Today we had the opportunity to have a day of Velasca. Velasca is a 100% Italian shoemaker company. Something that makes this company amazing is that it was started in 2013 by Enrico Casati and Jacopo Sebastio: two men who weren’t sure what they were doing but were sure that they wanted to make these special shoes. The idea behind the company is that they did not want retailers but instead wanted to sell directly to end consumers. Now, they are a premium brand in the “affordable luxury” menswear market, selling their leather shoes for around 185 euros on average. They also have belts, bags, and other leather accessories in their line. Velasca focuses on high quality, craftsmanship, affordable price, and timeless style.
Since the startup of the company, Velasca has taken some steps to expand their business. At the beginning, they were focusing on the business aspect of the company. In my mind, expanding would mean making products and selling to all different types of customers. To Velasca, this meant narrowing down their market segments. They eliminated the women’s line and then decided to only do men’s products because it is important to focus on something specific. They now target older business men, and have different types of shoes for different occasions such as ceremonies, leisure, outdoors, and even sport.
Their business model is not the average B2B or B2C, but direct to consumer. With this strategy, Velasca has their own niche and don’t need others to do things for them. Although most of the work in this company is internal, shipping and artisans are actually external to the company to help manage demand. Velasca works by going through the processes of design, manufacturing, logistics and warehouse, operations, and sales and marketing. Marketing is a very important aspect of expanding their business, and today we were able to meet the digital marketing manager of the company. She explained that they had online activity for two years before opening a shop, and now there is a bottega located in Milan and in Rome. In addition to the digital marketing position, Velasca consists of a team of 11-15 people that each have a different job.
We got to see their online page, which is very modern and visually appealing. Because their market segment consists of men, their website is designed to attract those specific customers. In the United States, online startup companies are very similar to this. Their physical store targets men as well, and is decorated with bottles of gin, car and airplane models, rackets, a small basketball hoop, and more. Their online page also includes customer reviews. It is important to Velasca to be honest with their customers, so they even publish the negative reviews but are always quick to respond to them and solve any unwanted issues. Velasca also has a magazine called A Million Steps for publicity, and that too is found only online.
They attempt to get new customers through the acquisition funnel, which is how they structure their communication. They start by finding the prospective market by helping people find out about the company through ads or social media. Once they find these potential customers, they begin the remarketing strategy. Here, Velasca tries to convince the men by using different strategies. These methods could include a 10% discount if they subscribe to emails or the magazine, Facebook notifications, being friends on snapchat, and more. They also have “influentials” on Instagram. This is a new era of celebrities where average people with many followers market the products. It is also a much cheaper strategy than paying someone famous to be used in ads.
Another important strategy that Velasca focuses on are the logistics behind the products. Today we got to visit one of the four warehouses of Fiege Logistics. To attract more customers, they include free shipping for their core target companies. Fiege Logistics has many clients other than Velasca, but for Velasca they physically check to make sure all the information is correct before the products are shipped. They check for matching labels, correct bar codes, item numbers, shoe sizes, and more. Velasca works hard to guarantee the absolute best quality for their customers which makes them even more personable and attractive.
Concerning the national and global environment, there are some interesting factors that affect the site we visited today. Economically, most small businesses in Italy have been struggling to reach bigger markets and survive financially. It was a big risk for the co-founders to start this business, but because they set lower prices for their shoes it appeals to more of an audience. Socially, it is mainly just business men that would be looking for their products. As nice as the shoes are, teenagers would not be casually purchasing them. That is why they decided to ONLY target these customers. As far as political trends as concerned, it has been hard for me to notice them and how they affect some of the different companies we have visited including Velasca.