Sophie & Toffee is an eCommerce business that sells resin craft supplies. With a Facebook audience comprising of 22,000+ craft enthusiasts, and 80,000+ loyal followers on Instagram, we caught up with owner Jacelyn Cheah to learn about community building and how shipping helped her reach her highly engaged creator community around the globe.
Easyship: Hi Jacelyn! What made you decide to open an eCommerce store?
Jacelyn: Resin crafts have always been a huge hobby of mine, and years ago I noticed that the type of crafting supplies required to fully enjoy the art were not readily available where I lived.
I also had a lot of ideas of what I wanted to create, but couldn’t find any molds that met my requirements. Although I didn’t have any experience running an eCommerce store beforehand, and I worried about having enough capital to succeed, I took the plunge anyway – and here we are!
Easyship: What were some initial issues you experienced when you first launched your store?
Jacelyn: We’ve always shipped internationally and had a list of countries which we consistently shipped to and knew what to expect. Expanding to new countries, though exciting, had its challenges. When managing customer expectations, the best we could do at the time was provide an estimate for shipping costs. Sometimes the actual costs ended up being more than the estimate we provided, which was not ideal at all.
We were also spending up to 5 hours per week managing our fulfillment operations because a lot of manual data entry was involved.
Easyship: How has Easyship helped grow your business?
Jacelyn: Using Rates at Checkout was a game changer. This made it easier to calculate shipping costs for any country without having to manually provide estimates and having them be incorrect in the end.
Getting access to pre-negotiated rates from other couriers also helped expand my delivery offerings. How has this influenced sales? Well, the numbers don’t lie - our annual sales revenue increased 80%, and this year we are on track to doubling our revenue from last year!
Easyship: Got any shipping hacks you’d like to share?
Jacelyn: Free shipping and competitive shipping rates are must-haves in today’s eCommerce landscape. However, we are very careful in the way we offer free shipping.
On our FAQ page, we clearly show the order value required to qualify for free shipping (at the moment, all orders shipped outside of Singapore need a minimum $150USD value to qualify) and we even throw in free express international shipping if orders are over $200USD.
We also limit free shipping costs by mentioning that if delivery occurs in a remote area, the free shipping will apply up to a certain amount, to which the customer will then be required to top-up the remainder of the costs.
Easyship: What eCommerce trend are you capitalizing on this year?
Jacelyn: Subscription boxes have really worked wonders for us! Each month, we have a special theme for each box that allows our creators to experiment with everything – from making their own USB drives, to Japanese-style animal magnets, to Harry Potter-inspired wands.
We’ve even created an exclusive Facebook group for these subscribers, which allow them to discuss tips and tricks around the current month’s box, and ask any questions they may have while crafting.
The group has really taken off – in less than 2 months, we have over a thousand members who frequently post questions and share their latest creations!
We currently have 2 different subscription boxes; the premium option includes 2-3 special items sourced from Japan. Now we’re considering building another subscription box model, which we’re hoping to debut soon!
Easyship: How have you built awareness around your brand?
Jacelyn: Facebook and Instagram are the platforms that have worked best to engage and grow our following.
We get our community excited by hyping up our newest products, and using assets such as how-to videos and influencer reviews to share inspiration.
Monitoring and being active in the comments section is also key to ensuring that we understand what our followers are looking for, and that we are acknowledging them appropriately! Whenever someone brings up a question or concern about their order, we take it to heart and act on it as best we can.
Easyship: Lastly, how do you distinguish your brand from your competitors?
Jacelyn: We manufacture and produce our exclusive products according to the needs of our customers.
A good example of this is the creation of our very own UV resin. After noticing comments about other resins shrinking during the drying process, we were able to develop a special formula that prevents this, solving a major pain point for our customers.