Exclusive interview with INCH2 founders by Forbes
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THE SUCCESS STORY OF LATVIAN FOOTWEAR BRAND INCH2 ON A GLOBAL SCALE
During last “Black Friday” sale Latvian footwear brand INCH2 set a new record earning 555 000 EUR in one day via their online store. Taking into consideration this result was achieved only by using one retail channel– this is not only the biggest amount of orders for the company to be received during one day, but also an unprecedented case in the history of Latvia.
INCH2 is a start-up company founded in Latvia in 2015. The brand’s speciality is design and production of elegant women footwear with charismatic personality. Thanks to carefully calculated strategy of e-commerce using the Internet resources, the company has gained international recognition fast and is proud to bring the name of Latvia in the world. The only continent INCH2 hasn’t received any orders from, is Antarctica. Edward and Olga Peterson are revealing the secret of success story of how to concur the shoe market in such a short period of time.
Where did the idea and brand name INCH2 come from?
The idea of high-quality shoes with a charismatic personality occurred shortly before 2015, when after 10 years of living in London we decided to return to Latvia. We had noticed the gap between luxury footwear segment and mass market.
Using our existing knowledge, we decided to combine the benefits of modern e-commerce technology, which does not limit neither our customers location, neither ours, the unsatisfied demands of the upper-middle range consumer segment and the unusual design of shoes. After returning home we started to work on our idea immediately. The capital we started with wa 500 EUR, which was followed by 24/7 fanatical work and perseverance. Initially, only a few shoe styles were created, but the demand for them was so high that it could not be fulfilled even if we worked without sleep.
How did you solve the problem as a new start-up company taking into consideration, you have had no experience in the footwear industry?
Since we really did not have any experience in this field, we got the knowledge with our own experiments and mistakes. We went through a valuable fight with every new pair made. Initially all the shoes were made in Riga – it was a valuable experience that gave us the motivation to search for partners outside Latvia.
Choosing reliable partners is very difficult process and really hard work, what were the main problems You had to face during this journey?
We had to arrange so many meetings it was bizarre, the amount of factories and specialized trade fairs we have visited is huge, not even mentioning the quantities of samples we have made before finding the manufacturer capable of hearing our ideas and giving us valuable advices, because it is not possible to sacrifice the comfort in the name of design when we are talking about footwear. Everything mentioned above took place during the fast-growing phase of sales that had to be managed between flights, while running to the next gate at the airport. We could not miss a beat. The digital environment we decided to work in does not accept any delays, it changes rapidly and you have to adapt to new demands and meet new challenges no matter where you are located at the time. Time for us was a huge luxury we couldn’t really afford.
Currently we are working with factories in Portugal and Italy. We have chosen shoemakers of these countries for their footwear production traditions. Their craftsmen experience and knowledge have been passed down from generation to generation for centuries, therefore all the widely known brands are working with them. The manufacturer from Portugal in particular, produces footwear for the fashion houses, who rule the fashion industry all around the world.
Despite the difficulties, You have achieved almost impossible result – thanks to e-commerce and modern tools provided by Internet, the turnover of INCH2 has grown more than 10 times in a short time…
The turnover indeed has grown 10 times a year, two years in a row, but we see it only as a first step, because we can offer a completely different level of quality and the quantities now, which is a way to other markets. During these two and a half years we have managed to get over 500 000 loyal followers on social media by reaching about 15 million unique users on the web.
Our company’s plans and development strategy are based on global success stories. Unfortunately there is no one to learn from in Latvia on such a high scale. The way to our modus operandi was paved from scratch.
Thanks to deep analysis of customer shopping habits and behaviour, we can recognize the global trends and target the audience in an accurate manner.
All of our actions are based on research, the entire advertising concept has very precise numbers beneath the visual part.
There were only two of us in the beginning, and now our team consists of more than 20 highly skilled professionals from different areas who are driving the whole company forward. We are constantly receiving cooperation offers from the “big players” of online retail business (businesses), distributors and agents. We had to put on hold all of these opportunities, but now we can finally take part in such discussions. We are not afraid of big orders anymore, because now we are sure in our capability to provide our partners with the amounts we couldn’t deal with in the past.
The production process is already set up – all our bestsellers and a new collection is being made by dedicated professionals, and we are expecting full stock to be delivered to us in the nearest future.
We are widely known, this is something that has been proven to us many times. We took part in an International Trade Show at Louvre in Paris and it was amazing. So many people from all across the globe came to us and shared their joy of seeing INCH2 shoes in the real world, because they had followed us on social media and are were curious to meet our team in person.
What are the future plans of INCH2?
We see a huge potential in the wholesale area and we really want our customers to be able to touch and feel the charisma and quality of our shoes before buying them, because this is something we are really proud about.
We plan to expand the assortment and please our clients with some delightful styles of casual clothing and accessories not only for ladies, but also for gentlemen. We have plenty of ideas, we’ve just felt the taste of success and realized the amount of possibilities provided by Internet. This is the tool which erases all the borders when used wisely, provides with enormous possibilities especially considering the fact – there is a tendency to move the offline sales online. It has a great potential for young companies because for them it is possible to react and adapt to new demands immediately. The strength of INCH2 – flexibility, we have not developed resistance to innovations, we “catch” the latest trends in e-commerce and put them to work for us.
The 555,000 euros we have earned in one day – it’s just a starting point! The world market is an ocean, and we have just scooped it with a spoon.