In the words of: James Hopkins of Mon Purse

It’s an exciting time for Sydney-based luxury handbags and leather goods business Mon Purse, as they are set to open new stores and expand into new markets in coming months. We caught up with Mon Purse’s head of e-commerce and digital, James Hopkins, to learn more about the business and why they understand the value of operating both online and bricks-and-mortar stores.

THE MON PURSE STORY:

Mon Purse allows customers to design, customise and personalise their perfect handbag in-store or online. What our consumer wants. When they want it. How they want it.

The name Mon Purse reflects the customisation nature of our business. ‘Mon’ is French for ‘my’, therefore customers know they will be getting a high quality European piece that’s ‘theirs’. Monogramming is also a key element of the customisation process, so ‘Mon’ also represents monogramming.

Mon Purse came about in January 2014. Our founder Lana Hopkins spent hours at Westfield Bondi Junction looking for the perfect handbag, but simply couldn’t find it. She wanted to be able to touch, smell and feel a luxury handbag crafted in Europe. She also wanted it to suit her personal style: the right colour metal accessories to match her skin tone and jewellery; the right navy leather colour and smooth calfskin texture; that awesome red lining; monogrammed with her own individual initials, of course.

Lana spotted a gap in the market, which was allowing women to create their own perfect handbag or to simply personalise their own from a range of high quality European leather goods, and she went for it.

WHY ONLINE & OFFLINE MUST WORK TOGETHER:

In my role as head of e-commerce and digital at Mon Purse I’m responsible for the look and feel of the site, along with the constant flow of content creation that supports the site through our digital and social marketing. Our site, of course, needs to be in line with the in-store retail experience, therefore working in collaboration with our store managers and visual merchandising to create a 360-degree brand presence across our online and offline assets.

My role includes all of our acquisition marketing; digital strategy; influencer engagement; multi-channel digital marketing and optimisation; SEO; PPC; affiliate marketing; commercial partnerships; collaborations; analysis and reporting; multivariate testing and conversion management. As well as constantly being on the lookout for new technology that will help us optimise our online presence and the e-commerce journey so we deliver the strongest possible ROI to the business.

Mon Purse is available online and in-store. We currently have an online store alongside being stocked in MYER and our bricks-and-mortar boutique in Paddington. Today a business like ours must be omni-present. We must be able to touch our consumers at every possible point of message receptivity. As we create custom, personalised leather goods that are of the highest European quality, it was essential that we gave consumers the opportunity to touch and smell the quality of our leather so they could see the difference themselves. And they do! The feedback we get on quality is exactly what we had aimed for.

If someone wants to design their own bag, then they can use the 3D bag builder online, or they can drop into a store and go through the design process with one of our consultants, customers love having that guidance and ‘second opinion’ when they are creating their bespoke item. Most importantly, having an online and a physical presence drive each other. They create awareness, ease of contact and trust with the consumer, which is essential in today’s market.

It’s important for businesses to have a strong online presence because if you don’t, then you won’t survive. Consumers demand an online presence if you are to have any chance of success. They need to be able to search customer reviews, search images, share images and do all of their background research in the palm of their hands. Although Mon Purse was born online, that established presence was – and still is – essential to our bricks-and-mortar retail business.

Having easy to find business contact details online helps customers to find us quickly and easily and decide on their next action – whether they shop online or come into one of our stores. Location-based search will continue to become more important as we expand into six new retail locations.

HAVE A POINT OF DIFFERENCE:

What sets Mon Purse apart from other retailers is the user-centric focus. The customer journey doesn’t stop after the purchase of a product. We aim for a personal and meaningful experience that makes the customer feel special. All products are sent out in branded boxes, wrapped with tissue paper in stunning dustbags. Each product includes a care card and a personal message card. Handwritten notes can be included with the delivery as well. It’s not only about buying a product. It’s about experiencing the excitement and freedom of creating a unique design.

Mon Purse has also re-engineered the production process, moving from a mass production line to a handmade custom production facility that allows us to customise at scale. We’re vertically integrated, meaning we own the whole supply chain from production to distribution.

Mon Purse’s edge over its competitors is that we allow you to customise your perfect handbag. We give our customers what they want, how they want it, and when they want it. Through the online experience, the customer gets information delivered in terms of shoppable, curated, high-quality content. The bag builder gives the user a one-of-a-kind, satisfying and enjoyable experience to shop – we put the customer back in the driver’s seat from a control perspective. From metal accessory details to the interior lining color and add-ons of every small element can be customised. The 3D renders engage the user to play with the bag builder and to create a special and personal creation.

Our first-to-market bag builder continues to evolve through a continued substantial investment in tech and the user experience and gives the consumer a design experience like no other.

THE SECRETS OF SUCCESS:

I believe to be a successful retailer you have to: be authentic; customer/user-centric; not compromise on quality; and be shareable.

My tips for retailers who are starting out are: to find something unique. Deliver with passion. Over service your customers.

To be successful in business you have to be: focused and determined. Be driven and can drive those around you. Continually innovate. Be prepared to work at any hour of the day, anywhere in the world. Get the right advisors around you and nurture those relationships.

THE FUTURE’S BRIGHT:

It’s an exciting time for Mon Purse right now because, thanks to our partnership with MYER Australia, we are continuing to expand our retail presence into new markets. We have six more Myer locations rolling out in the coming months so if you are in Brisbane, Adelaide or Perth, then soon Mon Purse won’t be far away at all. Additionally, three new locations in Melbourne and Sydney will grow the bricks-and-mortar presence of the brand and provide more convenience.

What’s in store for Mon Purse’s future? Aside from the new store openings, I can’t say too much. Watch this space.

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