When you ask Shari Pearce what her business is all about, she says “we literally sell magical rocks.” But there’s a lot more to this family-run affair based in southeast Queensland, which now delivers up to 6,000 parcels around the world every month.
“It started with a feeling,” says Shari’s sister and co-founder Peta Snelson. “We found it really hard to find a reputable source of crystals online, and there wasn’t really a community around it.”
So they built that community for themselves, working from an attic room in their Mum’s place and gradually taking over Peta’s home. Within five years, they had a team of seven working from a 200sqm shed and separate warehouse.
Ongoing year-on-year sales growth of 150% to 450% showed no sign of slowing during the global pandemic. “People needed hope, and we’re selling hope,” says Peta, explaining crystals are an emotional purchase.
And that’s why ethical sourcing underpins the Unearthed Crystal philosophy. “Crystals work by emitting energy. If they’re mined in destructive ways, they might emit a negative frequency,” suggests Shari. She and Peta consciously choose to work with small family mines in conflict-free areas, with a preference for those that offset any environmental effects.
Shari and Peta know that buying crystals is a tactile, personal experience. People usually prefer to touch and hold them, to appreciate their “beauty and mystery.” But when they buy crystals online, it’s the delivery experience that enables that first physical touchpoint.
Fast and free
“For our customers, the most important factors are cost and timing,” says Shari.
Unearthed Crystals offers free express shipping for domestic orders over $50, and over $100 for New Zealand customers. They also offer a ‘rush my order’ check box during checkout, to prioritise processing in their busy warehouse. Customers can also choose not to sign on delivery, to improve first time delivery.
An Australia Post survey in February 2021 found 81% of online shoppers believe free delivery over a certain threshold is very important.1
And according to a new report drawing on Australia Post’s extensive delivery and NPS data, The Delivery Experience: Getting it right, why it matters, and how data can help, providing clear delivery information at checkout can improve customer confidence – and as a result Net Promotor Score. For a business built on trust within their community - like Unearthed Crystals, this is critical.
“Our customer retention rate is around 53% ,” says Shari. “We get great feedback on our social media channels, like ‘Oh my god, it’s so quick! I ordered yesterday and it’s here now.’ And I think that’s such a plus for the whole customer experience – it outweighs any cost.”
Sourcing ethical packaging
Unearthed Crystal’s sustainable sourcing philosophy extends to its packaging too. “We would never do it any other way,” says Peta. “We use recyclable sturdy boxes for shipping, and add another layer of protection with biodegradable bubble wrap. Our mailing bags are compostable. Even our packaging tape is recycled.”
Shari says their community expects this, but she makes sure the packaging is aesthetically pleasing too. “A lot of things we send are gifts, so they’re in a white box with a beautiful sticker on the front.”
Australia Post data also indicates using environmentally sustainable packaging is increasingly important to customers, with around 50% of online shoppers saying they would choose to buy products from businesses that are taking action to reduce their impact on the environment.1 Using the right size and type of packaging can also avoid damage – something Shari and Peta are also keen to avoid, as every crystal is unique, and it is difficult to replace a cracked stone with something identical.
Despite not having a storefront, Peta and Shari bring so much personality and passion to every aspect of their customer experience – from their lively Facebook and Instagram posts to custom crystal appointments via video call, where they might guide customers towards a specific solution for their needs.
“We need to find other ways to connect and build trust, because crystals are such an emotional purchase,” says Shari. For Unearthed Crystals, exceeding expectations with the delivery experience is just one way they bring that “magic” to their customer’s front door.