Startups form to solve all sorts of problems, often from a specific problem a founder is dealing with that turns them on to a bigger hole in the marketplace. However, Bombas was somewhat different — though it began, like many startups, with looking to fill a market hole.
The problem didn’t belong to Bombas Founders Randy Goldberg and David Heath, though. It was a problem faced by homeless shelters: a lack of socks.
Socks, as it turned out, were the most requested items at homeless shelters, yet the most short in supply. The Bombas founders decided to start a sock company that would give away a pair of high-quality socks for every pair sold. The name is taken from the Latin word for bumblebee — a reminder that small actions make big differences.
While Bombas remains dedicated to the mission of selling socks for the greater good, the firm has changed quite a bit since its founding. It is no longer only in the business of selling socks — t-shirts, sweatpants and kids' offerings have all joined the lineup.
Bombas has also been experimenting with its online shopping experience as a whole. In 2019, the company added Afterpay to its site as a checkout option — a move that Bombas CTO Adam Weinstock said was obvious insofar as it offered customers a friendly, fee-free financing solution with flexible payment options. Plus, he noted, given the size and tremendous enthusiasm with which the Afterpay customer base is generally associated, it was an opportunity to bring the Bombas customer offering to a wider audience.
“We were looking to increase our conversations, and we know that we have a wonderful existing audience that we were interested in leveraging. There is real value for us in being a brand that uses Afterpay,” Weinstock said.
It is a value that Bombas has been looking to extend — as Afterpay is a beginning to the changes it hopes to make to its checkout experience specifically, and its eCommerce experience in general.
There is much about its own customer experience with which Bombas is highly satisfied. The company believes it has achieved a lot of transparency with its customer base when it comes to its products, getting its philanthropic message out there, and the cost it pays in terms of items and tax. As it heads into 2020, however, the question Bombas is tackling is how to do more with that in terms of the digital experience.
“Our current eCommerce stack has some limits when it comes to customization, and there hasn’t been as much focus on building functionality there,” Weinstock told PYMNTS. “And it's not just about the functionality. It is about the overall experience the customer has, and building a trusted relationship that will take a consumer all the way through checkout, confident in their purchase.”
That effort starts with the data, he said. That is not a new mission for 2020, of course, as data collection and interpretation are long-standing parts of the business, but those efforts aren’t static. In the last few months, Bombas has become increasingly data-focused and analytics-driven, with heavier investment in its data science team, and embedding more data collection points throughout the consumer journey.
There needs to be caution there, Weinstock said. Data is an input point, and an incredibly important one. However, it is still only a single point — and Bombas is careful to use data only to inform its decisions, not let it make the decisions. Yet, the more information Bombas can gather from various points of a consumer life cycle end to end, the better the company will understand it. More importantly, the better Bombas can understand what the customer wants, and more quickly and seamlessly deliver it to them.
“We are still in the early stages of this transformation, but we are excited by the initial outputs we have seen so far, and we are excited to really explore further,” Weinstock said.
Though he was tight-lipped on what those explorations would specifically involve, he did note that the wait to find out more wouldn’t be long. Bombas has some “very exciting” things on the burner for 2020, he said. Socks and service will still be at the core, but how it delivers both is due for some interesting upgrades.