ONTHEGO is a creative ecosystem for custom branded apparel and accessories. The brainchild of Australian Founder and Entrepreneur, Mick Spencer, who founded the company at age 21 with a vision to connect people through the power of teamwear.
Q and A with Mick Spencer and 61-bit
Q) Most great entrepreneurs might dedicate their lives to one, two, maybe three or four great companies over their lifetime. Why sports apparel, why is it something that’s exciting to you that you want to dedicate your life to?
A)We’re now not just limited to sports apparel, but anything branded, particular what we call “impression wear”.
I believe everyone wants to be a part of a group or team. I certainly did when I was young, and playing sport in a team was what built my confidence in life. I have seen sport change people’s lives – it’s the same for organisations.
This feeling of togetherness was part of my purpose in creating ONTHEGO. Whether it’s your local sports team or representing your country, or starting your first job – branded products give people a sense of purpose.
Why sports apparel? Disruption. I also saw the sports apparel and uniform market as a huge market waiting to be disrupted. Too many companies holding stock, becoming less relevant to customer needs. An underlying movement of customers wanting to do their designs themselves, and change trends quickly – means larger companies becoming less relevant – all these things gave me the choice of this industry.
My life will be dedicated to many categories once I’m done on my mission 🙂
Q) For entrepreneurs in e-commerce or thinking of starting an e-commerce business, what would you say the fundamental challenge is today in 2018 or even in the future that e-commerce businesses should be thinking about?
- Being different.
It’s so important to realise that just because you read a few books and listen to e-commerce millionaire podcasts doesn’t mean you can succeed – Right now, e-commerce is growing faster than people can keep up – So, you must find markets that have problems and then look at ways to fix them.
Execution is also everything. We (and many other companies) have invested so much time and money into getting stuff right. Succeeding in business is a longterm game, so you need to be prepared to spend a long time doing it – it’s not a game of overnight success. It takes sheer grunt and constant reviewing.
Q) The standard e-commerce business model, for companies that are in that space and they’ve got growth, it’s impossible to talk about this without talking about Amazon, right? Now with a market cap of $820 billion, huge resources. How do you think e-commerce businesses can win against Amazon when Amazon and Amazon Prime just have so many products so cheap and so fast?
A) Similar to above in being different, but really having a big focus on categories and being the best at that. Amazon is amazing at offering a huge, even overwhelming amount of product. Yet, people still want to shop with category specialists – so it’s important to find super tight niche’s and being the absolute best at that. Or even look at the industry in a totally different way.
Similar in our industry – we don’t hold stock. So we like to separate ourselves fully from those retail branded firms who hold stock. Our stock is in technology and customers design the apparel themselves and then we take the sale and make the product on-demand. OTG is about tipping the sports apparel and uniform market on its head. Rather than hold stock, we have put more resources into data and technology. We have therefore built a customer-first model. Our model is so complex as we have to get multiple suppliers on-boarded to the platform to fulfil the orders, so it’s not an easy category to dominate.
Q) Just finally on that. Although e-commerce is and has been rapidly growing, research shows only 10% to 15% of global retail is conducted online. And we see Amazon expanding into physical bookstores. For a business such as On the Go, when do you know that its the right time to launch a brick and mortar location from online. What are some of those deciding factors?
A)It’s really good timing for this, as we start to scale out our “Customisation stations” into the market with brands like Officeworks, Totally workwear, Sportsmans Warehouse and more – where customers can go in to stores, touch and feel fabrics and try on garments – then design their own order on a screen and place an order in store.
For us, the in-store experience is a really important part of our strategy – as we want to help retailers offer our service online and in-store, but more importantly, it is about listening to the customer and giving them the best experience possible both in-store and online.
Q) I want to briefly mention your new book Start Before You’re Ready. In chapter 11 you mentioned “street smart” and being able to apply to that in your business. When it comes to actually succeed in business, which is more important: education or experience? Which will outweigh the most?
A) Experience. I have never dealt with someone who would say education – though maybe they’re out there. I guess it also depends on the business your in, but mostly – even careers like Accountants and Lawyers, you find experience is more important than education. As its the experience that teaches you how to get things done.
Q) Finally, what do you think that the next major shift or trend is going to be in the world for e-commerce?
A) Customisation. I hate to be biased here, but it’s what we bet on every day and know and love. We know that 40% of retail/e-commerce consumers would choose to customise an item if they had the tools available. We see a massive trend which retailers are starting to place a huge focus on.
After customisation, I would say;
* Mobile-first commerce
* Augmented reality
* Advanced product filtering
* Delivery Options
Warning: Buy Now, Pay Later racks up Debt nearing $1 billion over the coming Christmas holidays.
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