18 online shops who perform exceptionally
After successfully launching their first ecommerce site, coutebox.com, Fabien Bourly, company director, has expanded his business. He now runs 18 stores, all specialising in cutlery and kitchenware, he has become an industry leader in the cutlery sector. Based in Reims, he makes a large part of his turnover (€900,000), through online sales and gives us the keys to his success.
Fabien Bourly’s experience shows that all merchants can succeed in Ecommerce and make the most this distribution channel to increase their sales!
The coutebox.com adventure began 9 years ago with an event which could have easily have hampered the cutlery store’s success; the announcement of tramway works in Reims city centre, right next to Fabien’s store, Coutellerie Champenoise. So due to circumstance beyond his control, Fabien had to, quickly, find a new distribution channel and so his ecommerce endeavour began. Without any prior computer training and no knowledge of the ecommerce world, he implored a local ecommerce agency to advise him. They recommended the Actinic solution, specifically tailored to SMEs, for its ease of use.
Fabien began by opening coutebox.com, the first ecommerce site that was an authority in the cutlery sector. In one year, the merchant had already achieved a €6,000 monthly turnover. Realising that there was a strong demand from his customers for specific knives, he decided to launch specialized sites with effective domain names to improve SEO such as couteaujaponais.com knife-en- ceramique.fr or couteau-de-cuisine.com (japaneseknifes, ceramic-knifes and knifes-for-kitchens). Having learnt from his first site, Fabien quickly identified similar sectors with a potential for growth and expanded his business into Pots and Pans, and since 2013 wines and champagnes via another company.
Keys to success
Fabien Bourly was involved in every stage of the creation and development of his ecommerce business, and gives us the recipe for success.
Without an internal ecommerce specialist, we needed an easy to use and comprehensive solution that required no technical computer knowledge, explains Fabien.
- Seeking practical ecommerce advice from specialists who know the world of SMEs and gain from their experience. We used local web agency, Net Gestion, who were always available, practical and effective.
- Rapidly profitable websites due to ease of set-up, dashboards for analysing product performance and automated management to increase productivity.
- Online stores designed for local and international sales, with strong growth of over 15% per year across all our business sectors.
We trusted the agency Net Gestion, and took their advice in opting for the user-friendly Actinic solution that has new, useful features and tools added each month. We regularly, took advantage of their expert’s advice for domain name choice, keywords for SEO, presentation and training for the new features and tools, etc.
For example, we were advised about setting up authentic customer reviews verified via Shopping Satisfaction and it helped increase our conversion rates. We receive more than 15 reviews per week and make them visible to everyone, our reputation grew and they also help to reassure site visitors that they are safe buying with us.
Our steady revenue increase is thanks to us opening so many highly profitable, niche sites. All are sites are connected via links which also improves our SEO without us investing too heavily, explains Fabien.
We started with a site for knives that includes over 2700 products and currently takes just under €10,000 a month. We use the dashboard, to analyse our statistics and were able to easily identify the most sought after products that achieve the highest turnover. On this basis, we created dedicated sites containing multiple versions of products that customers want.
The Actinic solution lets you rapidly develop new sites and allowed us to open an online store in less than a month and quickly start generate revenue. For example, couteaujaponais.com reaches about €12,000 in monthly turnover and the newest site couteau-de-cuisine.com already recorded more than €5,000 in monthly sales.
Automating tasks saves us valuable time that we can put into the development of new sites. Actinic automatic synchronization software like DataPlug or accounting software (which gives real-time updates of customers, orders and inventory), we can offer an even better quality of service to our customers.
The sites are effective in different sectors as shown by the success of our casserole-et-poele.com (pots-and-pans) e-store that generates more than €15,000 in monthly sales or la-champagnerie.com (managed by the company La Cave Colbert SAS) which currently earns more than €8,000 in turnover and led us to open sites dedicated to champagne buckets and champagne swords!
Our online sales have become an essential part of our revenue and the e-stores have even brought customers into our bricks-and-mortar store. We also take advantage of the tremendous potential of the international market and have opened online stores that meet specific consumer searches in Belgium, Switzerland and Luxembourg.
This approach of gaining market share in France and abroad, would not have been possible without the simplicity of the Actinic solution, that is perfectly suited to SMEs like ours.
Our growth strategy is based on three essential axis, traffic, the effectiveness of our sites, overseas sales.
In terms of traffic: more than 200,000 visitors per month come to our stores, cumulatively and we hope to attract twice that over the next two years thanks to the SEO opportunities the Actinic solution offers (keywords, tags, titles, tree structure, organisation of product sheets). Our position at the top of search results, on the keywords we target, is thanks to these SEO points.
We create the appearance of competition ourselves, with all our different shops, which gives the customer a feeling of choice: a site visitor may leave one of our online shops yet end up buying at another e-store that belongs to us!
In terms of site efficiency: Each of our sites are supported by a design and layout that encourages buys. To create individual brand images for specific products, we can customise the design of our niche sites ourselves with the page editor. This means we can test the market before investing in a professional graphic design if the figures show it’s advisable.
The Actinic graphic studio created a custom design and a dynamic shopping cart, for couteaujaponais.com, a very worthy investment that resulted in an increase of sales by 20% in just one month! The catalogue organisation is also a determining factor in sales growth: our site follows all the best ecommerce practices (large slideshow enhancing our products, large menu to facilitate search, emphasising trust elements such as payment and shipping options, etc.).
In terms of international sales: we focus on trust elements which correspond to the standards of the target area. We select at least 3 payment methods, from the Actinic solution, and 3 modes of delivery adapted to the different countries where we sell (France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland). In very specific sectors like, Japanese knives for example, we offer mail and telephone orders (MOTO) so we can advise our customers on their use. This increases our turnover by 4%, and we also receive 5% of our revenue directly from our Actinic Mobile Store.
Given the success of our current model, we regularly open new e-stores and generate increasingly substantial profits. Our online sales also allow us to invest in physical trade. We have transformed our little 20m² shop into a storage and have opened a new store, over 200m² over two floors and a second store dedicated to wines and champagnes.
- The opportunity to create a powerful and comprehensive personalised site in less than a month.
- A wide range of additional services offered by ecommerce leaders (business management software, multiple payment methods and delivery options).
- The high-performance automation of many administrative tasks; it’s possible to manage a site in less than 2 days a week. In our case, three people is enough to manage 18 sites, which make them very profitable!
- A very visual dashboard keeps us focussed on our business’ evolution (analysis of page views, the best-selling products and order sources, changes in conversion rate), so we can take advantage of any opportunities that may arise.