The rise of DIY haircuts
Since the start of lockdown the firm has seen a whopping 650% increase in sales compared to the same time last year as Brits snap up hair clippers, scissors, combs and brushes while stuck in self isolation.
Current Government restrictions mean thousands of people are working from home at the moment, practising social distancing, while many businesses – including countless high street barbers, salons and hair and beauty stockists – have closed their doors. As a result, people across the country are attempting their own at-home DIY haircuts and maintenance – with varying levels of success.
Since the start of lockdown CoolBlades has been inundated with orders from image conscious Brits who are also feeling the absence of their barber. Rupert Hughes, the brand’s Ecommerce Director, says: “We primarily sell supplies to businesses directly across multiple channels, including online and a small physical store. When lockdown happened and our traditional customers – barbers, hairdressers and beauty salons – were forced to close we weren’t sure what the impact would be and we were, of course, forced to close our physical store to comply with coronavirus regulations.
A hair-raising situation
“To our surprise we saw a huge overnight spike in sales across our online channels, focussed primarily on our website; it was way more than we could ever have anticipated. The lockdown pushed people online looking for supplies like scissors, clippers and colouring sets so they could brave their own lockdown DIY haircuts. In addition, high street firms that sell to the hair and beauty industry also went dark, which meant that we saw a huge uplift in our usual professional customers who were coming online and finding us.”
CoolBlades current top selling product is the Kobe Carbon Barber Comb which has seen a 760% increase in orders since lockdown.
However, the firm almost missed out on the lockdown boom entirely, as the wave of overnight interest threatened to overwhelm them. “Our previous stock control and order processing solution was clunky, on-premise, and, frankly, horrendous to work with. We knew we needed a more sophisticated technology partner that could offer solutions to our daily operational issues, like order management and delivery, but one that would also be robust enough to handle sudden spikes in demand”, says Hughes.
Style, supported by substance
Thankfully, the firm took the decision in late 2017 to ramp up its retail operations before the pandemic hit. The firm opted for Brightpearl, a popular operations system for retailers selling online, which turned out to be a shrewd move when COVID19 suddenly confined Brits to their homes.
“People say isn’t it fabulous that the business is doing so well, and it is, but what they don’t see is how relentless it’s been to deal with such an increase in the volume of orders, pretty much overnight, and the huge uplift in customer service queries alongside it, all with the same number of staff who can’t work as effectively as before because of social-distancing restrictions”, explains Hughes.
“And that’s where Brightpearl has been absolutely key to our success since lockdown”, says Hughes. “It’s helping us to manage the surge in demand; processing tens of thousands of orders across multiple online channels without missing a step. Without Brightpearl, we wouldn’t have been able to survive the last three months and would have had to close our doors.”
“Having the right system in place is always helpful when managing sales peaks, but in a sudden pressure-cooker situation that comes out of nowhere, it becomes absolutely essential.”
The future looks trim
The company forecasts stronger-than-usual trading for some time to come, and its rapid growth over the past 12 months has seen CoolBlades recently crowned (Sept’21) as the 34th fastest growing online retailer in Britain, according to Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 – a definitive list of the 50 fastest growing e-commerce brands over the past 12 months.
The firm’s recent growth has been driven by the general trend to online shopping that has been boosted by the lockdowns during the pandemic.
In early 2021, CoolBlades also launched a new website, optimized for mobile, which boosted conversion by more than 30%. The team also credits a number of technology partners for fueling growth over the last 12 months, including Brightpearl, X-Cart and Amazon.
“We have a lot of new online shoppers and we aim to provide them with a speedy, hassle-free and high-quality service throughout their transaction”, explains Hughes.
“The past few months have been incredible and we’ve experienced a great deal of success, where others have faltered, because of our ability to pivot and serve our customers across multiple online platforms and still get products out to them quickly”, adds Hughes. “Fortunately, we had a great technology partner in Brightpearl that we could rely on to help us ramp up our operations to meet expectations. It has been an enormous challenge, and, at times, a fraught and chaotic experience, but ultimately it’s been a successful one and for that, we’re hugely thankful.”
YoY sales spike
34th fastest growing online retailer in Britain
According to Brightpearl's Lightning 50 list