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In this interview series, we talk to leaders of ecommerce businesses who can share their strategies for creating a successful ecommerce website. As part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Hurst.

Lucy Hurst

Lucy Hurst

Lucy Hurst is the Co-Founder of Screaming Squid, a digital PR company that is making waves within the industry owing to the fact that they do things differently.

Lucy and her business partner, Dexter, work together to ensure that their clients’ needs are consistently met. They have hit various milestones and have even more lined up while ensuring that each individual milestone is celebrated and, of course, the customer is happy throughout and that they are achieving results for clients.

Before we begin, can you please introduce yourself? Can you tell us a bit about your backstory and how you got started?

Sure thing, my name is Lucy Hurst, and I am Co-Founder of Screaming Squid. I have a degree in photography, so I definitely have a creative flair. However, I also learned how to develop my own photographs, so I have a natural interest in how everything works. I also have an ongoing interest in digital marketing by way of another business that I am involved with. I love to learn new things and can honestly say that I feel like I learn something new every day working at Squid. 

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? What lessons or takeaways did you learn?

So, we actually kind of started by accident. It was initially going to be Dexter some website development that progressed into doing a blog site. As I hit more and more audiences with my other company via PR, we figured we could offer PR Services. My takeaway from that is that you’ve got to be prepared for things to progress and for ideas to pivot. 

Is there a particular person who you are grateful for who helped get you to where you are?

Both my business partners. The one for the digital marketing company and Dexter. They’ve been integral for spurring me on, just in very different ways. 

What does your ecommerce company do? What was the “aha moment” that led to the idea for your current business?

We sell a variety of different PR packages, some of which are actually free at the moment, but we will have to revise our pricing structure as demand continues to grow. We also offer a free subscription newsletter for the sector(s) that you’re interested in following. As mentioned previously, we progressed our idea into what it’s become. 

I think the “aha moment” was when I had just woken up one morning, looked a mess, and was just making a coffee, and the figures started running through my head. All of a sudden, it seemed like a no-brainer. 

What was your original vision for your company? What pain point(s) were you trying to solve for your customers?

The original vision was literally to teach me the basics of website development, it progressed pretty quickly, though, to the point I can now break down most websites as to how they’ve been put together. We’re both focused on customer satisfaction, so we ensure that we make things as easy as possible for clients. 

photo of Lucy Hurst

There are more than 12 million ecommerce businesses out there. What do you think makes your company stand out? What are you most proud of?

We’re constantly putting out either meaningful or fun content. We try to add a personal touch as well and tell stories from our personal lives. 

I’m super proud of our website and how hard we worked to get it live, but also of the fact that we haven’t sacrificed our personal lives in the meantime. For example, if you go to our news page, you’ll see an article called “My week so far… Dogs, Sideboob, and more…” 

I think this article kind of summarizes the fact that we don’t put our lives on hold, but we still get everything done. We’ve ensured that systems have been super streamlined since the beginning, which has been a massive help.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things you need to know to build a highly successful ecommerce website?

1 . The customer, their business, their product, and their target audience

2 . UX/UI design

3 . How to develop a professional and reputable-looking website

4 . How to then make the site and the products on it easy to find from the customer's point of view

5 . How to know how to establish all the above in the most efficient way possible 

If there were one part of the ecommerce website development process you would have spent 50% more time on, what would it be and why?

In my ongoing experience of digital marketing, it’s normally chasing the customer up for content and/or feedback. If we’re putting products on a site for them, obviously, we need to know exactly what we’re putting on there, along with the pricing structure. The only person who can definitively tell us that is the customer. 

Can you share a few examples of tools or software that you think can dramatically empower emerging ecommerce brands to be more effective and more successful?

Well, we can’t give too many secrets away, but Dexter has been awesome at finding alternative and really efficient products. I’ve made a few passing suggestions “Is XYZ possible?” which has then led to us bouncing ideas off each other. 

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start an ecommerce business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

Quite a few ecommerce owners expect their site to go live and for orders to start streaming in. That’s just not the case, ecommerce owners should liaise with a reputable SEO consultant or digital marketing agency that can show tangible results that they’ve achieved for other ecommerce clients. 

In your experience, which aspect of running an ecommerce brand tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

I think there are a couple of aspects that are often underestimated. The first is, “Would customers buy from a site like this?” The second is, “Can customers find my site to buy from it?” There’s no point in having a great-looking site if it’s on page 10 of Google. 

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most people, what would that be?

There are so many that could do so much good. I think as soon as I saw success in one, I’d be trying to cure the next injustice in this world. One that I am particularly passionate about is having a diverse and positive working environment, I’d honestly like to see more of that. 

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Francois Marchand
By Francois Marchand

Francois Marchand is passionate about helping and educating business leaders, ecommerce professionals, and digital marketers grow their skill sets to stay ahead of the competition. Francois holds a BA Specialization in Communication Studies & Journalism from Concordia University (Montreal, QC) and 20+ years of experience in ecommerce, marketing, traditional and digital media, and public relations, including The Vancouver Sun, National Post, CBC/Radio-Canada, Unbounce, and Vancouver Film School.