HomeINDUSTRY INSIGHTLessons in retail success from 20-year-old Superette

Lessons in retail success from 20-year-old Superette

Having been in the retail industry for 20 years since 2002, Superette founders Rickie Dee and James Rigden have seen the retail landscape change significantly over the years.

From a young start-up in the early 2000s to now, one of the country’s largest online retailers, the owners of Superette share their tips for those new to the industry, and offer advice they wish they had when starting out.

How did the idea of Superette come about? What prompted the start of the company?

Dee: It was mostly inspired by travel and working in an industry that we are passionate about.

My parents were living in Belgium at the time, and we were inspired by the diverse retail offering over there and wanted to bring that back to New Zealand.

Rigden: We wanted to create something that wasn’t already in our local marketplace.

Starting a company in your 20’s, what were some things you benefitted from?

Dee: You don’t evaluate. You’re obviously young, you’ve got a lot of energy. There was literally no boundary of stopping. You just kept going, and if that product didn’t work, you’d change it up. We’ve always said that the biggest thing is that you don’t analyse anything too deeply, you just do it. You don’t evaluate the risk factor.

Read more: Words of wisdom from RetailNZ CEO Greg Harford.

Rigden: There is no risk factor; it’s like a young kid skateboarding or snowboarding or even climbing a tree. As you get older, you start looking down and think ‘I’m really high’, but when you’re younger you don’t have that fear.

What were some of the hard learnings along the way?

Superette is celebrating their 20th year.

Rigden: Obviously finances, but also being responsible for other people. I think that took a little while to sink in, and for us to be aware of that responsibility. That comes not only with wages, offering support and creating an environment where other people can thrive – but it’s more dealing with small suppliers that are doing the exact same thing as you, and putting their heart and soul into. They’ve got everything on the line too. It’s all about nurturing those relationships.

Dee: We both came from zero retail experience and had to be self-taught on a number of things. When we first started out, we were naive in terms of understanding who exactly our customers were. That was quite a big piece of the puzzle we had to make fit early on, learning who the Superette customer was, and tailoring our offering to them.

From your experience, what advice do you have for other retailers just starting out?

Dee: Having a point of difference is really key. It’s really important that you’ve got an offering that’s not the same as the store next door, and you’re doing it in a different way. Customers are so savvy now, and they want something that is inspiring, fresh and ever changing.

Rigden: Having a plan and evaluating it consistently.

The other thing is that no-one wins in a race to the bottom – in the way of a discount structure. There’s always going to be someone bigger than you, that can beat you in a discount model.

Dee: It’s about building the entire brand package. Coming right back to that service piece and offering something that no-one else does.

Superette founders Rickie Dee and James Rigden.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen in the industry since starting out?

Rigden: Customers do a lot of research around products before entering a retail environment. The visibility across brands has certainly changed, and customers now have information at their fingertips. You have to be across all parts of retail and digital to be successful.

Dee: I think that also means that your retail environment does need to be constantly enhanced so to be the best it can be.

Rigden: There’s no place for sub-par service in any area of the customer experience. Because there is so much choice and availability out there, if a customer has a bad experience then that’s it, they’re gone, they’re off somewhere else. So, it’s so important to have that top of mind.

What are your do’s and don’ts of starting a company at a young age?

Dee: I don’t think there’s any specific do’s and don’ts. If you’re passionate about your concept and your idea, go for it.

Rigden: I think do’s: give it a go and give it 110 percent. Don’t copy someone else. If you fall on your face, then change it, who cares. Just get on and do it. Be agile, and don’t be stubborn.

If you’re looking to grow faster, the best thing you can do is to surround yourself with the best people you can afford, as soon as you can.

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Bernadette is a content writer across SCG Business titles, The Register and Idealog. To get in touch with her, email bernadette.basagre@scg.net.nz