After Its Black Friday Sales Surge, Socks For Living Is Ready For Back to School

After Its Black Friday Sales Surge, Socks For Living Is Ready For Back to School
  • Last autumn, Melbourne-based Socks For Living leveraged ecommerce automation to totally revolutionize its marketing campaign efforts
  • Over Black Friday Cyber Monday, 2018, the company used Launchpad to help triple its sales attributed to email marketing
  • Now, with Back to School shopping underway in Australia, the company is full steam ahead with ecommerce automation helping target parents in increasingly smart and effective ways

When it comes to Back to School shopping, Josh Charlesworth reckons, there are three types of parents.

Here’s how he describes the first. “We have the super organized parent,” the co-founder of Socks For Living, Australia’s largest online sock shop, begins. “They’re saying, ‘It’s the start of the year — my kids aren’t going back to school for four weeks, but I want to be organized so they don’t miss out.’ They want to have things ready. They want to have it all set.”

Then there is the “average parent,” and finally the “last-minute ones.” Those are no derogatory terms, Charlesworth insists, merely personal preferences for how and when he has found parents prefer to shop for their children. “They’re the people who are enjoying their holidays,” he says. “And either they buy in time for school, or the kids are already back to school and they go, ‘Oh, my God! I need some socks.’”

In retail, not unlike the items they buy, customers indeed come in all shapes and sizes. But it’s all gold to somebody like Charlesworth, who is tasked with marketing to and connecting with every shopper under the Australian sun.

Now is Socks For Living’s time to shine. Back to School spending in Australia runs well over a billion dollars each year, and the breakdown of expected costs hitting families at a micro level is no less impressive. According to the Australian Retailers Association, parents will spend more than $840 on school apparel and supplies for each of their children in 2019. That’s plenty of dough, certainly enough for a savvy sock retailer to carve out a piece of parents’ careful spending.

Socks For Living is Australia's largest online sock retailer.

Charlesworth has been at Socks For Living since its very beginning, in 2011, when this Melbourne company was founded under much more modest circumstances. Then, the business was three men, all of whom sought to make sock shopping a little easier. Now, more than 30 brands are sold under the Socks For Living umbrella — including several house brands the company has come to manufacture itself.

The rise has been swift, and so, too, have been the means with which the business is optimizing its sales opportunities. The latest boon to Socks For Living’s business has been ecommerce automation. That’s a fancy way of saying that Socks For Living uses a Shopify Plus tool named Launchpad to schedule and plan its sales campaign to-do lists, so its team doesn’t have to handle them manually and can focus on more impactful tasks. Yet that’s only the half of it. What it’s really saying is that ecommerce automation allows Socks For Living to perform at a level it couldn’t possibly reach on its own.

The results have been very real: over Black Friday Cyber Monday, 2018 — the company’s first trial run using Launchpad — Socks For Living enjoyed a 321% boost year-over-year (YoY) in sales tied to its email marketing, which was directly buoyed by ecommerce automation. And that’s only the beginning.

Here’s how Socks For Living uses ecommerce automation, and what’s in store as the business moves to make this Back to School shopping season its best yet.

A Powerful Approach Weaponized

Charlesworth and his team are a happy group, a self-aware bunch that know precisely the business they are in. “Socks for most people aren’t that, ‘Oh, my God, I’m receiving an iPhone!’ item,” he says. Nonetheless, no matter where outward enthusiasm for his products may lie, Charlesworth has learned the value of a good pair of socks — and certainly the value parents might see in them, too.

Socks For Living’s 2019 Back to School moment began in 2018. It was Black Friday Cyber Monday, and the company sought to turbocharge its most important piece of customer reachout.

Email marketing.

For the first time, to do so Socks For Living turned to Launchpad. Charlesworth had long become a master at customer segmentation, informing his previous campaigns with reams of internal data. For many years, things had worked very well, though Socks For Living was suddenly finding itself up to its ears in customer lists — a vast internal database that offered uncountable permutations for who could be marketed to and when.

There was only so much Charlesworth and his team could handle manually. But Launchpad changed the stakes. Launchpad allowed Socks For Living’s email marketing efforts to hit a level they had yet to reach.

So, how does Launchpad work?

Here’s a quick video illustrating how Shopify Plus brands have used Launchpad to sell more than $3 billion on autopilot and exactly how to schedule a campaign …

After Its Black Friday Sales Surge, Socks For Living Is Ready For Back to School

Install Launchpad

Not on Shopify Plus yet? Learn more about ecommerce automation.

Charlesworth had spent great pains to develop his data sets, curating and segmenting them based on order history, how much customers typically spent, what they’d purchased, the styles they preferred, how long they’d been a customer, etc. The numbers provided a powerful approach to marketing on their own, Charlesworth able to piece together an effective targeting strategy based off his own manual efforts.

But with Launchpad, his data became something else. It became almost weaponized when teamed with ecommerce automation.

Socks For Living sells more than 30 brands of socks — including a few in-house brands of its own.

‘The Best Black Friday Cyber Monday On Record’

Discounts emailed to certain customer groups? They were a snap. Specific product collections delivered to the inboxes of others? No problem. The only limits to what marketing campaigns Socks For Living could run came at the end of the team’s imagination.

“There was a lot of brainstorming that was done beforehand as to, ‘Okay, we have all this data, what are we gonna do with it?’” Charlesworth says. “Then it was drilling down on what we’re gonna focus on, who we’re gonna focus on, who we’re gonna target, when we’re gonna target, and what time of day we’re gonna send our campaigns.”

The creative process was liberating, and Charlesworth found an able companion in his efforts. “Launchpad was really, really powerful,” he says. “We were probably surprised at how powerful it was.”

Launchpad helped Socks For Living get into the weeds of its email marketing promotions with confidence, streamlining what offers it promoted — and to who — to prevent any awkward overlap. Charlesworth was able to ensure his campaigns were not repeated, so that if one customer received, say, an offer to buy a product for $15, they wouldn’t also later get an offer to buy that same product for $12.

Or what about customers who did purchase? The same principle applied. Socks For Living could use Launchpad to say: if a customer bought a product for $15, they wouldn’t then later also receive a promotion to buy the same product for $12. That way, Charlesworth says, “the (customer isn’t) disappointed wishing they’d gotten a different bargain.”

It was obsessing over the customer experience — and using ecommerce automation to do so — though it was all part of the larger picture of what this company was becoming. Over the four days of Black Friday Cyber Monday, 2018, the results were too great to ignore. Socks For Living enjoyed:

  • YoY sales up 228%
  • YoY sales attributed directly to email campaigns up 321%
  • YoY conversation rate up 49%
  • YoY returning customer rate up 58%
  • YoY average order value up 5%

“We had the best Black Friday Cyber Monday that we’ve had on record,” Charlesworth says. “Now, we’ve got bigger and bigger plans as to how to leverage Launchpad moving forward.”

From One Dad To Another

Socks For Living began its Back to School sales campaigns on Jan. 7. There is a different air around the company now. A new confidence, perhaps, during this crucial time on the business calendar.

Until well into February, many mothers and fathers across Australia and New Zealand will receive carefully-selected correspondence from Charlesworth’s campaigns. They may seem like arbitrary promotions — as though the email campaigns were not heavily targeted, heavily strategized, or thought-out to the thousandth degree one month in advance — but as Socks For Living has mastered through its record Black Friday Cyber Monday, the communication is anything but.

Ecommerce automation has not made this business, though it has perhaps made this business more efficient, more effective, more dangerous in its market. Surely Charlesworth, a parent marketing to his fellow kind, would agree. There is no going back now.

About the author

Jason Buckland

Jason Buckland is a content marketing manager at Shopify Plus. His feature writing has appeared in the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, Playboy, Time, the Toronto Star, and elsewhere.