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The clothing store Funda opened an online store a year ago, while Nivala Laatukaluste (a furniture shop) is one of the pioneers in the industry. Both have found their own functioning recipes.
– There was a sure feeling when starting the company. I knew that the people of Nivala were happy to support local businesses.
Laura Selkäinaho stated the above, who in 2017 co-founded the Nivala clothing store Funda. Today, Mari Kaakinen and Mira Rajaniemi have joined her in running the company.
However, the company has not relied solely on Nivala’s customers, as the store’s customer base comes from a wider area. It expanded all over Finland a year ago with the help of e-commerce.
– From the very beginning, we have also been doing business on social media. It aroused so much interest that we saw a demand for the actual online store. We have always had a desire to expand and develop our operations, Laura Selkäinaho says.
The new expansion has brought on a lot to learn, and the workload has grown at the same pace with order volumes and sales. Today, in addition to e-commerce, visibility on social media is also required. According to Selkäinaho, Funda’s various social media channels are in heavy use.
– We publish pictures on our social media accounts every day to help our followers get a clothing inspiration every day. We also pamper them by bringing all offers immediately to their attention. We have also gained a lot of new followers through various raffles.
E-commerce requires you to be constantly on top of things in order to succeed. Funda’s entrepreneurs are trying to catch on what’s new on social media, so Instagram’s new shopping feature, for example, was immediately utilized.
– Fashion changes at a fast pace and requires being on the ball at all times. Fortunately, with Instagram and various fashion blogs, you always stay well on top of things and of what’s in style right now. In addition to new trends, the selection must always include classic products, Selkäinaho states.
During the spring Corona(virus) peak, the store was closed for about a month, and only private appointments were allowed for shopping. At the same time, e-commerce grew, and discount campaigns attracted customers.
Although the e-commerce business is taking over the industry, Selkäinaho does not believe the brick and mortar shop will disappear from the street scene. With a customer base ranging from middle schoolers to people in their eighties, it can accommodate a wide variety of shopping preferences.
– There are always customers who want service and the possibility to fit the clothing on. And that’s finally a pretty quick way of shopping when you visit the store and get the product with you right away.
The stories and lifestyle hook the decorators
Nivalan Laatukaluste, which has been operating since 1988, has not relied on long traditions. The company opened an online store in 2011, among the first furniture and interior design stores to do so.
– We already saw then that there is a future in this field as well. At that time, we already had a lot of sales around Finland via e-mail and offers. We noticed that there is demand from a broader area for our collections and representations, says retailer Hannu-Pekka Havisto.
Now well over half of Nivalan Laatukaluste’s sales comes from the online store. However, the situation may be changed by the fact that the company opened its second B&M shop in Kokkola this spring.
Havisto recalls that the first years of e-commerce were largely spent learning. Work is still required, but over the years, the work practices have been refined.
– The better the goods are in stock, the better the business. Experience has also taught us what should be in stock, which product groups turnover best and how goods should be sent to different customers.
Marketing is also easier today thanks to social media. Laatukaluste has paid close attention to social media’s possibilities: how to target advertising, when to do it, what type of communication catches the followers.
– Direct product advertising is not necessarily the best solution, you also have to know how to bring out lifestyle and your own stories, Havisto says.
The company’s own staff has the expertise to run both the online store and social media. Four out of seven employees work in it full-time.
According to Havisto, there are many factors behind the success of e-commerce. One of them is good representations and with it, high quality images and good product information. In addition to social media, search engine visibility is also important for finding a family business among well-known furniture giants.
– Visibility requires daily work and monitoring. Search results need to be tracked at all times and changes made as needed.
At the moment, Laatukaluste does business all over Finland. The company’s main warehouse is located next to the Nivala store. According to Havisto, the location is not very important for e-commerce.
– Freight costs could be lower in the south, but on the other hand, business premises there are more expensive.
Text: Hanna Perkkiö, Photos: Funda and Nivalan Laatukaluste