When Alex McBride turned 21, he inherited a vintage gold TAG Heuer watch from his grandfather – a successful businessman in his own right. For McBride, the watch was more than just a fashion accessory: it was a symbol that there’s no time like the present to start making his dreams a reality.
McBride’s grandfather had passed away at only 60, just as the linen business he had founded was reaching new heights. His early passing was a reminder to McBride that time waits for no one, and so, in 2014, he left his successful career in property development to start The 5TH: a watch brand with a difference. McBride says his grandfather’s tenacity inspired his business model:
I’d grown up at the feet of my grandfather and seen him build a big business. Every time I wore his watch, I felt like I could achieve what I wanted to achieve, and I should just go for it. I wanted to design a product that could make people feel like they could achieve more and go after their goals.
With a clear business ethos in mind, McBride got to work designing a line of clean, timeless watches. But in an age of fast fashion, he decided to skirt the norm by building a customer base first before going to market.
In keeping with the business name, the plan was to launch sales on the 5th of December, 2014. By that time, McBride had built a community of 70,000 followers on Instagram (the business now has almost 500,000 followers), all eagerly awaiting a chance to score one of the first limited edition watches up for sale on The 5TH’s Shopify eCommerce store.
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As it turns out, anticipation is the mother of demand. The company sold $100,000 worth of watches on its first day of sales, which wiped out their entire inventory:
When we started the business, we sold out on day one. We're really fortunate to have had that built-up demand and built-up scarcity, which drove the success of our business in the early days.
Armed with a healthy dose of cash to reinvest in the business, McBride began to launch new limited-edition lines on the 5th of every month and expand operations to third-party logistics warehouses in California and London, in addition to his home base of Melbourne, Australia.
The business’ rapid growth was both a blessing and a curse. Operating multiple Shopify Plus stores with multiple 3PL warehouses quickly turned into an inventory management nightmare. From not knowing how much inventory was in stock to having problems tracking inventory in multiple locations, the business’ operations began to suffer.
It was then that McBride got in touch with an accounting company called Mi-Fi, who helped them make sense of and manage their global expansion so when their business scaled, their accounting and operations would not hold them back. Mifi helped set up a system to centrally manage Shopify, Xero, and multiple 3PL providers seamlessly – and that system was TradeGecko.
We then came in contact with an accounting firm, Mi-Fi who helped us set-up the whole system with TradeGecko to manage that system a lot better and kind of eliminated a lot of problems we were finding as we were growing the business.
With an integrated inventory tracking and order management system in place, the foundation was laid for more sustainable growth:
When you start an eCommerce brand, it's important that you have the right backbone in place to grow. So using systems that are trusted and recommended, like TradeGecko, Shopify and Xero, really help you look after the business and you can grow off those platforms.
Today, the company sells limited edition watches year-round, in addition to bags, small leather goods, and sunglasses. The company’s Operations Manager, Natalie Shahine, says she and the team use TradeGecko for virtually the entire inventory management process, starting with purchase orders through to 3PL management and receiving orders.
Shahine also uses TradeGecko’s Intelligence Reports to monitor sales and see what’s selling in real-time across multiple locations. She says TradeGecko has helped the business’ entire inventory management process:
Our inventory management used to be a big mess with the volume that we had until TradeGecko came into play. It’s been such a big help.
Looking forward, McBride plans to continue building and engaging with the company’s online community and expand The 5TH’s product line – with help from TradeGecko:
We want to expand our range and really provide great products for our consumer. Working with TradeGecko has been great. It's given us confidence in our system and allowed us to seamlessly manage all our platforms in one.
Find out more about The 5TH.
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