Acting basic: AS Colour's Dan Bycroft on tech, drones and multi-platform ordering options

When entrepreneur Lawrence Railton launched AS Colour in 2006, he envisioned it as a wholesale distributor of blank t-shirts. It targeted screenprinters and fashion labels, but soon, young customers began to turn up at the warehouse to buy unprinted garments direct. The team saw an opportunity, ran with it, and now sell high-quality, unbranded clothing direct to consumers from eight stores around New Zealand. We asked Dan Bycroft, retail operations manager NZ and Australia, and AS Colour's present and future.

Your website is very thematically similar to the brick and mortar stores, but I can’t see a click and collect option there. Is that in the works for AS Colour?

Due to our company working across both trade and retail, we have steered away from offering a click and collect service for online orders in our bricks and mortar stores as it can cause confusion between the two sides of the business. For example, if someone orders 10 shirts in one size per colour online, there’s a chance their local AS Colour store won’t be carrying enough shop stock to fulfil the order. However, we have a good system of directing any larger order enquiries from retail stores back to wholesale and can even achieve same day pickup from our head office for some Auckland-based orders if they are placed within a certain time frame.

What about other omnichannel services? Are you using any? 

Not currently.

Dan Bycroft

Do you ever get customers trying to order from you over social media? How do you deal with that?

We use Zendesk to channel any sales-related enquiries from social media back to our customer services team, which simplifies the process of managing customer requests across various social platforms. We’ve also moved to using Bitly links on all social media so we can better analyse the website traffic generated by social campaigns. In terms of new social media, Snapchat seems to be the most interesting new development and we’ve been watching other brands start to use it in very interesting ways to generate business - for example, using Snapchat to launch new products or limited edition ranges to a more selective database.

Domino’s pizza in the US offers a service called ‘Anyware’ which allows customers to order from a huge variety of platforms. They can text or tweet Domino’s a pizza emoji; order from their car’s computer, and more. Is this kind of approach a realistic goal for the New Zealand market, do you think?

Multi-platform ordering options have to be a good thing in the long run for any market regardless of size. In fact, New Zealand is probably the ideal place to test new ideas out due to our small population base and geographic size. Retailers have to change and evolve with the needs of their customers or they can easily stagnate, especially when we’re selling basic apparel to a youth market that is so digitally connected. Finding ways to do this is our next challenge, whether it’s a dedicated retail app or another creative digital platform to help with ease of ordering.

Is same-day delivery a goal of yours? How far are you from achieving it? If not, why not?

We do a lot of same-day urgent courier deliveries through our trade business but can currently only achieve this in Auckland where our warehouse is based. Retail demand for same-day delivery has not been strong and we ship most track-pack orders overnight in New Zealand so, generally, an overnight service will meet or exceed most customer’s expectations for online retail delivery. Although with many online retailers starting to offer a same-day option, the expectations could move with the market. If this happens, we’d talk to our courier partner to work out a solution.

Does the idea of drone deliveries appeal to you?

It does, in a slightly scary sci-fi way!  Apparel is probably the ideal product to test on drones - it’s unbreakable, easy to package and not too heavy. So, if anyone’s looking for a New Zealand company to test drone deliveries for free, we’d put our hand up!

This story originally appeared onThe Register