The Fascination and cofounder Matt Hayes needed the ability to partner with, merchandise, and sell any brand they wanted to. Now they can.
The Fascination began as a review site that allows consumers to discover and shop the web’s top emerging D2C brands in one place. The Fascination originally chose a pure affiliate model, where they would monetize content by taking a commission of sales generated by traffic driven to the sites of their partners.
“As a pure affiliate play ….you don’t own the end-to-end experience from discovering a product to the purchase. From an experience perspective, as brand operators and marketers, we really wanted to have that.”
The Fascination soon realized that sending consumers to their partners’ site was not the ideal customer experience. They could do better.
So they decided to shift The Fascination from an affiliate model to a dropship model.
Shifting to dropship provided an opportunity to improve the customer shopping experience and own the data it generated.
Another opportunity? The incremental margin generated by a shift to a dropshipping model would allow the Fascination to invest more marketing dollars into growing their audience and driving traffic to their site.
“ We want The Fascination to have an experience where consumers could discover a new brand they have never heard of, explore the product, learn about the origin story, get interested in the product, and buy on a single platform”.
The Fascination needed a partner that would let them integrate with the platforms of the brands that they wanted to work with. The Fascination needed to sync information on product images, descriptions, inventory, and variants so it would be available in their Shopify store.
They also needed speed. The sooner The Fascination could launch their site, the faster they could start collecting customer data, and the faster they could start optimizing their site for metrics like basket size, AOV, and conversion rates.
Using Convictional as their supplier enablement platform, The Fascination was able to onboard 50 brands to a complete “ready to sell” state in two months, exceeding their expectations for launch dates. They now have the confidence and capabilities to onboard any brand that they want to work with.
“The fact that we’ve been able to get 50 brands up and running this quickly, lets us start optimizing for KPIs like basket size, AOV, and conversion rates. The faster we can get to a point where we’re optimizing for those key KPIs the faster we’ll start to scale the business”
Need to work with all types of suppliers
The Fascination team ran into the problem of how to connect their ecommerce platform with the systems of their suppliers early in their process.
They needed that connection to retrieve critical data like product inventory, images, descriptions, and variant information.
They needed to avoid problems like overselling or inaccurate product information to create a seamless customer experience. Customers don’t care how hard it is to integrate, they care about learning about great brands and buying amazing products.
Inaccurate images, sizing, and inventory numbers get in the way of that seamless customer experience.
Due to the resources they have available, emerging brands rarely have the capability (or patience) to work with solutions like EDI. This results in long implementation times and brands churning through the onboarding process.
On the flip side, more established brands would want a path to integrate via EDI or SFTP given the nature of their systems.
The Fascination needed a platform that would allow them to integrate directly into any brand that they wanted to work with, regardless of their system.
“What we discovered was that every product and brand sets up their products and catalogues slightly, slightly differently... When you import them into your store, variants are different and we needed to try and standardize them”
It can take retailers an average of 4-6 months to get a supplier onboarded to their site. That was a non-starter for The Fascination.
As a startup, The Fascination needed to move fast. Moving fast means that they would be able to increase their rate of learning. The Fascination would be able to quickly discover answers to questions like:
What products did their customers love?
What products could they cross-sell?
Supplier onboarding speed was table stakes. The Fascination could not afford to wait the average 4-6 months it normally takes to take a brand live on site.
The enemy of speed?
Being told by a supplier that you’ll be put on their “IT Roadmap” 4-6 months out or even refusing to start the process altogether due to technical complexity.
Playing nice with other parts of the stack
The Fascination is obsessed with the customer experience, meaning that they wanted to work with additional software providers for different elements of the customer journey.
They needed a solution that would be able to function smoothly with other apps used in the stack like Loop Returns and Aftership.
“The Team is Small and Mighty”
The Fascination did not want to double headcount just so they could onboard brands to their ecommerce platform.
They needed a solution that would amplify the efforts of their merchandising director, allowing them to onboard brands without adding to the IT team’s workload.
“We looked around quite a bit, looking at solutions like Mirakl...We came across Convictional via a referral from one of my colleagues at Leesa [D2C brand] who was dropshipping and he had really good things to say”
The Fascination team discovered Convictional through a referral from one of the 1000+ brands Convictional already works with.
Convictional allows the Fascination team to integrate their store directly with the platform of any brand that they want to work with. For the products that the Fascination wants to list in their store, Convictional allows them to access a brand’s product prices, images, descriptions, variants and inventory.
On the flip side, Convictional allows the brands The Fascination works with to choose which products they want to sync and use price lists to set desired margins for each product.
Having the features available is just one piece of the puzzle. The Fascination team chose to work with Convictional because of their account management teams.
“Convictional team has been great, offering to jump into our shopify [to assist with merchandising]”
The Fascination worked with a dedicated account manager from Convictional who provided strategic and tactical advice. Having onboarded hundreds of brands previously, the account manager provided insights on working with new suppliers, managing the pipeline of suppliers, quickly merchandising products in Shopify, and handling returns.
“We realized you guys are already working with great D2C brands who were already on the platform. You’ve done [exactly what we’re trying to do] multiple times. The discussions with the teams put us over the top, you assured us we would be in good hands… and we have been”
The Fascination fully onboarded (syncing product data, inventory, margins, variants) 50 suppliers in two months, including brands like Ridge Wallets and Stryx.
On average, The Fascination was able to onboard more than one brand for every business day.
Additionally, they have a checklist of brands that they want to work with post-launch that they have confidence in onboarding quickly moving forward.
“The fact that we’ve been able to get 50 brands up and running this quickly, and we have our punch list once we launch to move brands to dropship… lets us start optimizing for KPI’s like basket size, AOV, conversion rates...the faster we can get to a point where we’re optimizing for those key KPI’s, the faster we’ll start to scale the business”
These capabilities allow The Fascination to start optimizing on their key KPIs sooner like basket size, AOV, and conversion rates.
Tactically, The Fascination can start discovering which products will be bestsellers, gathering customer purchasing data, and marketing to acquire customers.
When retail moves so quickly, the ability for The Fascination to adapt to trends is a critical aspect of their business. If they discover a brand they want to work with, The Fascination team will be able to start selling that brand on their site in the same week.
“We’ve exceeded expectations honestly… we’ve been moving incredibly quickly. To get those sellers through the process our account manager Becca really pulls us along and makes sure that everything is getting done… the platform makes it incredibly easy to plug in, sync price lists and get up and running. We’ve been able to get brands with some really large catalogues onboarded at tremendous speed.”
Convictional allows The Fascination’s merchandising team to be creative and do their best work. They no longer have to worry about questions like:
Will we be able to integrate with this brand after we negotiate terms?
Will this brand be live on-site for a marketing campaign the team wants to run in a week?
Will my IT team be able to connect our systems with this brand? Will the brand’s IT team be available?
Is this brand going to disappear when we ask them to integrate?
Convictional is a supplier enablement platform that allows all types of retailers to onboard, manage, and work with their suppliers in minutes instead of months.
We find that when retailers want to work with new brands on their site, the process of integrating all relevant information can take 4-6 months. We help retailers like Staples, Harry Rosen, Indigo, and The Fascination discover and onboard brands they want to work with, in minutes instead of months.
If that sounds exciting to you, we would love to chat.