Year in Review: Grace Forsythe – Celebrating our 35th anniversary

Although this year definitely came with its challenges, we consider ourselves a success story in what has been a difficult year for the industry. Adapting quickly to change, thinking outside the box and being as reactive as possible has been key as we navigated through the numerous obstacles that were thrown at us along the way.

Despite uncertainty surrounding the temporary closure of our shops, this year we have seen dramatic growth in our EQVVS website and saw this as an opportunity to really focus on the details of our online presence. With a huge shift in online shoppers during the lockdown periods, we saw our traffic almost triple as a result with many customers shopping online for the first time ever. With this in mind, we needed to make the online process as seamless as possible by investing in new technologies and functionality as well as ensuring we had excellent customer service on hand to help first-time customers.

As I understood more about these new customer journeys, we were able to focus on implementing new features such as improved size recommendations with PrimeAI, more flexible payment options with Klarna and improvements to our delivery and returns processes. As our warehouse is located above our Lincoln shop, we also had the added advantage of being able to organise our order processes quickly.

In February, the online team moved most of our office members in order to transition to work-from-home positions, which is something we have never done before. However, we pulled together and organised ourselves quite quickly and I’m proud of how well our staff adapted to the new normal.

We also made it a top priority to get new products online as soon as possible, by outsourcing photo editing and focusing on quicker product induction. Our buying team knew we needed to stay ahead of the competition and coupled with the new flow of our website, we were able to introduce new categories such as the suddenly popular ‘loungewear’ and ‘comfort-luxe’ trends.

Additionally, knowing that a huge proportion of the UK was in lockdown with little entertainment, we made our social media a hub of engaging activity with blogs, quizzes, polls and style updates. Our team’s efficiency and creativity was a huge factor in keeping us consistent and as a result we’ve seen a huge growth in our social following.

Implementing these tools has seen our e-commerce business skyrocket this year, which is incredible. Furthermore, once the first lockdown restrictions eased, we were able to resume our photoshoots and in-store activities again, which brought a bit more normalcy back to the business. Then once the second lockdown approached, we knew what to expect and were more prepared than ever to manage the changes. I can say for sure that our staff’s resilience and quick-thinking approach to marketing this year has been key to our success.

Whilst we had planned to host more events this year to celebrate our 35th anniversary, we have since decided to give back to the community instead and focus on donating to local charities. Our directors have also made the decision to close our shops this Boxing Day so that our staff has more time to spend with family and friends over Christmas.

I know celebrating this year will be different for many of us, myself included; however, I wish to remain positive for the year ahead and have faith that EQVVS will continue to grow, with the help of its incredible staff and supportive customers.