Reflecting on A Stand-Out Year
Guiding a business through a milestone anniversary year can be tricky. Everyday concerns are joined by existential angst, a tendency to reflect on past achievements and a persistent urge to daydream about what the future may hold. Here at Proviz, we approached 2018 and our 10th birthday in characteristic style: with a minimum of navel-gazing and with big plans for an extensive re-branding and ambitious goals to launch a new website and introduce a selection of new products.
Although we are proud of our past achievements, continual developments in the world of online retail and in the manufacture of sports clothing and accessories mean that if we spent too much time looking back, the industry would move on without us.
However, whilst we were busy moving forward in 2018, a number of pretty special things happened for the business, so we hope you will excuse us taking a moment to reflect on them before the task of taking 2019 by storm occupies us fully.
First to look back at the things we had planned for 2018. We wanted to mark our 10th year in business with a re-branding project that defined what Proviz means to us and to our customers. Distilling all our ideas into a single phrase was a challenge, but ultimately we decided that ‘Defy the Darkness’, with its connotations of empowerment and confronting fears, would be the best mantra to take us into our second decade.
When we are up to our ears in factory schedules and delivery deadlines, it reaffirms our belief in what we are doing to hear that customers feel safer on their commutes or during late night training sessions wearing their Proviz kit. Knowing that, in our own small way, we are helping people to get out and achieve their goals is hugely gratifying.
Our platform to launch Defy the Darkness was an extensively re-designed website, which went live in October offering improved navigation and introducing key integrated features such as AI led search and Apple Pay. We also used this opportunity to improve customer service and to start offering free returns. We are so pleased to have achieved 5* status on Trustpilot and are keen to carry on making improvements like this, so that customer satisfaction with our products and service can continue to grow.
Customer feedback played a huge role in helping us to decide which new products to introduce to our range in 2018. We managed to add more than 20 new items to the online store, including the Nightrider 2.0 Cycling Jackets and Reflect360 Running Gloves and Reflect360 Beanie. The most popular of the new products has been the Reflect360 Outdoor Fleece-Lined Jacket (in both adults and kids sizes), which was created as a direct result of customer demand for a warmer fully reflective jacket.
Whilst we were busy with these projects, it was great to see that our products continued to get the attention of the national press. We were delighted that Proviz products were featured in articles in The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Independent and in leading sporting magazines.
As 2018 was not only the company’s 10th birthday but also the 1st birthday of our German website, it was great to see the German press getting excited about Proviz products too. We were particularly pleased that the January edition of German Runner’s World featured the Reflect360 Running Jacket alongside items from sporting heavyweights such as Addidas, Nike, Under Armour and Puma.
As a small company competing with giants like this, it is especially gratifying to realise that, whilst you may not have their budgets or their brand power, in your corner of the market you are getting something right. 2018 was the year for awards for Proviz, and each one reassured us that the company was being noticed in the industry, by consumers and by the media for the right reasons.
Being shortlisted for a British Small Business Award, winning an Amazon Growing Business Award and scooping two awards in the Women’s Running Magazine Awards with our Reflect360 Running Jacket was the icing on the cake for an exceptional year.
Whilst we enjoyed success on a global level, demonstrating sales growth across our four core websites in the UK, USA, Australia and Germany, it is not only Proviz that benefits when things are going well. From our early days as a fledgeling start-up, we have wanted to make a difference elsewhere in the world. Since 2008 we have partnered the charity World Bicycle Relief, which provides specially designed Buffalo Bicycles to students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs in rural Africa. In 2018, generous contributions from Proviz customers, combined with our corporate donations, bought many much-needed bikes, providing reliable, affordable transportation to people in developing countries.
So what is on the cards for 2019? How many Buffalo Bikes will we buy for World Bike Relief? How well will this year’s new products sell on our website? Which celebrities will strut their stuff in a Reflect360 Jacket? So much of 2019 is an exciting unknown, but we have got some interesting projects to look out for, including the launch of our ambassador programme and the introduction of a brand new blog full of fresh content. We will be expanding our range with some key cycling, running and outdoor products and embarking on some exciting brand partnerships.
Our commitment to customer service will drive continued improvement to the functionality of our website, with the goal of creating a ‘best in class’ shopping experience. We are also in the process of establishing a warehouse in Germany so that we can deliver Proviz products to customers in mainland Europe even more quickly.
As promised, the back-patting, musing and reflecting ends here and the focus switches to creating a year that shines as brightly, if not brighter, than the last.