“Closing down! Last chance! Buy a rug! It was literally a guy shouting at you. It was awful.”
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In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Alex Tanya and Aaron Weller from online rug retailer, Miss Amara. A million miles away from the shouty men who traditionally seemed to be the only option in rug sales, Miss Amara use beautiful content, styling services and amazing customer service to modernise the business. Today they are on track to surpass $20m in revenue and are shipping to Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong and soon, the US. In this chat, Alex and Aaron share the process of how they engage with customers to the point where those customers become content creators and ambassadors for the brand at a really low cost. We also cover how augmented reality boosted their conversion rate by up to seven times, why Alex handwrote 400 notes to customers during COVID and how they manage being co-founders and a married couple.
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Questions answered in this episode include…
- What’s the secret to selling rugs online?
- How have you used augmented reality to boost your conversion rate by up to seven times?
- What is your number one tip for keeping customers happy?
Aaron: I tried to buy a rug before online, prior to Miss Amara, and the experience was terrible.
Alex: We asked our family, we asked our friends and everyone had the same experience. So, out of all of our friends and family, I was the only one who actually bought a rug, but everyone at some stage in their lives wanted to buy a rug.
The story was exactly the same. It was literally word for word. So yeah, I really wanted to buy a rug at some stage. And, you know a lot of people got into that inspiration phase where they would hop onto Pinterest. You know what it’s like when you’re trying to furnish your house and pin looks and everything looks so beautiful.
But when it came to the actual experience of buying the rug, they would go online and it was just awful. So what I mean by that is, you know, at the time it was a very masculine industry in terms of you had that cliche of Aladdin flying on the rug and that was it, or, I don’t know whether you remember Nathan, but they used to have those TV commercials where there would just be a guy and he’d just be yelling at you to buy a rug. It was awful. And then in terms of the online experience, you know the e-commerce players at that time, they would literally get 50,000 skews and they would just dump them on a website, the product photos, no rhyme or reason, no inspirational photos.
So people would go through decision paralysis. So eventually every single person put that need of buying a rug in the too hard basket and they never bought one. or they went to a physical store instead.
People are always sharing photos of their make-over and honestly, every single time we still get goosebumps. We love seeing them, our whole team. So one day we just thought like, if this is how many we’re getting back, that people sharing, like what about the people that aren’t sharing?
Like how can we actually see all of them? We wanted to see them and yes, we wanted to get the content, but we just love seeing them. And that’s the truth. We said, okay guys, you’ve gone away, you’ve bought a rug you’ve used our stylist advice. Show us how you styled it now.
So we ask customers to take a photo of their space and just tag us in it, that’s it or use our hashtag. And every month what we do is we choose our four favourites and we share them on our Instagram platform. As I said, nothing is more authentic than a customer’s real house and they’re real-life experiences, you know, that’s better than any influencer could ever do for us – a real-life rug story.
So we chose four finalists and we posted them and we said, hey, these are the finalists of the month. You have to vote for your favourite. So that’s when we put the call out to our customers to vote for their favourite.
And all they have to do to vote is just to simply like the post they liked the most and tag two of their friends. So at the end of that voting period, the customer whose space was liked the most, gets a full refund off their rugs. So they get that rug for free. And then we randomly draw a voter where the voter and two of the friends that they’ve tied gets a free $250 gift voucher with us.
Alex: Honestly, we love it. Like we can’t imagine anything else and I feel like a little bit of responsibility here to speak. I think couple co-founders get a really bad rap and I will share that at one stage we were looking for investment and it was actually like a big turn away point that we were couple founders.
I think about it in terms of the way that we operate is, we’re very clear that work is work and personal is personal, but we also have very clear things that we own. So, we know what we’re in charge of. I have the final say on anything kind of creative stylised brand-wise. Aaron has the final say when it comes to finances and all of those decisions. So we keep that separate, but it’s worked for us so well.
And I think it’s funny because I always say to someone, cause they still say, you know, Oh, I could never work with my partner. If you’re working a job and your partner’s working a job when you come home from a really hard day, you’ll turn to your partner and you’ll try and explain to them what happened at work. So you have to explain who Jenny is and what happened with Mark and the argument that happened and all of that. We literally can come home and just be like, how about that thing that happened today? We don’t have to get each other up to speed. We know everything that’s going on at all times
The funny thing is, when we first started doing it, we had this rule that as soon as we came home, we wouldn’t talk about work. That was our rule, but what we found is, that made us so frustrated. So I think alot of the reason why we’re together as a couple is that we’re interested in business and we have similar interests in terms of entrepreneurship and things like that.
Rather than kind of deny that, let’s just lean into it. You know what, we like talking about business. We just need to make sure that we have that personal time as well.
We want the same things, but that’s the difference when you’re working with your partner, your goals are their goals, their goals are your goals. That’s really important. I think it would, no matter what business partner you have, you need to have the same goals. You want the same things, you want the business to go in the same direction.
Aaron: We’re completely aligned. We’re very similar in that way, but we’re very different in terms of our skill sets. So I think that’s why it works so well. And we both really, really love what we do. We really love the businesses that we’re running. It really brings a lot of joy to us.
Nathan Bush is the founder and lead strategist at eCommerce consultancy, 12HIGH. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.
About your co-hosts:
By admission Alex over-stayed her welcome at university, completing two degrees – one in Architecture and then Property Economics before accidentally falling into a tech job. Since then technology has been her passion, working in app development for real estate. Since starting Miss Amara she feels that she has landed her dream, job being able to work with technology to create a seamless customer experience, as well as design and production of physical product for the business.
Aaron has always been interested in business, starting his first business building websites in his bedroom at 16. Since then he has gone onto to start and sell Crucial, a cloud hosting business as well as be a key investor in one of the largest SEO companies in Australia. Miss Amara will be his forth business. He enjoys the journey and learning new things every day.
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