I’m Philippe Bertron, and I’m the
founder of Etoffe.com. We specialize in the online selling of upmarket decor
products: upholstery fabrics, wallpapers, carpets and various accessories
like cushions, throws, and some furniture. We offer products that are often seen in
interior design magazines or even television shows, but that are hard to find
in your usual stores. Our customers are mainly individual buyers throughout France who are looking for the latest trends to decorate
their homes. We also target
professionals like interior decorators and designers. I’ve always worked in fabrics
and interior decoration. Sensing that the web would one day transform
retail circuits, I registered the domain name Etoffe.com in 1999. I created my e-commerce website in 2010, and immediately opted for PrestaShop, which for me was the ideal solution in terms of being flexible and upgradable. And I’ve never regretted the choice. We are not dependent on any provider,
which has really helped to ensure the continuity of this project.
Their back-office is fantastic; we never have to train our new users because it’s
so intuitive and comprehensive. With 20,000 orders delivered to date, all we now need
is some more specific developments to optimize our performance, although the huge choice of modules allows us to test
new actions, and think ahead even faster. The team consists of 5 employees. We are working on the management of our product
catalog which today includes 18,000 online references. We’ve got one person dedicated
to marketing who supervises procurement and the brand renown of Etoffe. And two people
who take care of orders, after-sales service and sampling which is
one of our specificities for fabrics and wallpapers. Today, we are the leader in our
niche with 10 000 meters of fabric and 15 000 rolls of wallpaper sold each year. Last
year, we had a turnover before tax of 1 million Euro. The website today is in French only
but we’ve already shipped to customers in all major countries. When we started, it took a long time to
ramp up our order rate, which naturally leads to impatience. You quickly realize that the converting
a visitor into buyer is not easy. So everything has to be properly calibrated: both your
sales offer: the right product at the right price and the right time, and the architecture
of your site: the order walkthrough, payment process, and reassurance of course.
We’ve also put a lot of effort into attracting customers.
You have to be inventive, test procurement channels, and at the same time,
quickly curb unnecessary expenses. When I had my first fabric stores,
I noted down my customers’ addresses in any possible way, I even copied the
addresses on checks. This is what I did when I
launched Etoffe.com: collected the maximum number of qualified emails of customers and
prospects. To do that, we put marketing actions
in place, like contests on Facebook, or discount coupons if you
subscribe to the newsletter. In 4 years we’ve managed to build up
an ultra-qualified database, which is cleaned every month, containing 36 000 people. It’s a real asset for conversion. Even if launching an e-commerce site demands
continuous effort, the web is still a virgin territory for the enterprising where thousands
of ideas remain to be explored. A good idea is often one that responds
to a need that you yourself feel is not yet met. If you’d like to find a certain service or
product for yourself, and you develop that idea, you’ll do something that’s in line with your
fields of interest, your intuitions, your psychological makeup… And it will work!