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Sean Hawie on How Retailers are Surviving Through COVID-19

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Sean Hawie Oculizm

We talked Sean Hawie of Oculizm about helping brands take advantage of user-generated content.

First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times? 

Sean Hawie: My family is in good health, thank you. I hope yours is good too.

Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Oculizm.

Sean Hawie: I founded Oculizm in 2018 with the help of Andrew Xeni, founder of Nobody’s Child. We understood the importance of user-generated content as part of the shopping experience. We wanted to find a way to help brands take advantage of all the content their audience was creating on various social networks. Oculizm provides shoppable galleries for websites, enabling brands to increase conversion in an already competitive and fast-changing market.

How does Oculizm innovate? 

Sean Hawie: We’re a team of 5 individuals who are passionate about delivering value for our clients, and our product is a real-time curation and publishing platform for brands. Being a software platform, we’re able to quickly adapt to our clients’ evolving requirements and new features of the social networks we integrate with, such as Instagram and Facebook. We developed and implemented a new feature this summer, which was specifically requested by a client who changed their marketing strategy as a result of COVID-19. Within 6 weeks, we’d scoped, tested, and released our email marketing integration solution, enabling brands to add user-generated content to their email campaigns.

Who are your customers, and how are they coping during COVID-19?

Sean Hawie: Our clients are consumer brands in the fashion, interiors, cosmetics, travel, and fitness sectors. Coping with the initial disruption and delays caused by COVID-19 was a real challenge for our some, particularly those with shared distribution models and international supply chains. But most online retailers were able to adapt and even flourish, as changes to consumer habits presented new opportunities for online retail. For example, sales of garden furniture, home exercise equipment, and baked goods surged. We even saw businesses pivot to new markets, and we remain ready to support them in every way we can.

How has the day-to-day operation of your business changed during the pandemic?

Sean Hawie: We’re mostly working from home now, although we’re occasionally in and out of our office (based in Soho, London). It’s been an eye-opening experience to see firsthand how the shopping district of Central London has changed during COVID-19, with some stores closing down permanently and others switching to online only with new delivery models. We’ve adapted our business development strategy to consider that people are working more flexible hours in a less formal environment, and we’ve increased our support hours to support our clients more around the clock.

What’s the outlook for a post-COVID-19 startup world?

Sean Hawie: We’re optimistic about consumer shopping trends moving more online. As long as we keep providing value for our clients and adapt to new challenges and opportunities as they arise, then we should be on track for a successful 2021. We’re also planning to move into new sectors, so watch this space 🙂

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