Innovation, a mentor and entrepreneur once said to me, was simply doing something different and making money. Innovation can be found everywhere but when it's harnessed effectively it's what divides meteoric success from the mediocre.
You might think that there's not a lot of innovation when it comes to knitting wool. And you would be right. But in our work with The Knitting Network at Innovate 2 Succeed (I2S), there's a whole lot of innovation in the way the wool is delivered to customers. The Knitting Network is a disruptor in the online wool market.
The knitting and crochet sector has two types of customers. There are occasional knitters and crocheters who might make baby clothes for a new-born, and there are the passionate crafters who knit and crochet all the time. The key to success for The Knitting Network is to ensure a large number of repeat purchasers to mitigate the cost of customer acquisition. So what is their innovation?
“We regularly scan the online retail arena," says director Steve Hollis, "as we are looking for and tracking new trends and technologies that can help drive our sales growth. One such trend we’ve been keeping a close eye on is post and packaging fees and charges. We already have order by 4pm for same day despatch and free postage and packing on orders over £25 but we wanted to give our customers an even better experience and service.
“We know our competitors are reducing wool prices in an attempt to retain customers but we don’t believe that’s a sustainable business model nor is it what the customer really wants. Customers want their wool delivered quickly and for a fair price.
Taking a leaf out of Amazon Prime
“We decided to take a leaf out of the Amazon Prime book.
“In exchange for an annual fee of around £10 we will send all orders to that customer free of charge. Our customers can select the unlimited postage option at the checkout, or not. Launching this new service has been a super success. We know that we’ll be their first choice for wool supplies in the future in the same way that Prime is too.
“We’ll be tracking performance to find out exactly what the positive impact on repeat sales will be. The I2S programme has allowed us to work towards this, and other innovations helping us make sure that we’d looked at each innovation from every angle. We’ve set the terms of the offer and implemented successfully with our own customers effectively bringing them back to us whenever they need supplies. Now we’re ready to target even more new customers with this delivery innovation."
Achieving Green Mark certification
The Knitting Network has become the UK’s first online retailer to achieve Green Mark certification for its commitment to environmental sustainability; its knitting wools come in plastic-free, eco-friendly packaging and via sustainable delivery.
"Wool certainly isn’t boring," concludes Steve, "and our innovation pipeline is filling up with new ways to make our customers even happier!”