Australia is an exciting place to be in the world of online fashion. There has been a flurry of young, fresh and exciting brands coming out of Australia in the past years. Beyond the established names like Billabong, Quiksilver, RM Williams taking over the world, we are seeing several up-and-coming brands make a killing on Instagram with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of followers. A lot of these new brands have successfully built  a highly effective Shopify store to best serve their global audience.

By design Australian brands are focused on selling in the global marketplace, making their international presence a key to success. Given how many interesting brands and stories are coming out of this relatively small market, relative to US and Europe, we’ve been very curious to learn more about what’s going on there  and share back how some of these amazing brands go about building a global online fashion store.

This is the first of a Merchant Story series highlighting these Australian brands. We wanted to know especially how they make their brand stand out and how they make their customer experience magical.  We’ve had the chance to pick the brains of Michael Lim, who co-founded HER LINE in 2014.

Michael, can you tell us the story behind your brand? What makes it special and unique?

HER LINE was designed to ensure that every piece fits into the modern woman’s wardrobe, imbuing the timeless quality of textural organic cotton and linens. However, the heart of HER LINE is reflective through the story of local workmanship manifested by Tuyen’s parents and the large Vietnamese manufacturing community she grew up with. To experience first-hand the hours and craft that Tuyen’s parents have put into each garment authenticated the brand to thrive on local communities and skills. We believe it’s our obligation to remain transparent with our customers and to support local manufacturing in Australia. This ensures that we can keep a close eye on the quality of each collection, whilst maintaining our brand’s commitment and ethos.

What sets our brand apart is through the careful consideration of natural and organic fabrics that elevate the handle and weight of each garment. Our timeless, ready to wear collection is rendered with understated details, incorporating panel lines to flatter and contour any body shape. This focuses on utilitarian construction and high quality finishes to increase the longevity of every piece. We are continually learning and finding more sustainable methods to enhance the quality of our fabrics. Our collection is designed with the purpose of our pieces to be worn season after season. Therefore, HER LINE is strongly committed to contributing to both the industry and the environment in a conscious, mindful and sustainable manner which we are excited to show more of in our next resort collection.

In your opinion, what’s important to deliver a positive shopping experience? What are your tricks to make sure your customers are happy while shopping and also post-purchase?

One of our key commitments is to perpetually foster transparent communication between our brand and our consumers. In order to impact a positive experience, we constantly monitor frequently asked questions to update our website with information that people are looking for the most, such as shipping times, our return policy, product descriptions and fit information. As our brand is primarily operated through an e-commerce platform, we understand that some consumers may be disengaged with the idea of buying clothing online simply because of uncertainty of whether the garment will fit or not. To mitigate this, we use a tool called Virtusize to provide more sizing help so customers can choose their most accurate fit. If in the case the consumer wants to change sizing or return a product, we believed it was very important that our post-purchase system was simple and made easy. HER LINE offers free exchanges for all orders, also providing free labels for both ways. We ensured that our shipping costs were reasonable with free express shipping offered to all orders sent within Australia.

Another trick to keep our customers satisfied is through our Live Chat feature on the website where consumers can instantaneously ask questions with the guarantee of a response within the hour. The whole team at HER LINE does customer service. We are all equipped with the right knowledge to answer all enquiries rather than outsourcing our customer service to an external party.

What are some of your favourite apps or solutions you use to create a magical experience and why?

One of the apps which have caused an instant positive change on our website is called Virtusize. When buying clothes online, we all know that sizing can be one of the main challenges and barriers to purchasing. Virtusize sits on our clothing product pages and links to each item’s measurement. This feature add-on allows for our customers to check against a previous item they have purchased or measure against an item they have at home. The app is very intuitive and displays diagrams to help guide the user in finding their perfect fit. From the day we installed Virtusize, we’ve seen an instant increase in conversions and a lower rate of exchanges.

With a lot of mention towards customer experiences, one of our favourite solutions is Return Magic. Return Magic has drastically reduced the manual process through its automatic system in processing returns for customers. The ease of generating automatic labels has saved us countless hours every week, allowing us to divert our energy on building various aspects of the brand. The customizability allows us to fit our returns policy to fit our exact needs. Return Magic has provided the ultimate convenience for us and enhanced a seamless experience for our consumers to build trust and long-term relationships.

Based on your learnings so far, do you have any advice to share with other merchants on building a great brand and customer experience?

If your brand primarily sells on an online platform, it is paramount that you have a strong online presence. Nowadays, consumers are shopping online more frequently which is important for you to build a great brand through social platforms. HER LINE communicates the brand style and ethos through Instagram – where we post a mixture of our collections and artwork inspirations that coincide with one another. This is why we collaborate with inspiring artists who represent HER LINE’s inherent timelessness and artistic tactility. So to build a great brand, start working with like-minded influencers and individuals that you believe are a reflection of your brand style.

We believe that any brand that sells online should actively focus on improving their exchange and returns policy to build a positive customer experience. You want your post purchase system to be as simple as possible in order to alleviate any consumer uncertainties when purchasing online. We’ve seen an increase in conversion rates from increasing our return timeline and providing a return policy with free exchanges and easy returns. This helps us build trust and to ensure that every consumer is satisfied with their order.