Pink Lily’s Success Puts It in the ‘Black’
The path to e-commerce success lies in women’s fashion. At least, that is what Chris Gerbig and his wife, Tori, concluded in 2011 when they began to research the type of online business they wanted to start that would not only support the family they planned to have but also the lifestyle they wanted to lead. By 2013, the first of their three children arrived, and by 2014, their online business, Pink Lily, launched. An online retailer that sells apparel, footwear, beauty products, and accessories for women, the couple started the business as an eBay “side hustle” but it has since taken in more than $140 million in sales.
Taking a page from the Chewy marketing playbook, Pink Lily takes pride in the personal touch it provides to customers, such as handwritten notes, personalized shipping labels, a loyalty program, surprise thank-you gifts (sometimes in the form of “refunds”), and discounts. Chris Gerbig, co-founder and president of the company, said the name of their e-commerce business stems from Tori’s favorite color, pink, and its pleasing sound preceding “lily.” Eighty percent of its customers are women aged 18-44.
He talked more in-depth about the Kentucky-based company and the possibility of opening brick-and-mortar stores in the future.
How did you decide which products you would sell via e-commerce?
My wife and I took a lot of calculated risks–we really made sure we understood what we were doing before we decided to do anything. We would sit down and analyze the numbers, making sure that anything we decided to pursue made sense to us monetarily and that the revenue was consistent.
We started looking at suppliers and vendors, initially looking at pet supplies, men’s clothing, and women’s clothing; we found that the women’s fashion suppliers had inventory more readily available and decided that this particular path might be more successful than the other avenues we were exploring at the time. Back in 2014, there was less competition in the e-commerce industry for women’s fashion, and we capitalized on this gap in the market.
What technology does Pink Lily use to personalize the shipping labels to customers?
Every new customer order receives special attention through Pink Lily’s system. A unique identifier is printed on the invoice and shipping label, signaling to the picking and packing team that this is a new customer. This ensures that a customer’s first experience with the brand is memorable and leaves a lasting impression. This simple gesture creates a sense of excitement and demonstrates the brand’s commitment to providing exceptional service. The technology we use to personalize shipping labels is Shiphero.
Can you describe Pink Lily’s multi-location marketing efforts?
We actually don’t currently segment marketing efforts based on location. The entire U.S. is our target market, and our influencers are nationwide. As we open stores, we will narrow down some more extensive marketing campaigns based on retail store locations.
How have random “returns” and surprise gifts been successful?
This interactive and unexpected act creates a buzz on social media and generates enthusiasm among the customer base. Tori [who personally selects each gift and “returns”] doesn’t use any customer information prior to selecting a gift. Tori will work with our marketing team to film the swag content. She’ll often pick several customers in our database and live stream the announcement and giveaways.
By going the extra mile, we believe the brand fosters a sense of genuine connection, making customers feel valued and appreciated. The “return” on these acts of kindness is more engagement and happy customers. We’re working with AI to streamline the customer-service process and improve our sizing, which will reduce our [non-random] return rate.
Is Pink Lily subscriber-based?
Pink Lily does not have a subscription option; however, we do offer the opportunity for customers to sign up for “Pink Perks,” an all-access pass to exclusive rewards, and it allows our customers to accrue points on every purchase.
How does one become a Pink Lily VIP?
By signing up here. There are three VIP tiers, starting with “Blush.” By purchasing items and following our social media channels, customers can continue accruing points to progress toward “Rose” and, finally, “Magenta.”
From where do you source your materials?
We source a large amount of our products and materials from the U.S. A majority of our products are made in Los Angeles.