Is Online Enough?

Maintaining a daily social media presence, navigating the intricacies of search engine optimization (SEO) and servicing a global market are just the tip of the iceberg for online retailers who need to work by a far more complex guiding principal than 'if you build it they will come'.

"In small business it's such a fight to be heard over the roar big business," says Beau in the Woods designer Kylie Dadson, who recently closed her James St, Fortitude Valley store and will re-launch online next month.

Is Online Enough?

"Social media has the strongest hold over people now. Girls would walk in to Beau in the Woods, take a piece of the racks and say they saw it on Instagram. They would come in ready to try and buy."

The Great Beyond's Aicha Robertson says she and business partner, designer Nicolas Azar launched their website last year with the sole strategy of online engagement to grow their following.

Aicha is active at least daily on tumblr, Google+ and Instagram to market the emerging bamboo basics range.

"Besides being a lot of fun, it creates huge exposure for our brand and we get to know our customers better," she says.

"Blog features and search engines are certainly important too; and SEO is essential. It's vital for online businesses to rank highly on search engines for relevant keywords – this is how the majority of our customers find out about The Great Beyond."

Is Online Enough?

Australian swimwear label Triangl trades solely through its online store and has gained a hugely successful international following with the simple principal of a striking bikini for under $100.

"Their success is phenomenal," says Aicha.

"If you think globally and utilise the right marketing tools available, a label can definitely sustain a highly successful presence online. "

Beau in the Woods designer Kylie Dadson agrees, saying operating a stand-alone boutique is now verging on impossible. Having opened her multi-brand Paddington boutique Chasing Bow in 2009 and launching her label in 2010, Kylie entered the industry at an already trying time.

"The global financial crisis hit so everyone coming through our doors was like "good luck!" and in 2010 online was getting stronger and stronger so the competitiveness of selling fashion labels in store against their own online websites definitely had its obstacles. Stores stopped being a priority for delivery timeframes. It was quite common to receive a new delivery and then see two days later that the label was doing 25% off all new arrivals online. We found that our customers were getting hungrier for more variety so I started Beau as a way to offer something different to both them and myself."

Is Online Enough?

In December 2012, Kylie consolidated Chasing Bow to offer her own Beau in the Woods label in a flagship boutique in James St, which operated until May last year before closing its doors. Kylie is working to re-launch the Beau in the Woods website next month and focus entirely online, servicing the market that has fallen in love with her travel photography-printed silk pieces that create a sense of escape and indulgence.

"Only five or six years ago, Thursday nights and Saturday mornings were THE time to buy an outfit for the weekend. Now there are so many options. It's endless, and it's worldwide.

"For us though it's the story behind the brand that has definitely gained us a loyal following.

"The physical shop was paramount to build a following. Our online was always a little sister to the store, but the idea of the new site is to bring the experience we offered in store to our online customers. Time will tell!"