Unlike most web businesses, ecommerce companies tend not to be technology businesses. Rather these businesses are enabled by technology. Technology doesn’t distinguish ecommerce companies. Operations and customer support do.
Many e-commerce startups grow quickly through their first few months, bootstrapping inventory costs with credit cards; acquiring customers through word of mouth & pilot ad campaigns; picking and packing orders by hand. However, e-commerce companies scale, they must quickly develop a relatively rare skill set in the startup world: supply chain management and operations management.
These processes require discipline in finance, customer support, and inventory management. Often, the best way to incorporate these skills into a company’s culture is to learn from those who have successfully implemented them at other startups. There aren’t many of these companies: Netflix, Amazon, Zappos, Diapers.com, Warby Parker, Bonobos and a handful of others. In each case, exceptional operations defined each company’s culture and ultimately drove the company to success. After all, most customers remember exceptional experiences with merchants.
I’m involved with ThredUp which is building the world’s largest online consignment store. We acquire inventory of gently used children’s clothes, qualify them, photograph them and merchandise them on our website to sell at great prices. More than most e-commerce businesses, ThredUp’s operations are complex to manage.
Yesterday, ThredUp announced two senior members of the Netflix operations team had joined the company. Andy Rendich, Netflix’s former COO, has joined the ThredUp board and Jon Voris, former Netflix VP of Operations, signed as the ThredUp’s COO. In just a few weeks, Andy and John have turbo-charged ThredUp’s operational efficiency. We couldn’t be happier to welcome them to ThredUp. After all, the success of the company hinges on the discipline of their operations.