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Something for Kate: TiniTrader and the art of targeted marketing


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You probably know someone like “Kate”. She’s just become a new mum, she’s in her early 30s, well-educated, well-travelled. She used to live in one of the hip inner city suburbs but now she’s moved to a middle ring suburb because she’s traded bar-hopping for pram-shopping.

She’s fond of Skandinavisk candles and loves Olli Ella designs. She loves to shop on children’s products marketplace TiniTrader.

This is the picture TiniTrader co-founder and CEO Kerri Turner paints of the online marketplace’s target shopper.

“A lot of people know Kate. This is why it’s actually really good to have Kate in mind. She used to be corporate, she’s now just had a child, she’s on maternity leave. She’s thinking about a part-time job. She was pretty fashion-conscious but now her focus is more on creating a home,” Turner explains.

“You can really get your head around who this person is and that’s who we pitch to. At the end of the day even if someone’s a bit poorer than Kate, they still want to be Kate; if someone’s a bit richer, they want to be a bit more real, like Kate. She works for most people.”

The birth of TiniTrader

The initial idea for TiniTrader was discussed in 2012, when Turner was an executive director at Ernst & Young. She had become acquainted with Marketplacer co-founders Jason Wyatt and Sam Salter through their involvement in the E&Y Entrepreneur of the Year program.

“We sat down and thought what is another industry that has really high involvement purchase decisions, and several of us were having children at the time, and we thought people put a heck of a lot of time into buying children’s products,” she says.

“Really there was no place to shop to get that simplified experience for mums, so the idea for TiniTrader was born.”

Marketplacer’s experience building the software for Bike Exchange meant the platform for the site was already available: “They had had success with Bike Exchange and they were looking at ways to use the platform in new industries.”

After several months of what Turner refers to as intensive “de-biking” of the platform, the TiniTrader marketplace started to take shape.

“Obviously Bike Exchange was a site very much created for men and we thought we’re really missing the women’s side of the equation, so creating a platform that made sense for women seemed like it would start rounding out the experience of this group. That came about late 2012.”

Retailer onboarding and growing brand

Turner says the first year or two was about “wrangling the site into something that made sense”. The past five years had seen the phenomenal rise of concepts such as mummy blogging and mumpreneurs, so tweaking and refining the TiniTrader concept to work within that explosion of digital mum activity was of paramount importance. This included thinking about what role content played as part of the mix and convincing retailers to come on board.

“We’re not a parenting website, it is very much about shopping. But what parents are looking for is inspiration. Are we trying to preach to mothers about whether, for example, they should be breastfeeding? No, we’re not. What we try to do with the content is provide inspiration, there’s certainly some parenting type content but it’s much more related to products. So it’s linking that content through to the shopping experience,” she says.

The effort of getting retailers to join the marketplace as well as growing brand recognition for the marketplace started to pay off in 2015: “Last year the rubber started to really hit the road in the marketplace.”

Turner says one of the challenges has been to create a platform that is integrated and easy to use for less digital-savvy traditional retailers while also satisfying the higher end tech demands of sophisticated retailers who see TiniTrader as part of their multichannel offering.

The site sets standards of service it expects retailers to meet, but it has adopted an all-inclusive approach to retailers.

“We’re not curating retailers. Initially it was hard graft to get out there and get retailers on board. You’ve got no brand name at the beginning so it was a leap of faith to get retailers on board in the beginning. We’re very much about supporting good quality, local retailers, which is why we have a feature where you can search by location. This encourages people to go in store if that’s their preferred method of buying certain items.”

She says another segment of the marketplace which as shown a marked increase over the past year or so has been the rise in small, local producers who have bypassed the bricks and mortar option to sell directly through TiniTrader.

Content that sticks and gets traction

Turner sees blog content as one of the keys to getting people to engage with the site, especially in terms of metrics like time-on-site and return visits. Her team has been working hard to get the conversation going with their audience.

“It’s pretty crucial and we’re always looking at improving it and really targeting to our audience.”

And while social media is a strong part of the engagement mix, Turner sees its role as primarily complementary to the main strategy of building loyalty and engagement for the TiniTrader site.

“We focus strongly on making the site as visually appealing as possible and getting people to the site because you can do things on social media and get plenty of likes and hearts but that doesn’t always result in sales, which is driven far more by engagement with the TiniTrader site.”

An increasing focus for TiniTrader will be moving into areas such as events like pop up shops, which bring a more tactile element to the mix, as well a curating packages for customers around themes such as the ‘perfect nursery’. Turner says these initiatives are about making it easier for mums to get the look they’re after.

“We’re doing a lot of styling events and a lot of photography ourselves and that’s the sort of stuff that does certainly get traction.”


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