We sat down with Elliot Bishton, the founder of Engravers Guild of London to find out about the challenging competition in the personalisation industry in e-commerce.
The personalisation space is becoming fiercely competitive in the e-commerce world.
Elliot Bishton of Engravers Guild of London, however, is ahead of the curve with his stunning gift selections.
In this interview, he explains the challenges of growing the company from scratch online.
1) Elliot, thanks for joining us. Please give our audience a brief background of your company and the journey so far?
Engravers Guild of London is a personalised gift retailer that operates exclusively online. I launched the company three years ago with just a collection of six cufflinks, and this has grown to over 350 product lines. While we began by only selling our own-brand products, we are increasingly working with other brands as we work to become a destination for all personalised gift requirements. Our strength is in curating and finishing beautiful personalised gifts, so we're letting others do the product development as we focus on delivering a wonderful gift experience for our customers.
2) The personalisation space is growing exponentially in the e-commerce world. What USPs help you to differentiate and stand out from the competition?
Although I started Engravers Guild three years ago, the first germ of an idea was formed 10 years ago. At that time, personalisation was a pretty novel idea and some of the early-movers made an awful lot of money in a wide-open market. Unfortunately for me, things are very different now and everybody has crowded into the space.
However, the ambition for Engravers Guild was always to deliver a better quality of personalised gift experience. I felt that the market was split between low cost providers selling volume products and luxury brands offering their own personalisation service. While the cheaper offers sometimes lacked quality, some of the luxury brands were just not set-up to deliver expertly personalised products.
As such, we aimed to be a dedicated personalised gift retailer but with a quality of product akin to luxury brands. While personalisation was sometimes an after-thought for luxury brands, it is the centre-piece of our offer. For many people, their first concern when giving a present is to find a touching gift as opposed to picking a brand so we try to cater to that demand.
3) Which digital marketing strategies do Engravers Guild focus on to maximise success online?
As someone who hadn't even sold a pencil on eBay before Engravers Guild, digital marketing has been a real learning curve for me. When I launched the website, I thought that there was so much traffic sloshing around the internet that someone somewhere would come across my site.
However, after a couple of months, I hadn't had a single sale. After spending some time on Google Analytics, I found that I hadn't had more than five users on the site (which were probably all me).
So I turned to Google Adwords (as it was called at the time), and it was cause for celebration when we made our first sale. But as we started notching more sales, I quickly realised how eye-wateringly expensive Adwords was.
So I also started trying to drive organic traffic on Google. But this seemed an even harder challenge. Changes take months to feed through to ranking, and Google is doing such a good job at obscuring what is an ad and what is not, that SEO seems to be like fighting a losing battle.
We've dabbled in Facebook as well. This, though, doesn't lend itself to our business as we only sell gifts and so it's very difficult to find the right profile of someone who would not want your product for themselves but who might know someone who would like your product.
We currently mainly work through Google Ads, we do a little bit of Facebook and also try to improve our rankings over the long term. In future, we're looking to do more work on Instagram and on email.
4) Elliot, thanks for sharing your insights. Give us your best ideas on how somebody should start when crafting the perfect gift for a loved one?!
Engravers Guild of course! Ha. But, more generally…
An engraved gift is something that can last for years and be an enduring reminder of a bigger story. Getting it right is more like winning a marathon over a sprint, so don’t worry so much about what they might “need” today and instead focus on what they will “keep” forever.
However, it is the engraved message that will carry the value over time, so be sure to give that consideration. It does not need to be complex, clever, or funny. But it must be thoughtful – and relevant. It must be a personal expression between one person to another.
If you have those two elements, then you can't go wrong and you'll have something that is always treasured.
Find a stunning gift by visiting Engravers Guild of London today: