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  • Smarter Staff
    Smarter Writer

    This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

    Smarter Staff
    Smarter Writer

    This article has been written by the Smarter Business™ Staff Writers

    Deborah Latouf decided her children came first and started Entropy. Deborah Latouf, former sports scientist, started Entropy in 2007 when she decided that her children came first. Here are some things she has learned starting her own toy business.

    Deborah Latouf

    1. Tough decisions

    In 2007, Dr Deborah Latouf traded her 18-year sports science career for a tree change to Townsville, when, after having children, she realised she could no longer give the 100 per cent she felt her elite athletes deserved.

    “There was so much travel, I would be off to the Olympics or the World Championships and I realised I just couldn’t do it anymore. All parents need to make choices and that was mine. There are parallels between elite sport and business. In both, you’re always looking for your competitive advantage because that’s the key to success. How you go about finding the things that will give you a winning edge is what’s crucial in both, but there’s a law of diminishing returns: you have initial growth, but five years in, you’re not coming off a low base anymore. To continue to grow your business incrementally, you have to work harder and be more focused.”

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    2. A silver lining

    Choosing to focus on motherhood, Deborah was disappointed in the range of toys available that would challenge children and Entropy was born.

    “Online start-up costs are not going to be less than retail. You may not be paying retail rent, but you should be spending that money on search engine optimisation (SEO), online marketing and reinvesting in website functionality. If you’re doing e-commerce well, your costs should be similar to bricks-and-mortar; they’re just targeted differently. I have a store manager and an e-commerce manager. Their marketing and staffing are different, but complement each other. Customer interaction is not face-to-face with e-commerce so we build more information into the online business with detailed product descriptions and ‘how to’ videos.” 

    3. Websites are never finished

    Deborah advises: don’t think once you’ve set up your website, that’s it!

    “Your user experience needs to be very slick and requires continual reinvestment. We significantly upgraded in May 2013, and again just seven months later because of what customers expect when searching and comparing products. Most websites have more than 50 per cent cart abandonment. You’ve attracted that customer, yet half the time they don’t carry through. So what do you do to minimise abandonment? Quick checkouts, guest checkouts and cart abandonment emails are all strategies that need to be sorted. Average conversion rates on Aussie retail sites are two-to-three per cent. On relaunch, we increased that by half a per cent. It might not sound like much, but it equates to a 17 per cent increase in sales − it’s huge!”

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