Starting a retail business during a recession might not sound like the best idea. But for Nicole Whitesell, it was a logical next step following years of successfully selling products online.
Fast-forward to today, and Nicole’s business has grown into one of the top boutiques in the Portland, Oregon area with four locations and a thriving online store.
Building a Boutique from Scratch
At first, Nicole’s main goal was to open an online store. But she found early on that many vendors wouldn’t work with her unless Adorn also had at least one storefront.
“Everyone was freaking out about online business putting brick-and-mortars out of business,” says Nicole, “and so a lot of manufacturers required you to have a storefront to sell their products online as well.”
Adorn’s first brick-and-mortar location was a product of necessity. For the first year-and-a-half, Nicole was the only employee. In the store’s second year, Adorn moved to a new location three blocks down—and the company’s revenue tripled.
Soon, Nicole and her growing team were looking at opening a second location. Eleven years from its start, the company has expanded to four locations and 28 employees.
“I still do more than I probably should,” says Nicole. “Every day is completely different. We’re really big, but myself and my core team all still wear a lot of hats.”
But with Adorn’s growth came plenty of challenges that Nicole had to navigate as the business owner.
Facing the Growing Pains of Success
With products dispersed across four locations and an online store, inventory management became a challenge.
Even with the use of both Shopify and Lightspeed, it was difficult to track which online products were stocked in which stores and how much of each SKU was at each location. This made it difficult to help customers find the products they were looking for, putting a strain on the customer experience—and on the backoffice team.
For a while, the Adorn team was sinking time into tagging products manually. But Nicole knew this was unsustainable and an inefficient use of time. She needed a solution that could automate this process and give the management team visibility into inventory data.
Investing in the Customer Experience—and the Brand’s Future
After talking to Accumula, Nicole realized she didn’t have to change everything to solve her inventory headaches. She could stay with the platforms she already felt comfortable with, and Accumula would improve the experience for both customers and staff. Adorn had started using Lightspeed because of its valuable analytics and reporting tools. After seamlessly connecting Shopify and Lightspeed, the Adorn team now has full visibility into inventory across all of its locations, without sacrificing any of the functionality that makes Lightspeed so valuable to their operations.
Being able to see this information in real time at the store level allows for faster decision-making and a better customer experience. Selling online is easier, too, now that online orders are automatically pulled from whichever location has stock. This optimizes inventory across all stores and expedites order fulfillment by shipping directly from the store.
Best of all, connecting Shopify and Lightspeed and integrating in-store, online, and backoffice processes has eliminated the manual tracking and order management process, which has freed up Nicole and her core team to focus on more impactful projects.
Today, the company isn’t focused on expanding to new locations—Nicole believes that four locations is the perfect size to stay competitive in their marketplace while retaining the agility and responsiveness of a local boutique. Instead, Adorn is focused on using its retail technology to reinforce and innovate on its customer experience.
“If you have multiple stores and you have a solid online business and you need that connection to happen, [Accumula] really is a no-brainer,” says Nicole. “And I like to do everything, I like to keep things as low-cost as possible, but at the same time—you get what you pay for.”
Whether you’re just starting out or you already have multiple locations, Adorn’s example is a great one to follow. Learn more about Nicole’s journey building Adorn by reading the full story here.