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Twitter as traditional retail slumps - Tutti Bella
09
May '09
The U.S. retail sector may be taking a hit in this economy, but Kim Ciliberto, owner of online children's clothing boutique Tutti Bella, says the benefits of not being a bricks and mortar store are even more pronounced than ever before.

"I wouldn't say business is thriving this year, but because we serve a global audience, we are still able to focus on providing a unique and varied selection of children's clothing to our customers without feeling the pinch quite as much as a store that relies on one community or region," says Ciliberto.

Tutti Bella, which offers fashions for babies to tweens from more than 100 brands, has amassed a loyal following of customers who appreciate the quality and variety of a unique inventory of boutique, designer, and popular clothing items.

"We find that the many of our shoppers are fashion conscious first and budget conscious second. Because we are accessible to a global audience through the internet, we don't rely so much on any one economy to keep us going. People still want their kids to look good, and fashion is one of those things that can lift your spirits when other things in your life are bringing you down," Ciliberto says.

From the store's California warehouse, a small staff handles everything from inventory control to shipping and customer service, as well as website updates and marketing, like posts to Twitter. Ciliberto herself serves as head buyer and makes regular trips to L.A.'s fashion showrooms, as well as New York and European markets to find the latest trends and must-haves.

"If you have ever tried to shop with a toddler or two in tow, or if you are frustrated by the limited offerings you find in your local department stores or children's boutiques, you understand immediately the benefits of online retail for children's fashion," Ciliberto says.

In addition to making the latest designer baby clothes and kids fashions available to a worldwide audience, Tutti Bella also features budget-friendly deals, including the store's popular "Deal of the Day" which is one deeply discounted item, (40-75% off original price), that is usually limited in quantity and lasts just one day. The Deal of the Day may be past season merchandise, early current season items, or special purchases through vendors.

"As an internet business, we stay on top of the online trends, and with the popularity of Twitter, it makes sense for us to jump on that bandwagon and extend our email notification program to the Twitter platform," Ciliberto says.

Just a couple weeks into a "Twitter Test," and Ciliberto is convinced the medium works for her purposes.

"We're just getting started with Twitter, but so far it's worked great. Our Tweet Deals are becoming as popular as our email alerts, and our list of followers is growing daily," she says.

What has helped the online boutique thrive the most is the "Tutti Bella Style," which the owner describes as a combination of California breezy and big city chic.

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