Success story: Standard Beauty

Bob Go has proven to be a great look for Standard Beauty – our shipping solutions are helping them reach every corner of South Africa with their affordable, cruelty-free skincare and beauty products. We sit down with Ann-Kathrin Joos, founder and CEO, to chat about how buying beauty products online is now an even better way to avoid lines!

When you built your online store, how long did it take you to complete the journey from concept to launch? You can include a background as to why and how you started selling the goods you sell.

During the pandemic, I noticed a growing interest in skincare among people. However, there were no affordable, high-quality skincare brands in South Africa at the time. This gap in the market inspired me to set up Standard Beauty, an online store that provides premium skincare products.

Initially, I listed our products on Takealot, but the high demand for our products encouraged me to establish our own online store on Shopify. Though it may seem like an overnight success story, Standard Beauty was the product of two years of hard work and experience. I had previously owned a skincare business, which unfortunately did not succeed. But instead of giving up, I used my experience and insights to rebrand my business and create Standard Beauty.

I often advise new entrepreneurs not to compare their journey to others’ success stories. While Standard Beauty may appear to be an overnight success, it was built on the foundation of my previous business’s experiences. Starting a new business after a failure can be daunting, but I encourage entrepreneurs to persevere and keep refining their brand until they find the winning formula.

What did you find was the easiest or simplest part of getting started online?

Starting an online business is a great way to begin your entrepreneurial journey. One of the advantages of starting online is that you don’t need a large amount of capital to set up a brick-and-mortar store or hire sales agents. You can start your business from the comfort of your own home, and handle all aspects of the business yourself. Initially, you will be Customer Service, Dispatch, Marketing, Product development, and everyone else – all in one person.

Getting your first order is such a great feeling! You can pick and pack it, and send it over to the couriers via Bob Go – it’s truly such an easy process. Additionally, scaling your online business is easy through investing in paid advertising such as Instagram and Facebook ads. By creating organic content and sharing it on social media, you can increase your online orders and expand your business.

Thinking back, how did you approach the task of online marketing and what resources do you use nowadays for inspiration or functionality?

My Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in International Business and Marketing, prepared me for marketing Standard Beauty. To begin, I reinvested all profits into advertising through Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Influencer Marketing. Though it may be costly, it’s necessary to expose your brand to new potential customers.

In my spare time, I love scrolling through social media for marketing inspiration. At Standard Beauty, we showcase behind-the-scenes glimpses of our business to connect with customers on a personal level. While I now have a dedicated marketing team, I remain heavily involved in my favorite part of the business: marketing.

Which platforms would you recommend for ecommerce, accounting, shipping, marketing (etc) and how do you stick it all together? 

For all your shipping needs, Bob Go is the perfect partner. It’s easy to integrate with your online store and start fulfilling your orders. Another great platform to consider is Shopify for your online store needs. It’s user-friendly, and you won’t need to hire a developer to set up your store. Advertising is crucial for every business, so it’s wise to reinvest as much as possible into paid advertising, such as Google Ads, Meta Ads, and TikTok Ads.

What would you say are the current pitfalls of starting an online business in South Africa?

In today’s market, competition is fierce across all industries, and customers have a multitude of brands to choose from. To stand out, you must offer something unique that other brands don’t. Unfortunately, the weakening of the Rand against major international currencies, like the Euro or US Dollar, has made purchasing goods from overseas and paying for advertising increasingly expensive. Moreover, international shipping rates have risen sharply since the pandemic, which further eats into profit margins when airfreighting goods from overseas.

If possible, it’s recommended to manufacture your own goods rather than buying them from Asia. This approach allows you to control lead times, potentially earn higher margins, achieve better quality, and support the South African economy as a bonus.

What, in your view, is the thing holding most companies back when trying to decide whether to sell online or in a traditional bricks and mortar store?

One of the biggest challenges aspiring entrepreneurs face is the overwhelming list of tasks required to make their first sale. Many people believe that hiring an IT expert is necessary to set up an online store, but with patience, YouTube tutorials, and self-belief, anyone can do it.

When it comes to choosing service providers, there are many options available, but I highly recommend Bob Go for shipping needs. They offer the best possible shipping fees from day one, a one-click integration with your online store, and a friendly and competitive team to answer any questions.

Moving on to Bob Go now – how long have you been a Bob Go merchant?

I have been with Bob Go for four years now. First and only shipping platform I have ever used – I am not looking to leave anytime soon! 🙂

What is your favourite feature on Bob Go at the moment?

I’m loving the new upgrade – everything looks so professional, sleek, and user-friendly. One of my favourite features is the scanning process for packaging slips, which automatically prints the matching waybill. And the team at Bob Go is fantastic – always eager to help and provide excellent service. I also appreciate that we can easily choose between different couriers with just one click.

For online businesses, shipping can be a make-or-break factor for your brand. Ideally, you want to offer free shipping or competitive rates to your customers. After all, no one wants to spend over R100 on delivery fees. That’s why I appreciate the competitive shipping rates that Bob Go offers for different couriers. In many cases, their rates are better than working directly with the courier.

What would you like to see on Bob Go that isn’t currently available?

An additional rates at checkout feature, as discussed with Ops Manager, Shaun, to the display rates from specific courier partners, as well as general Express or Economy rates.

What advice would you offer someone that is considering starting an online business in 2023.

Ecommerce in South Africa is still experiencing massive growth, so my advice to anyone considering starting a business is to just start. You don’t have to know everything on day one; you can learn and figure things out as you go. In the age of social media, especially TikTok, it seems that many business owners just want to “go viral” overnight and hope that success will follow. While this can give your business a great jumpstart, it should not be your top priority. On average, a customer needs to be exposed to your brand six times before making a purchase. Long-term success is not achieved overnight, so don’t give up too early. If you have a unique service or product that sets you apart from others, prioritise your customers, understand your target market, keep promoting your brand, and success will surely follow.

Get your best standard in skincare from Standard Beauty today!