21 Jan 2018 | 02.51 pm
How Mayo Shoe Retailer Cracked E-Commerce
Vaughan Shoes linked EPOS system with the website back-end
21 Jan 2018 | 02.51 pm
Vaughan Shoes in Mayo received the ‘Best New Website’ accolade at the recent Retail Excellence Awards, and Donal Vaughan describes the recognition as like going from zero to hero. With three stores in Ballinrobe, Claremorris and Castlebar, the family business didn’t have an online presence until 2015 when Vaughan decided to look into building a website.
According to Vaughan, when the business decided to go online, the initial idea was for just a brochure site with shop details. He quickly realised that even a static site requires substantial investment so halfway through the process he decided that he wanted an e-commerce platform.
Vaughan, who runs the business with his twin sister Ailish, chose to work with Ennis-based Magico, which specialises in developing web platforms for retailers. What followed was a two-year journey of linking the retailer’s ‘Fashion Master’ Epos system to the new website.
“What used to happen is you would put up your product on Fashion Master and there would have been about 15 steps to this, then you would have to do another 15 to 20 steps on Magico,” explains Vaughan. “We were duplicating a lot of work but that’s just the way it was as. So we asked the two of them if they could come up with a solution, which they did. All those steps are now gone and the only work that’s left on the Magico platform is taking photos. Every other step is on our till system, so for online sales we now have real-time stock information.”
Vaughanshoes.ie is now just as snappy and quick as consumers might expect from the best in American shoe e-tailers. “The systems integration solution where everything is managed from Fashion Master has made a made a big difference to Vaughan’s online team,” says Orla Cooney of Magico. “The real-time stock updates have reduced the lost revenue and the volume of admin around the management of orders that couldn’t be fulfilled when high order volumes and low stock levels combine.”
Vaughan Shoes has 13 employees, with four of them working on the e-commerce side, including an in-house graphic designer. With delivery partner DPD Ireland, the website is bringing the Vaughan name to a wider market and has even had sales to parts of Europe and Australia.
The most labour intensive function is the product photos for the website. “We can’t afford to be hiring models and photographers so we take pictures on an iPhone,” says Vaughan. For marketing, Vaughanshoes.ie uses Facebook and Instagram for both free and paid advertising. “Again we are using our resources smartly here,” says Vaughan. “We find that sometimes if you come up with good content and it goes viral you don’t end up paying for the promotion.”
Most of the company’s turnover is still generated in the three shops but the online side of the business is the fastest growing, says Vaughan. “With in-store the growth is nearly always single digits so the potential to really grow is online. For me there will always be a place for a bricks and mortar store, but you need to have an online presence too, and one helps the other.
“For example, someone might be at home browsing our site and they might come into the shop the next day with a screenshot of the shoes they’re looking for. They know what they want already and for us that makes the sale much easier and we’re all saving time. It’s like your online offering is now your shop window.”
Photo: Donal and Ailish Vaughan (centre) and colleagues at the Retail Excellence Awards.