Sramana: What percentage of the business is girls clothing versus boys clothing?
Nicole Brewer: About 70% to 30%. Girl moms definitely shop more than the boy moms. You can do a lot more with a girl.
Sramana: When you decided to move to a more automated payment process, how did you manage that decision process?
Nicole Brewer: When we moved into our space, we knew our business was real. At that point we started to hire people to help us. We wrote down everything we needed from a technical sense and we found a contractor to build the stuff for us. At the time there was nothing on the market that would serve our purposes. We spent a year developing the technology.
Sramana: None of the shopping carts on the market would fulfill what you were looking for?
Nicole Brewer: No, because we needed an upside down shopping cart.
Amy Laws: Shopping carts are designed for a customer to put items into it. You get on the website and choose those items. When you were shopping with us you did not know that you won an item. We may only have 40 of one particular dress and have 150 people competing for that dress. We had to design an invoicing system that had a reverse engineered shopping cart. It really had to be an invoicing system.
The software we built is completely proprietary. We did not utilize any off the shelf components because of the uniqueness of what we are doing. We built an inventory system specialized to our requirements. We had an accounting system and a rewards system built in.
Nicole Brewer: We also had dynamite fulfillment. That was very important to us. One thing that has separated us from others is that our shipping is very fast. You pay and we ship the next day.
Amy Laws: Definitely. Fulfillment and fantastic customer support are our trademarks. We outgrew that software and it was not scalable for what our goals were. We have recently started using different systems.
Sramana: Now you have done another round of change in the technology infrastructure. What have you done this round?
Nicole Brewer: This round focused on scalability. We want the ability to add other lines of business in addition to Smocked Auctions. We just built a much larger, robust engine.
Sramana: Are you still doing custom software development?
Nicole Brewer: We have used off the shelf pieces to build a customized environment for us. It was very important for us to continue selling on Facebook and Instagram. We had never sold on a website before. We just launched that this February. Before that, the only thing you could do on our website was pay your bill. We really wanted to expand our website into something that would allow customers to have a single experience. They can now shop there and take advantage of our rewards program.