Many people ask me why I haven’t launched paid ads. They ask why I don’t send clothes for free to influencers, give free returns, and offer customers the option to pay in multiple instalments.
These are reasonable questions, and I provide the answers below.
Why we don’t do paid ads
I come from this world. Before creating Untraced, I co-founded a digital communications agency. We helped the self-employed and SMEs take advantage of social platforms.
We took charge of their community management and managed their paid ad campaigns. I have programmed a lot of campaigns (mainly on Facebook and Instagram), so I know the system’s inner workings well. It is efficient and incredibly precise. It’s possible to do great things with this system. The problem is these paid ads are built with short-term sales logic, and today I want to build a more virtuous ecosystem.
I want people to come to Untraced because they love our clothes, the project, the brand, and because they really need our products. I want people to go to our site because they’ve heard of Untraced or because they’ve done an organic search on the internet without a sponsored link playing with their emotions. I don’t want to contribute to a system where I have to spend money to convince people that they need to buy, and they always need more when it’s not true.
Having said that… Yes, it’s true that I could reach and educate people who adhere to this philosophy through paid campaigns. But I prefer to take the time to meet people and build this brand step by step, working with SEO first and foremost. I’m convinced the end result will be solid.
Why we don’t work with influencers
I’ve worked with influencers before, and I have tested this system. While I have observed positive results (it must be said!), the majority of collaborations we’ve put in place have been a waste of inventory and money.
Since creating Untraced, I’ve been contacted by several influencers who asked me to send them free clothes to take pictures with and share with their communities. I declined every time.
The logic is completely absurd. Send clothes for free to people I don’t know, who don’t need them, and can afford to buy them. They don’t care about the project and the brand’s values, and they will probably not remember us the next day... All this effort just to reach their supposed audience with no guarantee of results? Does that sound normal to you? On our side, we think not…
Untraced is not a big brand. I don’t want to set up a short-term and fragile system based on selling at any price. I want to set up win-win collaborations with amateur and professional golfers who share our values.
I want athletes to wear Untraced because they agree with the project and because they want to have a real and beautiful influence on the world. I want to invest time and money in healthy, long-term collaborations without ever indulging in excessive consumption.
Today, Untraced is only in its infancy. Our stock is small, our clothes are ultra-high quality and expensive to produce, and we have little margin on our sales. I want to use what we have wisely by working with the right people.
PS: I have not yet found the golfers who are sensitive to the project and with whom to work :-) If this post resonates with you, send us an email to talk about it!
Why we don’t give free returns
Yes, I know this is a must today… An essential practice in e-commerce to drive sales and consumption. To sell more, a brand will convince you to buy items in several different sizes and colours to be sure at least one or two pieces out of ten will fit. Unfortunately, it’s a practice with harmful consequences that are often ignored
You don’t like it anymore? What if you’ve already moved on from that trend? What if you decided to buy something else in the meantime? No problem! Send everything back, the cost of postage is taken care of by the brand, and you are fully reimbursed for the cost of the order. Easy!
But if you take a closer look, you realize these free returns are only free for you. The cost of the return lands on the merchant. Free returns attack margins, distort conversion rates, and put small (and large) businesses in difficult situations. In the United States in 2020, the return of essential and non-essential products (all categories combined) cost companies $101 billion.
Going beyond financial considerations, these free returns are also an environmental disaster. Round-trip freight transport generates greenhouse gases that accelerate climate change. The massive amount of cardboard and plastic packaging generated in this process does no favours for mother nature either.
We don't want to get into this free-returns dance (or at least limit it as much as possible). We accept returns related to sizing issues or production errors. It would be absurd not to, but we will be strict with all other reasons given.
Why? Because we want our customers to think before they buy and think before returning. We are available day and night to talk to them, give them lots of advice, and answer all their questions before and after purchasing. We encourage our customers to contact us anytime.
Yes, we are aware that some (or a lot) of potential customers will refrain from purchasing when they see they must bear the cost of the return under certain conditions. Suppose this way of doing things becomes a barrier at first glance. In that case, I am convinced that it will also be a good way to protect ourselves from unscrupulous customers and build a loyal community of responsible consumers.
Why we don’t accept payment in instalments
It seems great because it facilitates a sale and increases turnover while allowing customers to keep their credit card bills low. We have received proposals from companies explaining the joys of these split or deferred payments, so we checked it out.
In Australia, Afterpay is the most well-known company to offer this service. It was founded in 2014 and recently was acquired by Square for AU $39 billion. In Europe, Klarna is the most well-known, and its current valuation is around 38 billion euros. Their value proposition is like a consumer loan but cheaper and sexier. Afterpay sums it up nicely: “Shop now. Pay later. Always interest-free.”
In reality, the zero interest rate is supported by the brands. And the one who suffers the most from this system is the customer who is in debt because they spent more than they could. It often turns out the customer was driven to purchase by an excellent marketing campaign.
Beyond the financial risks that these services entail for brands and consumers, they also push people to consume more and more, impacting production and, therefore, the environment. Yes, producing is polluting. Untraced is a polluter too, but we want to do it as little as possible. Therefore we will not do a “shop now, pay later” even if we risk losing customers in the short term.
There you go, in our world we see our customers buying because… They’ve heard good things about us, and they need our clothes! They saw our clothes on the shoulders of committed golfers! They’ve thought it through before placing their orders! They want to support a virtuous project! They adhere to our brand values!!
Nice program, eh?
I didn’t feel it necessary to talk about Black Friday here. I think my answers will be obvious now.
By doing this, we know that it will take longer to be visible. Unfortunately, the ecological commitment is still (in the great majority of cases) challenging to commit to today, but we will continue on this path. As entrepreneurs, we believe that our choices matter.