Fitzroy Toys manages to operate as B2B company with a B2C feel.
The retail apocalypse is really just the end of boring retail.
Big brands are having to get scrappy to keep up with start-ups.
From 4th Grade to Fitzroy:
CEO Stefanie Botelho's entrepreneurship journey actually began in toys: she started her first business venture in the 4th grade where she sold finger puppets to her classmates.
The first ever version of Fitzroy Toys was created as a project in a coding class when Stefanie was in Harvard Buisness School.
Fitzroy Toys (now rebranded as Fitzroy) actually began as a toy recommendation engine (a direct to consumer search engine) where consumers who were one step removed from a child could purchase toys based on recommendations.
Fitzroy has a clear mission: to support different by connecting independent retailers to independent brands.
Fitzroy is unique in that it operates as a B2B company and in a wholesale space. Unlike most wholesale companies, the UX and UI of the company experience allow consumers to feel like they are shopping on a B2C, retail-based space.
Fitzroy is a tech company first, wholesale company second.
How To Scale and Succeed in Business:
Keeping customers as a north star is critical, and in Stefanie's (and Fitzroy's) case, by going to the brands after graduation she learned that there was a demand for wholesale in the toy space.
Learn from others who have been in the space longer and have deference for their experience.
Allow for organic growth: Fitzroy Toys rebranded to Fitzroy as the company moved beyond toys into other home/family-based verticals.
Test before you fully implement any strategy: Before fully rebranding, Fitzroy held a soft-rebrand of the company and allowed for user feedback to guide the direction.
Turning Wholesale Purchasing Into an Experience:
By looking at all of the best B2C companies, and what they do right in regards to UX and UI, Fitzroy is able to create a B2C feel while remaining a B2B company.
Super cool feature alert: Fitzroy has a universal cart so retailers can see what they are purchasing from multiple brands.
The entirety of Fitzroy's site is custom built, and all features are in line with creating a seamless uncomplicated experience for users.
All brands on the site are vetted, and everything on the website is behind the login wall, with some items not available anywhere else.
Retailers are able to sub-search for specific categories that may be important to their values/branding. They can search for things like organic, eco-friendly or even woman-owned business. This can allow those users to curate products that will be in line with what their customers values as well as their brand's.
Also, because Fitzroy deals with both brands and retailers, they are able to provide their users with useful data regarding what their customers may want in terms of specialty purchasing. A lot of these retailers have customers who really care about the transparency behind what they are purchasing.
The Real Retail Apocalypse: The End of Boring Retail:
Retail is changing, and companies will have to begin operating on a more user-focused experience.
One way Fitzroy is participating in this by working with brands and retailers to stock and purchase ADA-compliant products that are usable for children with learning or physical disabilities.
Big brands are having to keep up with start-ups who are always innovating. Macy's (a quintessential "big brand") has acquired two companies Story and Bulletin both of whom are focused on creating unique in-store experiences for customers.
Handy, a home services company similar to Uber in its model of on-demand service, is expanding their customer base.
Stefanie Botelho's Recommendations for Merchants:
Double-down on strengths: If you have a physical location, utilize the opportunity for in-store experience, and lean in to whatever your business is already really good at.
Play your own game: "Think about that last mile problem and partner with additional tech to offer convenience to users."
Think about what "experience" means to you: beyond pop-up shops or trunk shows. And cultivate that experience for your customers.
Don't be afraid to have your own unique voice: Interpret your entire brand strategy and focus through that lens.