A DTC shoe brand steps into ecommerce and Amazon stores
"Amazon allows creative people like myself to focus on what we do well, which is build great brands and create great products."
Co-Founder, New Republic
Evolution of an online seller
Before Dee Murthy and Andres Izquieta even graduated from college they founded the Five Four Clothing brand. And before they began to sell online, they spent a few years hitting up trade shows, traveling the country, and finally in 2006, got into major fashion retailers.
Then the 2008 recession hit.
Dee and Andres found themselves sitting on mounds of unsold merchandise. Knowing menswear was scarce in malls, they took a risk and opened a few stores, but discovered it’s a tough ride without a brand story and no foot traffic. So in 2012 they gave ecommerce a shot and moved to sell online. They created Menlo Club, now an umbrella company operating direct-to-consumer brands including Five Four, Oshenta, and Grand AC, each taking on a different facet of men’s fashion.
As an ecommerce brand, and operating primarily with a DTC subscription model, the team added shoes to the roster with New Republic.
“The most comfortable shoes in the world, in our opinion, are ugly. And the most stylish shoes in the world are uncomfortable," Dee says. "So we have this thesis that bridging those together can really make us a powerhouse in men’s footwear.”
The most comfortable shoes in the world, in our opinion, are ugly. And the most stylish shoes in the world are uncomfortable.
Dee MurthyCo-Founder, New Republic
Choosing to sell online with Amazon
New Republic launched in the Amazon store at the beginning of 2019. They were initially reluctant to build an online store with Amazon for fear of cannibalizing what they’d already created with Menlo. A friend of Dee’s—a former Amazon employee—convinced him they were looking at it all wrong. It wasn’t about taking away what they’d built; it was about capitalizing on an alliance that would add to it. At the time, Dee felt that men’s fashion was grossly underserved, just as it had been in the malls, and could see the opportunity for change with Amazon.
“Amazon is going to open up and unlock an enormous amount of value for fashion brands,” Dee says.
Using Amazon to build an online store
New Republic built an ecommerce storefront to mirror their web experience. This preserved the brand and story, which was huge for Dee.
“Enhanced content, photography, sizing data, whatever it may be," Dee says. "We felt that the Amazon customer needed all that data to make a purchasing decision.”
They saw this as an advantage, using the Amazon Stores tool to bring a New Republic flavor to their storefront.
“When we launched on Amazon, I had expectations that Amazon would be about 10% to 20% of our total business. Within the first six months, it was 50%,” Dee says. “It just exploded. And it really changed the way I thought about the future of our business.”
“Our reps have been very, very instrumental in our growth,” Dee says. “I don't think we would've gotten to this point this quickly if it wasn't for our Amazon team.”
One piece of advice? Don't go out of stock. Dee ran out of stock (or "stocked out") after a month, but has since learned his lesson.
“Forecasting and understanding the sales velocity of your products in the Amazon channel is extremely important,” Dee says.
Prime Day can be the ultimate inventory test. Last time around, Dee kept an eye on inventory to avoid missing out. Along with an Amazon exclusive product and media coverage, the preparation paid off.
Now New Republic has a solid strategy. Prime Day gets them in front of new Amazon customers, but they also let their website customers know about the deals via email.
With Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA), sellers ship inventory into Amazon's fulfillment network, where Amazon handles the shipping, customer service, and returns. This allows Dee to effectively disconnect from this side of the business when he needs to.
“Amazon allows creative people like myself to focus on what we do well, which is build great brands and create great products,” Dee says.
Amazon Seller Central
From the first report, there was value in the reporting in Seller Central.
“We dumped it into Excel and we started doing our homework and saying, ‘Okay, here are clear opportunities and this is where we need to focus on,’” Dee says.
It changed how they saw Amazon as a sales channel. The transparent information helped them think ahead, plan, and make better decisions.
I really started thinking about Amazon as a sales channel that I need to really prepare for, really think about, and really plan for, in terms of merchandising, and pricing, and product.
With so many sites for selling, branding is key
For Dee, dipping into Amazon has proven that distribution doesn’t define a brand—its story does. Adding Amazon as a sales channel has only grown the customer trust New Republic is built on, and landed some stylish shoes in more closets.
“There's a tremendous amount of opportunity in building our existing brands—and frankly building new brands just for Amazon,” Dee says. “We feel that there is an enormous opportunity for us to be very creative on Amazon. We’re going to lean on Amazon for the future growth of our business.”