Bathu is a hugely popular South African brand, on a mission to create sneakers that Africans can proudly affiliate with. In 2017, Bathu’s founder, Theo Baloyi realized that there was a gap in the market for an African Sneaker brand that portrayed an authentic story—so he set off on a mission. Opening its first store in the neighborhood of Newtown, Johannesburg in 2018, the brand now has over 30 stores across the country.
Recently ranked as one of Africa’s top 10 most recognizable brands, today Bathu employs more than 300 staff and has a strong online presence. Bathu uses Shopify POS to unify its online sales with its strong brick and mortar presence.
Since switching its tech stack from WordPress and Vend POS to Shopify, Bathu has enjoyed:
- Operating 30+ stores across South Africa, with plans to expand internationally
- Seamlessly managing its team of 200+ retail staff
- A 26% increase in revenue
Challenge: responding to explosive demand with disconnected systems
Bathu’s sneakers were met with huge demand across the country, confirming that the brand was filling a much needed gap in the market—but this popularity brought its share of logistical challenges.
The brand was operating a WordPress site and using Vend as its point of sale (POS) system but managing inventory online and across its increasing number of store locations in a country the size of South Africa, was becoming difficult and time consuming.
With its site also crashing regularly, the brand decided to migrate to Shopify and made the move to Shopify POS.
We realized that at the rate we were opening stores, it would be a lot cheaper for us to run Shopify POS—and on top of that, everything would be centralized.
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Solution: using Shopify POS to connect online and in-person operations
After moving to Shopify POS, the brand was immediately able to manage its inventory across locations from a single hub. This has enabled the brand to open new store locations quicker and easier, opening up to four stores a month.
Where a particular location doesn’t have a product available, Bathu now uses Shopify’s ship to customer order fulfillment functionality across its stores and, as a result, has seen a direct increase in revenue. Bathu can now sell all its products from any of its 30+ retail stores at any time, regardless of where that product is physically located, and have those products delivered directly to their customers’ door. In a country the size of South Africa, the impact has been significant, with an initial 200% increase in revenue month on month.
With the help of Shopify certified app Stocky, the business gains the insights it needs to effectively forecast and manage inventory. “It enables us to understand what sells, how it sells and when it sells. That granular insight is very important”, says Mario Toscano, Bathu’s Technology & Innovation Manager.
With a rapidly growing team, onboarding staff has also been simplified. “Shopify POS is a very intuitive POS system—we find a lot of people understand how to use it straight away,” says Toscano.
Once we made the move to Shopify POS, we never looked back. It’s been such a gamechanger for the business. It couldn’t have been easier. You add a new location onto the point of sale, get the point of sale registered on that location, and everything is set up in just minutes.
Results: customers can shop however is easiest for them, and Bathu never misses a sale
Aware that its customers want the flexibility to shop however suits them best, Bathu has focused on creating a seamless experience for both in-store and online customers.
The team now spends less time tracking inventory, dealing with logistics and onboarding staff. This has opened up time for the business to focus on creativity, growth and opening more stores. Since unifying its sales channels with Shopify, Bathu has seen a 26% increase in revenue—largely thanks to its online and physical store inventory being available for sale wherever shoppers want to buy.
The brand is now setting its sights on international expansion, starting with serving expat communities that want that piece of home wherever they may be.
For large retailers like ourselves, being able to use just one system for our entire ecosystem with Shopify is a big draw card. We intend to be a major player and show that not all African retailers are small shops—and we hope to pave the way for other African brands to do the same.
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