By September 2020, we knew we had to start over from nothing.
I felt like I was reliving the days when I first set Callvin up, when we were printing in my kitchen and approaching businesses by going through the Yellow Pages.
Even so, we had launched some initiatives. What did we need to do now? We needed to send our condoms everywhere we could. We started by sending them over the Atlantic.
The Condom Empire Strikes Back
Most of our business was through souvenir stores. Orders from them had fallen to 0. We needed to find new directions to grow in. We went where I had always refused to go before: we went to the discounters.
We had to make concessions: the times we were living through demanded it. In September 2020, we got in touch with Gifi. They agreed to run a trial in around thirty stores over the holiday season.
Expanding Our Online Presence
As souvenir stores were closed everywhere in Europe, we concentrated on what we could do online. In one year of COVID, there’s been the equivalent of 5 years’ development in our online sales.
We developed Callvin’s digital communication and set up partnerships with online gift store and sex shop sites.
In addition to that, we found out from an article in 60 Million de Consommateurs [a French consumer magazine], about a test on 18 condom brands, that we were working with the number 1 brand: Protex. That took us in a new direction. We had the best quality product currently on the market. We had the best product with an excellent concept. 🔗 See our dedicated article
We completely redid our website in 2020. It went online on December 2. ➡️ Callvin.com
We had a short animation made. That gave us a great communication tool to put online. An agency helped us with our comms on Facebook. We tripled our online sales thanks to all of that.
Reinventing Ourselves Over and Over
Alongside all of that, we started working on making it possible for stores to order directly from our website. We wanted to make it really easy for our sales reps to be able to order for their sales points via the site too.
That enabled us to lower our costs. In the context of the pandemic, that was a necessity.
Along with our team (graphic designer, developer), we got the project off the ground. But there was a lot involved:
- payment methods
- signing up to a professional space
We had to create a link between Prestashop and our ERP, both for accounting and stock management.
ERP is software that enables all of a business’s operational processes to be managed: handling orders, stock management, payroll and accounts, ecommerce management, etc. in a single system.
That added up to weeks of work.
I worked with our project manager, Nicolas. He’s been working for Callvin for 15 years. He was already helping us out when he was still in high school. When he started studying development, we took him on as a freelancer.
We’re Not Giving Up
From a business perspective, 2020 was a year of repeatedly managing problems. We lost a great deal of what we had put in place during our trip to the US in January. We lost orders too.
We ended the year 40% down.
As pandemic cases were still running high, we realized there wasn’t going to be a souvenir season in 2021 either.
The US seems to be coming out of the crisis quicker than Europe. We still think our salvation lies over there. We’re taking a huge gamble.