~ with Brennan Sexton.
Describe what you do
I run four Australian ecommerce brands that I’ve been building over the past 12 years. The biggest brand specialises in technology products for seniors. The hero product for this brand is a seniors mobile phone we have developed, which we believe is the best in the market.
I used to manage The Oodie, one of the biggest online retailers in Australia. Now I work as an advisor to the CEOs of a few ecommerce companies and create content to help educate others in the industry on LinkedIn.
How would you surmise the Australian DTC market right now?
Australian DTC brands are struggling to adjust to the post lockdown world, where capital has dried up and acquisition costs are rising. So many are shifting focus to profitability and retention.
Without the same revenue from new customer acquisition though, they are finding it challenging to cover the same fixed costs and are having to make difficult decisions. There is still a lot of opportunity though, my own DTC brands for example have almost doubled revenue year on year.
What are the key challenges brands in Aus are facing? And how are you helping them navigate the current market volatility?
All my clients that I advise are having challenges with talent. I help them by assessing their current team then designing roles including employer branding and crafting an attractive job. Also tapping into my network, because it’s difficult to find talent currently.
But I am finding there’s so many people not actively applying but open to considering new opportunities presented to them . Then I work with my clients to create an interview process and show them how to assess candidates including setting up test activities. Finally, establishing an onboarding, training and performance review program to retain the talent they hire
What are the big opportunities for brands in Aus?
So many brands took off during COVID and have big, loyal followings. With customers returning to shopping in the offline world and rising costs of customer acquisition, I think there is a big opportunity in omnichannel retailing.
For example, did you know one of our sleepwear brands Peter Alexander has $400m annual turnover primarily from physical stores? To translate that to the UK, on a per capita basis they would be turning over more than a billion dollars or £540m.
Think about the sleepwear brands that launched during COVID that could compete in this space. They may not have the strength in physical stores, but they definitely know how to attract and retain customers.
What are the best things about working in the Aus DTC / eComm space? What’s the most challenging?
I love the community, they are so generous with their time and network. Capital raising is a challenge for all of the founders I speak with at the moment.
Who are your favourite Aus brands and why?
It’s a bit controversial, because they are not Australian owned and have a sketchy history with worker rights, but it’s Amazon Australia.
They have come a long way with their very limited product range since they launched and demonstrated it by growing sales 48% in the past year in Australia. Their market penetration is still nowhere near the US, but no one can compete with them on delivery. The fact that I can order on Saturday and get it on Sunday, no one else does that.
Another brand in Australia I love is FAYT. Even though I’m not their target customer, I love how their founder Brittany is crushing it on TikTok.
What piece of advice would you give to somebody starting a brand in 2023?
Teach yourself content creation and media buying. Otherwise you’re going to be paying an agency to do it for you and you’re potentially wasting limited money on a business that isn’t proven yet. Once your business model is validated, you may want to hire an agency. You’re going to struggle to hold them accountable though if you don’t understand how media buying works.
Also - just get started and start small, validate and ask for help. I speak to so many people that have an idea and spend years working on it in secret, perfecting all the little details like the website.
My websites are not beautiful but I’ve found a market for my products and my campaigns convert. Even after 12 years there’s so many things I want to improve in my business, if I had to wait for the right moment I would still be waiting.
Thanks, Brennan. You’re a legend 🙏