Shifting from Wholesale to D2C with Finlay London’s David Lochhead and Dane Butler (episode 183)

David Lochhead and Dane Butler are the co-founders at Finlay London. They were founded in 2012 and initially focused on selling via traditional wholesale channels (one to one contacts, and trade shows!) before deciding in 2017 to change their whole business strategy to focusing on selling direct to the consumer via online and a physical store, a strategy that’s paid off as this summer online orders reached over 1,000 per month.

A couple of bits of jargon we’re undoubtedly going to end up using today:

–       D2C means “direct to consumer” so that’s selling your products to the end consumer of them – via websites, shops etc

–       B2C means “business to customers” – which is basically the same as D2C

–       B2B means selling “business to business” – so wholesale is a type of B2B selling

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finlay london podcast
About the business

  • On Magento
  • Selling worldwide from London

eCommerce Origin Story

David and Dane got started in eCommerce together when they were on holiday and noticed that everyone was wearing the same sunglasses. It was disappointing for them to see so many people stick to one or two shapes and brands, so they began discussing different ways to spice up the sunglass industry in order to encourage people to express their individuality with eyewear. Their first pair of sunglasses were wooden, and each style since then has had their own unique flair to them with a growing list of materials such as acetates and metals. It took David and Dane a year to move from concept to launch, which they were quite rushed to do given Grazia Daily UK’s unexpected interest in promoting them pre-launch.

Listen to be inspired by the origins of a business through the desire to help people express themselves.

The Team

Dane Butler is the Commercial Director and David Lochhead is the Creative Director of Finlay London. The brick & mortar team is composed of about eight people, and the head office team includes team members specializing in operations, content, and project-based assignments. Other than that, Dane and David try to outsource as much as they can to stay flexible and ready to take new angles if need be, hiring both agencies and freelancers.

From Wholesale to D2C

Finlay London made a massive switch from selling wholesale to multichannel and direct-to-consumer back in 2017 thanks to Walpole’s British luxury mentoring scheme. Dane and David’s mentor advised them that they were relying too heavily on wholesale at 18%, and if they wanted to get to a comfortable place with their company, then they would have to scale very quickly. They quickly realized that if they were able to operate under a multichannel structure, then they would be able to scale quicker and gain a significant increase in margins. For just one wholesale order, it could take up to 16 different processes to complete. Now, Finlay London works smarter rather than harder.

Listen to learn about the benefits of cutting out the middleman.

Preparing a Smooth Transition

Flipping the entire customer base and operation style of your business is always going to be more complicated than expected. You can’t just simply update a few widgets on your website; you have to create the brain space, the time space, the money space, and the stock space in order to effectively go from wholesale to D2C. It is best to be prepared to lose some revenue through the transitioning period and perhaps optimize less areas of your business than usual. Another key component to be prepared for is customer transactions. Finlay London was so swept away in the beautification of their brick & mortar store that they forgot to run test transactions before the grand opening, which significantly threw them off.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Have great content on your site. Make it specific, unique, and helpful with plenty of photos. Capitalize on SEO, and provide a reason to visit your site other than making a purchase.

You can hear about all this on the podcast, for free – right now…

Tool Top Tip

  • is a workflow management program that is an easy, visual, and intuitive way to track projects, tasks within those projects, and the people involved in making those projects come together.

Growth Top Tip

  • Hire a team member to focus solely on customer care so that you don’t have to worry about slacking in that department.

Interview Links

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