How does a “casual conversation” lead to the birth of one of the most successful accessory brands in recent times?
In 2011, Lewis Blitz and Brothers Richard & James Gold launched Skinnydip London, a contemporary accessories retailer which now boasts over 150 concessions in over 60 countries.
“Our inspiration happened around the time Apple released the original iPhone and we couldn’t understand why the only cases you could find were black, white or grey. We really wanted to create something new and push boundaries by taking a new business to a level that makes tech accessories fun, young and exciting," says Lewis.
We recently sat down with the co-founders to gain and share their perspectives on:
- What it takes to make products that are desirable for the London high street fashion market.
- Using Shopify platforms in a creative way to power both your ecommerce and wholesale businesses.
- Expanding your brand internationally.
- How to collaborate with global brands.
Creating an Exclusive Presence in Retail Stores
From a Kevin Bacon clutch bag that is appropriately shaped like bacon, to glittery unicorn iPhone cases that suits your whimsical fancy, all of the SkinnyDip products have a quirky philosophy behind them: To be young, free, wild and completely different than what everyone else is doing.
The strength of their designs, continuously innovating new products and being fast moving and reactive all plays a huge part.
Now, with a presence in over 100 Topshop stores across the U.K., the company just opened its first flagship store off Carnaby Street – one of most famous streets in Central London.
The Carnaby store is using Shopify POS systems to connect with their ecommerce platforms.
“The whole retail side of our business has grown tremendously,” says Lewis. “We sell our products in-store with an iPad that is connected to Shopify, which has been incredibly successful for us. The POS system is very user friendly and we don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t continue to use it as the business continues to grow.”
The launch of the Skinnydip digital flagship store in 2012, saw online sales increase by 250% due to increased customer engagement which sees 100,000 unique visitors a month and social media channel which numbers have increased over 15 times since last year.
“Our aim is to expand internationally and we hope to open a U.S. office by the end of this year with plans to expand the brand in the States” says Richard. “Now that we have so much traffic coming to our site from the U.S., we recently opened up a local distribution center to fill all of our concession stand orders”.
Powering Ecommerce and Wholesale Businesses with Shopify
“We had a really good relationship with Shopify before we opened any stores or pop-ups,” says Lewis. “In fact, our warehouse has been using Shopify from the very beginning.”
The Skinnydip ecommerce strategy now includes 6 Shopify websites in total.
Five of those Shopify domains include: one for the U.K. and international website, one for the U.S. website, plus sites for each flagship store.
But what is unique about the Skinnydip ecommerce strategy is the use of a Shopify website for managing their wholesale business – where they distribute all of their stock allocated to wholesale customers on the back-end.
“We use our back-end sites to supply our concession stands and retail stores. Our wholesalers select the products they need. But when they place an order, there is no payment process,” explains Lewis. “All of the products they ordered are then shipped together to that location. I think we may be the first Shopify customer to use the platform in that way.”
The team has been scaling the business and growing so quickly, they recently went on to Shopify Plus to get a dedicated account manager to help them out when needed.
“I’m constantly emailing Shopify whenever I’m in a jam. Shopify has allowed us to bounce ideas off them and their advice has been invaluable,” says Lewis.
E-commerce has become a huge part of the business for Skinnydip.
Our sales in September were 35X what they were the month before; a lot of that success is down to the redesign of the website and new marketing strategies such as abandon check-out emails and weekly newsletters.
Connecting with Loyal, Global Customers
Part of the implementation of the new ecommerce site strategy is learning about consumer trends, where people are going to click on the page, and which meta tags should be used on the site in order for people to find Skinnydip London via Google.
“I wanted to understand everything about the functionality of the website and how it was going to drive sales,” says Meghan Lewis, who leads the Skinnydip ecommerce efforts.
Skinnydip’s holistic approach is a testament to how well website has done lately.
“Our sales have gone up by over 20X in the past year,” says Meghan. “And it’s growing continuously month over month. Fashion is pretty universal. Girls ages 16 to 24 are always on their phone and Instagram allow us to communicate with our global customer base that endorse our products and have been a massive boost in getting their followers to buy-in to our product range.”
Attracting and Promoting Big Brand Collaborations
Skinnydip recently collaborated with Fox’s The Simpsons on a collection inspired by fan favourite Krusty the clown.
“When Fox reached out, it was pretty surreal. We’re all huge fans of the show and The Simpsons is a global brand; loved by many so the collaboration was a no brainer”.
As soon as the collaboration launched, the website saw an immediate uptake.
“At any given time, there are 60 to 70 people on our website. But after the Krusty launch we had 380 people visit the website at any time. As a result, we had the best day of sales on record that day. It’s taken us to a whole new level.”
As a result, the company has plans to do even more brand collaborations in the future.
Have an interesting or inspiring ecommerce story to share? Send an email to Editor@ShopifyPlus.com for more details.