E-commerce gives Lakeside Livin’ room to grow
When Rose Luxton opened Lakeside Livin’ Home Decor in the heart of Oakville’s Bronte Village BIA two and a half years ago, she knew it was just the start – in a decades time there’d be more shops, maybe even dotting the country. E-commerce was written into the plan, at the five-year mark. But last winter, it started to feel too far away.
“I knew e-commerce was my next step – (but) the digital part of it is… it’s a scary place for me to a certain degree,” she says. “But everyone keeps saying, do you ship? I tell you, that question, every time I hear it, it twists me inside… I'm like, why am I not doing this?”
She’d been putting off building a digital presence but it kept popping up. She’d fielded emails from the Bronte Village BIA about the Digital Main Street program, which leverages grants and one-to-one support from the Province of Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association, to help main street businesses across Ontario strengthen their digital and online capabilities. But she was focused on her shop and hadn’t taken the time to read them.
After enough prompts, she decided to look into it so she took the digital assessment. Right away Luxton saw the opportunity the Digital Transformation grant and training videos afforded her.
“I'm like, boom, this catapults me,” she says. All of a sudden, her five-year plan had been cut in half. “It put me two and a half years ahead of the game… and I can potentially be looking at a different location in a year and a half.”
In the midst of it all, Luxton put together a team to build a strong website.
“I wanted my site to be easy and clean and crisp so even somebody like my mom would be able to navigate through it and make a purchase with no struggle,” she says. “That's how I gauged it.”
Instagram has proved a powerful tool for Lakeside Livin’. Even prior to the Digital Main Street program she knew it was valuable. The tipping point was last Christmas when she posted a photo of a new line of pillows.
“Before I even got to my store, there was a lady in her car who just happened to be a stager/designer and she said, I saw you post your collection of pillows this morning – I'm here to buy all of them,” says Luxton. It’s becoming more and more regular as she applies the skills she learned through her Digital Main Street training and one-to-one support from the Digital Service Squad to Lakeside Livin’s social media. “People will call the store and say I just love that, I saw it on your Instagram.”
With help from the Digital Service Squad team member, she’s dug into deeper analytics and targeted marketing for her social media ad spend.
“(She’s helped) me understand how to hone in on certain areas like, say, the sector that's interested in nautical or the sector that's interested in contemporary,” she says. “I don't have to inundate the contemporary people with the nautical stuff – it’s made me look at my business so differently.”
But Luxton’s not naive, she knows Lakeside Livin’s expansion will take place in the real world, so driving those connections between the online environment and the offline world where people are right there at the shop and able to connect with the items she sells is key.
“I will never, ever, ever give up my contact with my customers, that is my favourite part of everything that I do,” says Luxton. But on the other hand, she recognizes that her digital presence is only going to help her reach more people – like the designer who came in and bought all her pillows after seeing her social post. “(Without) Instagram, I would never have access to those people.”
Written by Andrew Seale
Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA) with direct support from the City of Toronto. DMS is also supported by a group of strategic business partners, including Google, Mastercard, Shopify, Microsoft, Facebook, Intuit QuickBooks, Square, and Yellow Pages.
This case study was completed during a prior expansion of DMS in partnership with the Province of Ontario and Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
In June 2020, a $42.5-million investment from FedDev Ontario and an additional $7.45 million from the Government of Ontario brought together the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Communitech, Invest Ottawa and the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association to expand the Digital Main Street Platform in order to support more businesses going digital as a response to the impacts of COVID-19.