I was about to close the shop, then I started selling with WhatsApp and Facebook
The story of Pina Murano and the Debora shop, from Nola, which sells clothing all over the world
What I am about to tell you is not only the story, all female, of an incredible turning point in the business of a neighborhood store, and not just a starting point to start selling with WhatsApp. The story of Pina Murano is proof of how much online represents a real opportunity for success for all businesses, even for small ones, even those in crisis, linked to markets and customers light years away from digital.
An opportunity for success, however, directly proportional to the desire to get involved, not to stop at the first disappointments but, on the contrary, to learn from the mistakes made. Directly proportional, then, to the construction of a strategy tailored to the characteristics of its customers, and, spoiler alert, to the presence of a professional who believes in you and in your business.
The history of the Debora Shop
Pina Murano opened the family shop 25 years ago in Nola, a town in the metropolitan city of Naples. She calls him Debora, like her newborn daughter, and for a year she sells everything from toys to maternity clothes, from household items to baby food. Then he specializes in the sale of children’s formal wear and does so for the next 22 years.
When the ceremonial dresses began to accumulate in the warehouse and the staff to be reduced to a part-time job, Pina found herself forced to listen more carefully, but without too much hope, to those who advised her to sell online through an e-commerce . The alternative would have been to close.
Today, after a few years from that perspective, a lifetime ago, Pina would say, Debora’s store has not closed, or rather, the physical store has closed to the live public but is open 12 hours a day. Inside there are more than 10 orders for sell clothing all over the world through WhatsApp messages and direct Facebook, with an authentic community of over 280,000 fans literally in love with Pina Murano. An amazing result, the result of a path that is anything but simple and linear.
The first e-commerce was a disaster
Opening an e-commerce from scratch can be a very disappointing experience, especially if you have unclear ideas, no knowledge of web marketing and mystical expectations with respect to the possibilities of what is just a tool. The difference is all in the team that helps you use it.
For Pina it was exactly like that. His first e-commerce did not live up to expectations: a lot of expense, no traffic, no return. The second online shop of the Debora store was aesthetically more beautiful, probably even more functional, but nothing, still no results in terms of sales. Everything Pina had spent on digital up to that point would certainly have been a waste of time and money if she hadn’t continued to find her way through the many possibilities offered by digital marketing.
Then came a Facebook consultant
The truth is that Pina had taken her online path not only with e-commerce but also with the social network most used by her customers and other billions of people around the world. Personal profiles, company pages, groups and sponsored: Pina was traveling at great speed on Facebook. Initially, even here the results struggled to materialize but at least she had earned the personal advice of a Facebook advertiser: our Roberto “Popy” Nardini.
One very hot August morning the consulting story began between a “Popy” half motivator, half stalker, and a disappointed, elusive, unconvinced Pina. This long-distance Lisbon-Nola relationship soon yielded very encouraging results. Thanks to Roberto, Pina discovered the pixel and the effectiveness of remarketing activities, she learned to set up more and more performing Facebook Ads campaigns, she expanded the community, and, despite all the necessary optimizations, she understood that probably the e-commerce at that time was not the right tool to close the sales of his shop.
Selling on the internet without e-commerce
The clientele of the Debora Shop is mostly made up of women over 50, accustomed to using Facebook and WhatsApp on a daily basis but absolutely not inclined to use an e-commerce for their purchases. This is why the growing audience of the countless Facebook live shows in which Pina and her orders show the physical store, the products, the purchases made, the promotions, instead of going through the online shop made, and continue to do, orders directly via WhatsApp.
The messaging tool used by over 450 million people every day has the ability to put people in immediate relationship and therefore to recover that personal relationship, of trust and confidence, between buyer and seller that is lost in online shops. Each customer of the Debora Shop is then entrusted to a dedicated order that guides the purchase process through a WhatsApp video call: from the choice of products, to personalized advice, up to the definition of the order.
To then understand that an e-commerce site is always a good choice
The success of the Debora Shop finally arrived, the result of trials, failures and good bets. A path that allowed to find the right alchemy between:
- a good social advertising strategy based on Facebook live, the visualization of the live video ended, the creation of new similar audiences, remarketing activities;
- the recovery of the personal purchase relationship thanks to the establishment of personal shoppers via WhatsApp;
- the ability of Pina Murano, soul of the Debora Shop brand, to involve her audience with continuous offers and promotions, with fixed appointments that go beyond simple sales, as in the best content marketing strategies. Think of the daily appointment with the scales: in the off-air interview Pina told us that she went on a diet and involved her audience in daily weight control. An unmissable appointment now. Chapeu!
The Covid-19 emergency and the resulting lockdowns have increased the need to cultivate personal relationships at a distance, and not just for strictly commercial reasons. This has increased the number and loyalty of the Debora Store’s public even more.
The increase in customers leads to the need to strengthen the offer and its organization. And here is that for Pina the need to use an e-commerce as the main sales channel is returning which, of course, will continue to be supported by all the tools, such as Facebook and WhatsApp, which made its creation possible.
Selling with WhatsApp and Facebook: what we have learned
1) Digital does not mean impersonal
Although digital interaction always takes place through a screen, especially with some tools it is possible to recover the immediacy, exclusivity, warmth of personal relationships, while amplifying their scope. And so a small neighborhood shop can afford to serve customers, learn their family stories, advise, comfort, sell clothes and more, anywhere in the world.
2) Listen to your audience and treasure mistakes
Any self-respecting marketing strategy, even in digital, is never a linear path, it is rather a circular process in which errors, measurement, analysis of choices and activities put in place help us to adjust the shot. Listening to the public plays a fundamental role in this process. So if your customers snub your online shop, don’t stop at the first failures, maybe you find that they prefer to buy in another way, on WhatsApp, for example. In this case, try in every way to facilitate the purchase through this tool, but don’t stop.
3) You can use WhatsApp Business as a sales tool but don’t limit yourself to that
First of all, let’s be clear, to do business on the most used instant messaging tool in the world, you can’t use the personal app but you have to switch to the application dedicated to companies: WhatsApp Business. Not only because according to WhatsApp policy you cannot use this application for commercial purposes, but also because the company application offers a series of features that are particularly useful for companies that decide to use this tool: automatic messages, the ability to create a profile company, access to statistics and other organizational tools.
However, do not think that you can do everything with WhatsApp, this tool is particularly useful in the final phase of the funnel: in customer service, immediately before and immediately after the sale, or as a tool for caring for your community, in the customer “care” phase journey. First there are many paths to take, the important thing is to have the right navigator by your side.
Debora Shop says about us
“I will never stop thanking Roberto for what he has done for me. In two years he has helped me change the direction of my business and beyond. He initially stalked me, he didn’t give in to my initial rejections. When we met it was not a good time either on a professional or personal level. Roberto believed in me, he taught me a lot, with patience and professionalism, and in the end he concretely contributed to the successes that I have been reaping in recent years with my company. “
Pina Murano – founder of the Debora Shop