NailSuperstore.com polishes off a new B2B e-commerce site
March 30, 2015 02:53 PM
Vietnamese entrepreneur Kevin Huynh founded The Nail Superstore, a manufacturer and wholesaler of supplies to nail manicure salons, after leaving Vietnam at the age of 15 to escape a military draft and eventually immigrating to America to meet his parents in Seattle.
Once the Vietnamese teenager arrived in America, he worked at his family’s nail salon. “It was built in my blood that somehow, someway I would own a business,” he says. “The Nail Superstore is my own business.”
In 1995, Huynh founded his nail supplies company—originally named Skyline Beauty Supply—in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood, after hearing that Chicago was a growing market and moving to the city.
Since then, business has grown to serve some 7,000 salons nationwide (Huynh estimates there are 60,000 total nail salons in America), and now 90% of the company’s sales come through online orders. Revenue grew from $2.2 million in 2013 to $2.5 million in 2015, and Huynh credits the growth to his international clients. About 30% of his sales are to customers in countries located in America, Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia, and Huynh says the future of his business depends on international growth.
“If you go to Europe, the women are wearing fake nails, and if you go to Asia you see all these people with crazy nails, too,” he says. “With all these emerging markets, the sky’s the limit.”
Huynh has learned how to grow his business in stages. In the early days, the young man sold files, polishes and other nail salon supplies to consumers and businesses at his bricks-and-mortar store. As a way to expand his customer base beyond the Chicago metropolitan area, Huynh printed a catalog of his products and distributed it to every salon in the United States. Eventually, a need for increased space, and competition in wholesale nail supply business in Chicago, prompted Huynh to relocate The Nail Superstore in 2007 to a 20,000-square-foot distribution center in the nearby suburb of Franklin Park, IL.
That same year, Huynh also launched NailSuperstore.com, an e-commerce site built in-house by web developers in Vietnam. The company’s increased online and physical presence allowed Huynh to expand the company’s product base from just nail manicure supplies to include skin care products, salon furniture and a personal brand named “Artisan” of nail treatment goods. The Nail Superstore also manufactures items for companies in Mexico and Australia.
The entrepreneur keeps prices low by travelling and buying nail files, and manicure and pedicure tools, directly from manufacturing locations such as the Yiwu Market, an eastern China trade hub. Huynh also says he buys chemicals in America and a few specialized products in Europe.
NailSuperstore.com receives tens of thousands of visitors each month, Huynh says. To support and continue its online growth, he launched a responsive design website in early March to accommodate customers shopping online from outside of the U.S., and buyers shopping from different devices like smartphones, tablets or desktop computers. Responsive design is a format that adapts the look of an e-commerce website to the device the buyer is using.
In order to better optimize his site for Internet search and improve the appearance of his products in Google results, Huynh hired a web content writer to rewrite the description of the more than 3,000 goods sold on NailSuperstore.com. He also changed the listing of categories on the site to better coincide with search engine optimization terms, or the words and phrases people commonly use to search for NailSuperstore.com’s products, such as “manicure,” “pedicure” and “nail polish.” He also added a drop-down menu feature for each category, further improving how the site organizes its content and making it easier for visitors to navigate the site.
Huynh also increased the size of the text, re-laid out the search engine button to make it more noticeable, and added an autocomplete function in the search window. Autocomplete automatically displays full words in the search window as soon as a site visitor begins to text. He also replaced the “distracting” flash banners on the site with one big banner ad at the top of the home page.
“With all the investment put in, I hope that we can have a 15 to 20% increase in revenue in 2015,” he says.
NailSuperstore still sends out a print catalog to customers who request it, although now the company’s entire catalog can also be downloaded online. The site redesign also includes a feature called Quick Order, where registered customers can enter into a pop-up window a product item number, the quantity of the item desired, and purchase it from within the pop-up.
Instead of investing money in print advertisements for the store’s catalog, Huynh plans to shift more marketing spend to paid-search Google Ads, and is looking to drive organic growth by upping his ranking in Google search results. He’s also considering buying ads on other search engines such as Bing and Yahoo.
With competition including merchants such as multichannel retail chain Sally Beauty Supply and online marketplaces such as Amazon.com and NailsInc.com, Huynh says he has tried to make his site as user friendly and specialized as possible. In 2011, NailSuperstore.comlaunched “low-end” video tutorials of how to use the products sold on the site, and recently Huynh hired a professional videographer and nail technicians to demonstrate the products.
The entrepreneur also just returned from a trip to Japan where he produced a series of 20 videos on Japanese nail manicure art.
“The nail art in Japan is unbelievable,” he says. “They’re meticulous in everything that they do, and they look very simple, but elegant.”
“I haven’t uploaded the videos yet—20 videos takes a long time to edit,” he adds. “I need to get the translation technician in to translate and insert subtitles, but the series will be up sometime in the next couple of weeks.”
Huynh says he aims to scale up his site’s peformance without overspending on features.
The new web site design also received design help from a NailSuperstore's web development team in Vietnam, Huynh says. The site also integrates with Nailsuperstore’s Microsoft Dynamics NAV enterprise resource planning software, including business operations software for managing financial accounting and inventory records.
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