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The Tucker Blair brand might remind you of your college days, dressed in Vineyard Vines and Columbia Sportswear. But, Tucker Blair, an ecommerce store reinventing the men’s belt, has much more staying power than simply influencing a few short years in your purchasing life.
“The men’s belt has suffered decades, maybe hundreds of years, of boringness,” says Matt Tara, owner of Tucker Blair. “We’re trying to transform that, one person at a time.”
Indeed, the brand hand makes everything they sell on their store, which includes accessories beyond their mainstay product offering of belts. Most items lose their “boring” factor thanks to creative needlepoint that gives the old school craft a modern day feel. Sure, to first time visitors of the site, the items might seem particularly appealing to those on the East Coast, or to those in Greek Life throughout the country. But the Tucker Blair brand refuses to be pigeon-holed.
“We have so many different kinds of belts with all different kinds of icons –– from fish to sports to golf to state flags,” says Tara. “When our customers buy one of our products, it reminds them of things they love to do, places they’ve been, great memories with their family. It’s really a way for people to express themselves. That’s kind of how we view our company in general –– as a unique way to find something you love, and wear it with you.”
Of course, when it comes to ecommerce, success can often be dictated by much more than your product offering. From SEO to social media marketing, ecommerce store owners face consistent industry updates that can make or break the health of their business.
“Ecommerce is like death by a thousand paper cuts. Everyone thinks there’s one thing you can do. No, you literally have to do a million things right –– or pretty good –– to be successful,” says Tara. “That’s why I think there’s so many stores that hit plateaus.”
From paid search to email marketing, affiliates to PR, managing an ecommerce brand means staying on top of industry trends, learning the new lingo and tools quickly and efficiently and always being ready to make a move. This is where Tara sees Tucker Blair standing out from the crowd. Thanks to the brand’s smaller status, the company as a whole is more agile and able to hop on trends early to increase customer convenience and loyalty.
“The easy thing about being a small business and doing all these different things is the level of approvals is really small. I just approve it myself,” says Tara. “We can be innovative because there isn’t a big corporate chain we need to get to sign off on all these things. We need to consistently put ourselves out there and do things that 1) grab consumers’ attention and 2) give people a really good experience.”
And for Christmas 2013, the Tucker Blair brand put this mantra to the test. Tara and team joined on as a beta client for Uber’s product delivery initiative, allowing customers to order products within a specific 24-hour period and then have that product delivered to them the next day –– often before noon.
“People are calling Uber instead of a taxicab on their phone,” says Tara. “So, why is it that you can’t sit here and order from Tucker Blair or from Bloomingdales or from the Gap and just have them take it from the store to your apartment? The future is not just ordering and getting something three days later via UPS. The future’s going to be getting something whenever you want it. And there’s no reason that retailers can’t do that, too.”
And since 2013, Tucker Blair’s research-and-react method to industry innovations has increased monthly sales by 55% via a 75% improvement in online conversions. In all, Tara’s biggest piece of small business advice is this: be customer-centric.
“The nice part of being a brand is we control our destiny. The number one thing we always will strive for is having more people know who we are. And, those people really taking delight and pride in wearing our products. If we do those two things, we’ll be able to do a lot more in terms of expansion,” says Tara.
Read more on the details behind Tucker Blair’s success story and watch Matt Tara talk to the company’s growth trajectory and ecommerce marketing tactics below.
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