A multi-award-winning online store for sustainable living
There is an important quality running through Faerly’s entire product offering: sustainability. As their co-founders James Byrne and Eoin Houlihan say, “We started Faerly to do our part to help reduce unnecessary chemicals and plastics in the world.” Most of the Kildare-based online retailer’s goods are sourced within Ireland, and many of these from small local makers. Faerly’s business principles include carbon neutrality, zero waste, ethical sourcing and inclusivity. In short, they say, “We’re in business to improve lives”.
Financial sustainability is part of the picture, too. “Our aim is to be profitable every day, growing the business without relying on debt,” James underlines. In hindsight, launching the service in October 2020, in the middle of the pandemic, was no bad thing. “Everyone was shopping online, employers were sending out gifts to keep employees engaged, and digital advertising was relatively inexpensive. We got our brand in front of more people than we anticipated,” James says. In addition, the appetite to support homegrown Irish businesses has increased, so the company steered a steady and organic growth course as life returned to normality.
Rapid expansion of the product catalogue
James designed and built Faerly’s web presence himself using Shopify. “I was generally very happy with Shopify. We invested a lot of time and effort, but the end result is perfectly presentable and scalable, simply using the program’s out-of-the-box functionality. However, Shopify is not so strong when it comes to making recommendations and putting new products in front of customers,” James says.
“We found that some of our bestselling products were over represented in the native upsell widgets and visitors were not getting refined recommendations related to their browsing activity.”
James Byrne, Co-founder, Faerly
This became more of an issue as Faerly rapidly grew the number of products in the catalogue, from around 500 at the start to more than 1,700 now, across broad categories that are as diverse as skincare and homecare. This complexity made it more difficult for shoppers to discover products.
A particular problem was that a large portion of Faerly’s business is gifting, and customers whose intention is to find a suitable gift will see relevant products. But for customers who are buying for themselves, products that are merchandised as gifts are usually irrelevant.
Intelligent merchandising and product discovery
James heard Shopbox AI founder Alan Gormley speak at several events.
“What I heard from Alan suggested that Shopbox could help tailor the experience for shoppers around multiple buying journeys, exactly the kind of upsell and cross-sell functionality that we found lacking in Shopify. On top of this, Shopbox aligns with our company’s strategy of sourcing from Irish suppliers whenever possible.”
Faerly did look at the cross-selling and up-selling options in other solutions but found they were not the right fit for Faerly. Shopbox’s platform offered a more intelligent solution, especially for shoppers who are unaware of many of the products in the Faerly catalogue. Shopbox was implemented very easily.
“It just needed a small tweak to align Shopbox with our website branding. A minor thing, but ‘retail is detail’ so it was amazing that they could do this and were more than happy to do so.”
Shopbox now gives Faerly multiple areas on their website where relevant products can be suggested and cross-sold. This includes the homepage, listing pages and carousels on product pages based on attributes such as product description, name, size, colour, style etc. What the shopper sees are helpful suggestions like “recommended for you” or “new for you” based on their shopping behaviour. Returning shoppers can pick up where they left off with “recently viewed”, so sales opportunities are less likely to be lost.
A big uplift in sales
James provides an example of how Shopbox helps in ways that other applications don’t: “A lot of our products are eco-friendly and shoppers on our site might not realise that there is a sustainable alternative to what they currently purchase. Let’s say you come to our store looking for an environment-friendly water bottle. Shopbox will note your interest and suggest a sustainably sourced brush that you could use for cleaning such a bottle, even though the brush is a different product category in a completely different location on the website. A really good in-store shop assistant would do the same."
More generally, we’ve noticed an uplift in certain products – sometimes quite random items – since we implemented Shopbox, as a result of its intelligent cross-selling. Likewise new products start selling much faster than in the past.”
The directly observable results are impressive. “You can see the difference from the moment we implemented Shopbox,” James says. The uplift in average order value was 13% with Shopbox compared with the baseline. Product views were up 200% and there was a 386% increase in conversion.* “We’ve noticed indirect improvements in other indicators too, such as the return on our investment in digital advertising, as Shopbox converts more of the traffic that we pay to acquire. What I love about Shopbox is that it runs itself without any intervention on our part, and we’re seeing all these benefits. That’s important for a small business aiming to be profitable every day, but with limited time and resources,” James concludes.
*Figures based on a 30-day period measured in October 2023