Online manager Hetal Shah chose a very special moment to start working for Perfume Shopping in 2007. Launched 10 years earlier as the online branch of a perfume wholesaler, Perfume Shopping sold surplus stock at the best price possible on its own small website. When Hetal joined the business it comprised a team of two with one key challenge: reaching new customers willing to buy a perfume without smelling it. “We were convinced that there was a significant opportunity out there. People are looking for something different when buying perfumes online,” Hetal explains. “They want to be able to find a nice gift without breaking the bank.”
But Hetal and his colleague needed a new channel to reach that audience. “With our website, we were struggling to grow the company and find new customers, so we decided to give selling on Amazon.co.uk a go,” Hetal explains.
“At the beginning, we only listed a limited range of our perfumes. As a wholesaler we did not quite understand deliveries or customer service,” Hetal admits. “We had to change our internal processes to consistently surprise and please our Amazon customers.”
Direct feedback from customers via product reviews soon proved to be a helpful way for Hetal and his team to find out what worked and what could be improved: “We introduced quicker delivery options because of the feedback we received online – customers love to have express options for a last minute gift such as perfume,” Hetal explains. They also started to provide 24/7 service, with staff working on weekends to answer customer queries. “Offering this extra level of service is what makes you stand out from the crowd. As testament to this effort, we received 99% positive customer feedback in October. It is fantastic to see that hard work pays off.”
Ready for the Christmas peak?
Perfume Shopping quickly extended its selection available on Amazon and more sales soon followed. The result? “We ended up receiving peaks of 1500 orders a day, which is huge for a small company like ours. Right before Christmas, we spent our days (and part of our nights) preparing orders for delivery. It was crazy.” This is when Hetal decided to look into the service Fulfilment by Amazon (FBA), where sellers store their products in Amazon’s Fulfilment centres, and then Amazon picks, packs and delivers them as well as provides customer service. “We saw a 300% increase in sales volumes after using FBA,” says Hetal. And the best thing: they can now focus on added-value activities. “Our warehouse team is very happy, as they no longer have to worry about all the picking and packing.”
Today, Perfume Shopping’s largest and fastest-growing channel is Amazon, and the team has increased from two to six full time employees. “Four years ago we were struggling to find customers, and now we have to work hard with our parent company to ensure we have plenty of stock to fulfil our sales through Amazon - especially during Christmas, which accounts for around 60% of our annual business” Hetal says.
With a large customer base willing to buy perfumes online, the right products in stock and a logistics solution in place, Hetal and his team seem to be in shape to face the busiest time of the year. When asked about his own Christmas presents, the choice is obvious: “Friends, family, relatives… everyone gets fragrances! Over the last couple of years, 100% of my Christmas gifts were perfume gift sets, which are very convenient. So until someone complains, I will go for it every year,” he laughs.