keep our overheads lower than retail. It’s a numbers game, but on good sales it works out really well. We are also working on more in-house product which has better margins too.”

After engaging in a bout of virtual shopping from the comfort of our couches, most of us are forced to lay the credit cards to rest for a couple weeks so that our balances can recuperate. Jay does the majority of the Onceit sales on consignment, so a massive stock purchase was not required to start out with. Other considerable costs arose when Goodey was starting his business though, but Jay did not take on any outside investment.“We bootstrapped the start up phase of our business. I had some funds I invested, and we partnered with a web company Pixel Fusion, who invested in the web build and have a minority stake in the company. In a way, I am really proud we didn’t take on equity, don’t have any loans, and we have been able to fund all our growth ourself. Then again we were definitely under-resourced, and if I was to do it again I probably wouldn’t want to start with so little capital.”

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“I think it’s a fine balance; working with your partner and being able to leave work at work,” says Jay about having his wife as his business partner. Contrary to the popular belief that partnerships in business should not contain a romantic element, the Goodeys find that, together, they make a stronger team. “I think Cat really balances me out, she makes sure it’s not “work” all the time.”

Although Jay now commands a small workforce, caters to over one hundred and twenty thousand (120,000) members, and has products displayed on over forty three thousand (43,000) individual Facebook timelines, Onceit’s beginnings were humble. “Initially it was just me working in the business,” said Goodey, “so in the day I would be booking in brands, answering customer emails and phone calls, uploading all the sales, managing social media, and doing accounts. And then at night, my wife Catriona would come to the office after her day job, and help me pack out customers orders till eleven or twelve at night. We would normally go back early the next day, at six or seven in the morning, and finish packing orders. And then do it all again the next day.”

One of the tools Jay uses to drive sales at Onceit is social media. The opportunities available to brands through the use of micro-blogging platforms like Facebook and Twitter simply didn’t exist prior to the digital age, or at least not so cheaply. Onceit is able to push out an update on Facebook, and within minutes, watch a response materialize in the form of sales.

Social media experts hold heated debates about which platform is the best for selling products, and with the trends constantly changing, it can be difficult to know what to use. To complicate matters, the engagement on any given platform varies by location. For example, in the US, Pinterest users spend more time and money on posts selling products, than users of Facebook do, the biggest social network in the world. In New Zealand, YouTube and Facebook are the preferred social networks of our population, followed by LinkedIn. Jay stratifies his social media assets, using each platform for a different purpose. “Facebook is our biggest audience and produces the most leads and engagement. We are getting really good return on Facebook investment. For instance, we might post a popular style on our page that’s been on sale for a few hours and all of a sudden sell another twenty to thirty more units in the space of five minutes. We are just getting into Instagram. Unfortunately, the down side is it’s not easy to link back to an external site. Twitter we more use [as] a way for customers to contact us.”

 

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