Swedish Hasbeens – an international success

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Not long ago, Swedish Hasbeens, a purveyor of ecologically prepared natural grain leather wooden clogs, natural rubber shoes and bags, consisted of a shoe storage in the attic. Today, the shoe company has an annual turnover of SEK 35 million. Listen here to founder Emy Blixt who tells her story of how her webshop became an international success.

In 2007, Emy Blixt was working as a teacher when she found a stock of old leftover wooden shoes in an attic in Baskemölla).  It was the start of the design success, Swedish Hasbeens. When the stock of clogs quickly sold out, Emy realised that if she wanted to sell more, she would have to manufacture them herself. Emy started a production in Småland, and before she knew it, she had two resellers in Stockholm.

“At the time, most of the existing wooden shoes on the Swedish market were inspired by classic old standards. However, as it is the same handicraft, there have been traditions to further develop the work,” Emy explains.

Already way back in 2008, Emy opened her first simple webshop.

“There were three pictures on the website, along with an e-mail address you wrote if you wanted to buy. The customer later deposited the money in my account and I went to the post office and sent out the shoes.”

International focus from start

Although it was a simple first site, it had a feature that opened the world – it was in English.

“My idea was that the shoes could work internationally and it did not take long before it started to get orders from abroad.”

The international interest came from blogs where several fashion blogs highlighted the Swedish Hasbeens’ shoes.

Organic marketing

“I have used my own visual language that made it easy to get out noticed in the blogosphere. The more you differentiate, the more attention you get! The shoes are also very different, which has given the effect that they are easy to notice, and fun to blog about.”

With English as a language, Swedish Hasbeens’ webshop sells the shoes in more than 40 markets. The website has not yet been translated into other languages as English works well for the markets and customer groups that Swedish Hasbeens has been working on.

“Our focus is primarily on ‘simple markets’ that appreciate us for what we are. All markets have not been as mature in e-commerce and social media, but now we can see that our sales increase in countries such as Italy and Spain.”

As an e-retailer, it is common to use Google AdWords as a marketing channel, but for Swedish Hasbeens, it’s not an important part.

“Our strategy has been to work with natural and organic marketing based on the product’s power and personality. Purchased ads involve higher costs but often give less effect,” explains Emy.

Own warehouse in the United States

Swedish Hasbeens’ solution for its webshop is simple, since all visitors visit the same website, regardless of whether the visitor is from Germany, Sweden or Australia, or wherever. The exception is the US site, which is a mirror of the Swedish website. The largest market for wooden shoes is the United States, and Swedish Hasbeens has a customised product line there, along with its own warehouse.

For Emy, it pays to have its own warehouse in the US while the other markets are receiving deliveries from Sweden. Swedish Hasbeens offers free shipping to almost all countries when purchasing over a certain amount.

“Cost of shipping or not is a difficult issue. Shipping reduces margins but at the same time free shipping is a major competitive advantage. It is important for each company to make their own calculations,” reports Emy.

Emy emphasises how important it is to keep everything separate in the calculations; keeping each market and each sales channel separate.

I see each market as a separate “mini company” and the webshop as a separate company. Each business model is a very small solar system with costs and revenues. How to invest depends on where you earn your money!

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Responsible: Swedish Agency for Economic and Regional Growth

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