Looking back on the spare bedroom start-up that hit the e-commerce scene back in 2010, the Hunting for George brand has come a long way. The company’s Co-Founder, Lucy Glade-Wright talks about the business’s online journey and what she’s learnt over the last eight years.
Hunting for George is a niche e-commerce business that sells both branded products and private label goods. Founded out of a spare room with a website that only sold three products, the business has evolved rapidly over the last eight years. According to Glade-Wright, the brand’s success comes from its core focus – ‘think big, act big’, regardless of size.
“We were inspired, very passionate and a little naïve,” Glade-Wright jokes. “Our goal from the very beginning was to create a memorable shopping experience for our customers. Given that neither of us had experience in business, we approached Hunting for George through the eye of a consumer, and that’s how we’ve grown,” she continues.
“We pride ourselves on our customer experience. We own it from start to finish… sourcing product internally, warehousing and fulfilling in-house, and servicing our shoppers with local customer service based right here in Melbourne.”
While Hunting for George is certainly a success story, like most fairytales, the company’s founders have come up against a few bad guys along the way.
Much like a lot of the e-commerce industry, Hunting for George has found fulfilment a difficult hurdle to overcome. “Being able to get products into the hands of our customers as fast as possible… it’s one of our pain points that often come up in customer feedback and reviews,” Glade-Wright says. “Customers just assume it’s in your control and they are right to think it’s part of the service we provide.”
As the one stage of the customer’s purchase journey that’s out of the retailer’s hands, Glade-Wright says Hunting for George has made overcoming the shipping issues associated with Australia’s vast delivery network and the bulkier items sold through its e-store, a priority.
“We use a range of different freight forwarders to be able to cover a range of package sizes and locations across Australia, as well as internationally,” she says. “The level of service can vary dramatically order-to-order and it’s not specific to one carrier or one product category, it’s dependent on the combination of product size and the location it’s going to. That lack of consistency and lack of control is one of our biggest challenges.
“As more new [fulfilment] players come into the market and start to do things really well on either small sections of Australia, or within a specific niche, I think the bigger players will start to take notice and hopefully learn a thing or two,” she continues.
However, despite limitations within the order fulfilment space, Glade-Wright believes there are countless opportunities for online retailers to really thrive in the e-commerce space. Hunting for George, for instance, has found success with brand activations and experiences.
“Our experience store pop-up last Christmas at Highpoint Shopping Centre was focussed around collecting data and marketing. We were in a high exposure section of a high volume centre during the busiest shopping period of the year. We tracked everything the same way we do online, with a people counter and our POS software we could analyse every conversion in basically the same way we do online,” she explains. “We matched the overall centre traffic to our in-store traffic to get a capture rate, even after the first few weeks, this allowed us to better forecast sales and plan staff rosters.”
According to Glade-Wright, online retailers can do a lot with their online audiences in a physical shopping environment. “A physical store doesn’t always make sense for someone who is doing well online, but if the focus is on multiplying current brand reach and exposure and doing something meaningful to your brand then there is a huge opportunity that more online retailers should be tapping into,” she says.
Since Hunting for George first entered the online market in 2010, a lot has changed. Creating an effective and engaging content strategy is something the brand has spent a substantial amount of time doing over the last eight years, with great success. But, when Glade-Wright and her sister, Jo Harris, first brought Hunting for George to market, they would have liked to know more about driving faster audience growth.
“Looking back, we knew nothing when we started, but that is what drove us to dive in and just try new things. We still spend a lot of time learning new things on our own. From a brand point of view, we’ve always created unique content from day one. I wish we’d known how to better maximise that content to drive engagement, resulting in a faster growth of our audience earlier on,” Glade-Wright explains.
As the company has continued to grow and evolve, Hunting for George’s co-founder says that the support from other independent retailers in the space has been a real highlight of the brand’s journey so far. “We have an amazing community of independent businesses who we have met over the years at industry events,” she says. “Everyone is so supportive and open to discussing common issues and working together.
“We love how diverse this industry is. The people that are driving e-commerce are from many different backgrounds and are uncovering new ground each year. It makes for an exciting space to work as the goal posts continue to shift and the bar keeps getting lifted.”