How Vivobarefoot Achieved Astronomical Growth and Scaled to 8 Figures (episode 480)

Paul Walker was until very recently Chief Commercial Officer at Vivobarefoot. Founded in 2012, Vivoebarefoot is at the forefront of “good retail”, a case study many others try to emulate, and a B Corp. They sell via a Magento store, a single store in Covent Garden London, and wholesale channels. And over the 10 years Paul was there, the whole business went from £4m to £70 million and eCommerce grew £500k to £50 million.

Paul Walker Vivobarefoot on eCommerce MasterPlan Podcast

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Dive in:

[03:47] Mission, derivative shoes, escape big corporate world.
[07:35] Team structure and bringing teams in-house.
[11:22] Innovative shoe design and eCommerce platform.
[13:07] Finding the right people makes life easier.
[18:13] How B Corp means differently for different types of businesses.
[20:25] Paul’s Top Tips!

Paul Walker’s eCommerce Background

Paul describes himself as a digital native, having spent 18 years in eCommerce. His journey started with an undergraduate degree in eCommerce systems, followed by a master’s in business IT management. This foundation led him to work for major retailers before joining Vivo and staying for 10 years.

Mission-Driven Approach of Vivobarefoot

Vivo’s mission is central to its business model, emphasizing health and sustainability through its footwear products. Paul highlights how the company’s products are designed with the mission in mind, indicating that the mission is not just an add-on but the core from which product development starts. This approach shows how businesses can integrate their mission and values into their products, creating a brand that stands for more than just its offerings.

The Revivo Scheme

The Revivo scheme is a pioneering initiative in the resale and reconditioning of footwear, reflecting Vivo’s commitment to sustainability and the circular economy. This project not only addresses environmental concerns but also challenges the company to innovate in product design, making shoes that are durable, repairable, and suitable for resale. The Revivo scheme serves as a case study of how companies can implement sustainable practices that resonate with consumers and differentiate their brand.

Growth Strategy and Challenges

For mission-driven brands like Vivo, Paul says a key component for success is a slow, deliberate growth strategy. By focusing on the mission as the enabler of product sales, Vivo shows that commercial success does not have to be at odds with a company’s values. This balance is important for businesses looking to scale while maintaining their core principles.

Maintaining Their B Corp-Certified Status

Paul mentions that the certification process is integral to the company’s operations, with B Corp principles embedded in decision-making across all levels of the organization. This commitment to B Corp is not just as a badge of honor for Vivo but a framework for continuous improvement and accountability.

Digital Marketing and eCommerce Development

Despite its mission to reconnect people with nature, Vivo relies heavily on digital channels, including eCommerce and social media, to sell its products. Their decision to choose Magento over Shopify for its flexibility demonstrates the strategic decisions brands must make in their digital infrastructure to support unique business models and goals. This point underscores the intersection of technology and commerce in achieving business objectives, even for companies with a focus on sustainability and health.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • For Paul, it’s offline marketing methods. This includes real-life activations, events, and public relations efforts.

Tool Top Tip

  • Glopal cross-border eCommerce solution

Carbon Top Tip

  • In eCommerce, careful planning and decision-making are key to reducing carbon footprint. Focus on proper growth and avoid the production of unnecessary or poorly forecasted products to minimize environmental impact.

Interview Links

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