Cashing in on the social media hype

Cashing in on the social media hype
Ms Jolyn Chua in her bicycle boutique, Tokyobike Singapore. About 60 per cent of the store's visitors know about it through its Facebook page, while 40 per cent are walk-in customers.

When Ms Yvonne Tan and Mr Vincent Goh started online Korean fashion shop Ministry Of Retail in 2009, they faced the inevitable challenge that all start-ups grapple with.

"Getting people to know about us was a challenge," Mr Goh said. "Online stores at that time usually relied on word-of-mouth to make themselves known."

The husband-and-wife team then decided to take a shot at search engine marketing by buying keyword ads on Internet search engines.

However, that maiden venture fizzled out within three months, as people who shop online do not usually search for clothes unless they know what they want, said Mr Goh, who is well-versed in Web design and programming.

"Most online fashion shoppers don't know what they want until they see the clothes, so they usually prefer to explore within a website rather than search online," he said.

Armed with this important learning point, Ministry Of Retail then turned to social media giant Facebook.

"Online shopping is an emotional experience," Mr Goh said. "To entice people to buy, you need to have pretty pictures, which shoppers can explore on our Facebook page."

The social media engagement effort has paid off for Ministry Of Retail, which has been using Facebook to build brand awareness and generate sales leads since 2009. It made more than $500,000 in sales last year.

Mr Goh said half of the company's sales now come from customers who go on to buy clothes on Ministry Of Retail's website after visiting its Facebook page, adding that 60 per cent of the company's website traffic comes from Facebook.

To build its Facebook audience, Ministry Of Retail relies on a combination of posts featuring new arrivals and promotions, as well as content which resonates with fashion shoppers.

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