Welcome back to Carryr's Q&A Sessions, where we give the spotlight to the people behind the magic of e-commerce and retail to hear about their thoughts and experiences.
This time we're here with Matt Bird, Founder of The Shirt Society — a subscription menswear business.
Q: Hey Matt, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey at The Shirt Society?
Matt: I’m the founder at The Shirt Society - a subscription menswear business that launched in November 2019. I wanted to build something that took the hassle out of shopping, that challenged tradition and, above all, that members would love. TSS is a development of a previous menswear business and we launched it after asking those customers what they really wanted when buying shirts, and clothes for that matter, online.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Matt: Great question. I think fashion means so many different things to so many different people, but to me it’s probably most about how it makes you feel. We all dress a certain way for certain things for a reason. There is a psychology around wearing a shirt or a suit to work. It instills a layer of confidence and a great look really makes you feel on top of your game. For others, fashion is an expression of their personality but for me, I think it’s more internal.
Q: How did you first get into the e-commerce world?
Matt: With my first business, it was a case of setting up an actual shop or setting up an online shop. I had hardly any cash, so there was only really one viable option: going online. I built my first website on woo-commerce and just figured the rest out as I went along. I soon developed the site further, and that business ended up spending most of its life on Shopify.
Q: What have been your biggest successes at The Shirt Society?
Matt: I think building such an engaged audience who truly love the brand and don’t mind shouting about it! When I launched the brand, it was simply through a LinkedIn post. Within 3 days of that post I had over 750 people express an interest, and a week later that converted 300 into paying customers.
I think we’re really building something unique that’s shaking up a traditional market and it seems to be resonating with a lot of people. The Shirt Society was built based on customer feedback and suggestions, and continuing to listen to that and change the way we do things accordingly is something we’re not going to stop doing as we expand.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
Matt: It’s a startup - nothing’s typical! I love the variety though. At the minute, our days are focused on our platform development, the tech that drives it and really setting ourselves up for the future. I spend a lot of time working on current and new product lines and dealing with suppliers along with speaking to as many customers, potential customers and investors as I can. That’s the bit I like the
Q: If you could change one thing to make your day more productive, what would it be?
Matt: Myself and the team are pretty productive as it is - I think! But with the more elements getting added to the business daily, my time is becoming more stretched and lately I’ve really been able to identify this. We’re hiring a couple of people in specific roles in the coming weeks: I’m keen to get some specialists in so my days can be more focused rather than trying to be a ‘Jack of all trades’.
Q: What do your customers love the most at The Shirt Society?
Matt: Hands down, it’s the ease and speed of service. Our members hate shopping. It’s inconvenient, frustrating and is such an old-fashioned approach. We combine a service that takes under 30 seconds per month with a product quality that beats most of the big brands. Our members tell us regularly how they prefer it this way!
Q: What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a Founder?
Matt: I still love seeing orders going out of the warehouse. It’s quite warming to know that people you don’t know will part with their money for a product that you’ve built. That’s super cool. Also seeing those strangers going out of their way to post about their experience on social media.
Q: When it comes to the delivery experience, what do you think is most important for your customers and why?
Matt: I think speed and visibility are super important. Amazon has paved the way with an expectation for goods to be delivered ASAP!
Also knowing where the item is in the delivery journey is important so you can make ‘in-flight’ changes to suit your day. I’m a big believer that the delivery operation of the business is as crucial as the shiny, front-end features. Without an efficient delivery process, you will always get off on the wrong foot with a new customer.
Q: What changes would you like to see implemented to improve the overall delivery experience for your customers and why?
Matt: Generally, delivery partners are pretty good for us. We’re looking at ways to offer ‘Same Day’ delivery for customers within a certain radius of our warehouse. Speed is everything nowadays and I think the quicker we can be the better.
I think some carriers need to take more care of packages though. We’ve had a few where it looks like the local postman has attempted to drop kick the parcel through a letter box - not great! I’ve also seen developments in electric delivery vehicles which I think is amazing. Sustainability is so crucial to both businesses and customers, so this is a great move.
Q: In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think the "new normal" looks like for both e-commerce and retail?
Matt: For e-commerce it’s great. For offline retail, it’s going to be tough. We recently surveyed our members about how they’re going to shop in the future. 56% said they would only now shop online.
Recent data from McKinsey shows that e-commerce has developed 10 years in the last 3 months, which is staggering. We were lucky - the pandemic was the perfect storm for us. Our model, our offering and our market position is primed for right now.
Q: Lastly, if you could share one bit of advice to someone wanting to be successful in e-commerce, what would it be?
Matt: When I’m successful in e-commerce, I'll let you know!
Thanks Matt - It's great to see how close you are to your customers and how you've used their feedback to iterate your offering with tremendous speed. I've enjoyed seeing your journey take shape over the past couple of years and I'm looking forward to seeing The Shirt Society grow. Plus, I'll be sure to keep hassling you for that magic advice 😉
If you're in e-commerce, omnichannel/multichannel or retail and would like to feature in our In The Spotlight series, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.