Buying a lipstick used to be a challenge for Julie Mathers. A vegan and environmentalist, she struggled to find cruelty free cosmetics.
So in November 2014 she took matters into her own hands and launched Flora & Fauna – an ethical online store selling products that are not tested on animals, contain no ‘nasties’ and have a traceable supply chain. But when business took off Julie realised she needed a webstore that could cope with rapid growth so she could focus on her business instead of on spending precious time and money on web development.
From go to woah
Flora & Fauna kicked off with just 50 products, but Julie’s ‘responsible retailing’ hit the spot with consumers and things took off much faster than anticipated. That was great for the bottom line, but the business rapidly outgrew its ecommerce platform.
“To keep up with demand we needed incremental changes to be made quickly, but the support was nonexistent. Every time there was a technical problem we would get told to see our local website developer and then when I was quoted $10,000 for the site to integrate Afterpay I realised it was time to move on,” says Julie.
That’s when Julie discovered that Neto offered everything the business needed
– comprehensive local support and seamless integration with Australia Post, eBay
and Afterpay that would not only make Flora & Fauna more efficient but help it grow.
Neto ticks the boxes
“I knew exactly what I wanted from my new web store and the Neto team designed and built the platform to my specific requests,” explains Julie. “As 70% of our customers are shopping on their smartphone it was critical that we launched a responsive mobile site with clear navigation.”
The platform changeover didn’t result in any technical issues for the business and data migration, which usually strikes fear into the heart of every online retailer, was actually a smooth process for the online store. But it’s Neto’s customer centric model that Julie really appreciates.
“I love that Neto is constantly being developed – they ask us what we need and then deliver it quickly. It’s their customer support that sets them apart because Neto are happy to be held accountable. In the world of online retailing that’s essential, because if your website goes down it’s not only sales you lose, it’s your reputation too.”
And it’s through Neto that Julie also has the opportunity to take part in the Amazon Beta Programme when one of the world’s largest online stores launches in Australia this year.
| Related Reading: Amazon Australia Officially Launches (and Neto Integrates)
Reaching for the top
From its humble beginnings, Flora & Fauna’s growth has been nothing short of astounding. The store now stocks over 2,500 organic vegan skin care, make up, body, home and lifestyle products and was a 2017 Finalist in the World Retail Awards – Responsible Retailer of the Year category, as well as a Finalist of ORIA’s Best Bootstrapped Growth Initiative 2016 and Best New Retailer 2016.
Julie credits Neto’s ecommerce platform with helping her to realise her vision for the store. “We had dramatic business growth since shifting to Neto. Our April sales this year were a 20% increase on March, May sales were a 30% increase on April and June so far is about 20% up on May.”
Once upon a time, such a huge increase in orders would have resulted in overwhelming admin, but not anymore. “Neto’s integration with StarShipIT, Australia Post and DHL has been a huge time saver because orders are automated. When we had to manually enter the details we’d spend around five minutes per order and now an order takes only around a minute. Without Neto we simply couldn’t process the thousands of orders we get and because we haven’t had to hire another two staff members we’ve saved ourselves around $100,000 a year in labour costs.”
Focus on the future
With Flora & Fauna working more efficiently than ever, Julie’s team have had time to focus on more exciting ways to grow the business. “We’re expanding our range and launching new categories in the store. But we’ve also had more time to focus on social responsibility projects. That’s really important to us – it’s where Flora & Fauna began.”
The e-store is now in partnership with Where Pigs Fly Farm Sanctuary, a not-for-profit organisation close to Julie’s heart as the owner of a pet pig, Rosie. The company is set to launch a recycling initiative with TerraCycle, which gives customers a store credit when they recycle their products and Flora & Fauna has even launched their own zero waste brand, Green & Kind.
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We had dramatic business growth since shifting to Neto. Our April sales this year were a 20% increase on March, May sales were a 30% increase on April and June so far is about 20% up on May.