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post #5716 of 12515

I definitely agree that an investment in upgrading the web site would be most worthwhile: 

 

1) Better presentation (multiple larger images) of the current product range;

2) An explanation in text, supplemented by diagrams and photographs, of the differences between the various lasts.  This shouldn't be some secret code that the potential consumer must tediously work at breaking.

3) Transparency in the ordering process - make it easy for me to see, with a few clicks, what the ordering process involves.

 

I don't really have any meaningful suggestions about the products, other than to again echo the comments above:  don't ever sacrifice quality in a desire to increase production.  At present the quality is evident, appealing and most gratifying.  Design is also a definite strong point - a good range from conservative to bold.

post #5717 of 12515
^ And, the most obvious improvement - accept credit card transactions.
post #5718 of 12515

I agree with the website/blog suggestions, but one major stepping stone for them would be easier payment. While PayPal is quite expensive, I imagine it'd encourage buyers, rather than deter them as the need for wire transfers does.

post #5719 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by joiji View Post

I agree with the website/blog suggestions, but one major stepping stone for them would be easier payment. While PayPal is quite expensive, I imagine it'd encourage buyers, rather than deter them as the need for wire transfers does.

Even so, they could accept paypal and up their price a bit. At this price, *most* people are willing to spill another 50 bucks for the convenience. I know I would.
post #5720 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roguls View Post

Even so, they could accept paypal and up their price a bit. At this price, *most* people are willing to spill another 50 bucks for the convenience. I know I would.

Or they could offer several payment options and let the customer choose, just make it clear how much each will cost.
post #5721 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roguls View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by joiji View Post

I agree with the website/blog suggestions, but one major stepping stone for them would be easier payment. While PayPal is quite expensive, I imagine it'd encourage buyers, rather than deter them as the need for wire transfers does.

Even so, they could accept paypal and up their price a bit. At this price, *most* people are willing to spill another 50 bucks for the convenience. I know I would.

 

I'd honestly probably still pay using wire transfers, but the PayPal option would give new customers some security, outside of hearsay on forums. I believe they don't accept credit card transactions due to different standards between US and EU banks, but I could be wrong.

post #5722 of 12515

Very much agreed on credit cards and Paypal.  Wire transfers are an anachronistic pain in the rear.  Make it easy for a potential buyer to spend his money.

post #5723 of 12515

It seems to me their main international business is very word-of-mouth, relying on organic marketing like this thread.  They could do better at that (and I do some work in that area; I'd be happy to work something out with them - maybe they could pay me in shoes although I'm not sure what my partners would say!)

 

But the problem is, there are a lot of makers in this situation.  Meermin and Carmina we know about, new kids on the block like Ed et Al, and who knows what's next?  Sure, Vass's prices are very competitive - especially if you're outside the EU - and what you get for your money is impressive, with every pair effectively a no-extra-charge MTO.  The thing is, it makes the process of buying their shoes very human, a little time consuming, and the antithesis of the easy online experience most international buyers now use.  That in turn denies them the opportunity of maximising their margins and growing.

 

As a shoe customer, maybe I shouldn't be saying they could make more money out of me with little or no pain at all.  But they could.  The most obvious way would be to do the simple things that their competitors do: make a standard selection, have a website where you can buy online with a credit card, from whatever is in stock, with shipping and VAT/no VAT made clear, and you just open up a whole new world.  The bonus beyond that (for them) is then adding a standard MTO charge, and even MTO options with pictures on the site (like Bespoke England do for G&G, for example).

 

There are three ways great independent makers are messing up business-wise, from George Cleverley to Meermin: not being able to complete a transaction online.  Not being able to make a detailed selection online.  And not having in stock what is being sold online (G&G, Meermin).  All of these things make the international (especially American) customer more likely to move on to another option.  Vass should not underestimate how much people like to just buy something they've only seen online, pay with a card they trust, and receive an item from stock by DHL in three days.

 

It seems counter-intuitive to a maker of fine shoes, but in this "igent" generation, people really do just like to order what they want off the internet, not deal with any human beings at all, and get exactly what they ordered in the post.  And we also are happy to pay to have our own order made up.  Anything less than 30% for a MTO charge looks like bargain compared to others.  No charge at all looks like suckers.

 

Put it this way: why the hell would people pay up to double for a pair of Vass shoes from a certain re-seller on eBay?  Sure, perhaps not many people on this thread do, but someone's buying them or he wouldn't still sell that way. (Tombrone, your margins seem eminently reasonable, btw - I mean the other guy!).  The reason people pay the price is because it's easy.  There's a pair of shoes, in a certain make-up, in your size, at a price, and you can pay with PayPal and get them in a couple of days.  That is just too appealing to a non shoe-nerd customer, when he's told the alternative is "email this guy called Rezslo to talk about what you want".

 

There's a lesson in there somewhere.  Oh, and one more thing: get your generic domain back, Vass!  Emailing a non-existent or non-responsive distributor who has your ".com" almost put me off trying to get Vass shoes at all.

post #5724 of 12515

Tom, are Vass able to handle rapid expansion? Say 200 or 300%? As we've seen with Meermin, the increased expansion has led to quality control problems, sometimes major ones, as well as lengthy wait times. I'd love for Vass to become more well known, as I'm sure it would open up possibilities we don't currently have with them as customers, but I'm wary of either: massive price increases to reduce the new demand created by iGents interest, or dilution of a very well cultured brand up until this point.

post #5725 of 12515

Personally I beg them to stay a little manufacture, at human scale.

 

Some improvements : a proper website with better pictures, and / or a blog with a lot of porn (we never have enough pictures !!).

Beside that, ordering with a credit card number to charge is a good idea ; and a little quality control at the end of the building process.

 

I like the lack of information after putting an order : you are like a child waiting for sweets...

 

Instead of opening stores internationally, they could have partners or proxies, where you can see, touch and try some shoes, and ask tips from an aware person in your native language.

 

Speaking of quality, they are perfect for their price, they must not change anything (perhaps adding some leather color, and rubber soles).

post #5726 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by joiji View Post

Tom, are Vass able to handle rapid expansion? Say 200 or 300%? As we've seen with Meermin, the increased expansion has led to quality control problems, sometimes major ones, as well as lengthy wait times. I'd love for Vass to become more well known, as I'm sure it would open up possibilities we don't currently have with them as customers, but I'm wary of either: massive price increases to reduce the new demand created by iGents interest, or dilution of a very well cultured brand up until this point.

 

That is a very good point - it is easy to become over-sold if the resources are not there to meet an increase in production.  One of the main points of making a ready stock instead of doing all MTO, as I suggested above, is to smooth out the peaks and troughs in demand - you can make at a constant rate even if sales fluctuate.  And to be fair, many of Meermin's problems come from taking orders that are not based on existing stock - all the problems of MTO even with their standard range.  

 

But you're right that overall growth can still be hard to manage, especially when you don't necessarily have a large pool of available workers with the high level of skills.  The lead in time to expand your staff could be very long.

 

So is it a case of "be careful what you wish for"?

post #5727 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by mimo View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by joiji View Post

Tom, are Vass able to handle rapid expansion? Say 200 or 300%? As we've seen with Meermin, the increased expansion has led to quality control problems, sometimes major ones, as well as lengthy wait times. I'd love for Vass to become more well known, as I'm sure it would open up possibilities we don't currently have with them as customers, but I'm wary of either: massive price increases to reduce the new demand created by iGents interest, or dilution of a very well cultured brand up until this point.

 

That is a very good point - it is easy to become over-sold if the resources are not there to meet an increase in production.  One of the main points of making a ready stock instead of doing all MTO, as I suggested above, is to smooth out the peaks and troughs in demand - you can make at a constant rate even if sales fluctuate.  And to be fair, many of Meermin's problems come from taking orders that are not based on existing stock - all the problems of MTO even with their standard range.  

 

But you're right that overall growth can still be hard to manage, especially when you don't necessarily have a large pool of available workers with the high level of skills.  The lead in time to expand your staff could be very long.

 

So is it a case of "be careful what you wish for"?

 

I think so. I'd love to see Vass expand to other countries, but I also don't want to lose their ability to customise every order if people want to. I'd love to see them build up a small set of staple models which are stocked in store, with a vast MTO system for people who are willing to wait. That way, us forum denziens can still fiddle with designs and get something unique, and Vass can set up an online store, produce a set of shoes constantly for restocking purposes, as well as have the ability for stockists to buy from this set of designs for their own stock. I'd be careful until they gain traction about letting stockists order sets of MTO's, but that's just from caution, more than anything. It also gives people a reason to delve into the Vass brand a bit more if they want something special, and build a relationship to get that special pair. *shrug*

post #5728 of 12515

I know it sounds weird but I prefer things just the way they are.

 

I like the idea of consumers having to work a bit for what they want. Old fashioned perhaps but there is a bot of charm to it.

 

Vass (and Razor) are very easy to deal with.

post #5729 of 12515
Quote:
Originally Posted by Roguls View Post


1. Hook up with quality, small retailers here in the States. Epaulet and/or Leffot are the perfect venue.

 

This will almost guarantee unreasonably high and rip-off prices. A large part of the Vass allure is quality/price ratio which is extremely favourable to consumers.

 

With a collaboration like the one above, we will immediately lose the reasonable pricing.

 

If they must tie up with these pricey retailers, so be it, I suppose.

 

But they should keep the option for people to deal with them directly for better pricing.

post #5730 of 12515
This is a completely selfish point of view, but I'd rather Vass stayed "our little secret".

Didn't A Harris start a Vass retail operation for the US back in the day? Did that not end well?
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