Could you imagine a Japanese Tea Ceremony and a pair of mismatching black socks to be the recipe for a successful E-Commerce Business?
This is indeed a very particular combination – but let’s have a closer look at the extraordinary success story of Samy Liechti and how he started Blacksocks SA, his e-commerce business:
Pioneer in the E-Commerce Business
Freshly graduating from Business School in 1994 and working in an advertising company as a Junior Consultant, Samy Liechti was involved in a meeting with important Japanese clients. After the successful meeting, a traditional Japanese Ceremony took place in a teahouse where all the participants had to take off their shoes as it is requested by the Japanese custom. Having taken off his shoes Liechti found himself in an embarrassing situation. His socks were definitively not a pair. One sock was bold black with a nice structure but the other one was washed-out black with a whole, showing his big toe through the fraying fabric.
Liechti felt horrible – what an embarrassing situation! Luckily the Japanese clients and his boss have been kind and discreet enough to tolerate Liechti’s “Faux-Pas”. Nevertheless since then, Liechti knew that there was something about the socks and this was the sign of a mission for him.
In 1999 Samy Liechti founded Blacksocks. At that time Google was one year old and Mark Zuckerberg a 15-year-old teenager. Liechti used Internet technology to simplify the interface between men and socks. He created not only the first online sock subscription but also the first online subscription in the e-commerce history! Blacksocks is an E-Commerce Pioneer and entirely digital since 1999. They are distributing their products directly to the end customer and are in contact with him every day.
Blacksocks and digitalization
The commercial platform of Blacksocks is based on a MySQL Database, which was developed in house. (MySQL is an Oracle-backed open source relational database management system (RDBMS) based on Structured Query Language). It is almost an ERP (Enterprise-Resource Planning) System, including inventory control, order planning, subscription management and more. In this ERP there are interfaces, for instance for the Blacksocks App, which is scanning directly client data in the back-end.
Today for Liechti one of the biggest challenges is the speed of the website, on the one hand in view of the client, who wants to be served quickly and on the other hand because of the ranking of Google. It is important to deliver high quality content within a short time frame. For instance, when it comes to implement a video clip on the website there are many different possibilities, but you need to find the best one for your client and for Google, as well.
Since the beginning Samy Liechti keeps his finger on the pulse of the innovations in the digital world;
Blacksocks is reacting to the trend of moving away from desktop computers and going towards mobile devices and networking in the home. Last year they have launched an order button, which they call the MORE Button. With a click on this button, the Blacksocks customer can order more of the same product without doing the checkout. For those who don’t want a physical button, they can use a virtual button in the app or on the website.
Furthermore, Liechti is working on a Machine Learning project with the ETH Zurich (university of science and technology), for customer segmentation and individual customer language. At the moment the customer segmentation is based in the ERP System. For the future it should be outsourced and self-learning.
Blacksocks in a nutshell
Today, Blacksocks supplies more than 150’000 customers in 127 countries around the world with classic socks, such as calf and knee socks, as well as men’s basics such as shirts, T-shirts and underpants. Blacksocks has an office in Zurich and an office in the USA. The company has 9 employees and is working with several external partners. The subscriber gets the design of his choice delivered directly to his door convenient and contemporary. All the socks from Blacksocks are produced in a traditional Italian socks factory. https://www.blacksocks.com/ch/en/
What about you?
Do you have an original product you want to go online with? Are you dreaming of building your own E-Commerce Business?
Since 2008 Eminence is a pioneer in Digital Marketing Strategies and Online Business and is working successfully with local and international clients in helping them to achieve their objectives in the Digital World.
Do you need help with your strategy or a deeper insight in your business plan? We can support you as a partner and help you to build up your own success story.
P.S. …and don’t forget, sometimes unusual and awkward situations can be an extraordinary inspiration for successful ideas…