Jane Lu, CEO and founder of Showpo, launched her business in 2010. She explains how being an early explorer adopter of social media gave her an advantage over her competitors.
What strategy did you originally have for social media, to help you capture customers and increase sales?
Nothing was planned. I don’t think I knew this business was going to be where it is now — not anywhere close to it. It happened organically; I was just trying to fill in a problem my friends and I had with finding stuff to shop for and a place to shop from.
The whole social media strategy — I just developed that through time. And being a Facebook addict myself, I would spend most of my time — hours a day — on Facebook.
It’s about understanding what works and what doesn’t. At the end of the day, social media is so easy and it’s the quickest feedback form ever — you can easily see what works and what doesn’t. I think the most important thing to understand is, instead of just trying to get your message out, actually see what people out there want and then give them what they want.
Did you want to go global from the beginning?
Yes, with online ventures you are instantly global, so we were global from day one.
When you entered the market in 2010, online was just becoming big. How did you deal with competing retailers?
There were some retailers at the time that I thought were huge and now we have caught up to them. I think the good thing is that a lot of big businesses — David Jones, Myer, etcetera — didn’t really invest enough in their online game and their social media, so that’s why there was that market gap and that opportunity for nobodies to get into the market.
Was online the biggest thing you were thinking about in 2010, even though it was only a new concept?
Yep, I didn’t really the demise of bricks and mortar would be as bad as it is now. I still think I would be running a store, but bricks and mortar clearly doesn’t work, except for the big businesses in centralised locations.
How do you stay innovative?
These days, the internet allows you to quite easily execute any strategies, so the environment fosters innovation.
When we started we didn’t have much to risk. For example, I had this Showpo competition, which grew our Facebook following from 3,000 to 20,000 in a month at no cost and that [elevate us] from a ‘no brand’ to having spotlight.
So, because we had little to risk we just gave everything a go. Now we are bigger we have a lot more to lose, but we also have a bigger buffer, so we are constantly trying to think of new ways to stay innovative. If you don’t do that in the industry, you make yourself irrelevant.