How getting organised helped this online retailer grow the business

As e-commerce is making headway in the Australian retail industry, it is still a steep learning curve for any small business entering this market.

For No Pong owners Chris Caley and Melanie McVean the last four years have been a steep growth curve.

“One of the things that we’ve learned along the way is that every time you roughly 10x a business, you need to revamp your entire systems and processes,” explains Caley.

“We needed different systems for our first 100 tins than we did for our first 10, and different systems again for our first 10,000 tins than we did for our first 1,000.”

They worked hard to establish efficiencies with their outsourced production and manufacturing systems. Then as growth continued, they turned their attentions in-house to ensure their internal operations were scalable as well. They had a lot of great processes at No Pong but none were written down, so running and growing the team was much more labour intensive than it needed to be.

“This entire situation was frustrating and time consuming, and it made the idea of hiring someone new feel much more difficult than us just continuing to do the work ourselves. We knew we needed to put more people on, but hated to imagine what that would look like if even more people were coming to us for instruction, or making mistakes we had to fix for them.”

Now the natural deodorant online retailer has a whole host of process documentation and a very clear set of well organised systems to run the business. Its success has accelerated rapidly because of the ongoing dedication to building effective operational systems and processes.

“Everyone in our team knows how to create and change management documents as our processes change, so everyone here takes on the responsibility to keep our systems up to date as our business continues to grow and evolve.

“Once you’ve nailed your processes, delegation becomes easy, bringing on new team members is far less daunting, and you are confident that the tasks that need doing are going to get done to the standard you expect.”

Caley explains how their tight systems and processes give them three key rewards:

Freedom: the way the business runs now creates wide open spaces for the owners, but it also gives everyone in their team the freedom to do whatever they need to do to perform their role well.

Scalability: when a business consists only of a handful of people you can cobble just about anything together with duct tape and superglue. However, as the business grows you need more structure to allow you to scale.

Consistency: in the very early stages of a business it’s relatively easy to deliver a consistent product and experience because the founders are motivated to the hustle. This becomes very difficult once the team begins to grow. With documented standards and procedures consistent service becomes the norm.

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