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EXCLUSIVE: Sambag re-launches online only

Just a few months after pulling the plug on her 23-year-old retail business, Samantha Wagner has relaunched Sambag as an online-only proposition.

With a fresh look and feel and pared-back range, the new business marks a return to where Sambag began, Wagner told IRN.

“There is not a huge amount of stock; it’s not massive like before,” she said.

Wagner announced she was closing her eponymous fashion label in April, citing the rising cost of rent and a changing retail landscape.

“I felt like everything I loved [about retail] had become a chore,” she said about her decision to close the business.

“I just realised that things had changed so much from when I started. It got me down a bit and I was overwhelmed.”

Wagner shuttered Sambag’s three remaining bricks-and-mortar stores in May, and took a few months off to rest, spend time with her daughters and decide what she was going to do next.

One night, while having dinner with a couple who used to work at Sambag, the conversation turned to the closure of the business. The couple remarked that Wagner could have kept the online business up-and-running. It had been profitable.

Wagner had long ago let go of staff, cleared out the office and donated all remaining stock to charity when she closed down Sambag. But she still had control of the customer database.

“I had such a great database that was sitting there doing nothing,” she said. So why not put it to good use?

In August, Wagner sent an order to her old manufacturer and found a developer and graphic designer to set up a new website. In November, she was once again open for business.

“It’s so much easier now to launch online,” she said.

She has found that operating online only is also freeing up resources for other areas, like digital marketing.

“With a bricks-and-mortar business, you’ve got to pay rent and sometimes there’s not a lot of money left over [for digital marketing]. That’s a side I’m really excited about now and probably should have done more with two years ago,” she said.

Wagner now is focused on reconnecting with customers, who may have made their own assumptions about why the business closed. So far, she said, the response has been overwhelmingly positive.

“I was really anxious the first week before we launched, but so far so good.”

This story originally appeared on sister-site Inside Retail Australia. 

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