A crux to e-commerce success is finding a niche e-commerce opportunity and capitalizing on it. By recognizing a void in the marketplace and filling it, you limit competition and can dominate as a go-to source for products. That is exactly what Harrison Richards did when he founded Furls Crochet, an online store providing high-end, unique, and well-designed crochet hooks, knitting needles, fabrics, and other accessories. We sat down and talked to Harrison to learn more about his approach and how his team uses ShippingEasy to succeed.
Identify Customer Needs
This doesn’t mean identifying what you want a customer to need. This means doing your research to see where there’s a gap in the market. Harrison Richards believed that all products people use reflect something about themselves. He spoke with friends and family members about what they liked and disliked about the options available to them, what they wanted to see show up in the market, and why they loved fiber arts to begin with.
The gap in the market he identified was that in fiber arts, which is another name for the crochet and knitting industry, there were no beautiful, inspiring, or high-performance products available. The products on the market were not designed for the hands of those using the products and thus caused fatigue and pain. There was a clear opportunity to fix that.
The result: over 180,000 crochet hooks, knitting needles, and skeins of yarn sold to a niche e-commerce audience of over 30,000 people in 94 countries. There was clearly an audience for these kinds of products and Furls Crochet filled that void.
Not only did Furls fill a void, but the company also focused on quality and an important concern for its users–hand health. The designs of products are ergonomic with high-end design, and their customers love their products. This created a further affinity for the products offered by Furls Crochet and the business response reflected that.
Streamlining Is Key
Once your business starts to find its stride, you may find yourself quickly overwhelmed. This happened to Harrison and his team when they hit their first holiday season. Any e-commerce merchant knows that this time of year can be hectic as an insurmountable number of orders begin to pour in. Harrison began searching for a solution to help his team keep up.
Simply diving into a paid shipping and order fulfillment solution to streamline an e-commerce business can turn into a costly mistake. Harrison wanted something he and his team could test out in a free trial to be sure that the software fit his team’s workflows, with a price point that worked within their budget. That led him to take advantage of ShippingEasy’s 30-day free trial.
A small business, even one focusing on a niche e-commerce audience, is going to deal with complications and need help from time to time. A major selling point for Harrison was that ShippingEasy offered the ability to call and speak to a real human who would walk him or his team through whatever they were struggling with.
Another important use-case for Harrison was the ability to run the reports he needed, particularly during a hectic time when things go wrong.
“One of the things that people underestimate is that when something goes really wrong in a business, particularly around shipping, how do you figure out who the customers are that you already shipped out to? ShippingEasy has really great reports showing who’s been shipped what and to see who you need to send emails to saying something will be delayed. It’s easy to use.”
ShippingEasy offers robust reporting around shipping, customer data, and product/inventory reports to help businesses stay on top of all the things that matter to their day-to-day.
As Demand Increases—Scale
Diving into a niche e-commerce market comes with just as many risks, if not more than other markets. Without an established product-market presence, all the work around establishing demand and familiarity falls on you. Once you succeed at that, it will be important to scale quickly and properly to avoid falling behind.
This also means finding technology that will scale with you as you grow. Part of that is the ability to bring on new staff and get them quickly up to speed with whatever software you use. Harrison lauds ShippingEasy’s intuitive interface and user-friendly prompts as a major benefit when hiring new warehouse staff.
Scaling also includes finding better ways to do what you’ve always done. A great example of this is: during the early days of Furls Crochet, Harrison would go to the post office and pick up stacks of USPS Small Flat Rate boxes. He’d then manually enter the dimensions for every package.
When he called ShippingEasy to see if there was a better way, our Customer Success team informed him of shipping automation options like Shipping Presets and the fact that he could have those material delivered to his door—absolutely free! The time and cost savings of that one phone call alone made a huge difference in helping Harrison get through a booming holiday season.
Furls Crochet is a premier provider of fiber arts products and continues to grow. With the help of a platform like ShippingEasy’s that scales along with his business, Harrison says:
“The last thing you should be thinking as you’re growing and trying to focus on customer acquisition is how to get packages out the door. So do yourself a favor and get ShippingEasy sooner rather than later, and it will grow with you.”
Harrison calls ShippingEasy an invaluable tool for their business. Learn more about how Furls Crochet uses ShippingEasy by checking out the case study below. Or, click here to start a 30-day free trial and experience how ShippingEasy can scale with your business as it continues to grow.