We want to grow the online space [to be] the true support and pillar for the brand, whereas previously it’s been led by the retail stores. At the same time, we want to make sure that our retail teams know how important they are in our wider strategy – because the ability to have customers go into a store, interact with our team, see the clothes in real life, it’s a beautiful extension of the brand and I see that as equally important for the long-term strategy. But first and foremost, it really is about stabilising and getting us set up to go forward for growth.
We’ve just hired a new CFO, a new head of retail and wholesale, our new head of digital started in August and of course, myself. So four of the six key leadership team members all started together and are really ready to create this new chapter. The vibe is there, the intention is there. Even the team members that have been there over the last year can tell we’re getting ready to go into a season of change as well.
We’ve all felt this time pressure, given that many of us stepped into our roles at the end of August or start of September, and knowing that we’re going into peak and traditionally the best time of year for us as a swimmer brand, going into summer. Every single person in the brand is at a sprint right now.
And I’m not magical or anything, but we did have our third best month online ever in September. It was our best month online since December 2019. We launched a new website at the start of September, and we needed to clear out a large portion of prior products that were ageing. That was our last big sale initiative. We’ll have sales throughout the rest of the peak season, but we’re really focused on keeping the integrity of our brand and ensuring that customers aren’t just waiting to purchase with us during sales, as I think they were starting to do over the last year two years, given the ups and downs the brand faced over time. We’re working on that with our image and re-training customers to know that they need to buy with us at full price, otherwise, they may not have the ability to buy what they want, because it will run out.
With that strategy comes demand creation. We signed up with two new agencies in September as well, so we’re rolling out much more aggressive social media advertising and Google Shopping campaigns. We’re completely revamping the structure of our database and the email flows within that. It really is back to basics. We’re re-hauling our entire affiliate programme.
Anywhere you look in the brand, all you see is opportunity. That’s what excites me. Tigerlily is a brand that is so well loved already. From here, all we can do is go up.
IR: Speaking of those ups and downs, do you attribute that to Covid, or more to the previous rebrand in 2019 not really turning out as planned?
TW: I would say that’s accurate. As everyone can see, our logo is the initial logo, so we’re back to [the original] branding and this aesthetic. The decision to rebrand wasn’t necessarily based on what the customer wanted, I believe it was more or less a decision to create a brand out of one that already had a strong identity. When you try to run down that path, it can be a very challenging one if your customer is not prepared to follow the brand that you want to become. And I think that’s what they faced.
The price point that we sit around – anywhere from $150-300 – is one that resonates with who the customer has been the last 20 years. They loved styles that were being produced within that price point – the materials, the designs – so when the concept was to elevate the brand even further beyond that towards a $1000 price point, customers weren’t necessarily ready, or realistically, had the budget to become that.
It’s just time to meet the customer where they’re at. The CEO and CFO who I took over from most recently, that’s what they were trying to revert it back to, and that’s the journey I really believe is right for us. Reconnecting with the people who were those diehard Tigerlily customers, which we have tenfold. Our customers are reaching out and coming in stores saying, ‘Tigerlily’s back. We’re so excited. Your designs are back and the vibe of the brand is back to the way it was.’ That’s amazing to hear. It’s showing that we really are moving in the right direction and our sales are also reflecting that fact.
IR: What’s your vision for the brand moving forward?
TW: As a first port of call, it really is about reconnecting with customers and making sure they know who we are again, that we are still the same brand they once knew and loved. Then, further building out our customer base and interacting with new people who haven’t heard from us in a while, or even maybe heard of us yet. And being able to showcase these new, beautiful designs that people desire, which are at a price point that matches the quality.
I’m a big believer in [giving] what people pay for. They need to see the price points resonate with the quality, so quality is something that is super important to our production team. We do use sustainable and recycled fabrics already in a lot of our swimwear range. Moving on from that, we are currently looking into other fabrics and what we can do within our other ranges on recycled fabrics. We are currently using recycled materials for our tags. Being a brand that is in control of its entire production line, this is the calling that all of us have now – to look into the wider production line and look at [our] materials and what our impact is going to be. Part of that is creating quality styles that last many wears.
Beyond that, we’re focused primarily on Australia through the rest of this year – making sure that our foundation is there, rebuilding us digitally in the Australian landscape. Next year, we’ll be making a stronger play for the US. As a brand that leads largely with swim, we have to be pretty prominent in two markets. That’s something that was clear to me from day one. If we want to have strong sales year round, the simple answer is to make sure that you’re selling in two hemispheres.
We’ll be releasing swim ranges specifically in line with the US summer season next year. That’s something our product and design team are already working on because we’ve got that long lead time [since] everything is designed in-house from scratch. Once we’ve built out our digital presence in new markets, we’ll look to support [them] with flagship stores. That’s how I see us moving forward – leading digitally and having retail be the extension of our brand. It’s a lot lower risk if we do it that way.
In terms of other markets, we have a lot of work to do in New Zealand, and beyond that, Singapore feels like a natural next [step]. From there, we’ll see where we’re getting organic traffic from to define the next big market play.
IR: What are some of the major changes you’ve made to the digital offering?
TW: With our prior website, I think it wasn’t 100 per cent clear to customers what to do or where to look for certain items. You would see sale items mixed throughout collections and even in new arrivals, so really merchandising the website appropriately [was necessary]. We implemented a new app that helps manage the merchandising on the website as a backend tool, and we implemented a different theme on the site where [customers] can add-to-bag from the collection view, so they don’t have to go through those extra clicks.
We were able to reinstate PayPal. Especially in Australia, a lot of e-commerce payments typically come through PayPal, so that has been key for us. We changed our shipping threshold – free standard and express. Right now we’re offering free standard over $60 and free express over $200. Outside of that, we changed our customer care platform. We also implemented upsells. What have we not done?
Just last Monday, we rolled out a new price strategy for 30,000 essentials, and that’s part of the wider strategy to make sure that our prices are in line with [the quality] a customer would expect. We want those [items] to really be what they’re called – essentials. When someone comes online, they can buy a $100 top with a $49 bottom, and it’s still an affordable price point.
We are still going to err on the side of [being] a premium label and having that aesthetic, but we’re going to support our brand with various price point items. So if a customer can’t buy two of our beautifully designed prints at once, then odds are, they’re still going to be able to buy an essentials piece. That’s the direction we’re moving in from a product perspective. The product that we have underpins the success that we’re going to be able to have in retail and online.
IR: Working at a pureplay online retailer like Esther & Co, you wouldn’t have had an opportunity to do any omnichannel initiatives. Is that a focus for you now at Tigerlily?
TW: We are looking at rolling out click-and-collect and ship-from-store, which is not a consistent offering we’ve had for customers. Long-term, we’re looking at having a loyalty programme that would be able to be redeemed both in-store and online. We want to use [our sales channels] as interchangeable facets for the customer where, if they’re in-store and a size isn’t there, that’s not a problem, we can ship it to your house. And vice versa. If they don’t want to wait for an online delivery, they can click-and-collect. It’s using those channels interchangeably versus thinking of them as two different ones.
We’re working as hard and quickly as we can to bring that to life because we are going into the best time of the year in November and December. We won’t be launching the loyalty programme this side of the year, that’ll be something we’re looking at next year. But as far as the other piece of that [omnichannel offer], that will be live next month.
IR: What does Tigerlily’s store network look like right now, and do you foresee making any changes there?
TW: Previous to administration [in 2020], we had 26 stores and nowadays we have 10. The 10 stores that we do have are our top-performing stores and will be here to stay. I’m 100 per cent confident that they carry their weight, they add to the brand in a profitable way, and are able to exceed their budgets.
We may look in another year to two years [at whether] we want to open one more, or have a presence in Victoria. But in the next year or two, we will have a really aggressive approach to what our plans are for growth online. That will be our main focus.
IR: What’s happening on the wholesale side of the business?
TW: Tigerlily sells to a variety of major and reputable brands, such as The Iconic and Surfstitch, and we also sell to a large number of smaller bricks-and-mortar boutiques around Australia, which is another big area of opportunity. We’re balancing how far we want to go with marketplaces versus utilising the wholesale arm of the business. We’re probably going to do both, specifically for [businesses] like The Iconic, which has the marketplace but also indent buy. We will look to use both of those things in our partnership with them.
[Wholesale] is an arm of the business that’s been established to a degree, but when you’re rebuilding out of administration, you’re rebuilding a lot of that trust and rapport with people. Some of the accounts we once had, we might have lost touch with because we had a team transition throughout that administration as well. So that’s what we’re looking at doing now. We just brought on board a new head of retail and wholesale. She’ll be managing the retail team and helping drive sales on the wholesale side.
It’s just so untapped at the moment, but I guess that’s the running theme when it comes to Tigerlily. There’s a lot to do, but there’s a lot of success to be had at the same time.