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How an independent gift shop is replicating its store experience online

Independent gift shops are gearing up for the busiest period of the year. Here we share the story of Small Stuff in Sheffield. The indie gift shop used 2020 to polish up its online act. See how they've had success taking as much of their physical store and customer experience online to build new customers at home and abroad.

Introducing independent gift shop 'Small Stuff'

Small Stuff UK is an indie eco childrenswear and gifting store also selling online, based in Sheffield and run by Hellen. The pandemic presented a challenge for the business, but its one they faced head-on and are seeing benefits from to this day.

"We create a very personalised experience in our store and because customers want to see and touch our products, we had to spend time putting social media and our website first. We had to work out how to create that personalised, authentic ‘small stuff’ experience online" says Hellen. "Because we did that, our online sales boomed and we are now in a position to open a bigger physical store".

How did they achieve success

For Hellen, like everyone else, the pandemic came as a shock. They had to switch online or not survive. Hellen thought the website wasn’t good enough and, sadly regarding social put it to the bottom of the list. But overnight she rebuilt the whole website and decided to create the experience people have in store and make it virtual.

Hellen walked through her customer journeys in store and talked to her customers on social media the way she would in store. By being honest and authentic, other businesses and customers really connected with Small Stuff and it helped the business thrive during a very tough time. 

In the store customers are given handwritten notes with wrapping paper for gifts and she found people asking her for handwritten notes for people they were missing when they purchased gifts online. She found gifts were being purchased in Europe and sent to loved ones in the UK.

Hellen tells us "people want to touch my products so I had to think how do you duplicate the experience you get in store? I did online customer experience calls with walkthroughs of the store asking them about the person they wanted to buy the gift for. Everything became special and personalised for them. They would then share their experience on social media and it all grew from there".

By being active on social media, customers abroad were finding the shop and purchasing. 'Small Stuff' became bigger stuff and is gearing up for Christmas 2021 in a larger physical premises and with a bigger customer base than before.

Top tip: Stay true to who you are. Your online experience must align closely to your physical experience. Get out of your comfort zone and try and test new things and be honest about your journey.

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