Custom framing is primarily an offline, traditional ‘old school’ type of industry. Customers take their item down to the framing shop, select a frame, maybe add a mat border, and then come back 2 weeks later to pick it up. On the other side, you have the mass-produced frames sold online or in retail stores. These frames come in standard sizes, and often the frames tend not to last. I wanted to basically build a product that brought custom framing online, allowing people to buy a high-end, custom frame without ever having to visit the shop.
- #1Built from the ground up
- #2Completely self funded
- #3Profitable from month one
FrameIT is one of my own personal side projects. A self funded concept with the intention of taking a traditional offline industry and making it entirely online. It was very complex to get it right, but now we're motoring along with a steady stream of orders.
What I did
It ended up being quite the journey. I started by figuring out a framing formula in an excel spreadsheet, eliciting some help from an excel guru based in the US. The excel sheet was basically our ‘proof of concept’ that we could input the height & width of an item, make some basic selections [like frame width, mat border etc] and output the relevant measurements that a framer would need to build the frame to the right specifications. By the time we finalised the excel formula we were up to revision 11 – it’s surprisingly complex. After this, I worked on the various mock-ups and visual designs to simplify the user journey of inputting item size -> choosing materials -> paying. Once this was fully mapped out, I decided to leverage a 3rd party development company [Digital Workroom] to help fast track the development aspect. Finally, we were able to launch the product in October 2019 and we’ve been gradually enhancing the product ever since.
Having launched the product in October 2019, orders came immediately, in fact we took our first order on day one, much to my surprise. Since this, we’ve seen steady month-on-month growth, and perhaps most rewarding is the repeat customers. I took the decision not to heavily invest in marketing, especially as we dipped into periods like Chinese New Year, and then later the challenges around COVID-19. Instead, I have focused on growing exposure through SEO activities, which is now starting to bear fruit. The domain is starting to rank on page 1 for a number of highly relevant keywords.