Entrepreneurs are world champions at "faking it 'til you make it." We create a glossy image of the company regardless of the reality, and gladly let the world believe that celebrating on mountaintops is common practice. This makes it easier to get investors, employees and customers on board. Although starting a company is incredibly fun, it is also very, very difficult. I know I speak for many others when I say that right now, things are tough. And at Northern Playground, we've given ourselves a "handicap" that makes things even more challenging.
Everyone selling goods is struggling with three particular things these days. Firstly, exchange rates have suddenly made manufacturing 20% more expensive. Secondly, consumers significantly reduce their spending during tough times. The third problem is overstocked inventories. A full warehouse of unsold goods while make you run out of capital quick. That means goodbye, game over.
So how do small shops, huge chains, online stores and all brands solve this triple threat? Discounts. 30%, 40%, 50%, 60% off. No one makes a profit, but at least it puts some money in the bank and allows survival for a little while longer.
We see the industry around us blindly using discounts. Everyone is going crazy. Will people ever buy clothes at full price again?
We also have this triple threat of an issue on our plate these days. We haven't given ourselves the opportunity to use discounts. After all, discounts are the most effective tool to get people to buy things they don't need. It is a core part of Northern Playground's philosophy and business model that if we truly want to be a player within sustainable development, discounts cannot be a part of our company.
For us, our inventory of Ziplongs® and Zipbra™ is particularly challenging. They are the super smart products that have won awards worldwide, and have been copied by most of our competitors. People love the products, and they sell well even with minimal marketing. But due to several coincidences and choices during the pandemic, we simply have a few thousand too many of these products.
How do we solve this problem without using the discount tool?
I'll be honest. Right now, it would be very nice to be a regular clothing brand that could lower our prices a bit. We've thought about it many times and considered conforming and following the rest of the industry. For now, we're holding off. We have also considered dozens of other options. What do you think? How can we sell the world's smartest products with a limited marketing budget and an overworked team in a challenging market - without discounts?
The only thing certain for an entrepreneur is that you will constantly be hitting icebergs. The job is to thrive on that ice and repair the ship as quickly as possible. We are an amazing crew that will get the ship repaired this time as well, but let me just admit for a moment - right now, the entrepreneur life isn't very glossy.
Once in a while, one of the Northern Playground employees sends out a letter giving you an honest look behind the scenes of the company. We believe that transparency is an essential part of being a socially responsible company. This is the 23rd letter. Read the other ones here.