Change is good.
In one of my previous editorials (read it here), I explained to you how the recent events had a large impact on the production and supply side of our startup. Today, let me tell you a little bit more about the need for a new business model for QIP before we had even launched. Was it a change for the better?
So, our initial plan was a lean and agile fashion company that mainly focuses on design and production, leaving it to agents and retailers to sell our brand in shops and online. We had seen some very successful examples in the fashion industry working with only this B2B approach. But with COVID19 being out there, consumer behavior changed in an unprecedented speed. What did that mean for our business model?
What data showed.
I am not telling you anything new when I say that government-imposed measures and changing consumer behavior had a massive impact on fashion and retailers. While brick shops were empty or even closed, consumers started shifting to online shops more and more. Data showed this was even more the case for the fashion industry and that fashion consumers were more likely to stick with online shops after the world will go back to normal. So, this change was there to stay.
Further, as retailers were struggling, they would not be very interested in clearing space in their shops for a new brand – that investment would be too much of a risk for them in already difficult times.
So, we needed to shift from a B2B to an online B2C model. This impacted our complete business setup. From margins, to marketing and branding, the operations and the sales process. Want to know how these changes worked out for us?
Starting with you, our customers. Cutting out the middleman and selling directly to our customers resulted in better margins. This allowed us to accept a higher production price and as a result we were able to produce an even higher quality shirt, without having to increase the retail price. So that’s good news for you, right? Check out our shirts here.
Also, as we will be selling directly to our customers, we will be receiving feedback on our products directly from our customers. This allows us to stay on top of things and constantly improve our products. Yes, please keep sending us your feedback!
It also meant a massive change in operations. Instead of ‘just’ having to send larger orders to retailers during the relevant seasons and making sure our stock and collection was in line with demand, we had to setup a system of purchasing and sending single packages on a daily basis while the customer expects to be kept informed about every step of the process. Luckily, these processes can be automated to a large extend (except me having to pack boxes now).
With the benefit of the tech solutions that already existed, this change went rather smooth. But we will likely need to hire more people for customer support and operating the online shop as a result of the change in our model.
Branding and marketing.
Last but not least, it impacted our branding and marketing. Shifting to a B2C model meant adding a completely new dimension to our branding and marketing. With a great creative consultant advising QIP as of day one, we were in very good hands. They proactively and resiliently advised us on changes needed to the appearance of the QIP brand, how to reach our customers directly and conversion on our new online shop. We simply loved what they came up with!
B2B and omni channel.
We are still convinced the B2B model was strong as well, but the B2C model was an addition that needed to be made by us. As soon as retailers see foot traffic pick up again and are ready to adopt a new brand in their stores, we are ready for them as well! One of our goals for 2021 is having an omni-channel approach.
The change for the better.
Although having to rethink the business model of QIP while at the same time getting the supply chain back on track was a very busy and challenging period, I am convinced we came out stronger. With a better product and a business model that is future proof.
Jaap & Willem