Less is More

RedWhite Apparel is a simple company. On the company payroll there's only 1 staff (me). Corporate HQ is a table in an apartment. And we only make bibshorts.

It wasn't always like this.

Between 2017-2019, RedWhite Apparel made the following products :

  • Jerseys
  • Baselayers
  • Water Bottles
  • Gloves
  • Socks

Why did I do this? Pursuing Growth.

RedWhite Apparel started in 2014 with a simple mission. We wanted to make bibshorts that help you ride further, comfortably. It was a simple mission and born out of a personal struggle to find bibshorts that just work and don't cost their weight in gold.

2 years in, I started thinking about growth and decided to make other products. Product line expansion is a classic way of growing a business after all. The new products added 25% to RedWhite's revenue.

This came at a cost. 

Managing 5 new product lines is expensive. It sucks capital and focus away from the bibshorts that this brand is well known for. At the peak of this product line sprawl, I had :

  • 12 Jersey colours in 6 sizes (total 72 SKUs)
  • 3 Baselayer colours in 6 sizes (total 18 SKUs)
  • 4 Water Bottle colours (total 4 SKUs)
  • 7 Sock colours (total 7 SKUs)
  • 5 Glove colours in 6 sizes (30 SKUs)

Total : 131 SKUs

Keeping 131 unique SKUs (Stock Keeping Units) in stock and managing them efficiently is difficult. The inventory was expensive with poor ROI. They didn't add enough value to customers' lives. Many other companies do these 5 items well.

They also robbed my focus from what really matters - bibshorts.

Back to Basics

In late 2019, I decided to go back to basics. I ditched all the above products and re-focused the company on bibshorts. RedWhite Apparel only has the following products :

 Total : 35 SKUs

This small number of SKUs allows me to allocate capital efficiently. Including the other products, I used to have 166 SKUs that had to be kept in stock. Capital was stretched thin and not every product could be kept in stock to meet demand. When demand is unmet, sales drop.

Having just 35 core SKUs that we are best known for allowed me to keep everything in stock, more often.

Having fewer core products to manage also freed up more time for me. I am now able to :

  • Offer better & more personalised customer service.
  • Write more articles like this that gives you some insight into my thinking.
  • Spend more time developing products that customers want.

Some of the stuff that I am actively working on are :

Less is More

Simplifying RedWhite's product line and deciding to kill product lines that were contributing 25% of revenue was a difficult decision to make. However, almost 1 year on, the lost revenue has been more than replaced by increased sales of the few products I currently carry.

RedWhite Apparel is also a far tighter company today than what it was in 2019. Capital is deployed more efficiently. Each product has a strong reason to exist. Warehousing costs are down because the number of SKUs is only 35.

Cyclists also seem to understand what we do easily and this has helped me to communicate the brand's value proposition easily, generating more revenue as a result.

Simplifying has yielded more benefits. Less is more.

6 comments

@ANDREW, @MICHAEL MOORE : I wouldn’t say i’d never make anything other than bibs. I do think at the current level, focus should be on the core product. RedWhite is still an unknown brand which means most of the company’s growth still lies in the year ahead.

@MARC DESHAIES : I’ve heard good things about jerseys from the major brands (Rapha, Castelli etc), but i’ve only ever ridden in custom team kit and my own jerseys. I find jerseys tricky. I’ve rarely found something that fits well. I have a relatively small torso which is in between sizes S and M. Most jerseys fit too tight or too loose as a result. So in answer to your question : No. But this is largely because my torso is in between sizes.

YUVA, FOUNDER@REDWHITE APPAREL October 10, 2020

Makes perfect sense to me Yuva. You are right about drawing the line where you are able to provide excellent and unique products. I mean I might consider buying RedWhite bar tape or neck warmers or coffee mugs or … if you made it, but can’t hold it against you if you want to stick to bibs.

Andrew October 10, 2020

I own two of the jerseys you made and LOVE them. They are my goto’s. Wish you still offered them 😞

Michael Moore October 09, 2020

This was 100% the right move Yuva. I was late trying your jerseys and base layers which are also fantastic (stunning value just like the shorts). Do you see any companies offering jerseys that are catching your eye, or that you admire? FYI – can’t wait to try the new long distance cargo shorts when they come out. Cheers!

Marc Deshaies October 09, 2020

@FELIX KOBEL : I understand, but I have to make business decisions that balances the company’s long term health and meeting customer needs. Few people bought the Baselayers, which made the decision to discontinue them logical.

Yuva, Founder@Redwhite Apparel October 09, 2020

While I do perfectly understand the strategic rationale, I do personally find it a pity that the base layers are no longer available.

Felix Kobel October 09, 2020

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