How One Merchant Drives Scalability and Manages Skyrocketing Growth during the Holiday Rush Author: Brad Brodigan, Vice President, North America Mid-Market & Retail, PayPal

The holiday shopping rush is to be expected, but it can be a particularly intense time for Tipsy Elves – the popular, seasonal apparel manufacturer which caught the attention of people nationwide after being featured on the popular ABC reality series Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs get the chance to bring their dreams to fruition and present their ideas to investors for a chance to secure an investment in their business.

Tipsy Elves was started in 2011 by college friends Nick Morton and Evan Mendelsohn. They were both working other jobs—Nick as a dentist and Evan as a lawyer. They had attended ugly Christmas sweater parties in college and knew there was a huge demand during the holiday season, but realized no one was actually selling them online. In addition to holiday apparel, Tipsy Elves now sells patriotic gear, St. Patrick’s Day products, beach and ski suit collections and even Halloween products – so they’ve truly become a year-round business.

The company saw more than a whopping 1,000 percent increase in sales volume between October and December last year. And that is more than a 160 percent lift year-over-year from 2014 to 2015.

Scalability has become crucial to the brand’s survival. Aside from selling fun products that are a huge hit with consumers, particularly through peak sales seasons like the holidays, Tipsy Elves relies on key strategic partners like PayPal for a variety of products and services to take care of payments so they can focus on growing their business and scale to meet customer demand.

The results have been fruitful for Tipsy Elves, having gone from selling $400,000 worth of inventory in one year to being able to sell that much in just a single day. While the company has faced challenges along the way, here are some of the key factors that have driven such a level of success and results to date, especially at such a tremendous scale:

  • Streamline and simplify checkout. When you design an online storefront, keep it simple and easy to navigate. Reduce the number of steps it takes to check out and eliminate the need to retype lengthy amounts of information – a better alternative is to use autofill – and store shipping and payment information. By doing so, you will increase conversion and improve sales.
  • Always think mobile. Streamlining checkout is even more important for mobile sales, where small screens and buying on-the-go create an environment ripe for cart abandonment. To make your site mobile-friendly: Design for the small screen, use larger fonts and buttons, minimize data entry, and remember to test then re-test and re-test again.

Just in November, Tipsy Elves improved their mobile strategy. Right now, half of the brand’s sales come through mobile which accounts for 60 percent of its traffic. The re-designed site offers a more user-friendly interface, with a focus on how the look and feel are experienced on a smartphone and providing more secure payment transactions.

  • Keep payment information safe and secure. Customers want to feel safe in knowing that their payment information—including billing and mailing addresses—goes directly to PayPal without passing through outside servers. Credit card information is also tokenized which provides an extra layer of security and one less thing for Tipsy Elves to worry about.

Watch this video to hear more about Tipsy Elves’s story and insights that can be applied to help fuel the growth of your business—whether you’re just starting out or looking to expand an established business.


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