Innovation and convenience have made our lives easier, but this progress can also have an impact on the world around us. It is this desire to do more for the world that led me to create a fashionable business of my own. Plastic grocery bags have long been a hot topic for me since they clutter our beautiful earth and they certainly don’t flatter a well-dressed woman (or man) at all. To help reduce the use of plastic bags, I started 70's Bag in 2011, which features easy-to-carry sustainable bags integrated into fashionable clutches that afford stylish convenience for people on the go.
While I was proud of my product from the beginning, it wasn’t until I moved to the United States in 2014 (from Amsterdam, the Netherlands) that the importance of customer service became a real tangible reality for me. Commerce is much more advanced and convenient in the United States, and I quickly learned that I needed to make the customer experience a memorable one.
So how do you make a memorable customer experience?
Make the buying experience simple and seamless as possible.
In today’s modern world, retailers are competing for foot and web traffic. To support our retail customers, 70’s Bag does not have a Minimum Order Quantity. Whether a retailer orders four or four hundred of our products, we make them available without any questions asked. After all, you have to believe in your product and know they will come back when they are satisfied.
Give customers payment choice and convenience.
Providing customers the ability to pay for purchases with a credit card on my website and during trade shows has been an incredibly profitable decision for my business. It has also been an educational one for me, especially since credit card usage for everyday purchases is not as common in Europe as it is in the United States. In fact, many customers have asked specifically about American Express card acceptance and are delighted when I told them I accept all cards.
For me, providing a great customer experience is about giving my customers choice and making it as convenient as possible for them to make a purchase using their preferred method. My company policy is to say yes as much as I can to my customers because I know if I please them, they will not only come back but also help spread the word. As a result, 70’s Bag grew enormously in the past year, selling in 28 states so far. My goal is to reach all 50 states in the next few years.
Bring your brand mission to life.
When I send my products to retailers and consumers, I specially wrap each bag in sustainable packaging with my unique brand story along with it. This helps my customers remember my brand and mission, which is an important point of differentiation for 70’s Bag.
With every purchase, I tell the story of when I was young my grandmother giving me her foldable shopping bag from the 1970’s. That bag became my inspiration to start the bring-your-own-bag trend with my own designed 70’s Bag line. Sometimes we only have to look back in time to rediscover the best things from the past that can help us solve the challenges we face today.
Give your customers a personal touch.
In addition to my brand story, I add a handwritten thank you card where I share my Instagram page with all orders, giving my customers a window into my daily inspirations and inviting them to share theirs. I also share my phone number for further inquiries. This creates a more personal connection because I am in the business of relationships, not just sales.
No matter what business you are in, and what drove you to launch or work for that business, you have to keep customers coming back if you are going to last. Belief in your products, a strong mission statement, and doing as much as possible to give your customers what they want have been the key to my success, and are tenets that I believe all businesses should live by!
Pauline Ann van der Meijs is the founder and owner of 70's Bag. She started the company in 2011 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, where she was born. In 2014 Pauline moved her company to the United States, and now sells 70's Bags in 28 states.