Self-made millionaire at 27, style icon, #girlboss and proud Aussie. We chat to Showpo's Jane Lu, the woman who turned her love of social media and shopping into one hell of a business.
"Don't be shy of using that trusty little search engine called Google to check for reviews. Generally a local business will offer better service than offshore".
Jane Lu, CEO and founder of on-point fashion powerhouse Showpo started the company in her twenties, leading to her being self-made millionaire by the age of 27 (the time when most of us are still wondering what we're going to do with our lives).
Lu used social media to grow Showpo in addition to offering a service that was rare in Aussie online shopping – free express shipping across the country. Showpo also caps each item at $70, mixing fashion and affordability for the trend-savvy, fast fashion crowd. We sat down to talk to Jane about the importance of shopping locally and our True Blue sale.
"Australians are spending so much on overseas retailers" she observes and she's completely right. Australians have spent $4.43 billion with overseas online retailers last year. This money could be well spent in the Australian economy, growing businesses on our home soil, and that's the inspiration behind finder.com.au's Australia Day True Blue Sale.
There are a number of reasons why Australian shoppers might be spending so much overseas:
- Online shopping has been a booming industry in the USA and Europe for many years, so Australian shoppers may have gotten used to shopping from well-known international retailers like ASOS and Boohoo. Jane agrees that it could've been that "their demands are not satisfied within our borders", but that's all changing now.
- The belief that goods are cheaper from offshore, and that Australians can't get the same range of postage deals. With major players in the Australian online shopping game – Showpo being a prime example – we have a multitude of local choice, meaning we don't have to look for international options.
So how can shopping at Australian companies boost the economy? "The flow-on effects, driving economic growth and business activities in Australia through job creation and exports," Lu argued. We looked into it and this is completely true – if every Australian credit holder made a purchase from an Australian retailer on 26 December, it would pump $2 billion into our economy. That's enough to fund over 24,000 jobs.
Jane Lu is now a renowned business owner, a shining example of Aussie success and a full-on supporter of the True Blue campaign, but she acknowledges starting a business in Australia is not easy."Growing a business is hard" she states – especially when the world of online shopping in Australia wasn't as developed as elsewhere. "It was difficult to convince people that was where the world was headed... difficult to convince my friends and family that I wasn't crazy".
While Showpo is one of the fashion-savvy's favourite retailers, the brand still face challenges. "The cost of shipping is definitely a massive pain factor for Australia - domestically and internationally. Australia is still way behind the US," she comments.
There's a reason this company has gone the distance though and we can't help thinking it's the warm, local presence that the company have "we have exceptional customer service and throughout the last 5 years have built a brand the Australians can trust" says Jane Lu, quite clearly something she takes a lot of pride in. "Sometimes not enough care goes into customer happiness and customer retention by traditional businesses, compared to customer acquisition and sales".
Does she have any advice for Australian online shoppers? "Don't fall for gimmicks, trust your friends' recommendations". We agree. Word of mouth and sharing recommendations is key to the growth of small Australian businesses – what's more True Blue than helping out a mate?