I’ve found someone who enjoys cruising (on ships guys, come on!) as much as I do. In fact, I think she has a few more sea days under her belt than me and if you think I’m not jealous of that, you’re mistaken!
Liz Broussard of the Lone Star State is no stranger when it comes to running an eCommerce store. She got her start 12 years ago with one store and recently opened her second and is loving every minute of her eCommerce success.
I first met Liz at one of my eCommerce Boot Camps and over the years she became a regular fixture at the bi-annual events taking in all the information the presenters lectured on. In today’s “10 Questions,” I’m turning the tables and leaning from her on what makes her eCommerce business work.
When were you first bitten by the eCommerce bug that made you want to open your own store?
I started Classic Charms, as a way to continue to be a “stay at home mom” after my divorce in 2000. My son was starting kindergarten at the time, and I wanted to stay involved with his school life, PTA, be able to pick him up at school, etc…. Never in my wildest dreams, did I think it would take off and grow like it has over the last 12 years.
I started my first online business based off of a niche and it appears you did as well… but why charms?
Classic Charms was based on the idea of preserving memories with charms on charm bracelets in both silver and gold. I felt this was a niche market that was untapped (at the time, NO ONE else was selling charms online). The niche is based on each charm, there is a story behind it. As the industry has grown and changed, we have branched out into beads as well and launched an entire site devoted to beads (another niche market) classic-beads.com. Our Tag line “every bead tells a story” really sums it all up. Just like charm bracelets tell the story of your life, so do bead bracelets. Our customers range in age from the young girls all the way up to the grandma’s who remember charm bracelets from the war-era and continue to add to them.
Nobody said owning an eCommerce business is easy, what has been your biggest challenge over the years?
The most challenging part of eCommerce is the constant changing environment. 12 years ago when I began, if you had a Yahoo! Store, you were automatically in Yahoo! Shopping (for free) and didn’t have to submit your site anywhere to be successful. Now, you have comparison shopping engines, search engines, organic searches, email marketing, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and you have to keep up with the growing trends and HOW to market to your customers. Who shops where and HOW they shop.
With challenge comes reward. What puts a smile on your face at the end of the day?
The most rewarding part of eCommerce is seeing hard work pay off. Spending endless hours in front of a spreadsheet to add new products and create meta tags and then see the products sell well and see the sites rank well in the organic search engines, when now there are MILLIONS of search results.
There’s been a lot of grumbling about all the changes Google has been making over the past several months and many eCommerce store owners have told me that “Google is no longer our friend.” In the search engine battleground, is Google your friend or enemy?
Both actually. You keep your friends close and your enemies closer, this is never truer saying than that of Google. You need to rank well organically AND through sponsored ads to perform well in the marketplace. I think most customers look at both places for a company to do business with. Google is very much trying to weed out the mom and pop shops who really don’t know what they are doing and make the internet less “clogged” with only top sites. So if you can manage to stay in the that “top list,” Google is your friend. If you can’t, it’s your enemy, so you should figure out what to do to become friends again!
If you had the opportunity to sit down with the search guru, Matt Cutts, at Google what would ask him?
I would ask him how I could improve my sites. I would love to get inside the heads of the programmers who constantly change the algorithms and find out what the new algorithms are, so I can stay on top!
From following you and your stores on Facebook, you’re quite active in the social media space and to some you’re known as the “Pinterest Queen.” I guess it’s safe to say you really embrace social media as a marketing tool for your business.
Absolutely! As the market has changed, so has how customers buy and who they listen to. Since my target audience is women – women love to get opinions of other women on what to buy. Women are social creatures by nature. We have two Facebook pages, with over 8,000 fans on each. We also have a Facebook store, so customers can shop direct from Facebook. We also use Pinterest and our Twitter account has our Facebook posts on it. We always announce new products on the Facebook pages or if we are running a special we announce it to Facebook first. 12 years ago, there was no Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest to speak of – today, if you are not on these social networks, you get left in the dust.
What part of running your business takes up the most time during the day?
Working on the website, keeping up with new product lines, keeping up with growing trends in ecommerce, etc.
Over the next five years, what is the number one goal for your business?
Continue to grow. Classic Charms was named to Internet Retailer Second top 500 list for 2010 and the revenue has grown each year since inception, with the addition of Classic Beads, I do not see this slowing down. Because so many jewelers do not believe in eCommerce and selling online, this only makes it more lucrative for those of us who have done so for years.
Thanks Liz, and I hope you enjoy your cruise to Alaska that you’re currently sailing on! I’ll be watching your Facebook page for the photos of your trip.
Here’s how you can connect with Liz and her two eCommerce stores:
Classic Beads – https://www.classic-beads.com
Classic Charms – https://www.classic-charms.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/classicbeads & https://www.facebook.com/classiccharms
Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/classiccharms
Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/classiccharms
Blog – https://blog.classic-charms.com
Personal Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/lizbroussard
If you own an eCommerce store and want to be featured in my weekly “10 Questions” column, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.