Lots of you have been in touch with us recently, enquiring about out of stock items and wondering why it feels like our gear sells out so quickly sometimes. Truth is, it doesn’t just feel like it, we do sell out quickly, and we know how frustrating that can be. There are a few different reasons for this so we’re taking you behind the scenes of Gym+Coffee to run through why we sometimes just don’t have the right amount of stuff.
We are a young company and we play a game of catch-up a lot more than we’d like to. Just over a year ago we were a team of only 3 people, working on building the Gym+Coffee brand. Today, we are a team of 24 in 2 different cities and while that’s a lot of growth over a short period of time, it still makes us a pretty small fish in the very large pond that is global athleisure.
What that means from a people perspective is we still have the same range of tasks that say a Nike or a Lululemon has, but we have fewer team members working on them. What our small size means from a production perspective is that our ability to manufacture at volume is limited. Larger brands have scope to produce on a large scale and a much greater buffer if a product doesn’t do so well at launch.
Our challenge comes after we’ve spent months carefully planning for where we think we’ll be down the road, but when product launch time rolls around, we’ve actually grown at a much faster rate. We design and create a batch of product and when that product is well-received, our stock reserves can be depleted very quickly. This gap is the cause of frustration. We grew more than we thought we would in the time it took us to design + manufacture the range and so we have less than what we need for you guys.
We do our best to get our forecasting right and we like to be able to bet on ourselves, but ambition has to be balanced with business constraints. With limited cashflow available then the reality is that our stock must sell before we can order more so we are forced to grow at an authentic rate. We literally can't afford to over-extend or take ill-advised risks. Part of managing our growth moving forward is being able to do some future-proofing and go from reactive to proactive in our approach.
Reactiveness to Proactiveness
We started this business with a vision in mind of inspiring a passionate community of active, engaged people to Make Life Richer. Through our events and athleisure, we’ve really seen you all achieve this and our goal has been to keep up with your appetite for stretching yourselves.
We produce a varied clothing range and run more & bigger events each year and gaining feedback is a huge part of our process. But the deeper into this we get, the more we need to be proactive in planning and anticipating what our community wants to see from us.
Because we’re so young and new to the industry, we rely heavily on intuition. As we grow and collect more information, this will change but for the time being, we operate with what we have to work with, and a lot of that is instinct.
As we launch more items, we are able to gather more data to inform how well the next product is likely to do, who in our community it will resonate with and how much stock we might need in order to avoid a fast sell-out. The quick growth that we’ve seen is phenomenal but it leaves us in a position where we are struggling to keep up with demand and that means frustration for our customers (and us!).
Moving on Up
As we grow, we have more opportunity to employ additional planning measures and we continue to improve on our process.
We are currently exploring new opportunities for partnerships that will afford us faster turnaround times on product creation, ordering and delivery. We are moving ahead to improve our Quality Control practices on top of the independent QC teams we use already. This could mean freeing up more in-house time to spend on design, research and planning.
We’ve also started trialling new made-to-order items like our Coffee Bag Collection, designed and manufactured right here in Ireland and as we try out these new ideas, we document our process to see how it’s working (or not) for us and our customers.
The bottom line for us as a young business is making sure we are consistently focusing on improvement and evolution. We don’t always get it perfect on the first go, but we do always take the time needed to perfect the process.
We’re proud to be creating a quality product that resonates with our customers and when we get that right, it can mean we sell out much faster than we anticipate. With each new product we launch, we gain a little more insight into how we can do things better and we are able to apply our learnings to planning for future growth and launches.
We hope this sheds a bit of light and what goes on behind the design & production scenes and we thank you for supporting us while we iron out the creases.