Exciting Norwegian retailer, Varsity Headwear, expand into wholesale within just 2 months of implementing Brightpearl
Oslo-based cap specialist, Varsity Headwear has been selling fashionable and high quality caps in store and online since 2013.
We spoke with Varsity Headwear’s Co-Founder, Sebastian to find out more about the business, how Brightpearl fits into it and what challenges they faced before implementing the software. Here’s what we found out...
Based in Oslo in Norway, brothers Sebastian and Alex spotted a gap in the market in 2013 for good quality, fashionable caps. Their own interest in caps was the inspiration behind this growing business as Sebastian explains: “We designed and created a product we couldn’t find ourselves.” The Norwegian duo had discovered you could either buy poor quality caps attributed to various sports teams, or premium luxury caps with an expensive price tag. But what about the middle market and for the cap lover who is into fashion rather than sports? This is where Varsity Headwear come in and refreshingly plug the gap in the market.
Their business works on the premise of a specific distribution strategy. Working with over 50 retailers, their products are sold in the best stores around Norway, with only the largest towns seeing their presence in more than one store. This tight distribution network ensures their brand and values aren’t compromised in any way, due to only working with stores that are the perfect fit for their brand. Ultimately, this strategy ensures they have a successful long-term business in place, allowing them to focus on brand building via the correct distribution model for their business.
Varsity caps are also sold in their own flagship store in Oslo and their Magento website. Additionally, the team also accepts B2B orders, which sees them create special products for large businesses when required.
Working alongside 4 other employees, they’ve built a thriving business in Norway, whilst also breaking into the EU market. June 2017 saw them open a store in St Tropez in France as a market test. Sebastian explains: “We chose St Tropez as it is very multicultural during the summer with lots of different nationalities around. We collected data on who was buying our products, including age, gender and nationality.” Sebastian then goes on to explain that this led them to believe that there is a gap in the market for them in Germany, leading to their decision to launch a physical store in Munich next summer.
Before implementing Brightpearl, Sebastian explains: “We were using Excel Spreadsheets to handle orders and inventory, and we were using iZettle as a payment system from day one. This was just for orders through our own store as we weren’t selling through wholesale or anything. Our order management was very simple.”
“However, during the first 8 months, we knew we wanted to expand into wholesale and grow our online sales. We knew we needed to handle orders better, and spreadsheets were making it difficult to get quality information quickly,” Sebastian says.
Sebastian and his brother, Alex knew they were looking for software that could have wholesale capabilities, as well as a point of sale and ecommerce integration to manage orders and inventory in one central system. However, Sebastian says: “It was difficult to find a solution that did everything we wanted. Most companies focus on one thing: wholesale, physical stores or online. But we wanted to do all three.”
Difficulties gaining real time information using spreadsheets
Needed a solution that could do everything in one system
Spreadsheets couldn’t scale with their business growth
After realizing that their business was growing at a rate far beyond what spreadsheets were capable of, Alex and Sebastian started their search for a system that could do it all.
Brightpearl was a strong contender from the start, but Varsity’s investment in the system was crucial in their plans for business growth. Sebastian explains: “Brightpearl was the optimal software to handle our needs. We like to invest in things before we really have the need and anticipate where we’re going as a company. So after we’d setup the whole system and Brightpearl was functioning fully, it was just 1-2 months before we had expanded into wholesale and had more online orders. We were so grateful that we’d anticipated what would happen! As our order volumes grew and new customers were added, we could add them straight into Brightpearl and have full control of everything.”
Sebastian recognizes that “the investment in Brightpearl allowed us to grow much faster than we would have previously been able to, and supported us as soon as we wanted to take that step. For us, Brightpearl was a really cool tool to allow us to grow, when we were ready.”
Sebastian then goes on to say: “So with everything setup in Brightpearl, it was then just a matter of jumping in the car or on a plane to meet new customers. And while we were in those meetings, we could add orders straight into Brightpearl and just start processing them. We had full control of the situation.”
Since implementing Brightpearl, Varsity Headwear are now also using the auto-fulfill function of the Brightpearl Workflow Automation tool: “It’s working well, and helpful for day-to-day processing and workflow improvements. We’re using it to fulfill our online orders and we will use more of it as we grow and as volumes increase.”
“Brightpearl is a system we use all day, every day. You just get so used to it. But without it, I don’t know how we would have organized things. And another thing I like is that Brightpearl as a company is always investing in their software and adding new products. Something is always happening, which says to us that it’s a good platform to be on,” Sebastian tells us.
And if he had to leave us with a description of Brightpearl in just one sentence, he would say “it’s the mothership that connects all our channels.”
Point of sale, ecommerce and wholesale all in one system
Brightpearl is continually improved and invested in
Workflow automation has been helpful for day-to-day order processing
Looking ahead to the future, Sebastian tells us that they have plans to expand further into the EU market: “We want to be selling internationally and be successfully established in the EU market as a leading headwear and cap brand.”
And for other retailers and wholesalers looking to implement Brightpearl in their own business, Sebastian has this advice: “You need to see how Brightpearl works with all of your systems. Magento was crucial for us, and now, fulfillment and logistics will also be necessary for us going forwards.”