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All In and Unfazed: Julie Mathers’ Guide to eCommerce | #121

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Julie Mathers’ Guide to eCommerce
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Nathan Bush is a director at eCommerce talent agency, eSuite. He has led eCommerce for businesses with revenue $100m+ and has been recognised as one of Australia’s Top 50 People in eCommerce four years in a row. You can contact Nathan on LinkedIn, Twitter or via email.

Julie is a seasoned Digital, Multichannel and Retail Leader. Extensive experience globally in the UK, Europe, Asia and Australia across home improvement, beauty, department stores, food, home, fashion and specialty retailing. Has worked in start ups and established businesses, Operated at exec and board level. Board Director National Retail Association. Previously Non Exec Director at Whittard of Chelsea and Storevision.
Julie is dedicated to the environment and our impact as individuals and businesses. Her aim is to run a best in class ethical business and retailer so the leading values and ethics of the business are underpinned by nimble, innovative retailing with world class business and customer metrics. She is an inspiring leader within, and outside of her business, with a focus on responsible retailing, inclusion and diversity and empowering women in business. Julie regularly speaks on these subjects and coaches individuals wanting to make a difference.

Julie Mathers talks customer communication, acquisition and how she’d rather talk shop than drink schooners!

In this episode of Add To Cart, we are joined by Julie Mathers.  She is eCommerce royalty in Australia after placing as the #1 person in eCommerce multiple times – including last year – and successfully sold her vegan, ethically sourced, cruelty-free and low impact eCommerce business, Flora & Fauna to BWX earlier this year. Now Julie is the Managing Director of both Flora & Fauna and Nourished Life. She’s also on multiple retail Boards and Advisory including National Retail Association Aus Post and NORA. Nothing like selling your business and doubling your responsibilities!  In this conversation we cover the Flora & Fauna to date from how she took a Photoshop course to create the Flora & Fauna website to how Julie felt when she handed her business baby over to BWX. We also cover the power of words, why retailers are fighting over Unit Load Devices (or ULD’s) and Julie’s advice for any founders who are considering external funding or acquisition.

How you talk to your customers can make you or break you really quickly.

Julie Mathers

Questions answered in this episode include
  • What was the biggest lesson you took from the corporate world which helped you build Flora & Fauna? 
  • What advice would you give business owners looking for funding or acquisition?
  • What’s the most common question or dilemma you find other retailers coming to you for advice on?

The importance of values

I always think it comes down to your values, right. And it depends, business to business, so we have eight values at F&F. They’re all about being positive, fun, kind, non-judgmental. Those are the things that are very important to us. Nourished Life has a different set of values. So, it’s about using words that meet your own set of values. So, as an example, Flora & Fauna’s a vegan business, so we’re very passionate about animals, about the environment, about humans. That’s our sort of little strap line is kind to the planet, people and animals.

If you look at PETA, P-E-T-A, they’re also really passionate about animals too, but we come at it from very different angles and a post that’s on their Instagram, because I saw one before and I actually find it very difficult to read them, because they come at it from a completely different angle. 

This is why I think values are so, so important to a business. And they should be instrumental. And they should just be part of… They’re part of my DNA and they should be part of anyone’s DNA who works with us as a business. And I’ve worked at too many businesses where they go, here’s our values, and stick them on a piece of paper and then just put them in a drawer and no-one every looked at them, right.

For us we have them on a billboard in the office, but it’s more than that. We just talk about them in everyday language. Everyday language. And if we go through post or emails or whatever else and I change the language on anything, I’ll tell the team why and we talk through it. 

Focused on every opportunity

I used to sit on the small business council for Facebook which was really good. And I went to dinner once and there was this great guy that was over from the States, who is a massive brand builder.   Everyone else was on the schooners…and  I plonked myself down next to him and we just started talking about Flora & Fauna and at that dinner there, he actually really helped me in my mind, focus what our purpose was at F&F. So, he was brilliantly helpful at helping. And from that, that’s where I went. I took what he suggested away and I got it into a purpose and from that, I really pulled out all of our values.

Acquisition advice

it’s actually really tough to go through it. And I think the biggest challenge is the emotional piece. You’re talking about your baby basically. So, my advice is try and, if you can, try and take the emotion out of it. I would also say, for your own mental state, just keep going with running your business. Also just almost just have it as, yeah, that’s happening at the side and that’s the one thing we did. We just went, yep, yep, it’s happening but just keep going. Because you can get caught up in the process quite a lot. 

And I know lots of other people who’ve been in this exact same position. It’s like, right, we’re going to put the IM out. And that’s exciting. Oh, we’ll get the flyer out. Oh, these people want to read the IM, that’s amazing. And you kind of get ahead of yourself. And you go God, I’m going to get like 20 offers. This is exciting. And you do, you get caught up in the whole process.

And the reality is, people have a nosey. There’s lots of tire kickers, right. And they fall away for many, many, many reasons. Because they’ve got to do their own due diligence and although you think your business is the best business in the world, it might just not meet their investment portfolio or they might just not see the growth in it that you do. So, you have to be, as much as you can, try and not be too emotional about the whole thing. Treat it as a thing that’s going on at the side, but do not stop, do not stop running or growing your business in the hope that this happens. Keep going. Keep going. If that happens, brilliant. That’s great. If it doesn’t, don’t worry about it. Keep going.

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