Running a bricks-and-mortar store and a thriving e-commerce business is all in a day’s work for Ian Collins, from Melbourne-based health supplements retailer, Evelyn Faye Nutrition. Here, he shares the lessons he learned setting up the CompleteHealth e-commerce site and what it has meant for his growing business.
Ian Collins spent 25 years running his own pharmacy in North Balwyn, Victoria, before he joined Evelyn Faye Nutrition – a supplements, vitamin and sports nutrition retailer – in 1995. It was the same year the business moved to its current premises in Bourke Street, in the heart of Melbourne’s CBD.
Evelyn Faye Nutrition is still trading from the same location but has seen exponential growth. It now has a second bricks-and-mortar location in South Melbourne and has established a thriving e-commerce store, CompleteHealth.
Starting an e-commerce site
The decision to take Evelyn Faye Nutrition online was an easy one, recalls Collins. “We built the website in 1999 with the help of a group called Ocean Internet. It was very early days, but I thought the internet would be the way of the future. I didn’t know how big it would grow or how important it would become to the business – I don’t think anyone knew where it was headed – we just knew we had to do it.”
As most early adopters discovered, branching into e-commerce wasn’t without its challenges. “Setting up the site was a very steep learning curve, and we figured out so many things as we went along,” says Collins.
With a thriving online business and a steady turnover instore, Collins is happy with the business’s progress. But there is always room for improvement.
“E-commerce can be really challenging,” he says. “There’s constant change in the marketplace and in technology. You have to move so fast to stay modern.
“For us, it’s a matter of being aware, following the trends, reading a lot and viewing other sites. We also use people with specialist knowledge – experts in their field – so if we need something done, it’s resolved quickly and efficiently. Ever since we set up CompleteHealth, I’ve been trying to become tech savvy, but so much of it is out of my league. I know my limitations!”
Starting the e-commerce store was also a significant moment in the history of the business, because Evelyn Faye Nutrition decided to change its branding and name for online retail.
Collins explains that Evelyn Faye began as a hair care and perfume-based business in 1974, moving into vitamins and sports nutrition in the mid-80s to cater for the growing trend in this area. “When we took the business online, we wanted a different name, as Evelyn Faye had the wrong connotation,” says Collins. “It doesn’t explain what we do or what we sell. We chose CompleteHealth; it had a good ring to it.”
Reaping the e-commerce rewards
Taking Evelyn Faye Nutrition online turned out to be the right move. Regular and city customers still come by the store to say hello and purchase their goods, while CompleteHealth has opened up an entirely new market.
“Launching the online store has meant a huge spike in sales nationally – it’s a whole new market, a constant growth process,” says Collins. “Before, people had to visit the store to make a purchase. Now, we send items all over Australia and the world. The world is but a global village!”
So, is there a difference between what people buy online compared with in the bricks-and-mortar store?
“Yes, there’s definitely a different ratio. I think it comes down to the style of products that are online and the wide range of products available instore. But we’re probably pretty equal when it comes to sales of vitamins and sports nutrition.”
Offering secure online payments
SecurePay has played an important role in helping CompleteHealth offer the best, most current and secure payment gateway to its customers. The site has been using SecurePay since February 2012.
“Once customers see that we use SecurePay, they assume it’s a trustworthy site, which is really important,” says Collins. “The public is so sceptical these days, sometimes with good reason. People like to use PayPal, because they know if an online retailer is dodgy, they can get their money back. In terms of protecting the customer, SecurePay has the same good reputation. It adds a layer of security to the transaction – for us and for the customer.”
SecurePay’s FraudGuard service, which helps to identify suspect purchases, has been a useful addition, too.
“With FraudGuard, there’s been a dramatic improvement in our ability to weed out the majority of problem credit cards,” explains Collins. “It’s not a total guarantee, but it’s definitely reduced the number of bad cards getting through our system.”
Planning for the future
Collins and his team are not content to rest on their laurels, continuing to find ways to enhance the usability of their e-commerce site and improve the retail customer experience.
“Our goals are to keep improving the site and to keep giving clients the knowledge they need to make smart health choices, so they understand our range of products and can use them well,” says Collins.