Minifigs have been a client of ours for the last 5 years and they’ve been such a pleasure to work with, we’ve watched their company grow and been the helping hand for their digital presence across their website. Minifigs have been so kind as to answer a few of our questions on how they’ve grown as a company, what this past year has been like for them and how we have impacted their growth.
How did the company start and how did you used to operate?
“Minifigs.me was founded by Nick and Caroline Savage, husband and wife team and long-term LEGO fans. We make custom Minifigures by creating designs using illustration software and printing them onto genuine LEGO Minifigure parts.
It’s hard to say exactly when the company started, but we generally consider it was August 2012 when we found ourselves very suddenly going from a part-time hobby to a full-time job. We had re-created some 2012 Olympic and Paralympic athletes as Minifigures and we had made it into the national press. That was a huge turning point!
After that, requests for custom Minifigures started flooding in via email and we realised we needed to organise a website. We started with a WordPress website that Nick had built himself. Over time, we got professional help from Joi Polloi to tweak the website and later added the ‘Minifig Builder’ – a custom-built part of the website which allows people to choose the best head, hair, torso, legs and accessories to make their very own unique Minifigure all in one place.”
How do things operate now in comparison to before?
“We started with just the two of us, working all hours out of our garage. We gradually got busier and busier, with more and more orders coming through. Over time, we realised we couldn’t do it alone any longer and so we started to hire people to help us.
A couple of years ago, we made the leap from WordPress to Shopify, with Joi Polloi organising the move and porting everything across to the new website. We had ‘made do’ with the WordPress site, but it became more and more obvious that we needed a platform more suited to commerce.
Our processes changed over time too. We used to print onto decals (or stickers), which were stuck onto the Minifigures. Nowadays, we have multiple printers which we use to print directly onto the LEGO pieces. We have a really efficient workflow, with different staff members in specialised roles. We also moved out of the garage, and into a proper office/workshop!”
How has the last year been different from the pandemic?
“Of course, there have been problems linked to the pandemic. Most of our staff are working from home at the moment, and only having a skeleton crew in the workshop does make things more difficult. There have also been shipping delays due to the pandemic and this affects how quickly orders arrive with customers, but most of them have been very understanding about this.
All in all, though, we’ve been very lucky. We’re aware that some people have lost loved ones or have been hit really hard financially. We’re also aware that many businesses have folded, or at least have had to make huge adaptations to how they work in order to continue operating.
In our case, as we sell everything online, we haven’t had to change too much. We can carry on sending out orders as usual and, if anything, we’ve seen an increase in orders as more people seem to be at home and shopping online more.”
What were your original plans for 2020?
“The aim has always been to keep growing the company at a manageable rate. We don’t want to grow too quickly and struggle to meet demand. We want to keep great quality products and great customer service. This year, we’ve grown faster than expected. It’s all very exciting, and we’re now again at the stage of thinking about hiring more staff.”
“We’ve been growing roughly 25% year on year, with additional spikes related to events going on in the world!”
Reaching out to the wholesale customers – was this a sales strategy or did this happen organically?
“To be honest, it just happened. A company got in touch and asked about ordering a lot from us, so it just sprang up from there. It works well for everyone – we get regular large orders, they get something unusual to sell in their stores and the customer gets to buy something locally that would have otherwise been shipped halfway across the world, just for them. We still sell directly to the states, but it’s nice to have some bricks and mortar help over there!”
Working alongside Joi Polloi, how has this affected your company?
“Working alongside Joi Polloi has been great. There are always tweaks and adaptations we need to make to the website, and Joi Polloi is there to offer a guiding hand and do the practical work of making the changes. We offer lots of different things on our website, and it’s always been a challenge to present it all to customers in a way that makes sense to them. We have such a huge variety of products and personalisation options, and we’re constantly trying to find ways to keep it well organised and make it accessible. It’s a real challenge, and it’s great having Joi Polloi’s input on this. We certainly couldn’t have done it alone!”
Any top tips for a successful e-commerce store?
“We offer products which are really fun and which make people smile. We have genuine excitement about the products we are making, and we think that enthusiasm comes across to the customers too.
In a practical sense, there are loads of different things to consider when creating and maintaining an e-commerce store and we are still constantly learning new things.
One thing we’re focussing on at the moment is trying to see how the website looks and feels to someone who is unfamiliar with the site. Placing orders ourselves and trying to see the site through fresh eyes has helped us to identify lots of little issues that we can now work on solving. This seems like a good tip for anyone with an e-commerce store!”