Online retailer credits lockdown for sales surge
Entrepreneur Daniel Williams had to think ‘outside the box’ to sustain business growth in a time of economic uncertainty. Like many business owners in the online retail sector, Daniel Williams found himself unable to immediately fulfil orders due to restrictions on courier usage during the Level 4 lockdown period. As Managing Director of Brick Store […]
Entrepreneur Daniel Williams had to think ‘outside the box’ to sustain business growth in a time of economic uncertainty.
Like many business owners in the online retail sector, Daniel Williams found himself unable to immediately fulfil orders due to restrictions on courier usage during the Level 4 lockdown period. As Managing Director of Brick Store – an online Lego store launched in November 2019 that specialises in the adult collector market – Williams has overseen some rapid early growth, shipping 1,000 orders within 130 days of launching the business.
The arrival of the COVID-19 outbreak within a few short months of launching a new business might have proven terminal to many startups, but it did not discourage Williams from making a philanthropic gesture earlier this year:
“We decided to offer returning Kiwis and tourists arriving into New Zealand a free pack of Lego to help alleviate the boredom during the 14-day self-isolation period. We asked new arrivals to message us via Facebook with a photograph of their boarding pass as proof, and then sent them a brand new $30 Lego pack,” he says.
Describing the investment as “an expensive but worthwhile gesture”, Williams soon found himself facing a new challenge following the government’s swift move to level 4 lockdown. Utilising Brick Store’s unique products to capture the public’s imagination and leverage a greater online presence has quickly become a focal point for the business.
Williams launched an online contest via the Brick Store Facebook page with the twin aims of increasing engagement whilst providing a fun incentive for kids in lockdown to get creative with their existing Lego. With a new Lego challenge for every day of the lockdown (day 20 – “build something that flies!”) each child that submitted a build via comments on the daily Facebook posts received an entry into a contest to win one of 120 individual Lego sets.
“It was a great way to keep the kids entertained during lockdown. We had some amazingly creative submissions, and the photos we’re now receiving of kids with their Lego prizes is very heart-warming.”
The challenge has been a hit resulting in a huge growth in Facebook fans – quadrupling the number from 3,000 to 12,000 followers, and a massive surge in sales.
With big-box retailers’ online offerings closed, Brick Store received a further 1,000 orders in the first 42 days of lockdown, which Williams said resulted in working 14+ hours a day, 7 days a week, all while he and his wife Anya tried to home school their three young children.
“With no courier service to businesses like ours our garage was full almost to the roof with orders waiting to ship. When we moved to level 2 we called our courier driver and told him ‘you’re going to need a bigger truck!’”
Living the passion
Despite the threat of economic downturn caused by COVID-19, Williams says the business is on track to reach $1 million of sales in its first year, and he has plans to open a retail store on Auckland’s North Shore later this year. Having run businesses since the age of 19, including New Zealand’s largest web hosting company, Web Drive, which he sold in 2014, Williams believes it is now more important than ever to find something you love.
“Lego is a passion of mine. It’s something I’ve had a love affair with since I was 5 years old, so why wouldn’t I want to make a living working with the product? It’s a great toy and even if you just want to build Lego as a hobby, I say go for it. It’s more important than ever right now to make time to do the things we love.”
Pictured: Husband and wife team, Daniel and Anya Williams