Chantal Brayley: Because we are not bricks-and-mortar, we didn’t have to pivot in terms of rethinking our business because we’ve always prioritised e-commerce. Our business is very much dress driven, so it was really convenient for Australia because we were already navigating away from dresses going into the autumn/winter period, but we really had to overhaul our creative to talk more to staying at home, as opposed to winter weddings and office wear.
IR: What were your biggest learnings over that period in terms of e-commerce marketing?
CB: There were two big points of our strategy that we started to develop during lockdown. One was SMS marketing. I was one of the marketers [who] if you threw out stats [on] SMS marketing, I would be like, ‘Of course it has a 100 per cent open rate, everyone opens text messages’. And I had been at businesses previously where they really got it wrong. I think, for the Australian customer in particular, it’s still new, it still feels quite intrusive; so we started to build out an SMS marketing plan that would feel organic, that would feel good for our customers so that we could harness the power of a new channel without being spammy or overwhelming.
We also worked on developing an app with Tapcart because we wanted to make sure that we were front and centre whatever way our customer wants to shop. Being a part of a.k.a. brands allows us to access really great technology and brands that are a step ahead in their journey like Princess Polly, for example. They were the first brand on the platform, we were the second, so we were able to take really great learnings from them.
IR: Are there any hard-and-fast rules around SMS marketing?
CB: It needs to be intention-focused, that’s what we’ve learned, and that’s what’s been able to drive really great profitability and return on investment for us. Not everything can be a campaign because not everyone cares about everything. If you just spam everybody all the time, it’s going to be very expensive.
The other thing is [SMS] Flows (automated messages), they work incredibly well for us. And [Yotpo] SMSBump sets those up, you add your personality and they literally make you money while you sleep. As a marketer, automation is such a huge thing that you need for your overall strategy.
Speaking to your customer in the way that they would like to be spoken to via text is important because text has actually become a customer service channel for us. We have [integrated it into our] CRM, and our CX team is able to respond to customers in real time about anything that they need. The way that a customer speaks to you through that channel versus DMs [direct messages] versus emails, it’s a very different language, so you want to meet your customer in that way. I think that’s how it feels non-intrusive and more engaging.
IR: What about social media? What are the key platforms for Petal & Pup now?
CB: Instagram is still definitely our bread and butter. We are working on TikTok; we’re actually hiring at the moment to help further expand TikTok, which is very exciting for us. Our main customer is the 25-34-year-old woman and the bracket above, so she’s very much the Instagram user, getting onto TikTok, and the fastest growing segment there, but still not heavily dominating that space.
[Instagram] is still a platform that organically generates great revenue for us. And that’s been very interesting trying to work with the northern hemisphere and southern hemisphere because our US market is growing faster than I could have ever anticipated. Having that round-the-clock presence, [exploring engagement in different timezones] and trying to develop more of an approachable personality [has been interesting]. Reels (Instagram’s short-form video element) has actually been a huge portion of that for us. Over the next two years we’re going to see huge growth on TikTok as our customer, who is the later adopter, begins to adopt that technology.
IR: Tell me about Petal & Pup’s international expansion journey and future plans.
CB: At the moment, we’re in Australia and America. America does feed into a lot of opportunities for us to expand into Canada and then also service Mexico, etc. We have started putting a lot more focus on New Zealand because the New Zealand customers are such a huge part of our strategy. And the UK and Europe will not be too far away.
We’ve only been shipping out of the US for five months now. We wanted to be shipping out of the US a lot sooner. We delayed it [because of] Covid, but finally made the decision to manage the entire project remotely, which was something that without the help of a.k.a. brands we could not have done. They were incredibly supportive but also incredibly knowledgeable. We’re [in this] weird middle ground where we are definitely an enterprise business, we’re definitely one of the best pureplay retailers in Australia, but we still have access to the best talent globally in e-comm and it really helps us when we’re making decisions.
IR: Petal & Pup has really pushed further into wedding fashion of late, how is that going?
CB: It all started from a DM actually. We were sharing a couple of DMs with Made with Love Bridal to divide and conquer with content and sharing dresses for shoots. And it created this huge niche that we didn’t realise we had. It’s [been] amazing for us. Even though we buy more quantities, we cannot seem to actually buy [enough] to keep up with the demand of these dresses, which is incredible. It feels like it fills a huge void in the market. I think with where our customer is, it makes sense, because the photos that we’re seeing [on social media are of her] at her best friend’s wedding, or at an engagement party, or when she’s having a baby, all these really beautiful milestone moments. We really want to cater to those. You’ll see huge moves from us with bridal next year, mostly focusing on the lead-up event to getting married, and then everything for the guests, everything for the bridesmaids.