E-com­merce plat­form boosts de­sign en­trepreneurs

Finweek English Edition - - IN BRIEF - BY LAMEEZ OMAR­JEE

Hel lo Prett y i s an on­line mar­ket­place for de­sign en­trepreneurs and is the brain­child of hus­band and wife t eam Scott Hadf i eld (c hief tech­nol­ogy off icer) and Sam Marx (cre­ative direc­tor). This plat­form al­lows lo­cal de­sign­ers to cre­ate and man­age their own on­line stores and so­cial me­dia pres­ence from one cen­tral place.

Orig­i­nally, the founders no­ticed a gap in the mar­ket: buy­ers had limited ac­cess to the “awe­some de­sign be­ing cre­ated in South Africa”, apart from the lo­cal hip­ster mar­ket, says Lee Gelden­huys, head of strat­egy and so­cial. “With Hello Pretty, we wanted to em­power small South African de­sign-re­lated busi­nesses and give them a way to connect with both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets.”

Hello Prett y man­ages t he web devel­op­ment, pay­ment gate­ways and in­voic­ing for de­sign­ers. “De­sign­ers of­ten have to fill ev­ery role within their busi­ness them­selves; we try to help lighten that load,” says Gelden­huys.

De­sign­ers can fo­cus on en­gag­ing with com­mu­ni­ties and mak­ing wares. They have their own brand­ing and so­cial me­dia links on their store pages and they have an­a­lyt­ics they can ac­ti­vate on their stores with sup­port and guid­ance from the Hello Pretty team.

There are t wo sell­ing plans. The Starter Plan has no monthly fees and 20% com­mis­sion on sales. The Stan­dard Plan is R90 per month with 5% com­mis­sion on sales. In­ter­ested de­sign­ers can ap­ply to be hosted on the site, where­after Hello Pretty will con­firm the qual­ity of prod­ucts and pho­tos, en­sur­ing they’re not “un­al­tered im­ports”, says Gelden­huys. “We’ve tried to have as few bar­ri­ers to en­try as pos­si­ble with­out com­pro­mis­ing on qual­ity.” Qual­i­fy­ing de­sign­ers join for free. Since be­ing launched in 2012, the “small team” con­sist­ing of web designer Marx, de­vel­oper Had­field and copy­writer Ade­line Levescot, has grown the busi­ness to sup­port over 1 200 de­sign­ers. Some prod­ucts in­clude e-books, con­sul­ta­tions, photography packages and work­shop tick­ets.

“Any­one who de­signs and cre­ates can sell on Hello Pretty,” says Gelden­huys. The web­site boasts a 10% monthly growth on turnover, she says.

One of the de­sign­ers, Katie Marx, set up her busi­ness Haute and Tidy eight months ago. She uses Hello Pretty for sell­ing, has a web­site and a pres­ence on Face­book, which drives cus­tomers to or­der from the on­line store. She chose Hello Pretty be­cause of its “longevity”. “They have out­lasted a num­ber of other com­pa­nies who were of­fer­ing the same sort of ser­vice,” she says.

Haute and Tidy and its cus­tomers have ben­e­fit­ted from the sup­port of­fered and the new fea­tures that keep be­ing added to the site. Join­ing Hello Pretty has re­sulted in greater mar­ket­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties and brand ex­po­sure, with in­ter­est from var­i­ous cus­tomers and busi­nesses. The credit card pay­ment op­tion is also more con­ve­nient for her cus­tomers and they trust it far more than EFTs. “They [Hello Pretty] have a far big­ger fol­low­ing than any of us smaller busi­nesses could cre­ate with­out a lot of time and money.” She plans to join the plat­forms of com­peti­tors Takealot and We Heart This in fu­ture.

Gelden­huys says that the e-com­merce l and­scape is dy­namic and changes quickly so it is dif­fi­cult to set fu­ture goals. “What­ever we come up with now may be ir­rel­e­vant by the time we get there.” For now, they plan to re­di­rect their in­come to ed­u­ca­tional ven­tures and mar­ket­ing.

From left to right: Lee Gelden­huys, Sam Marx, Ade­line Levescot and Scott Had­field

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