Customer Story: Sib from Branch
Welcome Sib! So what’s the story of Branch? How did you get here?
I founded Branch with my co-founders Greg and Verity in 2018. I have a background in real estate technology, and you might wonder where the connection exists between that and a D2C brand—I'll tell you shortly!
Initially, Branch aimed to make office furnishing easy and affordable for corporate customers. Think growing teams with headcount between 25-300. Through our experience in the real estate and tech worlds, we observed that these customers wanted to create inspiring workspaces for their teams, didn’t have the budgets for the exorbitantly priced Herman Miller chairs of the world, but wanted higher quality and better service than what Amazon or IKEA could offer. Most folks who haven’t furnished an office space don’t realize that your experience is defined as much by service as by physical product: someone needs to manage space planning, installation, even getting a certificate of insurance.
We ran our enterprise-focused business for about a year starting in February of 2019. But then a certain thing happened in February 2020, and that was COVID. The corporate office market evaporated in the course of a month, and we didn't know when or in what form it would be coming back—and as it turns out, many of those changes were durable and persistent.
But of course, COVID also created a new opportunity: millions of people were now working from home, and needed great home office furniture. We had always wanted to launch a D2C channel; we just didn’t think it’d happen so soon.
So our entry into the consumer market was ahead of plan, but we’ve leaned into it over the past two years, and fast forward to today—we’re about 40 people strong, generating revenues at a high eight figure run rate, and serving close to 100’s of thousands of customers in North America and Canada.
Love the story. What did you have to change to adapt to DTC space?
We had to change almost every part of the business. From the acquisition funnel, down to fulfillment and customer support.
Our business was really geared to support enterprise accounts, so our acquisition was focused on lead gen as opposed to transactions. Our fulfillment engine was focused on white-glove delivery as opposed to parcel service and at-home assembly. We had to rebuild many aspects of our tech stack from scratch, replacing Hubspot with Klaviyo and adding tools like Gorgias. And on top of all that, we had to rethink our SKU offering— deprioritizing conference tables and emphasizing chairs & desks.
Our saving grace was that we had built on Shopify to begin with, so we were able to spin up the D2C offering relatively quickly—within a month.
How did Storetasker fit into all that?
When we shifted our focus to D2C, we had to redesign several of our core experiences, and we didn't have a lot of Shopify development experience within our own team. So we looked at a few different options, with flexibility to scale up or down as our needs evolved as one of the main deciding factors.
So Storetasker was really interesting to us, because you offered access to a group of talented developers with a specialty in Shopify, and it was a scalable, variable cost solution: the “Pay as you go” model appealed to us, particularly as we sought to cut costs to the bone in our initial reaction to the pandemic. We didn't have to worry about a retainer with an agency or any kind of upfront cost. We could just give it a shot on small projects.
The flexibility, affordability, and expertise were the three factors that led us to prioritize Storetasker over other solutions. Since then, we’ve been working closely with a developer called Chris who excels in executing on small to medium scope projects for us. He knows our code base, he’s super detail oriented, and operates at speed without sacrificing quality. We’ve been thrilled with him.
Today, we’re in a position to start hiring our own developers which is exciting. That will allow us to achieve even more—but even then, Storetasker will always have a place in our roster.
Let’s quickly talk about stacks. What’s powering Branch beyond Storetasker?
As mentioned: Gorgias and Klaviyo are critical for us. Beyond that, we use Shogun for landing pages, Stamped for reviews, Zapier to build integrations and then on the smaller side we use great community apps like “Meta Fields Guru” to power some of the custom features in our theme.
What's keeping you up at night? What are you working on?
There's so much to be excited about. In a nutshell, it's physical and digital product development. We've got some really fun new office products in the works which are going to help us meet a much wider variety of customer needs.
And then on the digital side, as the eCommerce landscape matures in general, it’s becoming clearer and clearer that having custom, deeper, more immersive experiences that uniquely address your products is how to maintain a clear edge over the Amazon’s and Wayfairs of the world. So we’re working on some really engaging digital features to achieve just that.
Final question - What would you attribute most of your success to at Branch?
This is probably true of almost any startup or small business, but particularly for Branch in the last few years: “resilience”. We’ve had so many weird macro events impact us, from COVID which almost decimated our first business line, and all the unprecedented supply chain turbulence over the past year. The main reason we’re still standing, and thriving, is that we’re resilient and adaptable. For us, that’s a function of always finding ways to put the customer first, no matter what.