How Rollie Nation grew from a small pop-up to a global giant

Founded in 2012, Rollie Nation aimed to revolutionise the shoe concept

Even the most ambitious of entrepreneurs could not have predicted the success of travel shoe company, Rollie Nation, in such a short period of time. And now, as it moves into its next phase of growth, the company is looking to expand it marketing and refine customer experience (CX) even further, to reduce pain points and increase personalisation.

Founded in 2012, Rollie Nation aimed to revolutionise the shoe concept. Australian designer, Vince Lebon, was inspired by his wife, a flight attendant and the famous ‘Rollie’, who wanted lightweight, comfortable shoes to travel with.

At that stage, Lebon had been in footwear business 10 years. He decided it was time to launch his own brand, so worked on a business model for six months, and then worked on the plan.

“My wife was a flight attendant and used to travel a lot. She wanted something super lightweight to put in her luggage, and comfortable to wear as she walked around,” Lebon, CEO and founder of Rollie Nation, told CMO.

It has been an astronomical success, from a single pop-up at a Melbourne market, to a global business operating across 13 countries.

“I had a private label and wholesale background, so we launch in a pop up in south Melbourne market, and we sold all 500 pairs in four weeks,” Lebon said. “My first wholesale account was the world largest shoe store in Dubai. We certainly hit the ground running. We focused on wholesale for a couple of years, and I was the web developer on the side.

“After three years it was time to push online, so we could tell our brand story a bit better. We were trying to disrupt the thinking process to present as a brand and not as an item. We also opened a physical store, which gave us a good idea of the brand.”

Rollie used BigCommerce as its ecommerce platform from the beginning, and as BigCommerce grew and changed, so did Rollie. Utilising BigCommere's integrated channels to expand its reach and drive more traffic to the business each year, today Rollie Nation has a following of the Aussie market attributing to 40 per cent of the company's revenue and has even tapped into the European, New Zealand, and US markets, all achieved in six years.

In the last financial year (2017-2018), Rollie Nation's online revenue grew in excess of 150 per cent.

“In the beginning, the first half of our website was in WordPress, and we had the ecommerce on a subdomain, which was the better choice at that time many years ago. BigCommerce was easy to implement and six years on, I am still using it. I run my wife’s business out of Shopify, so get to experience both platforms, and what they can and can’t do,” he said.

“Two years ago, we moved to the BigCommerce Enterprise platform. At the time, we were looking at Magento, as we were looking to expand in the US. However, BigCommerce were implementing Enterprise at the same time, so we went with it, which resulted in a huge jump in professionalism and sales, which worked well for us.

“We are now re-looking at our platform as we continue to expand. As any marketer knows, two years makes a world of difference in ecommerce.”

Now Rollie has grown exponentially, it has a multitude of platforms it is using for customer service, sales, CRM, email marketing, and many more.

Far from consolidating, Lebon said he enjoys the flexibility many platforms allows for, and feels no one platform can achieve everything Rollie wishes to achieve.

“We’ve been growing at 200 per cent year-on-year since our launch, some years even more than this, and no one platform is going to work for us. There is too much of a focus on which one is the ‘best one’, but you can grow and change and platforms need to change with you.”

Rollie’s marketing approach has been consistent, with an emphasis on metrics, but the business is looking to expand its marketing capability as it moves forward, another reason it is actively platform seeking.

“We measure almost everything, this is an important part of our ethos and has allowed us to grow at the rate we have. We are not trying to do everything, but what we do, we do it well. Each business leader has a dashboard highlighting key metrics across the business.

“We use online basics like conversion rates, churn, and so on we do the RFM model: Recency, frequency and monetary, for our automated email model. All this is so we can talk to customers at the right point in time in purchase funnel, not just to drive sales, but to be relevant and not be annoying.

“My team become managers of external resources, so instead of trying to hire best SEO person in house, we hire the best SEO firm. We find it’s easier to work with experts in certain areas."

Next on the agenda is moving into more A/B testing and looking at a CRM platform, most likely HubSpot.

"We need more customer behavioural activity. We want to know where the pain points are, what they are, so we can better solve problems – and this is for CX rather than sales," Lebon said. "No one has the patience for journeys with pain points anymore, they don’t have time, it has to be seamless.”

Also on the agenda is innovation.

“I like to work two years out, five years out is more about innovation because the landscape changes so quickly now,” he explained.

“We will be looking at more robust customer relationship management tools, and how we communicate to customers, whether it be via email, SMS, predictive analytics, or even chatbots, so we can understand how to communicate better with customers and be there at the right time for them.

“Longer term, we’ll be looking at the supply chain to reduce oversupply, not that we have a huge problem with that, we have very good churn of stock. But I’d love to get ahead of the curve and co-create with customers with more individualisation, and create products specifically for customers.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu  

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