While much of the world prepares for a greatly needed summer vacation, ecommerce sellers are already looking ahead to preparations for the holiday 2021 shopping season. Businesses which weathered the ups and downs of the past year and a half are now reaping the benefits of a booming ecommerce economy, and the time between now and Q4 will be crucial to maintaining and building upon those gains. On the latest episode of the Dragonproof Podcast, SCOTTeVEST C.E.O. Scott Jordan joined Rick Wilson to give a play-by-play of how the business made many strategic decisions in 2020 which are now adding up to a highly successful 2021.

Travel-related businesses were hit hard in Spring 2020

As the very first digitally-native clothing brand, SCOTTeVEST is no stranger to the ecommerce frontier. Figuring out new ways to use the latest selling technology has always been key. This is inherent to the product line, which offers tech-ready functional fashion for travel and adventure lifestyles. As recently as 2019, the company had completely reimagined its web experience and was preparing for strong growth ahead. But as pandemic lockdowns spread in the spring of 2020, many aspects of the travel business shut down entirely. Almost overnight, SCOTTeVEST saw as much as a 70% reduction in online orders, as the typical customer was quite literally grounded.

Using downtime to fortify and fine tune

With these numbers, most businesses must make very painful cuts. Luckily for SCOTTeVEST, no staff needed to be let go, but through natural attrition, operations were factored down to Scott and the company co-founder and President, Laura Jordan. Contractors and virtual assistants were outsourced as needed globally. This minimal set-up was only possible because the business has always leveraged tech automations to support workloads that would take much larger staffs pre-digital.

Covid’s impact on physical retail was profound, with U.S. foot traffic down 97%, and SCOTTeVEST’s Sun Valley brick and mortar store was not immune. The store, long in the making, actually had its opening in May 2020, with a quick pivot for the times. The signature pockets of the product line, intended for all sorts of modern gear, could also be used for pandemic-related supplies, such as masks or hand sanitizer. Another solution here was to spend time innovating in-store efficiencies like cameras, apps, and communication systems to assist many customers remotely.

Mid-year proved to be an excellent time to continue building and investing in the ecommerce website, with an eye towards enhancing up the foundational elements of the business. This included everything from improving photo content to adjusting pricing, balancing for many years of changes to costs, shipping, and ubiquitous coupon codes.

“Once travel opens up,” Scott thought at the time, they better be prepared for the massive influx of business which would surely follow. “We just don’t know the day. So let’s create a plan for it.”

When messaging is right, ad campaigns can be extremely effective in any medium

For the early part of the year, Scott and Laura chose to skip the traditional hard sell tactics of marketing emails and panicked price drops. Instead, they used their content to appeal to the “armchair traveler wanderlust” in customers, by sharing exciting and heart-warming stories of travel. By nurturing the connection between products and the adventurous lifestyle customers enjoy, SCOTTeVEST built a lasting connection with customers which transcended an impulse purchase.

By summer 2020, as news of an effective vaccine was starting to gain traction, the company was busy creating a remarkable series of video content and television spots. These ads not only emphasized our human need to travel and explore, but made a clear case for why SCOTTeVEST apparel enhances these experiences. The outstanding response to a November TV ad became a bellwether for better business ahead, and launched a very successful holiday season.

The upcoming Q4 will set ecommerce sales records

By many measures, online sellers are in for a record-setting 2021, building to a peak holiday period. In addition to government support and stimulus, a newly-vaccinated public is emotionally primed to gather, travel, and shop. For SCOTTeVEST, that means customers will be stocking up for camping trips, weekend getaways, and flights to far-flung locales. Now that the CDC has lifted travel restrictions, the brand’s year-long adjustments will come into play, and every indicator is great for what lies ahead.

Experimenting with and streamlining business practices during downtime proved to be the perfect response to the early days of the pandemic, while always focusing squarely on the reason for the business—a positive, optimistic passion for adventure. In the process, this digitally-oriented company has supported a return to the outgoing, physical lifestyle that all people need.

To hear Rick’s full conversation with Scott Jordan, stream the new Dragonproof Podcast here.

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