Online niche retailer Natureshop isn't particularly well known in New Zealand. But in these modern and increasingly environmentally-conscious economic times, that doesn't necessarily matter, because through a combination of extensive online marketing, high quality e-commerce websites and a focus on sustainability, it was named New Zealand's fastest growing exporter, fastest growing retail or consumer products business and second-fastest growing company at the 10th annual Deloitte Fast 50 index.
“The awards give Natureshop the credibility to acquire greater numbers of quality brands to then offer to our customers," says Natureshop's managing director Conrad Cranfield. “We’d also love to increase awareness amongst New Zealand consumers, who may not know the Natureshop story."
And it's a pretty good one: the online retailer, which was started in September 2007 by Conrad and Natalie Cranfield in Tauranga, sells brands such as Icebreaker, Snugs sheepskin slippers, Snooki baby clothing and EMU Australia sheepskin boots, has an established customer database of 75,000, turned over NZ$5 million in the March 2010 financial year and clocked 1106 percent growth overall, second only to Telecom Rentals which had 1897 percent growth. In August, the firm opened a new distribution and customer support centre in the United Kingdom to service its European, UK and North American customers (its headquarters is still in Mount Maunganui) and it will soon be adding products from KEEN footwear, Birkenstock, Green Baby and Nature Baby to its range.
Cranfield says the majority of Natureshop’s sales leads come through search engine optimisation and online marketing through its websites natureshop.co.nz, natureshop.com and natureshop.co.uk. And, in keeping with what typically makes for e-tailing success, Natureshop has also removed the e-barriers to purchase by offering free shipping, free return shipping and 365 day returns.
The online retailer is also carbon neutral as certified by independent certification authority carboNZero and it will soon apply for comparable UK certification. Cranfield says the company also has social responsibility at its heart and sponsors both CanTeen and Heart Children New Zealand.
"Our environmental and social responsibility policies provide our customers with a viable tipping point to choose to buy from us instead of our competitors,” he says. “This also has the added benefit of actually making a tangible difference to the community."
Hamilton Deloitte partner Doug Wilson says Natureshop was able to clearly identify a niche global market for high-end, natural products and be very focused about how best to target those consumers.
“Natureshop has obviously thought very strategically about the consumers they want to serve, where they are located, and how to best reach them,” he says. “And they’ve backed that up with good basic business principles, such as sound back office policies, to ensure they succeed.”
To make the 2010 Deloitte Fast 50, companies had to achieve growth of 161 percent, which, in what could be seen as a positive economic sign, is slightly up on last year's benchmark of 145 percent. This year's Deloitte Fast 50 businesses grew the New Zealand economy by $761 million in the past three years and created 806 jobs.
You can check out the full Fast 50 list here and also check out the regional winners. And if you're looking for a few secrets, it's well worth downloading the Art of Growth, a document put together by Deloitte that gives more detail about the leading companies and talks about what it has learned in the first ten years of the awards in New Zealand. nz_en_The_Art_of_Growth_-_Growth_Trends_2010