February 24, 2009

Well well well...

This is quite an impressive story about an entrepreneur. Ali Asaria started out with $10k, built an e-retailing health and beauty website called Well.ca with a 2008 launch and has already realized $2M-$5M in revenue.

The features that would draw me to this site are:
- free shipping via Canada Post Expedited (1-3 days) on ALL orders
- free returns
- instant messaging with customer care
- wide spectrum of brands
- ability to read and submit product reviews
- based in Canada
- I also like the feel-good "Give Well" option of donating care packages to their local women's shelter

My favourite online fashion retailer is RevolveClothing.com, which has most of the positive features of Well.ca, except they are based in the US, so no free returns.
The main reasons I return again and again to Revolve are (i) their exceptional customer service (reach by chat, toll-free phone number or email - with a response in as short as 15 minutes) and (ii) their frequent sales and coupon code mailings to their existing customer base. There are always frenzies but they manage to keep their site running quite well through big sales, unlike most other sites I have visited.

I had not heard of Well.ca before reading this article. I browsed through the site and found it pretty easy to navigate. This is often the first barrier that I come across with poorly-designed sites. The inability to find the info I want immediately can be a turn-off. Some sites are just too cluttered. I want to know what the shipping costs are before even bothering to look at products because I want it to be hassle-free. Many US e-retailers gouge international buyers with shipping costs or don't offer viable options (I want USPS instead of UPS/FedEx/other evil courier services!).

It would be nice if they carried more higher-end brands as well. Right now most of the things I might buy I would want to run out and have in my hands immediately. However, with the current economy and the "lipstick effect", their business model is probably a good one to start out on since it reaches a wider audience.

One negative: Their prices are not stellar, considering they are an online retailer. I usually expect to see lower prices than what I have to pay in brick-and-mortar stores since I have to wait between paying to have my purchases in my hand.

All in all, I'm happy to see a successful Canadian business venture but I probably won't buy from Well.ca until they offer better pricing. I still see online shopping as an activity to buy "special" items rather than everyday ones, so I would also suggest higher-end brands as well.

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hi, I'm Alex, the Community Director for Well.ca. Thanks so much for writing about us and for all of your great suggestions!

I can tell you that we're always working on our pricing to keep it competitive with other drugstores, but please feel free to let me know if you see anything that doesn't seem quite right (alex[at]well.ca) and I can pass it on to Emily, our Product Manager. If you have any more suggestions about product lines that you'd like to see or just general ideas I'd really love to hear from you!

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