How to rebrand an e-commerce store (Part II)

How much does your name matter?

One of the very first steps once we decided to rebrand was to evaluate whether we needed a new brand name. A new brand name is not a necessary element of a re-branding exercise, and it’s certainly not suitable in some situations. We needed a cost benefit analysis. This was where my actuarial analytical mind came to be handy.

Generally speaking, a new brand name can cause confusion to existing customers and undo past marketing efforts. However, the younger the brand is, the less it has to lose. In our situation, Global Handmade was only 10 month old, so it was definitely a young business. On the other hand, we were certainly aware of the implications of a name change, and the amount of work that this would create.  So it all came down to this: could we come up with a brand name that’s significantly better than Global Handmade?

Looking back, I think “Global Handmade” failed at least one crucial test. It didn’t imply what the organisation stood for. When I attended networking events, people often looked at my name card and asked what ‘Global Handmade’ was. Their first guess would be some crafty business. They were certainly right because most of our products were hand crafted; however, the name said nothing about what we stood for or that the products were fairly traded. When I first chose the business name, I picked something that described what the products were. But after 10 months of business experience, I came to the realisation that what we stood for was far more important than what we were selling. People bought from us not because the products were hand crafted, but because they supported our values and they supported fair trade. In other words, a lot more people were interested in fair trade practices and ethical products than the method of production. I realised that the brand name had to be changed.

The length of time that it took me to decide on a new name was about 10 hours. By now, you might have realised that I’m the sort of person who jumps on things. In less than 24 hours, I had registered a new business name, bought four new domains, set up two new email accounts, and set up a new private company.

Why did I choose ‘Oz Fair Trade’? Because it was available, it implied exactly what we stood for, and it implied that we were a locally owned business. It was also very important to check the availability of domains. I wanted to get four domains i.e.,, and There were some other names that could have worked, but at least one domain was not available. Once the decision was made, I quickly registered all four domains. The default domain at the moment is

A new brand name also meant new business cards, new promotional materials and a new logo. Have I mentioned that I’ve learned so much about Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator in the past 10 months? It took me a few late nights to finish the design of all new marketing materials, and then they were off to the printer. Could I take a rest now? No…the fun has just begun…

Coming soon: How to rebrand an e-commerce store (Part III) – How much does your website matter?

How to rebrand an e-commerce store (Part I)

After many late nights over the past 4 weeks, Oz Fair Trade is up and running. I’m glad that I made the move. Global Handmade was a great name, but it lacked clarity of what the organisation stood for. After 10 months of running Global Handmade, I have learned a lot about e-commerce, business, marketing, social media, web building, accounting, etc.; the list goes on and on. I felt that I could devote my life to the promotion of fair trade and alleviation of poverty. So the first thing I did was choosing a new brand name that better represented the mission and value of the organisation. Then the real job begins.

Here, I wish to offer my two cents worth of advice to anyone who is thinking of rebranding an e-commerce business or any small business in general. Some of these might not be applicable to your situation, but I hope you’ll find something useful here.

In summary, the steps I undertook were:

  1. Consider pros and cons of rebranding. Make a decision. Document a rebranding strategy.
  2. Choose a new name. Design a new logo. Purchase a new domain. Set up new emails.
  3. Build a website.
  4. Order new business cards and promotional materials.
  5. Update brand information at all social media platforms, blog, external review websites etc.
  6. Create a new Paypal account.
  7. Create a new google analytics account.
  8. Redirect traffic from the old website to the new website
  9. Inform all past customers about the move
  10. Build SEO for the new website
  11. Spread the word!

Coming soon – How to rebrand an e-commerce store (Part II)

Please check out our new website

Free postage: is it really free?

free delivery

I still remember the shock of paying for postage when I first shopped online. At the time, not many e-commerce offered free postage, and often it was hidden until the last moment.

Today things are a lot better, and stores have learned that it is good practice to show postage cost up front. However, the postal cost in Australia is still one of the most expensive in the world. Especially when you try to send a small package which fits in a padded envelope, as soon as its depth is more than 2cm, it is considered a package and therefore, the postage cost starts from $6.95. The cost of sending overseas is even more shocking. It is almost always cheaper to send stuff home from overseas than the other way around.

For those of us who really want to offer the best customer service and offer free postage, we have elected to absorb the full postage cost. At Global Handmade, I initially offered free postage on all orders, but soon realised that it’s not feasible. The current policy is to offer free Express postage on all domestic orders above $50 and on all international orders above $150.

Now you might ask, is the postage really free, or is it built into the price? Since I started the business, I’ve gradually learned that the price of a product has little to do with its cost and a lot to do with the demand and competition. In other words, I needed to guess whether a cheaper price or free postage was more attractive to consumers. I asked my customers what they preferred, and free postage stood out as a clear favourite. I believed this was because the prices Global Handmade charged were already very competitive.

Then I did something crazy again. I decided to offer free return postage and allow 365 days for customers to change their mind. I took a risk. I saw it as a necessary risk, because I had full confidence in the quality of our products, and I wanted more people to give us a go. By providing a risk free trial, I’m essentially saying, “I bet you’ll love it”.

Cheap souvenirs: who pays?


During the amazing trip to Tibet and Nepal just recently, I was frustrated by the amount of cheap, plastic, identical, mass produced souvenirs that flooded local streets and markets. They were of low quality and often being sold as antique, yak bones, precious stones, amber etc. They could not fool me, but I grew increasingly concerned about the environmental impact and labour conditions in souvenir factories. I was also disappointed in the dishonesty of these people, even though I knew life was hard for them. As a tourist, I could understand the market demand for souvenirs. But I believe even tourists looking for a bargain would prefer quality and genuine products. How many crappy souvenirs you have bought that you won’t touch again? I think the problem lies in both demand and supply, and as consumers we have the ultimate power to turn things around.

Lhasa was crowded with small souvenir shops. After just one day, I was getting tired of seeing the same things and hearing the same lies over and over again. Pure by chance that I walked past a small shop hidden in a back street which had an interesting name. It stocked handicrafts made by children from a Special School. I chatted with the shop assistant, and found out that this is the only school in Tibet that provides education to children with disability. I was impressed with the quality and design of the products and made some purchases on the spot. Later I visited the school but was not allowed to go inside as it was expecting visits from the government officials. But I plan to keep in touch and develop a long term relationship with them. This is just an example of how you can find meaningful and beautiful souvenirs when you resist the temptation of being a lazy shopper.

Of course, not everyone will have time to check out back streets, but there are still other ways. For example, before you visit a city, you could seek out addresses of its fair trade shops. If there is none, you could still be a conscious shopper by actively purchasing eco-friendly products and/or purchasing from villages and schools. You will end up with lighter bags, beautiful and meaningful souvenirs and a great feeling of having made a positive difference. Happy travelling!

Do you know how much that annoying ad cost?

Peppermint ad

Before I started Global Handmade, I was just another office worker who’s annoyed with any form of advertising. It never occurred to me how much they might cost. So it came as a shock to me. A full page magazine ad can be over $7,000, and it’s not even the most popular magazines. Obviously TV ads are out of the question, so are newspapers ads. Even local paper ad can cost a few hundred dollars.

Shocked as I was, I decided to give advertising a miss. Instead, I wrote to journalists of local papers and got lucky. The two newspaper articles really helped to promote Global Handmade to the Canberra community. But then the effect wore off, and I faced a quiet period.

I used the time to improve the website and to promote Global Handmade on various social media channels. They worked…more or less…and sale were slowly coming in. I also tried weekend markets in Canberra and a couple of Fair Trade markets in Sydney. Out of desperation, I also tried letterbox drops (me and my dad were doing it to save some money) even though I’ve read that it didn’t work.

Again, out of desperation, I decided to run an ad. I chose Peppermint because I love this magazine and the price was cheaper than others. I saved on graphic design costs by designing my own ad. The Peppermint team was really helpful, and my full page ad was at the very front of the magazine. I was happy with it, and I thought, even if only 1% responded, I would get my money’s worth. It was exciting to see my ad printed on a magazine I love, but…sadly…it didn’t seem to work. According to marketing experts, it takes a long time for advertising to work, which means that I need to continue pouring money into it if I want to see any return. Inevitably I felt a bit let down…but I’m the kind who takes risks and then moves on.

Anyway, my point is, now I don’t think ads are that annoying any more (apart from Harvey Norman’s…). I always remember that, behind each ad, there is a real person’s hope and desperation.

Meet Wakami


Oxfam recently launched a campaign “Meet Wakami” to add a personal spin to the fair trade products they sell. I love the campaign, and ideally I would love to tell the personal story behind every product we sell.This is something we will explore in the near future.

One fundamental difference between fair trade and free trade products is that, fair trade cares about artisans and values their individuality and creativity. I have met talented artisans who were forced to work on repetitive tasks in a crowded factory for 14 hours a day for less than $2. Until fair trade is embraced by consumers, these people will continue to suffer.

No-brainer weight loss program


All my life I have struggled with weight. I wished for a magic pill that would undo all the calories I consumed. I’ve tried all sorts of weight loss programs, diets, exercise programs etc. etc. and they either didn’t work at all or worked only for a short time period.

I thought it was unfair, and that weight loss was too hard. Until…I came across this quote:

“For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.”

I have been upset over a first world problem for so long, and the solution is so simple.

So…what am I going to do about it?

I did some research, and I was shocked to find that:

” an average Australian wastes 200kg of food each year, while two millions of us also go hungry.” – Foodbank

 “The world produces enough food for everyone, yet one in eight still go hungry.” – Oxfam

Foodbank ( is the largest hunger relief organisation in Australia, and it delivered 31,794,967 meals last year. It partners with many big and small businesses that either produce or sell groceries.

Oxfam runs an annual “Eat Local Feed Global” event ( that encourages people to raise awareness on global hunger.

So, after some thought, here’s my 10 point no-brainer weight loss program:

  • limit calorie intake to 300 per meal (3 meals a day)
  • only snack on fruit or something equally healthy
  • no chips, fast food, donuts, sugary drinks etc.
  • grow my own veggie and buy local
  • feel hunger and wait, until I’m absolutely sure that it’s hunger not craving
  • clean kitchen once a month and donate food I don’t need
  • donate the amounts I save on food to people who really need it
  • eat out less and order less when I do eat out
  • eat slower to allow the brain to register fullness
  • skip artificial sweeteners

and exercise, although I have found that it is more useful for health reasons than weight loss. I have been following this program for 2 weeks now, and I have lost 1.5kg. I will report back on my progress in a few months time.

What happened to your old buddy?


Remember the first mobile phone you had? I remember clearly that it was a second-hand yellow Sony Ericsson and the trend at the time was “who’s got the smallest phone”. How things have changed. I often wonder what happened to my old phone. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what I did with it. Was I conscious enough to have recycled it? Was the recycling program even in place back then? I have no clue.

Today, people change phones more often than ever, and often the reason is less obvious than replacing a broken phone. Phones become toys, and this reminds me of the movie Toy Story. Do we care what happens to our old phones?

I actually do know what happened, apart from the very first one. My second and third ones were passed on to my mother, and I still have my fourth one as a backup phone. But I regret not educating my mother about mobile phone recycling programs.

There are now several recycling businesses operating in Australia, and I have seen many drop off spots. This is really encouraging.

“Recent international market research conducted by Nokia of 6,500 people from 13 countries across the globe – excluding Australia – found that 3% of people recycle their mobile phones. Australian online market research conducted by IPSOS on behalf of AMTA in February 2008 of 650 mobile phone users in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth found that 6% of people recycled their previous mobile phone, twice the level internationally.” – AMTA Australia

Should we be happy with 6%? I don’t think I’m happy about that figure. So from now on, I will recycle all my unused phones, and strongly encourage my parents and friends to do the same. The more people know about it, the more people will do about it.