“We’ve been delivering 99% of orders as next day delivery during the pandemic – with less staff. Brightpearl has been essential to our success.”
— Rob Cooper, Head of Operations, Fairfax & Favor
The U.K.’s 48bn pound luxury sector has been hit hard by the pandemic which continues to have a huge economic and psychological impact, with the purchasing of large ticket items being greatly affected.
The sector has seen a 60 percent decline over the first 6 months of the year – but not for a high end footwear brand, based in Norfolk. The online retailer has seen a 300% spike in sales during lockdown which has continued as restrictions ease – with the firm bucking the downturn trends seen in the wider sector.
The rapid growth has seen Fairfax & Favor recently crowned as the 33rd 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 team has put its incredible growth down to a number of factors, including the introduction of larger ranges and a stronger supply chain. The firm also credits a number of technologies for fueling growth over the past year, including Shopify, Brightpearl, and Scurri.
A High End Stand Out
Fairfax & Favor is a British fashion brand, established in 2013, selling luxury leather goods across the UK and internationally. While smaller players and luxury stores like Harrods have struggled during the pandemic and cut jobs, the Norfolk-based online retailer has seen booming sales, despite the closure of its retail store, B2B channels and the cancellation of trade shows which the brand admits was, initially, a major concern for the bottom line.
Rob Cooper, the brand’s Head of Operations, says: “At the start of the year we were excited to introduce customers to our new spring/summer collection, including sandals, loafers and and espadrilles, but then the pandemic hit – and, like many other luxury retailers, we were concerned about the impact of the Virus on high-end goods.
“Fairfax and Favor sells luxury leather goods that are bought to be seen, such as boots, handbags and purses, so we were worried that with people in lockdown and unable to go out anywhere, it might see people shying away from splashing out on a pair of premium boots or a handbag that they can’t take out to show.”
Treat Yourself Phenomenon
In a surprising reversal of fortune though, lockdown saw the brand inundated with orders from stuck-at-home Brits feeling the absence of big ticket items like holidays or expensive meals and evenings out – and who were instead treating themselves to buying a luxury item online.
“We saw huge interest almost overnight”, says Rob. Stuck inside and looking to cheer themselves up it seems shoppers were pushed online and having a ‘treat day’. They couldn’t purchase big ticket items such as holidays but they could enjoy a new pair of luxury shoes.
“Demand really has been incredible. We’ve launched some limited editions ranges and they’ve sold out in six minutes!”
Fairfax and Favor’s current top selling product is the Brancaster Sandal, which has seen a 320% increase in orders during lockdown.
Premium Experience Counts – Even in a Pandemic
The brand credits the success to its ability to continue offering a first rate experience as competitors fell short.
Rob says: “When lockdown hit many of our competitors were impacted heavily and had to close entirely, or didn’t have the ability to move their entire focus online, as stock was tied up in other channels. Some simply couldn’t meet online demand and the expectations from consumers.”
That wasn’t a problem for Fairfax and Favor, who were able to cope with a huge surge of demand that far outstripped its peak seasons and may have overwhelmed other businesses; this was primarily due to their refined focus on online sales.
“We saw as many orders in May as we did in November last year during our busiest peak season to date, but we were able to manage the surge in demand without missing a step because our ecommerce operations were geared up for online sales and handling these unpredictable spikes in interest”, explains Rob.
“In fact, we were able to maintain next day delivery throughout the crisis, and that has helped to set us apart from competitors who struggled to deliver the same high levels of service as they did pre-Covid. We refused to lower our standards. If anything, with more people at home, we saw a huge opportunity to reach a larger audience and turn them into loyal customers – but that required us to continue delivering an outstanding service, even during the most testing of times.
“Luxury customers, even during a pandemic, rightly expect a premium experience that matches their expectations. If they don’t get that the first time, because you’re not quick enough, or because the website isn’t easy enough to use, they probably aren’t coming back.”
The Brightpearl Factor
The firm credits its tech partner, Brightpearl, a popular operations system for retailers selling online, for helping the brand manage the huge spike in demand while still managing to get its luxury leather goods into the hands of customers as quickly as possible.
“We’ve been delivering 99% of orders as next day delivery during the pandemic – with less staff. Brightpearl has been essential to our continued success”, says Rob.
“We’ve relied on Brightpearl’s ability to automate aspects of the buying experience, from orders to shipping, to save us time, power our ability to get orders out the door quickly and continue delivering first class customer service.”
— Rob Cooper, Head of Operations, Fairfax & Favor
The business is now concentrating on its next season collection, and believes the wider luxury sector will rebound. The signs are pointing to a swift recovery – there were queues outside Harrods and Bond Street boutiques this week as shoppers unleashed their pent-up demand for luxury goods.
“I have no doubt that the luxury sector will rebound as things return to some degree of normality”, adds Rob. “But, I’m also confident shoppers will remember brands, like ours, that didn’t make excuses and continued to provide stellar service during the pandemic – and this will heavily influence buying decisions in future.
“We’re now planning for future collections, but I remain so proud of the team and the effort they’ve put in to ensure that Fairfax & favor emerges from the crisis on an even stronger footing than before.”
of orders delivered as next day delivery during pandemic
33rd fastest growing online retailer in Britain
According to Brightpearl’s Lightning 50 league table