We’re just coming up to our second birthday, thanks to all who have supported us on our journey so far.
I’ve been getting asked a lot recently about where the concept for the company came from.
vvast, always written with a small v, is the fusion of my agency and client-side experiences. I worked agency side at Yucca (founded and sold) for 11 years and then 5 years client side.
Having observed the life, cultures and approaches on both sides of the fence vvast is a reflection of the learnings gleaned and the opportunity. I’ve taken the best bits, spotted the huge missed opportunity and am hoping to avoid the pitfalls.
I’ve been asked occasionally if I’ve set up another agency, especially by my former agency colleagues and friends who know that I’m prone to a tease over it.
I honestly believe I haven’t (mild denial) but, I’m aware that there are components to what we do that are ‘agency like’ but no more than a client-side team taking PPC optimisation in house.
But, fundamentally we look to replicate how an in-house client-side brand D2C team functions with all the benefits of managing multiple brands and having a centralised strategic Playbook to draw from.
In no particular order, here are the key components that make up the vvast proposition, cherry-picked from my marketing, agency and retail experience.
- Brand first, revenue second.
- Focus resolutely on Lifestyle Direct to Consumer, develop strategy that works in chorus with other channels such as wholesale.
- Only work with brands you believe in.
- Only work with brands that don’t use discount as a way of acquiring customers, be in it for the long game – it’s where the best things happen.
- Weld together onsite, acquisition, merchandising, buying and warehouse in one cohesive offer. I’m still aghast of the number of ecommerce websites, D2C or retail that operate without a solid Merchandising team behind them for example, it’s crazy and costing dearly from a missed opportunity point of view. Looking at channel performance in isolation is a form of madness.
- Adopted a percentage of revenue performance model to avoid the increasingly obsolete retainer model agencies are forced to impose on their clients to justify their overheads. We pioneered the performance model in the early days of PPC at Yucca and I always respected the operators that offered it when I was client side as it was evident they obviously believed in what they did – stand up Nosto (love you guys).
- Adopt the same trade planning (use trade plans and revise incessantly based on market conditions), retail maths/terminology, reporting phasing and approaches as brands. We. Are. The. Brand.
- D2C website first then Marketplaces once we have the data and a stock margin optimisaion policy in place.
- Defined and still defining a culture of curiosity, collaboration and genuine respect for each other and the mission we are on. Our sales data both onsite, merchandising and from our buys means we can innovate for our brands really quickly. See a product category being searched a lot for onsite but has a poor user experience on landing? Build a landing page, er, that week, curate a product collection around if needed – whatever you need to do to improve that brand experience.
- Standardised working practices across multiple brands, our ‘vvast playbook’ means not only do we not reinvent the wheel every time we launch a new brand in EU / EMEA it also means that the value gleaned from many more thousands of user sessions and buying habits are applied to our learnings.
- Adopting a brand name that always gets people talking, probably for the wrong reason. We’ve observed that people from north of Cheltenham tend to say it in the best possible way… “vuur vuur vaaaasst you say” and another ‘Veeevaaasst, why ya call it that?”.
- If we need to dev, build it so it can be productised.
- Define a tech stack that works, scales and then replicate… Brightpearl, Shopify, Nosto, Klaviyo.
- Use Macs, they work.
Bad bits, we didn’t adopt
- Revenue first, brand second.
- Looking at acquisition channel performance in pure channel silos – a HUGE pet hate of mine and I was guilty of it when I was agency side. I shudder to think how many times I used to quote whimsical conversion rate increases without considering a new season had just launched or the reverse a site could have been at the end of season and therefore riddled with understandable stock fragmentation.
- Trying to charge for peoples time as the sole revenue source for the business, be this site builds or optimisation of channels. Why? It’s a form of madness and doesn’t leverage the true worth of the intellectual property, knowledge and wise experience in the people in the business.
- Ignoring the warehouse team. Never ignore the warehouse team. They are the cogs that keep everything turning and deserved to at the core of everything we are doing (especially in peak).
Really bad bits
- Avoided the common disconnect found internally between Merchandising, brand, store (HQ & instore), buying and ecommerce at all costs.
We’re on an exciting growth trajectory as more and more brands realise they can get fast, capital free D2C entry into the EU market with a trusted and highly experienced partner.
D2C as a consumer trend is the part of ecommerce that is fastest growing with the added benefit of the brand owning the customer, not a Marketplace.
So, if you are looking for a change in your role do get in touch with us, we are hiring!
PS here is a picture of my Fatbike in spring in woods about a mile from our office. I also own a hardtail MTB, a full bounce MTB and a roadbike in a case you thought I was trying to be too trendy (and 8 surfboards).