“I come from a background of embracing new technology – it’s all about plug-and-play solutions, and sometimes it’s about using tech just for that moment. We might implement something this year and move on from it in two or three years. Most of the platforms we use operate on a SaaS model, meaning no expensive upfront fees. It’s more like, “Hey, let’s plug in this new software. It looks promising for a year or two, and then we’ll assess.” Getting this mindset ingrained into the business was important.”
– Peter Gough, COO at ROKA London
For this episode of the Lightning 50 E-Commerce Growth Hacking podcast, we interviewed Peter Gough, Chief Operating Officer for outdoor lifestyle and accessories brand ROKA London.
With a core product line of stylish and colorful bags and backpacks, the brand launched in 2017 and has grown phenomenally in the years since. The brand nurtures a strong B2B sales stream with distributors and retail stores internationally, and with Peter onboard it’s rapidly increasing its direct-to-consumer sales, with a digital YoY growth rate of 70%.
Peter shared some fascinating insight into how the brand boosted its digital popularity in recent years, including how some key tech tools are playing their part in its future strategy for growth.
Here are some of the highlights from the transcript…
- “It was very easy to suddenly start having an impact on the D2C channel. I got hold of a media agency and immediately started looking at the pay-to-click ads and the shopping ads. Having an agency take it over, doing proper keyword analysis and strategy was a big game changer. ROKA had some quite good organic traffic, but we trademarked the word ROKA and very quickly we were able to make sure we got the traffic that was rightly ours.”
- “We use Shopify plus, so we shifted all our websites – that’s B2B and D2C – all onto Shopify Plus so that gave us more analytical and reporting flexibility when it came to the actual websites and changing them.”
- “There are some quick wins you can do. I knew we could onboard Trustpilot quickly – we had a very good customer service channel, they’re super busy, we get great feedback. So I knew installing Trustpilot – probably the best, well-known review site – would get a good score as invariably we’re a good 4.8, 4.9 out of 5. When the review stars appeared in Google, it made a massive difference to traffic.”
- “I come from a background of embracing new technology, it’s all about plug-and-play solutions, and sometimes it’s about using tech just for that moment. We might implement something this year and move on from it in two or three years. Most of the platforms we use operate on a SaaS model, meaning no expensive upfront fees. It’s more like, “Hey, let’s plug in this new software. It looks promising for a year or two, and then we’ll assess.” Getting this mindset ingrained into the business was important.”
- “You can’t run a business solely relying on large, cumbersome spreadsheets; as they grow bigger, the chances of mistakes increase. So, one of the significant changes we’re implementing this year is Inventory Planner. This platform is a game-changer, taking us to another level. We’re reaching a point where stock management and finance are becoming more complex; and we need better insights into our operations and purchasing decisions. Traditionally, we relied on gut feelings and instincts, but now we have data coming into the picture. This will be the next big shift for us.”
ROKA’s Top Growth Hacks
- “Growth is all about having the right technology in place to scale. In my experience, embracing change is crucial, as technology is constantly evolving. Don’t be afraid to try new tech solutions and if they don’t work, replace them. My biggest tip is to implement a solution that works for the next year or two and then adapt as needed.”
- “When it comes to growth, it’s not just about increasing revenue. Consider other key performance indicators (KPIs) such as expanding your audience to attract Gen Z, for instance, or expanding your territory. Think about growth beyond revenue numbers.”
- “I have a bit of cynicism towards agencies and excessive strategizing. Be agile, quick to change, and embrace failure as a learning opportunity. That’s the lean operating model we follow at ROKA.”
- ROKA London started out in 2017 as a traditional retail brand selling through independent distributors and outlets – more recently, its growing direct-to-consumer e-commerce stream has seen 70% growth YoY.
- Peter named Shopify Plus, Trustpilot, Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram, Gorgias and Inventory Planner among the tech tools and strategies that have fueled ROKA’s growth.
- The company strives for a lean, cloud-based workforce to boost efficiency.
- Peter also believes in plug-and- play and/or subscription model solutions – as certain tech may carry a business for a few years, then need switching or upgrading.
Peter’s Top Growth-Hacking tips:
- Embrace the right technology, and don’t be afraid to switch it up as required.
- Consider varied KPIs for growth, not just revenue.
- Don’t excessively strategize; be quick, agile and embrace failure.
Want to hear more of what Peter had to say? Catch up with the full episode, and subscribe to upcoming ones, here.