With a penchant for luxury goods and a love for retail, Betty Hardcastle – co-founder of Petit Love, took the leap from the corporate world to run her own retail business.
Betty, and Ange Baard, co-owners at Petit Love, are driven by a genuine love of retail, a strong customer service ethos, and a desire to support the South African textile industry wherever possible. We spoke with Betty to learn more about Petit Love and discover why they chose to run their business on Vend point-of-sale. Read on to hear what she said!
Can you tell us a bit about how your business got started? What are you all about and what drew you to this line of work?
It was a friend of mine that opened a store in September of 2010, she was a new mom and realised that the South African market doesn’t have luxury baby goods available.
I think my love just started with the fact that I really loved retail and the whole experience of it — anything that resonates with luxury and practicality and value for money is something that strongly resonates for me. At the time, I was very young, I didn’t have kids, or I wasn’t married, so that’s always the first thing that people ask, is that your background? No, that was not my background. I think it’s just genuinely more the love of retail!
I think the textile industry in South Africa is quite fragile and we try to support South African designers and suppliers as much as we can. Our philosophy is that we have to tick the three boxes of luxury, quality, and value for money and practicality and if that is what it’s about, we don’t really mind where it comes from. We just prefer South African suppliers. We get a lot of questions asking are you exclusively South African? By no means are we that because unfortunately, the market can’t offer us that — but if that was a possibility, I think we would definitely go that route.
Tell us more about your local communities and where you’ve set up your stores?
The headquarters stores are both in destination centres [Canal Walk and Cape Quarter]. They’re very different locations but I think we’ve managed to create a brand imprint across all three, regardless of where they are based. We try to accommodate the area in which the stores live — there are different customers, different profiles that come through. We literally take what the customer says into consideration in every decision, and that drives us to bring change or not across the brand.
How do you stay connected to your customers?
Everybody that’s involved in the brand, whether you’re in a strategic role or whether you are in-store, you have to spend time with the customers because you can hear their voices and you can see their interactions. That’s an absolute requirement. We are literally talking to you now out of our stockroom in Canal Walk. We all operate out of our stores, and the reason is that we’re closer to the customer.
How are you finding Vend? What are some of your biggest wins from using the software?
I think customer experience has been wonderful, it has definitely reduced admin. I can access it on my phone, it’s incredible. If I want to know what the stores are trading, I can see exactly where it is. I think it’s increased our visibility on what is profitable. You’re able to make better moves in your business because you’ve got visibility. That’s really been great for us, you can see where you stock levels are sitting, your replenishments and stuff. You really are just a more agile business. With that, obviously, comes profits.
What advice would you share with other retailers?
I think don’t be penny-wise and pound foolish, so don’t make short-term decisions that are going to give you a long-term knock-on. The point of sale is a key example of that, because you can get really cheap points of sale, but then long-term, you’re not going to get the results you want from it.
I think the other one, you need to be in your business and not just on your business. You must spend time in your operation with your team, on the floor with your customer. Not in the back on your computer making decisions, because you’re making the wrong decisions if you’re not close to the customer.
Would you recommend Vend?
There’s not a doubt in my mind, I would absolutely recommend it!
About Zoe Ryan
Zoe leads Vend's marketing initiatives in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. She began her career working in retail in fashion and cosmetic stores for seven years, before moving to the world of tech start-ups. Based in our London office, she's always on the lookout for inspiring retail stories, and works closely with key partners like Apple, PayPal and Xero.