Q&A: Shhh Silk Talks Supercharging Loyalty

Natasha Sholl By Natasha Sholl | 07 May 2019

Olivia Carr, Founder and CEO of Shhh Silk, tells us her top three tips for repeat purchase behaviour and how to stay ahead of the competition.

Ahead of Online Retailer Conference & Expo, we speak to Olivia Carr, Founder and CEO of SHHH Silk about consumer loyalty, tech, trends and how to succeed in the new retail landscape:

Shhh Silk is no stranger to creating hype, through collaborations and celebrity endorsements. How do you leverage this as a part of a wider long-term strategy?

At Shhh Silk, we are so beyond grateful that so many people love our products including celebrities like Kim Kardashian-West, Kourtney Kardashian and Kylie Jenner.

While these organic celebrity moments have done so much to assist getting the Shhh Silk brand known, it is important to note that you can’t rely on influencer or celebrity  posts alone.

When a well-known celebrity or influencer organically posts about your brand on social media, you will likely get a lot of traffic to your site. It is then up to the brand to develop a strong PR & marketing strategy and leverage the PR opportunity.

What strategies do you have in place when it comes to customer experience?

We have live chat, auto reply bots for messenger, an online customer service portal to respond to customer enquiries and an international customer support line. Being available offline in an online world is crucial to the success of our customer service and loyalty members.

We also place little extras inside orders, including phone pop sockets, chocolate hearts for Valentine’s Day or reusable metal straws. While things like this may seem small, customers finding something they weren’t expecting, adds to the excitement and overall customer experience. 

What has worked for you? What hasn’t? And what have you learnt as you’ve grown?

My proudest achievement is our collaboration with The Beverly Hills Hotel. This collaboration involved us creating a limited edition range of silk pillowcases, eyemasks and pyjamas. Prior to this collaboration, we had never designed sleepwear. I’m not a fashion designer, nor have I ever had any experience in this area. Therefore, it’s amazing that we were able to pull off the whole project to create such a successful product range. Every time that I see the sleepwear, whether it’s online or in an article (or on a famous celebrity – pinch me!), or product that’s just on display in the warehouse, I feel so proud.

Dealing with our manufacturers in China has definitely been one of the greatest challenges in running Shhh Silk. It is still a daily challenge, whether it be negotiating price, delays with shipping, copying of product in factories. I think just learning how to navigate your way successfully through manufacturing in China is extremely challenging. At the same time, I have learnt so much about the process and I’ve also become a lot more patient, but it is still a challenge.

Is it about the product? The technology? Marketing? How do you optimise for engaged and loyal consumers?

To keep customers engaged, it is important to have a notable online presence. Through social media, like Instagram, you can notify thousands of new and repeat customers on new product launches or campaigns. In addition to creating product and marketing posts, it is also beneficial to make interesting content, that entertains your audience rather than just a hard sell. This keeps them engaged while also being exposed to marketing content.

We have recently launched our loyalty program, Sleep Society, where our customers earn points for every dollar they spend and can redeem points for vouchers up to $150. We wouldn’t be here without our loyal customers.

What digital marketing strategies do you utilise? How do these assist with your overall strategy when it comes to customer loyalty?

One of our digital marketing strategies is our loyalty program, Sleep Society. It is important to be grateful for our customers support and loyalty to our brand, despite how small or large their purchase is. Through our loyalty program, customers gain points as they shop with us, which they can redeem for discounts and receive other benefits. Our loyalty program also allows members to refer friends, in which they can both receive discounts. This provides incentives for old customers to purchase again, as well as encouraging new customers to join.  If you show your appreciation for your customers’ loyalty, they will continue to be loyal, and everyone loves a reward for being a loyal customer.

What are your top 3 tips when it comes to loyalty and repeat purchase behaviour?

  1. Tell / share your brand story. Let customers into your world so they feel like they belong and are truly part of your squad.
  2. When customers purchase from us once, we allow them to create an account with us. This enables us to send them EDMs of campaigns or new products, thus encouraging another purchase.
  3. High quality products and overall customer experience. If customers feel that your product is of poor quality or not as described, they will not purchase again and possibly discourage their friends and family from purchasing from you too. Giving our customers a WOW experience sets us apart.

How do you stay ahead of the competition?

In order to stay ahead of competition, it’s important to continuously create new and unique products that differentiate you from competitors. For example, while we sell silk pillowcases, we have expanded our brand to over 150 SKUs. We are big in world firsts. Innovation is what drives me.

We have a silk lined shower cap which protects against hair shower steam and frizz (this is an example if one of our world first products).

We also have silk scrunchies for styling without leaving kinks in the hair. Variety and innovation along with being ‘real’ and inclusive is what sets us apart from competitors who may only sell silk pillowcases or products. We are building a community and a place to inspire and teach others.

What are the biggest disruptors in the near future and what do retailers need to do to ensure they remain agile?

In our industry I would say China producing more D2C brands directly from their factories. In some instances you can buy product cheaper as a consumer than as a business customer!

In a highly consumable world I believe there will be a major shift for sustainability and close to perfect transparency. Brands can no longer ignore this; we are all part of the problem and solution.

What’s something you know now that you wish you’d known when you started?

When working in e-commerce, it is crucial to select a delivery and shipping service that you are confident in. Previously, we have used services that are slow or unreliable or ridiculously expensive, ultimately ending in disappointed customers. Make sure you do your research and trial different shipping services and review regularly. We recently got burnt badly by one of the world’s leading freight companies. We wish we knew to test the market sooner.

How should retailers cut through the noise? There is so much hype/panic out there. What should those in e-commerce be focusing their energy on?

If you are ever overwhelmed in e-commerce, my best advice would be to say yes now, and figure out the ‘how’ later. So often we pass by opportunities because we don’t believe we can pull it off. Whether it is a collaboration, creating a new product or something that may seem crazy or impossible. Put aside your fears or doubts and say yes, because you will figure it out and make it work.

While saying yes, however, also understand the need for a vision / strategy – know your lane and sticking in it. Don’t veer sideways no matter how tempting it can sometimes be – just do you! 

Olivia Carr, Founder of SHHH Silk will be a on the panel for the topic: Supercharging loyalty: Success strategies using emotional-driven insights, purpose and data with Jeremy Meltzer, Founder and Director of i=Change, as Chair. To see the full agenda for Online Retailer Conference & Expo (to be held 24-25 July at the ICC Sydney) or to buy tickets, click here.

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