Showpo, a women fashion ecommerce store with headquarter in Sydney, Australia, has been making over $30 million in sales and has become a famous ecommerce store in the fashion industry. Interestingly, a 32-year old female runs Showpo. Learn about her passion and how she took her store to new heights.
It was 2009. After graduation, Jane Lu was finding it hard to get rid of her boredom. It wasn’t like she didn’t have a job. She had joined a a prestigious firm as an accountant, but her enthusiasm and passion to begin her entrepreneurial journey was just relentless. Jane was young, eager, and ready to make a mark for herself. She loved fashion, so she decided to work out something around it.
In 2010, “Show Pony” was the first shop Jane set in Sydney with the aim to make it an all-women brand. The shop had women accessories, shoes, and even fashion dresses targeting the niche audience. At that time ecommerce had only started to flourish in Australia, and no one realized its true potential. Store owners had also heard the buzzword and were trying different ways to sell products online.
Following suit, Jane also opened her first ecommerce store. Her staff of four were now selling products through both, the physical shop and the online store. But after some time, she realized that the ecommerce store was making far more sales with less efforts than the physical shops she owns. Therefore, she decided to shut them down and concentrate her efforts on the website. From then onwards, there was no turning back.
Today, Showpo makes over $30 million in sales annually.
We asked Mark Baartse, the CMO of Australian fashion store ‘Showpo‘ and a close acquaintance of Jane Lu, about the secret recipe of success. Here is what he told us:
‘Social Is Our Life Blood’
“A lot of Showpo’s success is built on the back of our social success,” says Mark. “Our customer moves fast so we need to be across the latest micro-trends all the time.”
He describes the whole process of finding micro trends – what works and what doesn’t on social media – ‘hectic’. He says that they have to constantly experiment, analyze, and do things that work, repeatedly. This makes the fact that Showpo has over 3.5 million followers on social media a little less surprising.
“We use all the typical ecommerce channels. Search, social, sometimes display, videos, affiliates, etc. We are a bit heavier on social than most companies, but largely it’s typical ecommerce,” Mark explains about the store’s growth.
It is interesting to note that the company had a humble beginning – from a garage – and today it sells inventory in almost 100 countries. The site has now become a fashion hub and gets over one million in traffic each month.
In fact, the design of the store is inspiring and has garnered numerous awards including the “Best Social Commerce Initiative 2017” and “Best Site Optimization and Design 2017.”
Powered by the Best: ‘Magento’
Interestingly, a major reason behind Showpo’s success is the Magento ecommerce platform. Mark and his team have been relying completely on Magento to power the ecommerce store. With Amazon Web Services (AWS) at its core, the platform uses Nginx cache to speed things up a notch further. And, to keep things running at all times, Mark and his team prefers to handle all the development in-house. The Chief Technical Officer (CTO) Jimmy is responsible for keeping the ecommerce store running at all times.
Because of the site design and functionality, Showpo has become an all-favorite of international customers. “One of my favorite numbers is looking at our international revenue vs domestic (Australian) revenue. The global revenue is growing 20% faster than the fairly high growth in Australia. This is exciting!” says Mark. For him, geographical diversification is always a good contributing factor in revenue generation.
One reason for this is because most of the products Showpo sells are made in-house, and there is no third-party involved. This also keeps the costs down and improves profit margins.
“We sell directly to the customer. Most of our clothes are designed in-house, some are still designed in conjunction with our suppliers. Products like shoes and beauty kits are made by other brands. The majority of the clothes are manufactured in China by a small number of factories we have a close relationship with,” Mark reveals while highlighting the secrets behind the annual $30million sales figure.
He further adds that the store has a 4,700 sq. meter warehouse in Sydney to handle the bulk of shipping and fulfillment. “We also have a 3PL warehouse in Los Angeles to handle rapid deliveries of our best sellers for the North American market,” Mark says.
Marketing Secrets Revealed
A major reason Showpo is breaking its own records continuously is because of its marketing strategy. Most ecommerce store owners limit themselves to a few proven channels, but Jane Lu isn’t like them. She knows the nitty-gritty of social media and delves even deeper to explore more channels. And, apart from search and social segments, a major part behind Showpo’s huge sales numbers is performance marketing. Mark says, “we have a combination of always-on campaigns, and then campaigns for product launches.” Both of these combined lead to more profits and higher Return on Investment (ROI) for the store.
Most of the revenue of the store comes from its always active campaigns. “The marketing world seems to glorify “the campaign” but in most companies I’ve worked for or consulted to, 80 – 90% of revenue comes from Business as Usual (BAU) activities. We launch a new product range once or twice a month so that’s a “campaign” launch, but they are so common as to be largely operational,” Mark added.
During the holiday season, Showpo runs specific campaigns targeting a particular event. “We are seeing that Black Friday gets bigger and bigger every year. Knowing what to offer to the customers is difficult because now the people’s purchase behavior is moving from December to November,” Mark on the holiday sales secrets.
The company now runs two to three proper campaigns a year in order to address specific strategic challenges. Each one of the campaigns is totally different and targeting a new buyer persona.
Jane & Mark now aim to take the store from $30 million in sales to $60 million in sales in the next few years. But since the road to success for them wasn’t easy so they have a few advices for beginners.
Tips for New Store Owners
Australian based Showpo chief marketing officer says owners should ‘get in the shoes of customers.’
He says, “Don’t make assumptions about who your customers are. Most people open a store they would want to buy from. The second you open the store you are no longer the customer, and your view of the customer is immediately distorted. Thinking you are the customer is the source of a lot of mistakes! Talk to the customers – or potential customers – as much as possible. And don’t ask your friends, they will always be kind to you.”
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