UX / UI DESIGN, E-Commerce & Branding
I designed an e-commerce brand for fun and made $700 in revenue. This is what I learned from my experience.
Research, Ideation, Wireframe, A/B Testing, Visual Design, Social Media Marketing
Shopify, Sketch, Illustator
February 2019 - June 2019
I made over $700 in sales during a 5-month period but ultimately took a loss after factoring in the cost for Facebook ads and influencer promotion. Despite the monetary loss, I took away a lot of important lessons that can be applied to my design practice.
In the first few months of 2019, I wanted to challenge myself with a passion project and so I committed to starting my own business. I was always curious about the world of e-commerce and how it worked. I also wanted to teach myself Facebook ads and social media marketing.
When I first started, I had no idea how to create an e-commerce website. But after a lot of Googling and watching Youtube videos, I decided to go with Shopify’s platform because it had an intuitive interface that was easy for beginners to start with.
I aimed to create a lifestyle e-commerce brand that focused on high-end swimwear with a budget of $2000. My goal was to turn over profit within 2 months.
As an avid traveler and former competitive swimmer, I found it difficult to find swimsuits I liked in physical stores. I chatted with three former swim teammates of mine. Two out of three of them thought stores were lacking swimsuits that were both cute, but simple with flattering fabric cuts. They also said that many swimsuits didn’t work well with higher impact activities. So I set out to create a digital store that offered just that.
Well sort of.
With a limited amount of budget, I couldn’t afford to start working with manufacturers on the get-go. Plus I wanted to test out the assumption that someone will be willing to pay for something like this. Therefore, I decided to use the dropshipping business model.
I decided to target millennial adventurers and world travelers who wanted swimwear that was both functional and flattering.
Website Branding & Design
The art direction for Adrift Swimwear was to give the brand a sense of adventure, mixed with feminine luxury. Therefore, a modern san-serif font was chosen for all text and links, followed by the use of loose cursive typography to accompany all banner images. Everything from the copy to the chosen colours and images was carefully written and laid out to create a cohesive brand experience.
I watched a few YouTube videos on how to run Facebook ads before I conducted multiple A/B tests. As a result, I discovered some images worked better than others. I received 4 times more sales from ads that showed a stand-alone swimsuit image than those that had a model wearing a swimsuit. Other times, I tried to experiment with different audience types. For example, I tested people who were interested in Vogue Magazine versus Elle Magazine.
I also tested pricing and what would be the optimal cost that made people convert.
In addition, I worked with three mid-sized influencers and over 20 micro-influencers to promote brand awareness. Unfortunately, the results didn’t pan out. I only received one sale from influencer promotion. I eventually realized that I will need to work with them on a long term basis to get a return on investment.
In the end, I made over $700 in sales but still took a loss. Overall, I am proud of what I have accomplished over the course of five months. My bounce rate stood at 1.25%, which is unheard of in any e-commerce industry. Unfortunately, it had a lower than average session duration and conversion rate (0.82%) compared to the industry standard for Shopify (1.75%).
To save time, I would have automated my digital marketing and focused my time on Facebook advertising.
I spent too much time and money working with influencers that didn’t give me as much traction as I would have liked. In the future, I would start running Facebook Ads first before moving onto influencers. I would also try to work with them consistently to promote long term brand awareness. In addition, I would have created contracts with influencers to prevent any mishaps.
In the end, I didn’t love the idea of dropshipping. I would have preferred to create unique swimwear designs or at the very least private label my items. Moreover, I wanted to have more control of the end to end customer journey, but I was limited with this business model. However, dropshipping has allowed me to concepts and ideas fast while maintaining limited risk compared to the traditional brick and mortar store.
This project has taught me how to take calculated risks, even if it is scary. Despite losing some money, I was exposed to new learnings that I hope to bring forward into my user experience design practice.