With a suitcase full of samples and 'a pocket full of dreams' we wended our way back to the UK.
But what did I do now - visualising my store from the comfort of the sun lounger was very far removed from the coal face of setting up an e-commerce business, speaking very little Turkish and learning about the import business!
As luck, or some kind of cosmic alignment would have it we had made friends with a local agent in Kalkan who gave me the details of an atelier who sold towels and blankets from the Grand Bazaar - as random as that seems, I had nothing to lose so I got in touch and, through a combination of gesticulated phone calls, text and Facebook messages placed my first proper samples order.
It was fun - ostensibly I was shopping whilst starting to realise the daydream. Receiving parcels of products and starting to curate a range for Lüks was utterly exciting. The challenge was putting myself in the shoes of the consumer, whilst staying true to an aesthetic and quality I believed in.
And you can't do this alone. Throughout the process I asked for, and received a wealth of advise from friends in the retail sector and within my target market, whilst it has all proven to be invaluable, some of it was a bitter pill to swallow, especially when it came to the diversity of the product ranges. It was difficult to reign myself in. I had to walk out of the candy store, take a breath and look at my launch budget as well as funding for the first 6-12 months, which was tough as there was simply so much to choose from and I love to shop!
My advice would be:
- Start small, with a manageable, curated range that best demonstrates your aesthetic and brand ethos.
- Consider budget projections for 6-12 months based on pessimistic sales.
- Ask opinions amongst your peer group/target market and amongst those who have retail experience.
- Test and grow organically so you aren't left with stock that isn't selling, needs to be heavily discounted and eats into your profit margins.
- Look at what your competitors are doing and set your price points accordingly.
- Understand the delivery process from your suppliers - know the lead-times so you can manage stock and do check courier rates.
- If you are physically taking receipt of goods (not drop-shipping) then get your head around customs duty - these vary dependant on where you are receiving goods from and these taxes can quickly eat into your product budgets.
- And finally, if you are importing from overseas, check here to see if you need an EORI number - it will make for smoother sailing with customs.
Now of course there is science in retail and you can make procurement decisions based on your research, my experience is that you simply won't know for sure what sells and what doesn't until you start selling, and whilst you can believe wholeheartedly in a product the reality is that not everyone will share the same taste as you!