SFLMaven Corporation is a premium provider of high-end jewelry through its top rated eBay store, having driven over $130 million in sales and over 98,000 positive reviews since inception in 2004. The company went public in February 2021 and is traded on the OTC Pink Market.
Joseph Ladin, CEO of SFLMaven, launched the company 18 years ago and has a unique viewpoint on how to build a successful ecommerce retail business. He has focused on eBay as his principal sales channel and throughout the years has maintained a focus on putting the customer first. The store just achieved a significant milestone, surpassing 100,000 positive feedbacks.
In this interview with Joseph Ladin, we explored his path to success, the impact of the pandemic on the company, and uncovered some nuggets of wisdom that could help other entrepreneurs who may be looking to launch a similar online business.
Wise Marketer (WM): Tell us about your business. Give us the quick recap. What do you sell and what channels do you use? Who do you think is your ideal customer base?
Joseph Ladin (Joseph): SFLMaven Corporation is a luxury online retailer of pre-owned fine jewelry and designer watches. We’re an 18-year-old eBay store with top-rated seller status, and what makes us unique is that each week we sell 200+ pieces of jewelry in a no-reserve auction.
The best part is that these auctions all start at 99 cents! It’s very exciting. That goes for diamond engagement rings, Rolex watches, rare estate pieces, etc. We also cater to customers who prefer the option to “buy it now” and always have a gorgeous selection of pieces available for them at fixed rate prices.
In July of 2021, we branched our reach further and now can also be found on 1stDibs. Our ideal customer base are people who enjoy luxury items but are savvy shoppers. We like to think of ourselves as the year-round Cyber Monday of fine jewelry. Customers are getting exactly what they are looking for but at a market value price point.
WM: You just crossed a big threshold for customer satisfaction. Tell us about that and what it means to the business.
Joseph: Reaching the 100,000 positive customer feedbacks is such a huge milestone for SFLMaven. Many of our customers are repeat, however, regardless of how many pieces a customer purchases, only one feedback is counted for that individual. Reading all the honest feedback our customers leave is such an incredible feeling knowing how many lives we are impacting in a positive way.
WM: What other business metrics do you track? What would you consider to be your core set of KPI's?
Joseph: We are very committed to serving our customers and now technology has made it easier than ever to hone in on various elements that they value. One metric we follow closely is shipping. We’re shipping high-valued goods internationally and domestically, so being sure our packages arrive quickly and securely is incredibly important. We stay on the cutting-edge of the shipping industry and make rapid adjustments in real time.
WM: What are your greatest challenges and opportunities selling luxury goods online? Is what you have learned applicable to all types of luxury retailers?
Joseph: Probably one of the greatest challenges is being able to capture the beauty of a piece and it’s real-life fit. There’s something about fine jewelry and other luxury items where the thrill and joy truly comes from experiencing it in person. Something we hear time and time again is how blown away our customers are by a particular piece once their package arrives and is in hand.
WM: Do you focus on customer loyalty, retention, and related issues? Do you think you are growing a body of repeat customers? If so, why, and what are you doing to make this happen?
Joseph: At SFLMaven, it’s in our mission to be a true servant to our customers and from that, loyalty flourishes. Being a seller on eBay, a platform that was a founding father to online comments and visible feedbacks, allowed us the opportunity to see right in the beginning of our business how important each and every customer’s satisfaction is.
A single happy customer can evolve to many other happy customers. As cliché as it sounds, that really is the heart of our business model.
WM: What have you learned over 18 years that might help someone starting a new online retail business to become successful?
Joseph: When starting an online business, one of the most critical elements that must be at high priority is customer service. Put internal systems in place to navigate various customer experiences so you can turn any situation around quickly and efficiently, leaving a positive experience with the individual. Strive for excellence with each and every customer and you will be rewarded with positive online comments from your online community, which over the years will grow your business.
WM: Anything else you would like to talk about?
Joseph: Being an 18-year-old established company, we are always looking to the future and seeking ways to grow. We went public in February 2021, listing on the OTC market under the ticker symbol SFLM. This is giving us the opportunity to offer our customers even more services.
For example, we recently launched our Collectibles Marketplace strategy, allowing us to break into new markets such as NFTs, baseball cards and handbags, amongst others. Through this strategy, we are bringing more value to our customers and stockholders.