Jackie Dierickx was working as a full-time elementary school teacher in a small town north of Pittsburgh when an unexpected change meant she needed more time to care for her family. Working traditional hours, Jackie struggled to balance her priorities for her family with her duties as an educator.
Jackie was looking for a new opportunity that would give her financial stability and the flexibility she needed to travel for her family’s needs. Hesitant to leave her teaching benefits, pension, and insurance—with no retail experience to speak of—she took a leap into live selling but needed a partner and platform that would support her from the jump. She launched Willow & Grace Boutique in March of 2020 and hasn’t looked back since.
Starting a Business from Scratch
Jackie spent seven years in the Air Force, received her teaching degree, and then went on to get a master’s in math and science—but she wanted to be a business owner and had no formal training on how to do just that.
How to Start Selling Online
More than simply starting a business, Jackie wanted to launch a retail brand with no traditional e-commerce experience. There is a ton to consider when starting a sales-based business: who is your target market, which products will you carry and how will you source them, what platforms will you utilize, how will you market your inventory, ship your orders, and how often? Jackie knew that choosing the right partner from square one would make her transition from education into retail as seamless as ever.
Choosing an E-Commerce Platform That Does it All
End-to-end e-commerce platforms like CommentSold were built to help entrepreneurs get their visions off the ground from start to finish. These retail solutions take a significant burden off of business owners by offering automatic invoicing, streamlined inventory management, shipping and fulfillment solutions, marketing automation, and much more.
Jackie chose CommentSold as her complete e-commerce solution because she wanted both front and back-end support—and was hoping to adopt a competitive, innovative solution that would keep her brand fresh and her customers happy. After researching her options, she knew live selling was the solution.
“When I looked at how to run an online store, there were a ton of platforms out there. I wanted mine to be much more customer interaction-focused.”
Deciding where you want to take your retail business and what is most important to you will help you shape the platform solution you choose. Like Jackie, selecting a partner that offers a wide range of features—from live selling support, customer experience, point of sale, and marketing automation to reporting, analytics, shipping, and fulfillment—will help you solidify your decision.
“When I researched CommentSold it was a no-brainer for me that that was the platform I needed.”
Live Selling: A Unique Way to Engage with Shoppers
Jackie knew that when she launched her e-commerce business her aim was to offer a better way for shoppers to gauge fit, feel, and sizing when buying clothes online. She wanted to make the most of her brand’s online and in-store presence—and that live selling would help facilitate her goals.
Live video selling is an innovative new way for brands to increase reach, engage new shoppers virtually, and skyrocket sales. The popularity of live video paired with the ease of live shopping has created a tremendous opportunity for retailers to:
- Add a new revenue stream
- Create a unique, gamified shopping experience
- Build a community of loyal followers
- Bring their products to life on screen
Live selling showcases inventory to its fullest capacity. Like most online shoppers, Jackie was used to combing through customer reviews to determine how a garment fits. She wanted a better solution for her shoppers—one that they actually enjoyed and found useful. She found it through live sales, which showcase outfits in real time, on real bodies. This heightened user experience was exactly the type of shopping environment she wanted for Willow & Grace.
Willow & Grace’s annual GMV increased 700% since launching live sales with CommentSold.
Annual live sale revenue increased more than 400% since launch in 2020.
Jackie knew she wanted to put her shoppers’ needs at the forefront by providing the best shopping experience she could. Through live selling, Willow & Grace is able to connect with shoppers online and answer their questions immediately, as if they were shopping in-store. This attention to detail through live sales creates a seamless purchase journey and improved customer satisfaction, which increases the brand’s loyal customer base.
And Jackie’s shoppers are loyal. Both in-store and online, Willow & Grace has seen tremendous brand dedication with a repeat purchase rate of 98% from her customers. With this, the brand’s top shoppers have spent over $10,000 total on Willow & Grace live sales alone. These numbers are a testament to a successful buyer journey provided by the boutique.
Optimizing Her Time
Jackie chose to launch a retail brand focused on live selling to give her the time and flexibility she needed to accommodate her family priorities. By selecting a sales strategy that automates multichannel retail, Jackie could host a live sale once and blast her content across channels simultaneously, without any additional effort on her end.
Multichannel retail refers to the practice of offering products across various platforms, so shoppers can purchase where they prefer to spend their time online. Whether your audience likes to scroll on Instagram or browse traditional webstores on their desktop, successful e-commerce brands know the key to keeping shoppers happy is to offer more than one option.
Companies with an effective multichannel marketing strategy see an 89% customer retention rate.
With CommentSold, retailers can stream their live sales across Facebook Pages and Groups, Instagram, their customized webstore, and their branded mobile app. The ability to broadcast live sales across channels simultaneously allows Jackie to reach new audiences across time zones—on her schedule.
“I’ve done live selling on vacation, I’ve done it in hotel rooms, I do it in my house, at my warehouse, at my store…it works with your life,” says Jackie.
Willow & Grace also took full advantage of CommentSold’s “Shop the Replay” feature, which lets shoppers purchase from recorded live sales 24/7. This feature means the boutique benefits from their live sale events even after the fact.
Building an In-Person and Online Community
Jackie hoped to create a community-driven spot for local and virtual events as a thank you to those that showed up for her family and her business over the years. She wanted a platform that would support her local and online communities. Hosting live sales allows her to share updates, celebrate successes, and nurture relationships—boasting a 73% customer return rate.
Through live sales, Jackie is able to deepen her sense of community and unify her physical store with her online shoppers. Those who prefer shopping in-person can get that experience online through style tips and product fits, while those that prefer to shop virtually still get that face-to-face type of engagement when Willow & Grace goes live.
“It’s like being in line on Black Friday—it creates a fun experience for our customers.”
Live selling is designed to promote exhilarating shopping experiences that can’t be replicated with traditional e-commerce methods. Shops that go live consistently and strategically
Willow & Grace total live sale shoppers increased nearly 300% in three years.
Looking Back with No Regrets
When Willow & Grace started, Jackie was working out of her basement, with “zero experience, zero sales, and zero employees.” She simply wanted a way to take care of her family and provide for her community.
More than two years later, her boutique is a massive success by any account. Willow & Grace now boasts a thriving online presence, a buzzing brick-and-mortar, and a 7,500 square foot warehouse that hosts her team of employees, live sales, and community-driven events.
Launching a women’s boutique is challenging across the board, with a slew of questions to answer: what does your brand stand for, which items will you feature, who is your audience, and how will you best reach them? Jackie credits her family, her staff, and CommentSold’s live selling platform as pillars for her success.
Through live sales, Jackie is able to reach her community in a way that serves them as shoppers and simultaneously helps Willow & Grace reach revenue milestones. The financial stability she has found helps Jackie give back to her community and be there for her family.
“To say CommentSold changed my life would be nothing short of an understatement. I love what I do. I love live selling. CommentSold has been there for me when I was just starting out, to strategizing my next goals, and there for me when I hit my 6-figure month.”