After another amazing breakfast, our group adventured by foot to a local hotel in order to hear a presentation from Velasca. The main business of Velasca is something familiar to everyone: shoes. Although a familiar product, their method for selling is quite unique and innovative. Velasca does not produce any shoes. That’s right, they are simply a glorified middle man. Velasca found talented, authentic Italian shoe producers, bought their shoes, and now sells them mostly online. Velasca absorbed the whole retail side of the supply chain by selling their products online. Since they sold their products this way, they were able to cut costs substantially. Even though they are online, they continued to build brand recognition while they only had a website. This brand recognition helped for when Velasca decided it was time to open up their first retail store. Now, Velasca has two stores and they are looking to expand. Velasca has a specific target market:professional men. This target market happens to exist in every country, so options for expansion are limitless. Velasca helps to capture their target market by offering them special deals such as free shipping and free return. There are also many different cultural values to take into consideration when expanding. For example, Italians really do not like shopping online, so more retail stores opening are essential for success in Italy. Despite problems like that, they are expecting to double their revenues every year. A big goal, but helped by quality operators and other talented employees. They do not need a lot of workers, but the employees they do have are essential for proper expansion. There was a big emphasis on the customer care supervisor. The customer care guy is essential for a new brand; one unhappy customer can destroy the reputation of a less known brand. Even though expansion is great, it is no easy feat. The company needs to make sure their artisans are prepared to take the next big step. A flawless and mature supply chain will help make this journey easier.
The work environment and culture of Velasca is very informal. This mood can be seen in both dress and attitude. There is no pyramid structure to be seen in the company. Rather, everyone is more or less equal with no strange, unspoken rules of authority. Even the founder of the company is a team player. There is defiantly a more creative and modern feel to the company thanks to their culture. The relaxed culture allows more ideas to blossom.
A model that comes to mind when thinking of Velasca is DSW. DSW does not produce any shoes. Rather, like Velasca they buy their shoes from other companies than sells them. Even though DSW sells their shoes online, they mainly are known for the stores they have across america. DSW is also a much larger and much more varied version of Velasca. One thing Velasca has that DSW doesn’t is their own brand. Velasca remarks the shoes they buy as their own, DSW cannot and doesn’t do that.
As a marketing and accounting double major, it was interesting to hear a presentation with a focus on marketing. Every bit of advertising the company does revolves around the target market. This makes sense because there is no need to advertise to people who have no need for a product. Since the target market is 40 year old men, the advertising needs to appeal to men. The website of the company has a masculine feel for this reason. The company employs other advertising methods like search engine optimization to get their brand out there. Velasca not only needs to focus on influencing the customers, but also retaining them. The retaining process is helped by the customer review section on Velasca website. This function allows the store to see and reply to customer concerns and grow better. Even though I think Valasca is doing a great job, I believe they could benefit from more affiliate marketing. If they had more “influencers” tweet or Instagram photos wearing their product, it would do wonders for them since they are still a less known brand. Overall, I would have to say that the Velasca presentation was my favorite business venture so far. Not only was the speaker engaging, but visiting their warehouse was an amazing experience. I am very much looking forward to another day of interesting business ventures.