Mon Jan 08 2018
Meet the company that’s grown 30% every year for the last five years. Yes, we’re talking to ProSwimwear again – they also starred in 5 steps that could help you double your turnover in two years. And they’re not happy to stay on that trajectory. In fact, they have big plans to accelerate growth over the next five years.
The target? 40% year on year.
And that’s in the face of Brexit and the growing threat of cyber-attacks. Talk about ambitious. But they’ve focused on the importance of two things – growing and retaining internal talent, and finding the right external partnerships for growth. Here are three areas in which ProSwimwear are leveraging reliable, innovative partnerships for impressive growth.
From day one, ProSwimwear has been focused on giving customers what they want. How they do that hasn’t changed dramatically since they set up in 2007. They still sell almost exclusively online, they still offer a huge range of products and they still focus fiercely on customer services and making the browsing and buying journey as easy and enjoyable as possible.
A key part of this journey is the payment page. If a customer gets to the final stage in their online purchasing journey and splutters on the final length, it’s possible that customer will be gone for that sale, and for good.
So when ProSwimwear asked their previous payment provider to introduce 3D secure – an extra card check between a shopper pressing ‘buy’ and getting confirmation of purchase success, designed to reduce fraud – they weren’t expecting a massive drop-off in sales. But that’s what they got – catastrophic for an online-only business. It turns out the provider’s system wasn’t recognising when a particular card issuer wasn’t signed up to 3D secure, so it rejected any sales that tried to go through without it. Barclaycard’s system was smart enough to figure out these anomalies and let through genuine sales.
"Moving to a Barclaycard online payment gateway solution allowed 3D secure to do its job of reducing online card-not-present fraud. And the switch also saved ProSwimwear £24k in merchant fees over 12 months."
But it wasn’t the 3D Secure issue, or even the massive savings in merchant fees - £24k over 12 months – that prompted the switch to Barclaycard. In fact it was the lack of support available locally by their previous provider.
ProSwimwear were frustrated that when they didn’t receive the payments they were expecting, they might not get a response to their enquiry for 48 hours. This was often down to the time difference between their provider’s head office overseas and ProSwimwear’s in Somerset, England.
But as any SME will know, when it comes to money, 48 hours is a very long time to wait and delays like that can negatively impact cash flow.
With growth beyond the UK a priority for ProSwimwear, recruitment has focused on international talent. eCommerce Manager, James Graham, has seen his team nearly double in just six months, to nine. This includes two multilingual webmasters who can handle the eCommerce side of things for the German, French, Spanish, Italian and Portuguese markets.
“We do outsource a few roles at the moment, as we look for ways to grow quickly and allow for flexibility in the way we work."
They also recruited in-house SEO, PPC and graphic design specialists, all to allow them to be much faster to market with new products, ranges and competitions, than their competitors.
"If you do it correctly, it’s more cost efficient to employ someone rather than hire an agency. It also makes us much faster."
"For example, one of our manufacturers recently launched a competition to us and all our competitors in the UK, to win 10 training days with a professional swimmer. We actually got that on the website, in a newsletter and with accompanying graphics within four hours! Our nearest competitor was over a week later, and some of them two weeks later."
Getting exclusive content to customers first is so important in a world where differentiation is incredibly tough.
But in order to test foreign markets in a low-cost, low-risk way, ProSwimwear chose to outsource their non-UK business to a partner. The long-term plan is to develop those markets in the same way as they have in the UK, with the same infrastructure, web development and spend, etc. For now, though, they’re seeing great turnover and waiting to see what Brexit brings.
They also employed a web development and SEO specialists for the Russian market, to ensure visibility on Yandex, by far the largest search engine in the country based on daily users1.
With international expansion a big part of ProSwimwear’s short and long-term growth plans, it’s critical that they know how they’ll serve European and global markets.
“We are growing rapidly in places like France, Germany and Spain and we’re seeing growth of 100%, 150% growth in these countries. So we need to find ways to keep supplying those countries without any issues.
“We’ve already got contingency plans in place for that. We’ve got an Irish-registered company, and we’ve already planned with our suppliers that we can continue supplying those countries not via the UK.
“The next step for us to decide where that pan-European warehouse will be based.” – Mike Capstick, Director of ProSwimwear.
ProSwimwear went on the offensive following a cyber-attack in 2015.
The company was seemingly very secure. Its hosting company was handling cyber security, but there was a security breach in the eCommerce platform. They had to go through a complete PCI audit, then another an even more in-depth online PCI audit.
“We’re fully PCI compliant now and even have a PCI data analyst in-house. It’s about being prepared for different types of attack. These days we’ve got the latest and greatest firewalls.” – Mike Capstick, Director of ProSwimwear.
While it’s crucial to understand that cyber security is everybody’s business – not just the responsibility of one person, having systems and support in place is critical, too.
“Our online payment solutions come with access to a wide range of fraud prevention tools – it’s a feature that’s becoming more and more important to our business customers as cyber criminals become smarter and smarter.” Josh Wiginton, Payment Specialist, Barclaycard Payment Solutions.
This is part of our Mindset & Planning series – content dedicated to practical advice for SMEs when it comes to getting in the right mindset for business growth. Other articles in this series include:
5 steps that could help you double your turnover in two years
SMEs: Here’s how to create more time (and how to use it)
7 reasons why cash flow is more important than profit
11 social media tips that all small businesses need to know
Find out how the right payment gateway can improve your customer experience and increase conversions