Selling everything from Life Size Han Solo Carbonite statues to My Little Pony collectables, it’s clear that Popcultcha specialises in the unique.
Online mecca for film nerds and geeks alike, Popcultcha is now Australia’s largest online store specialising in “pop culture” merchandise. With a physical location, online store, and visits to international trade shows and conventions, the multichannel retailer has carved a foothold in the market for unique and quirky.
We recently spoke to Ash Howard, Director of Popcultcha. Fresh from San Diego Comic-Con, Ash shares his plans for the future and gives us some tips on how far he’ll go to please a customer.
Howard isn’t shy about what makes his business special. With his store selling everything from rare collectables for sci-fi film buffs to small knick knacks for the casual viewer, Popcultcha covets many markets. Speaking highly of his staff, and even more highly of his customers, it’s no surprise Popcultcha strives for a personalised and value added service.
Service: Pop Culture Merchandise
Founder: Ash Howard
What is your unique selling proposition?
Our unique selling proposition pretty much rests with the merchandise we sell; it is unique in every sense of the word. There are not too many businesses out there that have a product range that spans from life-size Han Solo In Carbonite statues fit for the ultimate man cave to My Little Pony collectables. We cover many markets, licenses, brands and genres and our offering is valued between $1 to $10,000.
What this means is that we deal with all walks of life, and we need to be across giving that added value expert service at the higher end, down to speedy efficient processing of gift items. Our staff are very knowledgable and well rounded; they like to break down the barriers of “online retailing” by being approachable by phone, email, Skype, you name it. A personalised, value added service is what we strive for at Popcultcha.
You have a physical store, an eBay store, an online store and you also do various shows and conventions around Australia and New Zealand. Which channel attracts the most traffic, and takes up most of your effort?
We try to put as much energy and resources into each channel as possible. Obviously some fire more than others at certain times, but I guess that just makes our people hungrier to make the other pull its weight and contribute to the overall business.
We feel like each channel is as important as the next and that’s what makes us a unique business. What we might do well at a store level or convention level, we bring right back to our back office function, so that we learn from each sales channel. I think it’s important for our business to get out there and show our merchandise physically where we can. It resonates well with our customer base, and we love meeting and chatting to them all about our stuff and what they would like to see in this collectables industry.
How does the marketing strategy vary for each channel?
When we are out physically selling goods we first and foremost want our customers to be happy with the purchase and the staff that they deal with.
Secondly, we want that to be a memorable experience, so we ensure that they walk away knowing about Popcultcha, who we are, what we do and how we can be a part of their shopping lives. Whether that is telling them about our online store or our social media channels, we like to change it up through giving away free stuff or doing ad hoc catalogues.
Then conversely at the online end, we tell people that we are more than just an online retailer. We want to give them reasons to come back and shop with us. For instance, I do know that we have drawn dinosaurs etc on customer’s boxes at their request.
What does your marketing mix look like? How might this change over the next 12 months?
Our marketing is heavily skewed toward social media. I think the right mix is to have a bit of everything. As I said earlier, we deal with all walks of life, and they all like to be communicated to differently; it’s our job to make sure that we cover all bases and make our customers feel comfortable in dealing with us. We are currently nutting out that approach and putting on some more staff to free up more time to do these kinda things. Hopefully you will all see a nice shiny new Popcultcha Catalogue soon.
Can you share any details of specific campaigns and promotions?
I think if you ask around our biggest fans and particularly amongst the “collectors” around Australia and the world, our 12 Days of Christmas campaign is one that is usually eagerly anticipated. It’s our big thank you to all our customers and fans by giving them something back in the way of discounts and offers to help them through Christmas. International Star Wars Day (May the Fourth – as in “may the fourth be with you”) is another great opportunity to showcase our range and have some fun with it.
Popcultcha recently attended San Diego Comic-Con. What was that like? Do you see potential in the US market for Popcultcha?
We go to San Diego Comic Con every year simply because it is the mecca for all things pop culture. Geek, freak, mainstream, you name it, it is going on that week in San Diego. It’s a great opportunity to talk with our suppliers and see what is in store for the next 12-18 months for our industry. We also like to keep on top of what the big movie and TV studios are pushing and try to keep up with this runaway industry of ours.
It’s a big eye-opener; quite often what is trending now at Comic Con US will be trending shortly thereafter in Australia. I think Supanova is doing a pretty good job of conventions in Australia, they’re certainly heading in the right direction to getting the fan base, cosplay audience and celebrity guests that the US can pull together. We will continue to throw our weight behind Supanova in Australia.
Getting back to Popcultcha, we are definitely a global on-line store now and obviously the US market is a big one that is important to us, but no, there are no intentions of opening up a Popcultcha in Oregon.
What does the future look like for Popcultcha? Are there any upcoming promotions or new developments you can share with us?
It’s such a dynamic business that it really is hard to tell. We have so much product coming through we can barely keep up, which makes every day an adventure. We just moved to a new massive warehouse and we have a sweet new office space, so that was nice; I feel like we can spread our wings just a little bit further. I just asked my staff what they envisage in Popcultcha’s future and they responded with “probably more trees in our office” which was one of the main features of our space re-design.
Getting back on topic, we are refining a lot of back end operations to make ourselves a little more efficient in what we are doing; we will be expanding our offering, possibly doing a little more of the physical retailing, and looking into more event driven sales. Basically we just want to please our little fan base, so we will be all ears when the time comes to listen to what they have to say about what we should be getting into.
The beauty about Popcultcha is that it sits in no particular industry; we are very flexible, much like a shape-shifter, so who knows? When it’s all stripped back though, Popcultcha is simply a group of people who are passionate about what we are selling and our customers. We are very driven and focused on customer satisfaction, so our future really lies with the wonderful people within these four walls. We have a close knit group who all pull together to make it happen, and that is the essence of a successful company…. that and beer and chips on a Friday night.