Heidi Yi has just reached her 500th transaction on mybc and has coincidentally broken $500,000 in sales and spending on Bartercard combined (and $300,000 in sales alone).
We spoke to the Sydney-based cosmetics entrepreneur about her two online businesses, and what we should all be doing to make more sales.
Tell us about the range and what attracts people to it?
Heidi Yi Cosmetics is a chemical-free line of mineral makeup products made in Australia and sold nationally through my website heidiyi.com and Bartercard’s trading website mybc.
The range includes a foundation, blush and bronzer. I am also a reseller of Silk Oil of Morocco, another quality Australian-made skin and hair care brand. Being a reseller means I buy the stock at a wholesale rate and sell to Bartercard customers at full retail on trade.
Customers love the cosmetics because they are chemical-free and feel great. Members are able to purchase the Silk range on Bartercard without paying cash, and I am the only person at the moment who has a large range of Silk available on Bartercard.
What’s the advantage of being a re-seller?
Silk Oil of Morocco is locally manufactured in Brisbane and they are well established in the marketplace, so people know and trust the brand. I started selling close to three years ago and have sold more than 1,000 mascaras in that time. The range also includes hair care so there is synergy with Heidi Yi Cosmetics.
How do you colour match your foundations to customers without seeing them face-to-face?
With 20 years’ experience in the industry as a makeup artist I can match a customer to a colour 99% of the time without seeing them by asking about their skin tone, how dark or fair they are and whether they tan easily. I offer a money back guarantee if the customer isn’t satisfied.
How have you built an online market?
I joined Bartercard shortly after I started up Heidi Yi which really kick-started the business. I sell at nine Bartercard trade shows around Australia each year which gives me the opportunity to meet people face-to-face and do colour matchings. I move a lot of volume at these events – at the last Melbourne Trade Show I sold $6,500 of cosmetics in just three hours! I also attend a lot of networking events both in and out of Bartercard including wedding expos and luncheons, which have really helped to build the business. When you have an online business, getting out and meeting people is so important.
How do you build enough trust for people to buy from you without having a shop front?
Your website really has to work hard to do the selling, and give visitors everything they would look for in a reputable brand. List information for every item and offer a money-back guarantee to remove any risk. Adding a photo of yourself and information about your experience will put a face to the brand and create more trust. Having experience in your field will also give you more confidence to sell.
What do you attribute success to?
I outsource services. I have a personal assistant and I outsource bookkeeping and newsletter mail outs so I can focus on what I do best which is working with customers.
What’s the advantage of selling on mybc?
Listings sell incredibly quickly on mybc and it’s a fantastic avenue for brand exposure. 50% of my Bartercard customers are men who buy cosmetics for family and their employees. Many customers make $100-$200 orders at a time to use as gifts with purchase as a value-add for their customers. Bartercard gave me a platform to grow my business when I first launched in the market - I joined seven years ago and 30% of my customers today are Bartercard members.
What’s the advantage of having an online businesses?
I’m not stuck in a shop all day! I work from home and because I don’t incur the overhead costs of a shop I can pass on more value to my customers. Having an online business gives you more freedom and allows you to run a business wherever you are.
What do spend your trade dollars on?
I completed a Diploma of Business and Administration through Capital Training Institute in Sydney on Bartercard. I am also purchasing a property with a 20% deposit on Bartercard that I don’t have to ask the bank for. This is effectively cash converting because I am saving 20% of the cost which I will eventually sell for the full cash price.
You are also a self-published author – congratulations!
Thank you! My first book is called ‘pro make up by heidi’ which is being sold in 500 stores nationally.I was one of the first people to self-publish a makeup book in Australia. My second book is called ‘Oops! I self-published’ and goes into the low down of circumventing the publishing houses – but this is a topic for another blog!
10 tips for selling online (Not in any particular order)
1. Offer free shipping. I offer free shipping on all Heidi Yi orders which is a sticking point for many customers. For Silk Oil of Morocco stock there is a lower profit margin so I do charge shipping, but factor it into the cost of the order in trade dollars.
2. Use high quality images. I always use high quality images and content – as a reseller of Silk Oil of Morocco I have access to all of their content, images and videos to market and sell to my customer base.
3. Invest in a professional website as it establishes credibility for your brand.
4. Provide fast responses and fast shipping. I have a lot of repeat business on mybc because of fast response and fast shipping. When I receive an order I email the customer straight away asking for their address. I send them a dispatch date and tracking number so it’s not an automated email but comes personally from me. I include all of my contact details as well. I always dispatch within 24 hours of payment.
5. Stay connected and available. When people send me email enquiries, I have a Mac computer, iPad, iPhone and a laptop so wherever I am, so I respond straight away. If I am away on holidays and not checking emails daily, I remove all of my listings on mybc.
6. Know your brand inside out. Selling something means you have to be able to answer questions on the spot.
7. Exhibit at Bartercard trade shows. I exhibit at Bartercard trade shows in five or six cities each year. I attend many Bartercard networking events and build strong relationships with trade co-ordinators around Australia, so they know the brand and promote it to members in the region when I have large volumes to move. If I have large quantities to sell, I flick an email to my trade co-ordinator asking them to promote my products on an e-newsletter to members locally for pick up only, or nationally when I have larger quantities to sell.
8. Pay for featured listing on mybc. Paying the extra $5.95 to get your listing featured is priceless.
You can list 10 of the same item and get it featured once which will take your listing to the top of the search in mybc.
9. Provide variety. Variety is key to boosting sales - I always have at least five listings on mybc at any point in time which lets me see what’s selling fastest.
10.S tock up. Ensure you have a constant supply of stock available before you go to market. If you don’t, it will put a strain on logistics and your brand will suffer.
For more information on Heidi Yi visit: www.heidiyi.com
Direct link to books:http://heidiyi.com/books/
About Heidi: http://heidiyi.com/profile
Author: Klara Vida
National Communications Executive