Kim Devos-Brooks came to e-commerce in a bit of a roundabout way. She actually began her journey as an alpaca breeder in 1997. She wasn’t happy with the alpaca clothing available in the US at the time, so in 2000 she started creating fashionable alpaca wool sweater designs that she had handmade in Peru and selling them online.
After she and her son Nick evaluated a number of e-commerce platforms, she moved to Bigcommerce in 2011 in order to get more built-in features, especially those that helped her grow and adapt her business.
Today, Inca Brands has four retail sites on Bigcommerce that sell organic and fair trade alpaca wool clothing: Sun Valley Alpaca, Alpaca Golf, Warrior Alpaca Socks and Inca Fashions Wholesale.
Kim likes Bigcommerce’s built-in mobile store that lets her customers shop and buy from their tablets and phones, plus the easy integrations with Google Shopping and BizRate that help more shoppers find her products. She also likes that she can write notes on individual customers and share them with her assistant, allowing them to personally recommend products to their regulars based on past purchases and known preferences. Kim uses the built-in analytics to run reports for tracking trends in her daily sales.
In 2012, Kim started using Bigcommerce integrator Stitch Labs to manage her stores more efficiently. She uses Stitch to automatically keep her inventory up to date across all her sites, review custom reports to see which product stocks are low and send purchase orders to her suppliers. A special bin number lets her easily find the location of any item in inventory.
Before using Stitch, Kim manually updated inventory for each site, a difficult process that both ate up a lot of extra time and led to inventory errors. Thanks to Stitch, she has a lot more time to run her business, and doesn’t have to call disgruntled customers who purchased a product that’s no longer available. The full-time job of inventory management is fully automated, allowing her to save on labor costs, too.
After switching to Bigcommerce and Stitch, Inca Brands increased sales across all retail product lines by an average of 46%, and by 75% on Warrior Alpaca Socks!
Kim’s advice to other entrepreneurs interested in selling online?
“Start small. We began with a boutique site of alpaca socks and a second with golf sweaters. By rolling out a limited offering first, we were able to focus on SEO and hyper-targeting each audience. We also gained a hands-on understanding of our site’s capabilities before growing it into a full product offering and separate wholesale site.”