I find it useful at the end of the year to think about what we were doing the year before, and what things we are doing now that we couldn’t have done back then. At the end of 2017, we were pretty sure our Faroe bag had been well-received. It seemed like a good strategy to take this product and extend the concept. Which is what we did; planning a crowdfunding campaign for February in 2018.
Our second Kickstarter campaign launched in early 2018 and got off to a great start. Although things slowed down towards the end, we raised around £50,000 which was enough to cover the initial production run. What surprised us was that after the initial campaign, we kept on receiving pre-orders on our website allowing us to raise more funds to contribute to our product launch.
Crowdfunding also gave us the opportunity to improve the product before it had even been manufactured. We received feedback from customers pre-ordering which enabled us to improve the Akra and Vaga backpacks. This cost us time. Any change has to go through a fairly long design process at the factory, but the result was a much better product.
As minimalist travelers, we try to travel only with what we need - leaving the clutter behind. And we design our backpacks with that concept in mind, focusing on our customers’ pain points to make sure our products are really going to improve their experience.
Owning the Customer Experience
We succeeded in improving our logistics processes, meaning website orders are more quickly fulfilled. This results in customers getting their orders more quickly. A key achievement was to grow our website traffic and sales. It’s more preferable for us to make sales on our own website (although we still get orders from Amazon) - as we can manage the customer experience in a more meaningful way.
I often read about brands wanting to create a ‘customer experience’ and it seems to smack of cliched business-speak. For us, it’s as simple as making sure our customers understand the value of our products and get to speak to a real human if they want to. Felix and I both regularly chat to customers on Facebook messenger, helping them decide if our products are right for them. Our hands-on approach has earned us a lot of glowing TrustPilot reviews.
So our strategy this year hasn’t been different from before; we concentrate on customers and like to have as much interaction with them as possible. One of the most interesting and informative conversations was with a customer who bought a bag but decided to send it back to us. I was keen to understand what it was she was looking for -- especially since she fits the exact customer profile for a bag we plan to launch next year. This sort of honest feedback is priceless.
Customer focus is one of our key brand values. But this year we have also been trying to get to know ourselves better; by which I mean that we are uncovering exactly what our brand is all about. You’d think that we might start from having core brand values and ideas, and building out from that. But brands can evolve over time, and it can be difficult to see it happening sometimes from the inside. One thing we realised is that our products enable people to travel in a minimal way. And to extend that idea; a lot of our customers really get excited about the idea of being a minimalist. To that effect, we’re launching a backpack next year which will be aimed squarely at minimal travellers. We’re excited about it, not only because we think that this could be a burgeoning market, but because it’s a concept we can really get behind. We’re continuing to make products that help people travel more efficiently and happily.
It’s been a year in which I can safely say I put Arcido’s products to the test. Being on the road for 8 out of 12 months this year gave me a good chance to use our flagship backpack Akra and the related accessories that we released. Travelling with our products gave me the opportunity to discuss challenges people on the road really face, and think about how our products could respond to them. A four month round-the-world trip took me to Portugal, Mexico, USA, New Zealand, Singapore and China. Another three-month tour around Ukraine, Poland, India, Nepal and Tibet was more challenging and gave me the chance to use the bag on some ultra-long train rides as well as on planes.
I also took some time to go to Vietnam and visit the factory boss where our backpacks are made. We’re still really happy with our choice; their attention to detail and brand values align well with ours. Not only are the producing high quality backpacks, but in a way that doesn’t compromise workers rights - you can read about it more here.
Lessons that we’ll be taking forward next year? Certainly, we aim to have more conversations with our customers - what we can learn about ourselves through their eyes is invaluable. And a point specifically about our crowdfunder - it always pays to under-promise and over-deliver. Even though our crowdfunder and pre-orders were all mostly delivered on time, we still had a problem in Japan and Norway that meant delays. We also really tried to go the extra mile for customers this year. A small investment on our part can pay huge dividends in terms of positive feedback and happy Arcido customers.
Gina joined the team and is managing our blog, working with freelancers to create useful content which will also help people as they plan their trips.