Does the thought of listing products on 44 e-commerce marketplaces sound intimidating?
Yes, that’s a lot of sales channels. But as Elena Castaneda can tell you, expanding to dozens of marketplaces isn’t just a good business decision. It’s the kind of strategy that can have big bottom-line impacts, too — and generate millions of more dollars in sales.
We recently sat down with the founder of Bling Jewelry to understand what led her to pursue such a bold business model, and what she did to achieve some remarkable goals. Her story is one of the most inspiring ones we’ve heard in a while.
It all started in a small apartment
Peruse the Bling Jewelry e-commerce site today, and it would be easy to assume the company has always been wildly successful. Castaneda and her team have fine-tuned the art of curating stylish, high-quality jewellery based on the latest trends and fashions. Loyalists frequently use words like “gorgeous,” “alluring” and “excellent condition” to describe their love affair with the online retailer’s collections.
But to say it all came naturally would be doing a great disservice to the level of care and consideration that went into building the brand.
“Twenty years ago, I started in a one-bedroom apartment — just all by myself, taking little pictures with my new high-tech digital camera,” Castaneda says. “I would start taking pictures of jewellery, posting them and as I sold them, I’d go pick them up.”
It worked — really, really well. As the years progressed, Casteneda moved on to bigger facilities and continued to hire more staff.
Which is great news, of course. Except for the fact that fast, prosperous growth within the e-commerce industry also comes with some sizeable challenges. By the time the business had reached 48 employees working in a 14,000-square-foot facility, Bling Jewelry had outgrown its ability to keep up with orders manually.
“There was no way to really centralise all the inventory and the ordering system,” Casteneda recalls. “Posting items on different platforms was very time-consuming. There had to be a better way.”
That’s when the company decided it was time to start leveraging a centralised e-commerce platform.
Then the company went from “a few million to several million”
As soon as Bling Jewelry started to rely on the ChannelAdvisor platform for order and inventory management, all kinds of changes ensued. Staff was no longer scrambling to keep up with orders and ensure inventory stayed synced across channels — or spending countless hours just to get items posted in the first place.
“ChannelAdvisor makes it so easy because everything is very well-centralised,” Casteneda says.
Once freed from the pains of day-to-day manual management, Castaneda and her team were able to focus on expansion strategies and identify new marketplaces for the company’s products. Before long, Bling Jewelry had listed on 44 marketplaces around the world using systemised processes Castaneda describes as “almost magical.”
Every time Amazon launched in a new country, for example, Bling Jewelry could lean on ChannelAdvisor to help ensure a seamless introduction of their products there. In years past, that would’ve been a huge undertaking. Many of the smaller elements that are easy to take for granted when selling domestically, such as the language that’s used and the prices that are listed, can become big issues when dealing with cross-border trade.
Not so with ChannelAdvisor’s help, says Castaneda.
“There’s just a rule you put in so we change the pricing in one place and it just changes in every currency within maybe five minutes,” she says.
It all comes down to this: Once placed within the context of a robust e-commerce platform, Castaneda’s hard work and determination led to an explosion of unprecedented growth.
“We were just doing a few million dollars and then we went to several million very quickly,” she says.
And while the story is an impressive one, it’s far from over. Bling Jewelry continues to reach new milestones every year, and Castaneda believes more than ever in the power of e-commerce to transform business.
“I’m just an example of if you put your nose to the grindstone and work hard, there’s no reason why any woman can’t accomplish this.”
Wondering how you can start working toward your own e-commerce success story? Learn about the difference a strong e-commerce platform can make in the guide: Everything You Need to Know to Change E-Commerce Software.