Pittsburgh store owners say Shoptiques.com creates online word of mouth
Roberta Weissburg wanted a way to reach customers outside of her Shadyside and SouthSide Works boutiques and her limited website.
But, being a small business, she didn't have the funds to turn her online outlet into a full e-commerce store, in addition to the business she has from her brick-and-mortar locations of Roberta Weissburg Leathers.
Looking through a trade magazine, she discovered a company dedicated to helping independent shops like Weissburg's have a national and international presence — Shoptiques.com.
“I thought it sounded fantastic,” Weissburg says. “I was interested, so I called them. I like the opportunity it presents to show our products and our website. It's definitely more exposure than if I tried to do this on my own. They are expanding all the time.”
Shoptiques.com, based in New York, was founded in April 2012 with 25 boutiques. Currently, there are more than 1,500. The site is divided into what's new, boutiques, clothing, accessories, bags, shoes, home, gifts and trends. There is also a sale area.
The site was founded by Olga Vidisheva, who serves as CEO. Raised in Russia, she thought of the idea while shopping in Paris. She bought a pair of shoes that her friends wanted on her return to the United States. The boutique owner wasn't receptive to selling shoes over the phone, so Vidisheva created a website where her friends and others could shop boutiques all over the world. Her motto is “Be yourself. Be different.”
Shoptiques.com lets you globe-trot from New York to Paris, to Los Angeles, San Francisco to Miami and now Pittsburgh to shop the best-kept secret boutiques.
“We have an absolutely incredible sales team that handpicks all of the new boutiques on the site,” Vidisheva says. “We're very picky and work very hard to maintain our high standards of curation.”
There is a one-time setup fee. It is far less than if the owner were to create his or her own full-fledged website, which could cost $10,000 to $50,000. The cost to become part of Shoptiques.com is available by request because each boutique's needs are different, Vidisheva says.
“We don't disclose the integration fee because it varies on each boutique's needs, like whether we're doing your photography, whether we're building your website, etc.,” Vidisheva says. “This fee goes to launching the store on the site. After this setup, we work on a commission basis, meaning we only make money if the store makes money. This aligns our incentives with the store's incentives through the partnership.”
Each boutique curates its own selection of items. Based on data and what's selling well, Shoptiques.com can make recommendations to the stores, but, ultimately, they can pick and choose to sell what they'd like on the platform.
“We have so much amazing unique product,” Vidisheva says. “A lot of our stores only create one or two or three of a particular item, meaning that when you make a purchase on Shoptiques.com, you're getting products that come in very limited quantities. This is especially great for when you don't want to show up in the same dress as your friend to a party.”
Additionally, the checkout experience is easy in that if you purchase from 10 different stores, you will only have to check out once and have one receipt, Vidisheva says. There is free shipping on orders over $100 and free returns.
In addition to Roberta Weissburg Leathers, other local stores on Shoptiques.com include The Picket Fence and The Little Black Dress by Diana Misetic in Shadyside, Prima Diva Boutique in Charleroi and Eye Kandy in Zelienople.
Daneen Troup, who owns Prima Diva Boutique, says she was contacted by Shoptiques.com. She was interested because it is difficult to sell online on her own.
“It's been great,” Troup says. “It's been about a month now, and I've had 12 sales. They've been great in helping get the word out to my current customers, as well as other potential customers.”
Shoptiques.com helps with the packaging by sending out materials. They ask that store owners hand-write a thank you because that special touch means a lot to a customer.
“It's a brilliant concept,” Weissburg says. “I hope other boutiques support it because it can work for everybody. I am glad I joined.”
So is Kandy Barkley, owner of Eye Kandy, who has been selling on the site for the past month.
“I really want to sell stuff online and, for me, having my own site to sell merchandise is a daunting task because I don't know how to go about it, so when they contacted me, I was like, this is perfect timing,” Barkley says. “It was a no-brainer. They also know what sells best, and they always respond quickly to whatever I need.”
It hasn't quite given Diana Misetic, owner of The Little Black Dress, the exposure she wants yet, but she says it is up to her to put on more attractive items and have them photographed properly so they look good.
Terry Jolo, owner of Terry Jolo Brand with a store and studio on the South Side, plans to join.
“It seems like a good platform,” Jolo says. “I am still researching the site, but I am pretty sure I am going to go for it. It's important for businesses like mine to have that kind of exposure.”
Details: 646-368-9685 or shoptiques.com
JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7889.