Photographing their inventory across multiple stores, featuring the items on Instagram and using hashtags to specify product location, @thekindexchange is masterfully utilizing this platform to increase brand awareness and allow their followers to interact with their brand and offerings.Price and size are generally included in each post and fans can tag their friends to promote items they think they’ll like. You can even call ahead to put items you see on hold.
Plumlytics speaks with The Kind Exchange founder, 37-year-old Jeffrey Wexler, to discuss his creative marketing strategy and how it has grown his business from one location on Queen Street to 16 stores across the GTA.
Plumlytics: So when did you guys first start marketing on Instagram?
Jeffrey Wexler: Immediately, 2011, as soon as we opened the first store. Right away we had a Facebook, Twitter and Instagram account. And as we’ve been able to grow with multiple locations, it has just been the most exciting to see the participation. I have a unique kind of retail business where I get new items in every day, so there’s a lot of fun content, but my employees do an incredible job of Instagramming items that come out, promotions, everything. They do an incredible job.
PL: Is it up to the managers of each location? Do they have discretion to pick items out and feature them or do you oversee that?
JW: Every store is supposed to post to social media four times a day. Instagram, obviously being so photo focused, has been great for us to show new pictures of inventory that comes in. But also, [the managers] are really creative in the ways they display it. It’s clothing, it’s fashion, it’s fun. And I give all the credit in the world to my employees who are just so creative, so on point. They’re just great at it.
PL: I guess since you started on Instagram from the very beginning it’s hard to gauge, but if you had to put a percentage on it, how much sales growth have you seen as a result of advertising on Instagram?
JW: That’s very tough to do, very tough for me to measure right now as a metric because we started using social media right in the beginning. But when I come in to new areas and new stores, I tell our customers about our profile. I put our Instagram handle on all of my store windows and our employees in-store will say you should follow us on Instagram. Obviously it has been a lot of word-of-mouth because when you have something exciting and you’ve got good content, you know people start to talk about it and it’s really positive.
PL: It’s a really cool thing to see. Not just that social media is helping you grow your following online but also that people are really talking about it in real life too.
JW: There’s no question, it’s the best. It’s the absolute best and I’m so proud of what we’ve done. I keep mentioning my staff because they just do an amazing job of being creative with the different posts, it’s awesome. Now I also have one of those businesses where new items are coming in all the time so my content can really be fresh. But it’s really the employees that keep doing this great stuff with it. It’s always been really important to my business, to who we are. I’ve never really done well with traditional marketing. To me, this is an active customer base. An active listener, an active viewer who gets to see [this content]. They’re signing up to hang out with us, which is the best. People always ask me how to get more followers and it doesn’t change that it all starts at the store level. We have to reach out to people, tell them what we’re doing, have them follow us and have that first engagement.
PL: How does your marketing strategy differ on Facebook? As you were saying, Instagram is incredibly visual, Twitter is pretty text-based. How does that work for you on Twitter and Facebook?
JW: Our Facebook and Twitter are not as active as Instagram. Facebook is sort of looking back as opposed to the fast action of Instagram. But maybe that will change. I do feel like I could do more with it and Twitter as well. But because of the amazing pictures that we take and use, Instagram is just fantastic but I think I’m under using Facebook and Twitter to be honest with you. What would you say?
PL: With Facebook and Twitter, for us personally, when I blog and post to Facebook, the reach isn’t as much as you would get on Twitter for us because so many more people can see it, as opposed to Facebook. I guess it’s just about using the platforms that work best for you but it’s good to have a presence on all the others too.
JW: Exactly. I feel like Facebook and Twitter are more for promotions and Instagram is more for fast action sales.
PL: Do you have any plans to increase your usage of Facebook and Twitter?
JW: One hundred per cent. I would be silly not to. When you’re a small business, trying to do all these different things, time just gets away from you and I’m very fortunate that my employees are so good at Instagram. But I couldn’t load all those pictures onto Facebook. It would overload people’s feed, it would be too much.
PL: And you and all your employees share the one account?
JW: Correct. We set up a framework for them to work in, that has to have size, price and store location and then the creativity is up to them when it’s all said and done.
PL: That’s really cool, it gives them the opportunity to get involved in what you guys are doing, overall.
JW: And to be creative. The Kind Exchange is a used clothing store but it’s really people coming together and my employees are just incredible. I’m really lucky.
PL: We’ve touched on this throughout the conversation but overall, how has social media changed the way you do business?
JW: Completely. It has enhanced, from the brick and mortar experience, to the digital world, it’s bridged the gap and it’s sensational. Selling used clothing online can be challenging but it’s possible. It’s just been a great tool for us, to really get our message out and say who we are. It’s fantastic. But, that being said, I feel like I could always be doing more. I feel like it’s just beginning.
PL: Are there any challenges you’ve noticed with Instagram, specifically? Or even Twitter or Facebook, apart from what you’ve already mentioned?
JW: I would love to have a “buy now” button on Instagram, it would be pretty neat but I’m just trying to make sure our brand gets displayed in the best possible way, across all the different stores. This is a challenge as you grow in business; you want to keep your core fundamentals the same and you want to have that feeling that I had with my first store. I want our social media to reflect that as well. We’re The Kind Exchange and it’s about doing good action in the world, it’s about fast action and it’s about fun, it’s great. And I really want to get that across; that our stores are fun, exciting places to go for fashion.
PL: What other platforms are you considering? I know there are so many out there for businesses; Pinterest is also really visual, Foursquare, which is about just putting your name out there, what do you think about those?
JW: I’ve used all of those and what it comes down to is that right now, we have to focus on what we’re good at and get the word out. We’re too small a company, I’m just trying to get better at Twitter and Facebook to become a better source there. But Pinterest would be very cool and makes a lot of sense for my business. I hope to roll that out this year.
PL: And how social media savvy were you when you first got started? Did you know about all this stuff, were you just learning about it?
JW: There’s obviously a learning curve as new applications come out within social media. I’ve always believed in it from a business sense, that it’s the right way to spend your marketing resources. The number one way, for me anyways.
With their newest location in Burlington set to open, we’re likely to see more and more of The Kind Exchange as they take on the consignment apparel market from storefront to cyberspace.