Fleur Filmer spent two years planning and designing her online accessories retail website, luluandi.com, before she ultimately went live.
During the planning stage, Fleur Filmer spent a considerable amount of effort figuring out how to translate her real-world work experience – 18 years working in gifts and homewares wholesaling – into her online dream.
“The whole idea of wholesaling again didn’t appeal to me,” she explains. “When I sold my last business, I found we were being squeezed by a lot of our retailers because they were doing their own direct buying and importing. You get squeezed from two sides and you end up being everybody else’s banker.”
Determined to live her dream but wary of the failures of fly-by-night operators who ramped up quickly and fizzled out, Filmer went on a learning binge. She attended a number of conferences in Australia, Hong Kong and the US, and spoke with a lot of people she perceived as having been successful online. She did a number of courses in search engine optimisation (SEO) marketing and website building, and educated herself on what she could do and what had to be outsourced.
“I’m by no means a geek at the end of the day, but I decided if I was doing to do something, I had to go through their processes to deliver to me what I needed,” she said. “What I came out of it with was the realisation that it doesn’t matter whether you’re going into online or offline retail; the only successful business owners are the ones that plan and scale. I concentrated on building scalable systems that cost me more upfront but will save me a lot down the track.”
Although her online presence provides the majority of sales, Filmer also maintains a showroom where customers can come and see her products – higher-value jewellery and fashion products – and has been delighted so far with the progress since the venture launched in August.
By planning carefully and execution, Filmer has achieved her original goal of avoiding the seven-day demands of conventional retail, while creating a business that can easily scale to reach new markets as she’s ready. “There are very low barriers to entry in any online escapade and I am chained to nothing,” she says. “Don’t assume that it’s going to be easy; but I think the people that approach it as a solid business from day one are the ones that are going to succeed.”