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

People matter

No matter how the technology changes or where the business operates, online or offline, the ultimate relationship between a seller and a buyer has not changed. The most important thing to be mindful of during a rebranding campaign, in my opinion, is to keep customers happy.

At Oz Fair Trade, one of things that set us apart from our competitors is our full commitment to providing the best customer services. We are passionate about fair trade, and we know that ultimately it is the consumers who have the power to push forward fair trade practices. For this reason, we want our customers to have the best shopping experience so that they will continue to support fair trade. We not only offer free express shipping on orders above $50, which is one of the most generous in the market, but also offer 365 day free return and exchange. This is unmatched by any other fair trade businesses in Australia. As a result, we have many happy customers, and any customer who has an issue will see it resolved quickly, because he/she only needs to deal with one person who really cares instead of some random employee who doesn’t care. All these earned us WOMO’s 2013 Service Award, which is shared only by the top 5% of the businesses listed on WOMO.

We were very mindful of customers’ reactions and needs when we decided to rebrand from ‘Global Handmade’ to ‘Oz Fair Trade’. One of the first things we did was posting on all social media platforms about the upcoming changes. Immediately after the new website was up and running, we emailed all our past customers about the change and the new features of the website, and invited them to visit the new site and give us feedback. We also offered them a permanent 10% discount on all future orders for supporting Global Handmade, a start-up fair trade not-for-profit. Some customers immediately responded and we were very happy about the positive responses that we received.

Through the process, we learned that people is the most crucial part of rebranding. All these website changes, social media update etc. all serve a single purpose: keep past customers happy and attract new customers. It is easy to forget the role of people when running an e-commerce from a home office, when the person responsible is faced with an endless to-do list covering web building, graphic design, photography, accounting, stock purchasing, stock labelling etc. But losing that focus would be a fatal mistake.

This is the last post of ‘How to rebrand an e-commerce store’ series. We’d love to hear your thoughts/experiences!

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

How much does social media matter?

It is now unthinkable to run a business especially an e-commerce business without a social media presence. What happens when a business changes its name? This was an essential part of my research before I made the decision to change the business name from ‘Global Handmade’ to ‘Oz Fair Trade’. Here’s what I found:

  • Facebook: easy to change url (self-service) but hard to change page name (need to submit a request, and keep trying if the initial request was rejected)
  • Twitter: easy to change username and url is automatically updated
  • Pinterest: easy to change username and url is automatically updated
  • Instagram: easy to change username and url is automatically updated
  • LinkedIn: easy to change business name and url is automatically updated
  • Google Plus: it was easier to create a new page in my situation

I also needed to update the information on third party review websites like True Local and Word Of Mouth Online. I found both fairly easy to do.

There might be other website/apps that you use for business. For example, I was using Survey Monkey and Mail Chimp. In the case of Survey Monkey, I simply created a new account, and it was fairly straight forward. In the case of Mail Chimp, I decided to update my information in the old account. It became messy. Mail Chimp extracts certain information from the account to be used in email footers (e.g. reply email, business name etc.), and it was not apparent in some cases why the old information still kept appearing even though I thought I had updated all information in my settings. I think I have solved the issues now, but I’m still not 100% certain. In hindsight, I should have simply created a new account.

The other thing left to update was my WordPress powered blog. I found that it was easy to change username etc. but it’s also a good idea to create a new (free) blog with the old name and inform people about the change (http://globalhandmade.wordpress.com/). It’s similar to the reason why I have kept the old www.globalhandmade.com.au website. It is always important to do everything possible to reduce confusion during a re-branding exercise.

Coming soon: How to rebrand an e-commerce store (Part V) – people 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 http://www.ozfairtrade.org