Inspiration, Spotlight

Creative e-commerce with The Curious Department #InspirationPrinted

With online sales becoming evermore popular, it’s no wonder that small businesses are looking for creative ways to stand out against the crowd. We recently caught up with our customer The Curious Department to talk all things creative e-commerce.

Read on for their top tips to help boost your online sales this season!

Hi Ross. Firstly, please tell us all about The Curious Department

The Curious Department is an interiors brand, specializing in unusual homewares, including luxury wallpaper, velvet cushions, limited edition art, ethical taxidermy, fine bone china tableware and stationery. All designed by us and proudly made in the UK.

We started the online shop just over 4 years ago as a response to the mass produced home accessories we saw flooding the high streets. Everything looked the same and just didn’t speak to us. I had the idea for the shop and our first collection for a few years so it’s been a real labour of love bringing our designs to market and into real homes across the world!

Image Credit: The Curious Department

What’s the driving force behind your creative collections?

Storytelling. People no longer want mass production or designs that just look pretty. They want to understand how it was made and why it was made. With everything we create we always have a conceptual perspective. From our Metamorphosis Collection to the ethically sourced butterflies that we use in our taxidermy. Every product is rich with stories that our customers can share with people when they spot that unique object in their home.

Image Credit: The Curious Department

Who has impacted you most in your design journey so far?

Can we say Instagram? I know that computers haven’t taken over just yet, but I definitely think it played a key role in our growth and development. From working with bloggers and influencers, to connecting with our fantastic customers and growing our network of likeminded and talented creatives across interiors, fashion and beauty.

It’s an inspiring platform for creatives and it’s definitely helped shape our creative direction and design process. From customer feedback through to seeing what else is out there and how to ‘make our designs curious enough’. Being able to hop on Instastories and connect with our customers within seconds, asking about what new colourways or products we could develop has been a godsend!

Image Credit: The Curious Department

How important is the packaging element of your creative e-commerce business?

Super important. People want great unboxing experiences from their online purchases, but also don’t want to be overwhelmed with too much packaging waste. We try to find the sweet spot between packaging that is functional and stands up against some rather heavy handed couriers, but looks great and is eco-friendly. We are constantly trying new products as they hit the market, and it’s definitely a challenge to find great packaging for small businesses that are within a good price point. Or that don’t require us ordering in quantities of 10,000!

Image Credit: The Curious Department

What particular print products do you use to enhance the ordering experience for your customers?

A tip we learned early on is to use standard off-the-shelf packaging but dress them up with great Stickers and Labels; gold is part of our brand DNA so Foiled Stickers are an essential item in our packaging. We also provide care cards for our fine bone china and taxidermy products- sharing the story of how they are made. We also love a surprise and delight moment too, so we gift Postcards or Greeting Cards with orders too. All printed on lovely recycled stock from, of course! It’s such a delight seeing these little items being kept by our customers, and even framed in their own right.

Image Credit: The Curious Department

How has your e-commerce business been affected in 2020? How have you had to adapt?

As people embraced life at home during lockdown we saw a surge in customers looking to purchase wallpaper and cushions, so business has been pretty good for us lately. But we were hit pretty badly from a supply chain perspective. were able to remain open which was great, but some of our other suppliers weren’t so lucky, which meant we had problems meeting our increased customer demand. A few our of bestsellers went out of stock for weeks, but I guess that just makes them even more desirable!?

Image Credit: The Curious Department

In your opinion, what does it take for a retail business to thrive online in these unprecedented times?

There’s been an explosion of side hustles and new creative e-commerce businesses. It’s a great time to assess your business models, branding and offering to the market and pivot where necessary to continue to stand out from the crowd.

What does the future hold for The Curious Department? Any upcoming projects?

We just launched our new collection Heirloom over the summer and we are already gearing up to launch some additional designs. It’s been a long time in development and we are so excited to finally be able to share all our new creations! We’ve got lots of other exciting projects to come but we can’t tell you just yet…

Image Credit: The Curious Department

And finally- where can people find you?


Are you ready to take your creative e-commerce game to the next level? Our Retail Collection has a wealth of print solutions to give your e-commerce deliveries the wow-factor. From Stickers and Gift Tags to inserts and Business Cards, you’ll find everything you need to make sure your products leave an impression the minute they arrive.

Shop the Retail Collection

About the author

Our in-house designer Becca has a love of all things creative. When she’s not designing, you can find her in Newcastle checking out independent coffee shops or getting her hands dirty with her house renovation.

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