I never would have guessed it until I had a daughter who entered into the dance world, but competitive dancing reaches into many many homes across the prairies and indeed all of Canada. I would venture to say that if you include ballet, tap, jazz, hip-hop, freestyle, Highland, Ukrainian and every other style of dance – that dancing effects as many households in Canada as hockey! ( Just look at some of these facts on dance in Canada from the Canada Council for the Arts)
Either way dancing appeals to boys and girls, men and women of all shapes and sizes and languages and cultural backgrounds. It is alive and well and growing as an industry.
When Leah Sutton of Ceilidh Surprise ( I couldn’t say that for years, it’s pronounced “Kaylee’s”) came to us in late 2012 wanting to sell her special line of dance bags called Dream Duffel online, we obliged. We built her a nice WordPress based store on top of the Shopp Plugin. Of course we researched her business and her products but with a very diverse offering of almost all Celtic-related products from dance to clan, kilts to crystal glassware, Celtic snacks and dance bags and everything in between we weren’t really sure where to focus.
We had a look at her then, out-of-date website. She was taking a few orders with PayPal directly but that was it. So we redesigned and built her something much more modern, with an Ecommerce component and Celtic undertones.
We really had no idea what to expect in sales volume but were pleasantly surprised when we saw an immediate steady revenue stream, mainly centered around her line of dancing bags, the Dream Duffel products.
The next three years really flew by. We would check in with Leah every once in while but she was tied up with her regular job, her dance studio and instruction, the store, her inventory and everything else that keeps a mother of two girls in competitive highland dance “on her toes” so to speak.
It was about midway through 2015 when we began to get more and more requests from Leah to do maintenance on her store as it was breaking more often and having issues from time to time. She was frustrated and we were having to pay for support from the creators of the Shopp Plugin only to be very disappointed with slow service from them and sometimes issues that they could not help us resolve with their own software.
It was at that point we not only evaluated her website and software but also took a good look at the sales data for Ceilidh Surprise and saw a steady and impressive climb in revenue – generated almost exclusively from Dream Duffel products. We realized the lost potential here and immediately started putting together a plan for Leah!
We saw steady climb after the launch of the website and then a pretty consistent pattern of sales peaks in the Fall and early Spring. This made perfect sense as Dream Duffel products range from about $150 – $300, depending on the size of the bag. They are high quality bags that last a long time so they are not something dancers buy on a whim or even multiple times like dancing shoes or costumes. Because they are a fairly major purchase, we saw that consumers were buying them at the beginning of the dance season (or as Christmas gifts) and then again in March as the festival and competition season began. Other than that though her sales would slump for long periods of the year.
Every business owner knows that steady dependable revenue is the goal. When a small business like Ceilidh Surprise has to place large orders to manufacturers or suppliers in the off-season, this can create a real financial crunch. Business owner’s often run into trouble guessing wrong on projected sales numbers, winding up with too much inventory and being cash poor as a result ( or worse, this can even drive them out of business).
Our plan involved a partnership with Ceilidh Surprise. We knew that as an exclusive supplier of a quality product like Dream Duffel, Ceilidh Surprise was in an excellent position to take a big jump forward. We came up with a 3-year marketing plan, a new website design, a new provider for the Ecommerce component of her business (We’ve written about ECWID before, check out this blog) as well as a plan to leverage social media and word-of-mouth advertising.
We hooked up with a local photographer we know (LilyField Photography) and did several photo shoots of Leah’s in-store products. We wanted a more diverse online product offering that would do her products justice (Most of them are imported from the UK and are very high quality, beautiful items, but her current store was not communicating this very well) She has a wide variety of products from jewelry to crystal, tweed hats and purses, throws, snacks, hundreds of patterns for kilts and other Highland dress items etc.
The result is a beautiful new mobile-friendly website built on top of WordPress and the Genesis Framework. It’s fast, modern, well organized, it allows for featuring products as time goes on, blogs for up-to-date news about her industries (Like this one about Dream Duffel sponsoring a new Feature Film) and its optimized for SEO so Google and other search engines can find it fast and return it high in the rankings when consumers are looking for related products. It has beautiful professional photography that really makes her products shine and gives the consumer more information than ever before about the products they can purchase.
It’s only been live for just over a week but we have already seen an outflow of positive feedback and the sales cycle has been streamlined allowing for clients to order with less effort, less confusion and less time. We’re really excited for Leah and Ceilidh Surprise and look forward to an ongoing partnership that can take her local Regina business to the next level!
We’d like to do the same for you, so call us and lets chat about the business challenges and opportunities you face. We’d love to partner with you along the way providing support for all things online!