Dressing global fashionistas

Hello Molly is a popular Australian fast fashion online retailer that exports women’s apparel globally. One of the brand’s founders, Ena Eaton, explains how Hello Molly has built their brand and the role that strategic international logistics plays in their ongoing success.

Hello Molly is seeing significant growth as an e-commerce company. How did you go from being a start-up, working out of your living rooms, to an international brand?

It’s taken a lot of luck and hard work – but centers on our promise of excellence service and treating every customer like a best friend. A friend from university and I had an idea around creating an online fashion website, as we loved clothes and had access to some amazing local fashion suppliers. We started in our living room as two people and made a commitment from the get-go to offer a high-quality service and ensure that every package was wrapped with love.

Initially we did a lot of advertising on social media and the word started to spread. Customers resonated with our product and service so told their friends – which meant we quickly outgrew the living room and needed to find an office. We initially shared an office space with another company but kept growing so eventually had to move…and then move again! We were experiencing a lot of growth and that’s when we decided to take measures to seriously expand our international following at the start of 2014 – around 18 months after we started.

HM_1You had very fast growth. What factors feed into this?

We were so pleased to grow as fast as we did – and I think main reason why is that the product spoke for itself. We always ensure we are selecting high quality items and offer them at a good price point. Our shipping policy has also been a factor and we have always offered one of the more generous ones. We’ve worked with DHL to make sure our shipping prices are reasonable for customers and they feel like they’re receiving good value all around.

A key pillar is offering free shipping when customers spend over a certain amount, and as the US is one of our key international markets we have set it as low as we can.

We work with DHL Express as the delivery times are so fast. Someone in California can order a dress on a Sunday night and have it three or four days later – often it’s faster coming from Sydney than parcels going to them from New York, which is pretty cool.

Do you think your delivery strategy and shipping policy has helped your business grow and contributed to your success?

Our shipping policy is part of our customer promise. We aim to get products to our customers as soon as possible, and have a promise that if you make an order before a certain time we’ll ensure it goes out that day. Even if this means we need to work overtime to make sure that happens. If we can, we go beyond these cut-off times so we give the customers a bit of a bonus when they receive their order sooner than they expected.

What have been the greatest challenges as you have grown into an international eCommerce business?

Before we launched our international delivery policy and opened up to international orders we’d already grown significantly in Australia. So our biggest challenge was mentally adjusting to going into a largely unknown territory.

Since Australia is comparatively a small market compared to the US or Europe, it was also harder to expand in the same way and repeat what we did here. However we applied the formula of treating our customers like friends, and put in lots of hard work to build a steady fan base.

You ship all around the world. While the US is a key market, are you seeing growth in other parts of the world?

While the US is definitely our biggest market, we’ll ship anywhere internationally and find our offering appeals to a range of markets. We often receive orders from new and interesting locales all over the world.

Going global is what really excites us about online shipping. No matter where you are you can access international goods. You could be on a beach in Thailand and order something to be waiting for you when you return home, which is a really cool concept.

As an online fashion retailer, clothing returns happen often and need to be simple for customers. How did you develop a logistics strategy to cope?

Returning to our promise of putting our customers first, returns are a big part of our strategy. As our only base is currently in Sydney, we do everything from the one central location.

We’re not yet at the point where we can offer free returns, but we’ve recently launched a customer returns program with DHL to help us with this. If there are manufacturing faults we’ll of course absorb the full return cost to ensure our customers receive a high quality product they’re pleased with. However now we also have an option that if customers contact us for a return because the size isn’t right or they just don’t like the fit, they can access a much more cost-effective price via DHL. This has really helped us give our customers that extra level of service.

Opening a nicely wrapped package can be a large part of the online shopping experience. How have you worked with DHL to make your packaging delivery-friendly?

We designed our own pretty pink Hello Molly bag to add that extra level of sophistication and excitement when our customers receive their order. DHL made it so easy for us to implement this – they were happy with our satchels and all we need to do is print a shipping label and stick it on. This differed greatly to our experience of sending packages via post where dimensions were an issue. With DHL, we were given lots of assistance and freedom to allow us to work within our packaging strategy.

Collections also make a difference. Our driver comes at the same time daily to collect our orders. And in the instances where we have really large orders that won’t fit in one or even three satchels, the DHL drivers are incredible and have boxes that we can use. As a company that values customer service above all else, we really appreciate that DHL offers really great customer service to us.

Finally, what role has DHL played in helping Hello Molly achieve success?

DHL has really helped us to get into foreign markets.  I can’t imagine we’d have the same level of success that we do if we were still using a slower delivery option or one that’s not as reliable as DHL. Overall our experience of shipping internationally has been pretty straight forward and our account manager Jason is a fantastic support. There are challenges shipping into countries with certain customs requirements – such as the UK having a particularly low threshold for imported goods – but that’s just something we have to work around and is part of being a global company.

For more information about Holly Molly, please visit hellomollyfashion.com.