Finding their shine: how Darby Pritchards built its ultra-loyal customer base
Craig Pritchard smiles as he recounts an anecdote that Oprah might call a “full circle moment”—when someone recommended Darby Pritchards jewelry to his mum.
Based in Oldbury, right in the heart of England, Andrew Darby, Faye Darby, Craig Pritchard, and Terri Pritchard sold their first piece of jewelry in January 2019. Their story began with Wix eCommerce and a little inspiration from their spouses: “Our wives love jewelry, so we thought, ‘Let's do something mid-range and affordable. Nice pieces that last well.’”
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Finding “nice pieces” proved to be one of several challenges that the company founders had to face early on. From learning the finer points of marketing to navigating the throes of a pandemic, Darby Pritchards emerged with invaluable lessons on how to build a thriving eCommerce business (for more, check out our guide one how to become an entrepreneur).
A steep learning curve
In the early days, Darby Pritchards was thrown a curveball: what seemed like an easy way to acquire inventory ended up being sorely disappointing.
The company began by purchasing stock from a jewelry business that was closing down. But while some pieces sold, others generated few-to-no sales. They were left with slow-moving inventory that simply wasn’t resonating or showing signs of getting sold.
The “aha” moment came once Andrew’s wife, Faye, came onboard and when they started talking to their core shoppers.
“When we asked the women in our family [for their feedback], we started to get the inventory correct and get the right suppliers in,” says Craig.
“We now hand make stock,” adds Faye. “By talking with our customers via social media and Wix emails, we’re able to decide on items more suited for our customers. We’ll even include items that aren’t in high demand but are suggested by our customers, so that anyone who enters our online store is able to find an item suitable for his or her taste.”
Driving sales through precise targeting
To renew interest in their products, Craig, Andrew, and Faye experimented with various marketing tools, ad channels, and discount strategies. Among them: Facebook ads, which yielded powerful results.
Through their Wix eCommerce platform, the trio were able to automatically connect their catalog to Facebook ads. They created campaigns around lookalike audiences, ensuring that they only advertised to buyers with similar interests, traits, and behaviors as their existing customers.
These campaigns helped to illuminate a clear path forward—one entailing efforts largely focused on re-engaging customers. With Wix’s built-in marketing features, the team had all the tools within reach to run multichannel campaigns and promotions. Needless to say that this all came in handy when the pandemic (and online competition) was in full swing.
The pandemic effect
Thanks in part to their core principle of affordability, sales only continued to grow for Darby Pritchards through the months marred by the pandemic.
“We had a quality product that people loved, for a really good price,” says Andrew. As shoppers went online seeking convenience and a better bang for their buck, Darby Pritchards was there to welcome them.
To proactively build connections, the team launched their first email marketing campaigns, rewarding loyal subscribers with discount codes and limited-time deals.
For Black Friday 2020, they doubled-down on their Facebook ads and email efforts. Then, in December, they kicked off the Christmas season with an epic 24-day Advent-themed email campaign.
“We’d see the same name pop up every single day,” recalls Andrew about the Advent campaign, “and it was just amazing to see that that customer's following you on the journey...and buying whichever item we're putting up on that day.”
In 2021, Darby Pritchards grew its year-over-year sales by 37% and site traffic increased by 21%
Today, the company’s email campaigns reach over 28,000 customers. Their personal approach to marketing seems to be paying off. “If we're not letting them know what our new products are, [our subscribers are] messaging us saying, ‘What new products do you have?’” says Craig.
Building a gem of a business
Even with the reopening of brick-and-mortar stores in Britain, Darby Pritchards’ online sales are still going strong. Its founders remain pragmatic and humble about their continued success. (“Returning customers,’ says Craig, “that's how we know we’ve gotten something right.”)
As of April 2022, Darby Pritchards had an annual returning customer rate of over 20%.
The best bit about their success? Giving back to the community—one of Darby Pritchards’ original business goals. “We try to do charitable donations where we can,” says Andrew, “and to create jobs for people who need a bit extra. It’s not all about making money. It can’t be.”
Key takeaways: 4 common eCommerce challenges
The journey to success is a long and winding road. Since opening their virtual doors in 2019, Craig, Andrew, and Faye have built up a wealth of wisdom. Here are four hurdles that they faced as a startup and tips for how to overcome them.
01. Lack of planning
“The biggest challenge was having a business model so to speak—or a blueprint and sticking to that blueprint. Eventually when we found our blueprint, we got ourselves out of trying to sell here, there, and everywhere.”
Winging it may work for some lucky founders, but for most, doing so can cause more harm than good. While your startup should remain adaptable, you need a solid business plan that outlines the vision and operations of your business.
What are your biggest motivations as a company (besides making money)? How will you secure your inventory and capital? Who will you target and why?
Beyond these basic questions, you’ll need to establish processes for handling logistics, staying on budget, and balancing the books. You’ll also want to define clear, achievable goals—from hitting sales targets to growing social followers—that serve as your guiding light. Otherwise, you may find yourself burning through your time and cash by chasing every potential channel, trending product, and/or marketing opportunity.
Pro tip: Check out our step-by-step guide to writing your eCommerce business plan.
02. Understanding your buyers—and nurturing repeat customers
“You always need new customers but when you’ve got a loyal customer base…that’s a success story in itself.”
It’s easy to jump to assumptions, even when it comes to your customers. While you might have a general idea of your target audience, you’ll still need to drill down deeper to gain an accurate picture of their needs, wants, and values.
Don’t let your own personal biases lead you down a skewed path. Do your due diligence and conduct market research to get a more detailed picture of your customer base. Identify various segments—by location, lifestyle, or interest, as examples—and tailor your marketing strategy to each segment’s unique characteristics.
“We research new trends and talk with our buyers every month,” says Faye regarding Darby Pritchards’ approach. “We investigate their interests—and when we’re able to, we’ll offer one design in multiple items.”
The ultimate goal is to foster a relationship with your customers that aren’t purely transactional but are, in part, emotional. Customers should feel connected to your brand and feel supported by your products, campaigns, and customer care efforts.
Did you know: Wix eCommerce has powerful marketing tools designed to grow your reach. From built-in email marketing to loyalty programs, plus native integrations with social media ads, you can easily leverage AI-based technology to target audiences, run A/B testing, and track sales. Watch this in-depth webinar on scaling a business with Facebook Ads.
03. Sourcing inventory that sells
“[We first sold] jewelry that looked nice to me. It wasn’t jewelry that was popular, so we were getting our choices wrong with the jewelry in the beginning.”
Sourcing products is, in a sense, a science. You need to do plenty of research to find reliable suppliers selling quality goods at the right prices. Just like you might A/B test a marketing campaign, it might take some experimentation before you learn what products sell—or don’t sell—for your business.
As a good starting point, talk to your customers and target buyers. Ask what they like or dislike about their products. Take their feedback in stride and take the time to truly listen, as opposed to rebutting any criticisms with your own witty remarks.
Seek to discover whether it's your product assortment, quality, price, or messaging that needs adjusting.
Pro tip: Dropshipping is a fulfillment-free business model that’s proven to be a useful tool for testing and validating products before you buy in bulk. Simply connect your online store to a dropshipping app like Modalyst—Wix’s native solution—then select and sync products that are right for your business. As a dropshipper, you gain instant access to millions of products from trusted suppliers, and can freely test and iterate without having to store, pack, or ship products.
04. Packaging, shipping, and fulfillment
“In the beginning, we’d literally have an envelope with an address, put the jewelry in and take each one to the post office…until we [found a better integrated system].”
It’s never too early to analyze the post-purchase customer journey. When thinking about your customer’s unboxing experience: How do you envision your product packaging to look? Will customers be tearing open a branded box or a compostable mailing bag? Will their products be bountifully wrapped in tissue paper or, conversely, have minimal packaging?
When thinking about backend logistics: How can you offer fast, reliable delivery? Should you tap a third-party logistics provider (3PL), handle it yourself, or both? If you’re selling worldwide, who will ship your parcels—a national carrier or international logistics company? Perhaps your shoppers might want the convenience of curbside pick up. Can you support that through any brick-and-mortar locations?
Did you know: Wix eCommerce allows you to set custom shipping rules so that you always stay in control of when, where, and how you ship. You can handle shipping and logistics using the Wix Stores in-house, shipping labels solution or alternatively connect your store with a third-party shipping app. Learn about managing and fulfilling orders with this video.
Inside Darby Pritchard’s toolbox: 4 Wix eCommerce tools
Three years ago, Wix eCommerce was just a recommendation from a friend. Now, it’s the platform behind Darby Pritchards’ site as well as their hub for managing day-to-day operations. The below tools have been instrumental in helping them build a flourishing online business, according to the team.
Wix Automations - Wix’s flexible automations have enabled Darby Pritchards to trigger ads, emails, as well as everyday tasks.“My favorite automation is a thank you email after a customer's purchase,” says Andrew. “It's just an email that says, ‘Thank you for ordering from us. And if you need anything, we're here to help.’ It shows that we care about our customers.”
Email marketing tools - The company’s successful Advent-themed email campaign is built directly on Wix’s email editor. Speaking about their strategy, Andrew says, “[Our emails] don't seem to annoy our customers. They're really engaged with what we do. Customers are happy that we're keeping them in the loop. It's almost like a family.”
Wix Analytics - “Next to email marketing this is the most important aspect Wix offers us,” says Andrew. “It allows us to see what our income was and where [it] came from. We can see that…our SEO is actually bringing us sales without even having to pay for an advert.”
Facebook Ads integration - Social media has been invaluable to Darby Pritchards’ growth—from helping them gather data about their target market, to helping them target customers via Facebook on Instagram ads. Wix seamlessly integrates with Facebook/Instagram ads, plus automatically tests, optimizes, and monitors ads with AI.
Ready to put our powerful marketing tools to good use? Create an online store today.
Geraldine Feehily Marketing Writer, Wix eCommerce
Geraldine is a marketing writer for Wix eCommerce. She uses her broad experience in journalism, publishing, public relations and marketing to create compelling content and loves hearing user success stories.