7 E-Retailer Marketing Tactics: Lessons from Baby.Steals.com

What would you do with $5,000, online marketing smarts, and a dream? Jana Francis and Rett Clevenger founded a company. They named it Steals.com, worked hard, and created a multi-million dollar company within five years. The concept of Steals.com is based on the motto “we send joy”. It sells two quality items a day in each of their four niche stores, at up to 80% off. The products are introduced at 9am and 9pm MT and are available until they are sold out. Steals.com began in 2008, before the rise of group coupon sites like groupon. It is really comprised of four distinct online stores, each catering to communities of women shoppers on the web. The niche online sites are: BabySteals.com, ScrapbookSteals.com, KidSteals.com, and SheSteals.com. They offer great quality products, and great discounts, with incredible customer service and fast shipping. It’s no wonder Steals.com is on the internet retailer’s hot 100 e-retailers of 2013. There are so many brilliant tactics Rett Clevenger, Jana Francis and the team at Steals.com successfully execute. In this article we’ve chosen 7 tips, and show you how you can apply them to your e-retail business too. 7 e-retailer tips to learn from Steals.com:
  1. Give great deals on quality products
  2. Make the purchasing experience easy, with options for payment and shipping
  3. Make your site easy to navigate, with separate platforms for multiple niche markets
  4. Personalize the shopping experience
  5. Make personal interactions with your team, to build relationships and trust with your customers
  6. Create great visuals, and lots of them, with relatable product descriptions
  7. Provide great customer service – for your vendors  too
1. Give great deals on quality products Steals.com and its targeted network of websites is known for delivering great deals on top quality merchandise. Everyday at 9am and 9pm Mountain Time, a new product deal is introduced, at up to 80% off the retail price. The products sold on each site are hand-selected by the Steals.com team, and are specific to the niche sites. Today’s 9am deal, for example, on the baby.steals.com site is a Saranoni Lush and Satin Baby and Mini Blanket.

(source: http://baby.steals.com )

The blankets regularly sell for up to $54.00, but for a limited time, there are limited number of the blankets available for as little as $9.99. A deal like this is very appealing to their target market of new and soon-to-be moms. Not only are their customers getting a great deal on a great product, but with consistent times of introducing the new products, their regular customers know when the deals start and can act quickly to get the deal before it runs out. Additionally, by having the same times of product deal introduction across all of their sites – BabySteals.com, ScrapbookSteals.com, KidSteals.com, and SheSteals.com – buyers can shop for more than one deal at one time. The limited product aspect creates a sense of urgency. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Provide good quality products for your customers.
  • Create innovative ways to promote your discounted items, and be consistent with your offerings.
  • Have product discounts with a limited number of stock. Once the stock runs out, the deal is over. This creates a sense of urgency, and quick call to action for your customer.
  • By the way, Wishpond has created easy to use group offers to entice users to claim a coupon or special offer on a brand’s products and services. The app can run on a brand’s Facebook Page, Twitter feed, website, and on mobile.
2. Make the purchasing experience easy, with options for payment and shipping The goal of an online retail store is the same as a bricks and mortar store: to sell merchandise. The easier it is to purchase product from a site, the happier your customers will be. Steals.com makes it very easy for their consumers to purchase from them. They offer fast, convenient shipping too. For busy stay-at-home moms, this can be like a heaven scent. A new mom doesn’t have to think about how she is going to prepare her kids, pack the stroller, get to the store, shop with the kids, and then make her way home to make up for the time lost on laundry, dishes, cleaning, food prep, and more. To get the deal of the day, she simply clicks a few buttons from the comfort of her home, and it is shipped directly to her. It is easy to sign up on the site. A deal-seeking consumer just needs to submit their email, and create a password. The mom (who is the main steals.com target market) then clicks on the product of the day and selects her specifications. She is then offered easy payment options: credit card or paypal. She can choose options for shipping, including free, if it is picked up in Utah. The site promotes same day shipping.

(source: steals.com shopping cart)

Customers can even select a different address than their own to ship to, if they are giving a gift to, say a new mom friend, or to a hard working stay-at-home family member. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Make your online sales funnel easy to navigate.
  • Provide fast and reliable shipping options.
  • Make the payment process easy, clear and simple to use.
3. Make separate, easily identified platforms for multiple niche markets The StealNetwork is segmented into 4 distinct online communities of women. Each of their websites: BabySteals.com, ScrapbookSteals.com, KidSteals.com, and SheSteals.com can be found through their main website, steals.com. Each of the sites are related, but different. Each store appeals to a slightly different niche market.  By clearly separating the stores, it allows for the consumer to shop for exactly which deal – or deals – of the day she is looking for.

(source: steals.com )

By clicking into one store, the woman is directly on that store’s site. The deal of the day for that niche store is showcased. Once on the store site, each of the social media icons on the top right take the consumer to that store’s social media sites. For example the ScrapbookSteals site takes you to the ScrapbookSteals Twitter feed, Pinterest boards, Instagram photos, YouTube videos and Facebook page. It lets the consumer chose the store she most likes, and then deepen the connection by interacting with the specific social sites. By having a variety of social sites to connect with, the consumer can choose which social platforms she prefers, and interact with the store in that way. What can retailers learn from this?
  • With multiple products targeting multiple niche markets, set up specific social platforms to interact with your audience.
  • Give your market a clear distinction between your stores, if you have more than one.
  • Make your social platforms reflect the brand of each of your stores, and let your market choose where they most like to interact with you. Just be sure you have the staffing capacity to monitor all of your sites.
4. Personalize the shopping experience Just as in an offline bricks and mortar store, most shoppers want a personal connection. StealNetwork does a superb job at personalizing the shopping experience. Although there is only one product offered at a time for each site, the products almost always have a variety of options for colors, sizes, and styles. The products are directly targeted to the needs and wants of their consumer. In the SheSteals.com site, for example, they even offer lifestyle options such as the “eLifestyle 12-Week Balanced Weight Loss Program” (for 60% off the suggested retail price). Additionally, through the stores’ social sites, StealNetwork does an amazing job at speaking with their consumer. By posting about their deals, as well as sharing personal stories, great tips, humour, nursery decorating ideas and more, they create a bit of a hub for their consumers. The moms know they can rely on their favorite social site for a community outlet, as well as to keep informed about the next great deal.

(source: http://www.facebook.com/babysteals )

This Facebook post, above, from BabySteals garnered over 5,600 likes and 670 comments. It shows real mothers-to-be in a cute, and clearly personal situation. This post makes a real connection with their shoppers. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Keep the lifestyle of your consumer in mind when you are promoting products.
  • Give your consumer choices to get more personalized merchandise.
  • Post about related tips and questions to create an interactive community for each of your niche markets.
  • Make your social site the hub to be for your market.
5. Make personal interactions with your team, to build relationships and trust with your customers Rett Clevenger and Jana Francis, CEO and founder of Steals.com, clearly understand the importance of relationship building, and personal interactions in the digital world. Making their business personal, these founders do what many old-school CEO’s would never do. They are featured in casual looking videos on their website. And not only that, Rett and Jana feature their entire StealNetwork team. In the video, below, for example, a hand-held camera is used to take a tour of the company headquarters. Rett and Jana are featured, working at their office, as are their entire staff, from accounting to warehouse shippers.

(source: http://Steals.com.com/connect.php )

 Storytelling is one of the most important things businesses can do as they seek to engage customers online. The more a consumer feels uniquely connected to the StealNetwork team, the more likely they will feel trust and comfort to buy again from any of the StealNetwork stores.

 (source: http://Steals.com.com/team.php )

In the above example, their entire team is featured in photos with quirky questions like what their favorite food is, where they met their husband, etc. Their target market connects with the team, creating an air of familiarity. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Social online, with sites like Facebook, is about connecting with friends. Show your company with a personality, and let your customers feel like they are your friends.
  • As a CEO, don’t shy away from showing your personality. Your customers want to know you.
  • Just like in a bricks and mortar store, the more your customer gets to know your team, the more they are likely to shop at your store again. The same is true online.
6. Create great visuals, and lots of them, with relatable product descriptions Often in a bricks and mortar store, a sale is made when a retailer takes the time to relate the product to the consumer. Steals.com does this very well online. In addition to hand selecting each product for the each site for each deal of the day, Steals.com has a photographer on their team, so they can choose how they want to showcase each of their products. Their products are often shown with real babies or kids, with a focus on faces. Their deal of the day products are shown in every color, and every variation available. They personally write out descriptions of their products too.

(source: http://pinterest.com/shesteals/she-steals/ )

On Pinterest, for example, they post the daily deals for their stores, with a short description, the price, and a flattering photo. The example above is from the SheSteals Pinterest board. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Products that look good will sell better – when posting to your site and social platforms, make your products look good.
  • Describe your product in a relatable way to your consumer.
  • Post your visual content on your social sites. On Facebook, for example, photos are the most liked updates.
7. Create great customer service, for your vendors too As a retail outlet, connecting with your suppliers is an important part of your business too. Steals.com makes it easy for vendors to connect with them, so that they can offer great new products to their customers. They have an easy to fill in Product Submission Form directly on their ‘get featured’ pages.  

(source: http://Steals.com.com/supplier/submitproduct.php )

Additionally, they include straightforward information for the supplier about what they do, how it works, and what they do for the vendor. A vendor with good quality merchandise can be a happy supplier, if you treat them well. What can retailers learn from this?
  • Don’t overlook the importance of a good supplier of your merchandise.
  • Create easy, user-friendly ways to keep in touch with your vendors online.
  • Include information about what merchandise you are looking for on your website.
  While not everyone may be able to turn a $5,000 investment into a skyrocketing success, you can learn from the marketing geniuses at Steals.com to improve your e-retail business too.   At Wishpond, we believe there is a way to make online marketing easy. Our Social Marketing Suite is designed to empower you to attract, engage, understand and grow your customer base. Our easy to use apps for contests, group offers, social stores and more work on Facebook and Twitter, and are mobile compatible.

Written by Krista Bunskoek @ wishpond


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About the Author:

Nick is the Director of Marketing at Wishpond.

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