Online businesses can always learn lessons from popular websites or blogs. These sites are constantly creating fresh content so their audience has something new to read each time they log onto the site, while many owners of small online stores consider their job done after the website is built.
This is not the case with Changeroo.CA, an online shop that helps parents save money and closet-space by selling lightly-worn kids clothing at a hefty discount. Here’s how it works: Parents located in or around Montreal’s West Island can drop off or schedule a free pick-up of their like-new used children’s clothing. They are given 20 per cent of the resale value in the form of store credit while Changeroo re-sells the items online at 75 per cent of their original price.
If you’re thinking, “What a great idea,” it probably won’t surprise you that The Globe and Mail named Changeroo one of Canada’s 10 most remarkable small businesses last fall. It also should come as no surprise that Changeroo’s owner Liane Guimond is a mother of three young children (ages nine, seven and four) who grew tired of wasting money on “fast-fashion” every time her kids grew out of their clothes.
“Reusing and recycling just seems like the responsible way to clothe your children in 2015,” Liane tells me. “Changeroo is an eco-friendly, sustainable business that helps Canadian parents save money. What could be better than that?”
In addition to her “so simple it’s brilliant” business model, Liane’s proactive approach to her .CA website is something all small business owners should emulate.
“When you run an online store, people have to feel like someone is home,” explains Lianne, who launched Changeroo in April 2014. “I add new items daily, so my customers see there’s constant activity on the site. Items also disappear, which creates an urgency of sorts. A couple of months ago I quickly sold a Yo Gabba Gabba! hoodie, and even though I removed it from the site immediately, I was inundated with emails from parents asking, “I saw the hoodie on the site! Do you still have it?”
Changeroo has clearly cultivated a customer base that craves the “thrill of the hunt,” and much like a popular news or entertainment website, Liane uses fresh content (in her case, new clothes) to generate web traffic and business sales.
“As you can imagine, customer service is key with my business model because I get tons of questions about the clothes on my site and when new orders might be coming in,” says Liane. “It’s nice to have a .CA because it saves me a lot of time answering those other questions that would come with a .com. Having a .CA tells new customers that Changeroo is Canadian, so they know they’re eligible for free shipping on orders over $40 and won’t get dinged with duties. And, on the other end of things, I don’t have to waste time fielding questions from US customers whom I can’t serve anyway.”
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