Have you ever travelled, offered to bring something back and ended up with a shopping list and half your luggage allowance already accounted for? For Alex Hsu, this was an all too common predicament.
Frequently travelling to the US for his IT business trading computer parts, Alex became inundated with requests for running shoes, typically cheaper in the US than Australia.
“In my suitcase I would bring back 6 pairs at a time. After 3 years of doing this 4-5 times per year and nearly 100 pairs later, I thought; why wouldn’t I just make a business out of this,” said Alex.
From a series of casual favours and funding from an existing profitable business, Alex seized his next business venture, The Next Pair.
A tough market to crack – or so it might seem. Alex knew how to differentiate The Next Pair by removing the drawbacks often associated with online bargains: overseas shipping, associated costs and longer delivery periods.
Alex said “our key differentiator is our price. There’s nothing on our site that is selling for RRP. At the same time, we carry stock and dispatch from our warehouse in Sydney.”
“We import branded footwear from a network of global suppliers based on the trends and what our customers want. We buy based on price, so our customers always receive the best value,” he said.
Often, the most successful businesses are not the most complex. By extending friendly favours to the wider market and implementing a structure to cater to the demand, Alex has created a business with rapid growth prospects. 15 Months in and now with 6 full-time staff members, The Next Pair are forecasting 75% growth for the coming financial year.
The Next Pair team have developed a clear ethos to drive them forward: online shopping should not mean compromises for the customer.
“We have a few projects in the pipeline that we are working on and they are predominantly based on being interactive with the customer. We want to give the customer as much information as they can to make a well informed decision. The Next Pair experience should be as close to mirroring the ‘real’ in shop experience as possible, just online,” Alex said.
Alex suggests that online retail is still yet to reach its full potential. Keeping up with new technology will be key to ensuring that The Next Pair stay on top of the game.
“Internet and technology are changing the way we do things, making life simpler and more streamlined. At the end of the day, until we have a shopping platform which can virtually stimulate our senses, the bricks and mortar stores and online businesses need to coexist,” he said.
New businesses are blank canvases – and for that reason, they can be daunting. But with a blank canvas comes the ability to create the picture from scratch. Alex certainly appreciates the importance of building a talent pool that ensures the business achieves its values and objectives.
“We have a set mission in place with values that we must all believe in whether it’s at work or home. We look for hard working individuals who understand and have a passion to build and be part of something unique and special, a journey for the 1%-ers,” he said.
Having poured more time and effort into the business than he thought possible, Alex says starting a business can land you in a perpetual cycle of difficulties and rewards. “If there wasn’t a problem every day, I would be concerned,” he said, but if you’re prepared, running a business will be “the most rewarding thing you will ever do.”
What do you need? To be prepared, said Alex. Supportive people, passion and a unique value proposition are a must have for anyone setting up online.