Vectis Karma is the place to go shopping for luxury incense online.
The e-Commerce business recorded a 400% growth in sales within its first two years and is a direct product of the founder’s passion for travel and desire to offer her customers the best quality incense sticks from leading manufacturers in Japan, India, Tibet and beyond.
We spoke with Karen Bowden, who runs the business entirely online and we asked her what she considered to be the key factors that helped her build a successful business that generates constant growth.
The 3 keys to their online success:
- A beautiful and efficient store-front delivering a remarkable user experience.
- Working with field experts through a single point of contact
- Quality SEO setup and maintenance including training and support.
Actinic: What are the keys to success in e-Commerce?
Karen: Working with a team of experts! Personal contact is very important to us and although we liked the idea of working with a local developer, we quickly realised we wanted to be bigger than just local, conquer the UK and target the international market. Considering the scope of services and the level of performance that would need, such as selling on marketplaces and connecting with our mobile customers, we decided to work with an e-Commerce solution that could be our single point of contact for all our needs. One that would not only build the website but also provide services that help grow our business such as SEO, design, training and support.
After discovering Actinic, and comparing them with several other UK-based solutions, it quickly became apparent that Actinic was more than just an e-Commerce solution. They offer the services for growth we were looking for and their UK-based support reassured us we had found exactly what we needed to support our business.
Actinic: What advice would you give for designing a website that generates turnover?
Karen: Designing an effective website takes more than just an idea. We built the first website using a template, and with the help of the design experts it has developed into the successful website it is today. It is imperative our customers find the right product as fast as possible and the enhanced user experience of our store design keeps us on a steady 7% conversion rate, which is twice the average!
Regularly updating our design and content is essential to establishing our professional brand image. Currently on our third version, Armand, our web designer at Actinic, has done a wonderful job translating our ideas into a design that inspires serenity and wellbeing. Good design, high-quality images and rich content invite the visitor to continue shopping on our site.
With user experience enhancing features such as the dynamic basket and upsell and cross sell components in the checkout pages, the Average Order Value on our site quickly went up by 20%.
The authentic reviews in the product pages and on the home page encourage and convince customers about the quality of our products and high-standard of our customer service. The reviews actively inform our visitors on the experience of receiving, unpacking and burning our quality incense. After setting up Shopping Satisfaction, it is fully automated - asking each purchaser to rate the product and the site itself. It is also easy to manage moderations: we can quickly contact our customer to resolve an issue after which the customer usually reviews its initial assessment for a very satisfied one.
Actinic: How does your website connect with your audience?
Karen: We reach our customers through a variety of channels. 70% of our orders come in through eBay and Amazon, so the Marketplace managers are an incredible asset to the solution.
Selling on these online marketplaces has helped us grow and we can see the orders come in every day in the same back office which makes it easy to get an oversight of all our incoming orders. A practical setup process and precise metrics guarantee our stock is constantly up to date. You can’t afford to sell a sold-out item on Amazon, so with the Actinic Amazon market manager we have complete peace of mind.
Each year we have exceeded our growth forecasts by 20%. We know this because the back office gives us a precise overview of our sales figures, traffic numbers and conversion rates. The back office also registers every customer that places an order regardless of the sales channel they come through. Be it the mobile site, eBay, Amazon or the e-Commerce website, we can search customers by name, email address, order frequency and order value. This has allowed us to notice a change in customer behaviour as we are seeing more people that used to buy on marketplaces order directly on our site. All thanks to the fantastic SEO work the team have done on our site.
Actinic: Why did you ask a team of experts to work on your SEO?
Karen: Working with a professional SEO team means seeing quantitative results on your investment. In May 2016, our traffic increased threefold after the first optimisations were implemented. One year later site traffic has increased another 80%.
Working on SEO is really all about configuring site content in a way that search engines can find the right information on the relevance of your website to search requests. Now our website ranks in the top 3 for 11 business specific keywords and even first for the most important ones. This is the reason we wanted to work with qualified and certified experts. They deliver results, helping us increase brand visibility and drive qualified traffic to our store. The experts implement strategies that improve our search engine results: restructuring our category tree, rewriting the product titles, page URL optimisations, deliver keyword rich content and advise us on important security issues.
With the regular updates, which include detailed ranking reports, we can keep track of the work they have performed, and they always follow up with a phone call to answer any questions. One year down the line we have tripled our turnover! Whilst our site is optimised for search queries, it’s the demonstrations, training, expert advice and unlimited support that make sure Vectis Karma is partnered and guided in its growth.
Actinic: What are the results of expanding your brand’s presence?
Karen: Vectis Karma is a trusted brand and most of our customers order more than once. We capitalise on this by using the loyalty programme the solution provides. It automatically awards loyalty points inducing our customers to return and build up points to receive discounts on future orders. The Vectis Karma e-Commerce website appeals both to people that enjoy burning incense in their homes and to organisations such as Buddhist Centres, meditation sanghas and several other religious orders. The Vectis Karma brand has grown to be a reference brand for high-end Japanese, and more recently, Luxury Indian incense.
Our repeat customers can also refer the website to their friends and family with the referral scheme we set up in the back office and we keep our community engaged with the blog component. It is handy to inform our customers on new products and advise them on the benefits of burning high-quality incense and how to best use them.
Actinic: What’s Next for Vectis Karma?
Karen: We’d like to focus on product videos that advise our customers on the use of our products to accompany our product descriptions. We also want to promote the referral scheme and highlight our loyalty programme more. Further, we have lots of writing to do for our Blog and Incense Information sections. Our customers can soon read about best practices for incense burning in and around the house and the many benefits of certain incense ingredients. We’re also investing in Actinic’s integrated newsletter design and delivery service – to keep our customers even better informed and on a regular basis.
- Efficient and visually attractive site design.
Our user-friendly site reflects the values of our brand and is easy to navigate for our customers so they can quickly find the products they need.
- Expert SEO setup coupled with quality and keyword rich content.
Our site ranks among the first on Google because our content matches the search requests perfectly.
- A multi-channel e-Commerce site.
My Actinic site connects to all the channels I need for growth and keeps me informed on my business in real-time with detailed statistics and order follow-up features!