My online boutique, Allineveryday, sells Korean clothing which is directly imported from South Korea. I started my business on Facebook and Instagram and I am planning to expand it to Taobao as I target customers not just in Hong Kong, but also on the Mainland.
Online commerce is developing rapidly in both places as people are becoming more IT-savvy. They are familiar with shopping online and are willing to spend money. However, fast development also means intense competition. Why do I still want to do it? It is because I have learned the rules of the game: data management.
First, I acquired these skills to run my business effectively and efficiently. In terms of collection of data, I am cautious with every response and every single comment that my customers make. For instance, from the comments on the photos that I post online, I can understand my target customers’ preferences, data that will be useful later for further analysis.
After collecting the data, I need to sift through and categorise them in order to present them in a meaningful way. I need to decide what metrics to use for achieving different purposes. For example, in order to identify the high-influence group of customers, some people may misuse data such as date of purchase, gender and items purchased. This data is actually useless.
Instead, the key metrics should be the amount of money spent, the corresponding profit percentage of the products, and customer IDs. That is the secret of data management.
It’s also important to constantly evaluate your situation and propose a possible solution for any problem. It may sound like reading from a text book but it is true. However, sometimes several problems may happen at the same time, leading to some confusion about what causes the problems. This is when the analysed data comes in handy. Once you have identified the causes, solving the problems is a piece of cake.
Studying Information Management allows me to run my business more effectively. But that is not enough. As I mentioned, competition is so intense.
How can you survive? You need to make customers genuinely fall in love with your store. It is not about bragging about how professional you and your customer service are. It is about putting words into action. People sense if you have put in effort or not. An online shopping experience that is totally different from your competitors’ is why costumers choose shopping with you.
Running a business is like a supply chain. You need to think about how to find reliable suppliers, how to communicate with them, and whom you should rely on more or less. You need to think about how to save money shipping goods from overseas to Hong Kong and other places, and how to ensure security. And since capital is probably limited, you need to think about how many people you need for distributing products in order to share the cost.
These were the difficulties I faced when I started running my business. Some are fixed now, but I am still working on the others.
I hope you will consider these questions and issues before start your own business.
My suggestion is to be smart and passionate. Don’t give up easily!