Wanting to invest in some luxury bed linen, Genevieve Rosen-Biller was disappointed by what she found. Her disappointment grew into an idea which has now grown into a business that sells 100 percent French Flax Linen at affordable prices. How did she get there?
Take us through the history of your online retail business. What was your inspiration for getting into the space, and how has the business evolved?
At the end of 2014, my husband and I moved into a new apartment and we wanted fresh bedding. I was particular about investing in pure, 100 percent French flax linen bedding as it’s more durable and sustainable than other natural manchesters. Plus, it’s comfortable to sleep in trans-seasonally – it keeps you cool in summer and warm in winter and softens with time and use, while other fibres tend to deteriorate.
We quickly found that we were priced out of this option – everything in the market was extremely expensive and it was hard to justify spending upwards of $500 for bedding when we’d already invested in appliances and furniture, not to mention the incidentals that come with moving.
We thought, why isn’t there something on the market – an accessible, 100% linen bedding set that includes everything you need, packaged together, delivered to your door for free? That’s when the idea and inspiration for Bed Threads was born. We noticed a gap in the market for something that we genuinely wanted and decided to create something of our own: a pure, 100% French flax linen bedding set that came with everything you actually need to sleep well (two pillowcases, a duvet cover and a fitted sheet) that didn’t over-charge or upsell you, or force you into buying a bunch of separates you didn’t necessarily need. Something that was simple, luxurious, accessible and beautifully presented.
How would you describe your ecommerce business model? What key features differentiate your offering?
Our model is direct-to-consumer, which means we can afford to have lower mark-ups than other players in this space, and control the customer journey at every stage – including price, messaging, marketing and experience with the brand. We sell exclusively through our website which means wholesale is not part of our strategy. Our mission has and always will be offering consumers a premium bedding product at an accessible price-point, as we believe no one should be priced out of enjoying beautiful, natural products for their home.
What were the key challenges you faced in setting up your online retail business and how did you overcome these?
It took us two years to refine and create our signature bedding set because at no point did we want to compromise on our vision of a top-quality product at an accessible price-point.
It would’ve been easier to do a blend (so not 100 percent linen) or simply price our products at the same point as other players in the market, but that wasn’t our vision, so it took longer to create the product than we anticipated.
The two years involved researching suppliers to make sure they met ethical standards, ensuring our linen was of the highest quality, ensuring our pricing was viable, going through the painstaking process of selecting the perfect Pantone for every colourway and designing a brand that was simple and accessible but still aspirational.
Plus, we slept in the final product and used it for months before it went to market to make sure we had a product that did what it said it would. We never rushed any part of the process and enjoyed the benefits of this when we launched our brand, knowing at that point, everything from the website to the packaging was the best it could possibly be.
What technologies and solutions do you use to power your ecommerce business?
We use Woocommerce, WordPress and rely on social media and Google to drive awareness and sales.
Can you break down your marketing mix for us? What works well and what is yet to be tried?
At our core we are an ecommerce business, so we use digital channels at this stage exclusively. Our main marketing channels are Instagram, Google, Facebook, E-mail and recently, PR.
How is mobile commerce influencing your ecommerce practices?
It is inextricably linked. Our website design is mobile first, our checkout is optimised for mobile and our ads are designed so they look best on Instagram. Ultimately, we are a visual brand, and we are finding that after a year, people have started to really identify with our aesthetic. When we shoot imagery and product shots, we conceptualise from what will work best on social media and build campaigns from there. Being a digital business, we have the luxury of analysing data at every step, whether it’s the amount of ‘likes’ a post on Instagram gets, the number of enquiries a story generates or which ad copy is the most effective. We are constantly responding to what resonates with people on each of our channels, so our customers are constantly served with content they respond to.
What are the current ecommerce trends most interesting to you now?
I am really interested in Marketing Bots on Facebook Messenger. Some experts think this will replace e-mail marketing, and it’s important to me and my team that we are constantly educating ourselves on technology – there is no way we could have been able to scale a business like ours in a year without being agile and open to new technologies.
What do you believe are the biggest challenges facing ecommerce businesses and what could be done to address these? What are the biggest opportunities?
I think people underestimate how many powerful and free tools are available to them when it comes to building their business. Take Instagram, for instance. We created our @bed.threads account six months before we launched. It was a free avenue to market to potential customers and allowed us to express who we were as a brand, both in terms of our unique service proposition and our personality, so that when we launched we had a warm audience at the ready. Our stock sold out three weeks after we launched and our social community has now grown to over 19,000 in under a year. We view Instagram as not only a valuable a way of communicating with our customers, but also as a way of gauging what our customers want from us.
Do you have any new developments on the horizon?
We will be expanding into Singapore and New Zealand over the coming months as we already have a loyal customer base in these regions. We’re working on serving them more effectively before and in the lead up to Christmas.
We’re also launching our bespoke, hand-poured, Australian-made Bed Threads candles to offer customers an olfactory experience for their space. After 30 trials, we’ve perfected two scents – Spiced Pear & Oak and Fireside.
Our customers also told us they wanted our sheets to be sold separately (they love pairing different colourways together) so we are currently adding separates to our offering, too.
What are some of the things you know now you had wished you had known while you were setting up your ecommerce business and what do you love most about the online retail space?
Invest in experts. It’s always worth hiring professionals and people who are masters in their craft – from developers, to stylists, photographers, content creators and beyond. I have learnt first hand that when you surround yourself and your business with experts, things will flourish from there. We learnt this the hard way and now have an excellent team of specialists in place that are intrinsic to our rapidly growing business.
Otherwise, every element of working in e-commerce is exciting to me. Working in the digital space means that we’re able to be agile. From using customer feedback to improve our product offering, or jumping on the increased popularity Instagram Stories and seeing it result in an upswing in sales, change is the only constant in the fast-paced e-commerce world and I love the growth and opportunities to learn it brings.
To indulge in this bed linen head to Bed Threads website: https://bedthreads.com.au