Woolman is celebrating its first anniversary in mid-March. The company established in the spring of 2017 is the creation of three old friends. Established by Juha Harju, Tero Junttila, and Miika Malinen, Woolman celebrates its first full year with 14 employees and several subcontractors and versatile partners. And we have recently welcomed in our first trainee!
The idea and objectives of the company were determined a year ago. The speed with which they have been pursued has surprised even Juha Harju himself. Below are his responses to questions regarding the present and the future of Woolman.
What have been the most important turning points during the first year?
"So much has happened in the first year! Many of the current members of the Woolman team started in September 2017. We gained the ability to serve customers in purchasing, implementation, integration and growth.
In the fall, we implemented our own Nordic Shipping App to help Shopify online retailers to implement versatile delivery methods and print out address cards.
In October, we began cooperation with OP Financial Group. Our first joint venture was an online retail training tour with stops in various localities. The Become an Online Retailer in a Day -training was a success from the first tour date.
Before the turn of the year, we launched the Joutsen Finland and WRC online stores. With Joutsen, we provided assistance with all aspects of online retail from e-commerce strategy, to content and implementation. WRC on the other hand was a significant brand and a global online store which were given the opportunity to build with High Peak Finland.
It has been great to see how the customers can identify with our experience of how problems and challenges related to technology can frustrate. They can easily make us focus on the wrong things. We are on the same page with our customers as we have been merchants ourselves – we are familiar with the everyday operations of a merchant."
What has been the most significant success from the first year?
"It has been Woolman itself and our team and our customers. We get to experience success every day, even if there is the occasional setback. The most important thing is that our successes outpace our failures. We can learn from both."
You, Tero, and Miika have known each other for some time before the story of Woolman began. What has it been like to work in the same business and with the same objectives?
"The business is different now and so are our goals. That’s what makes it all so great! What is familiar though, is the context. We have almost 50 years of combined experience of online retail. We can utilize and take advantage of our experience to fully benefit our customers.
We have acquired excellent partners, such as Perttu Kröger and his team from the OP Group. They are similarly invested in promoting the success of online stores.
The entire Shopify eco system also works magnificently, increasing the progress of the field and easily introducing technology to facilitate the vendors’ business operations. I am especially fond of one Shopify slogan: Stop worrying, and start selling."
The team has grown one specialist at a time. What is the current makeup of the Woolman team?
"In a word: PERFECT! Versatile enough, but still working toward a shared goal. Relaxed, but professional, never leaving other team members or the customers in trouble. This group can do anything. The entire team deserves a massive thank you!"
What is the team looking for in the future?
"We will be reinforcing the team in several areas from customer acquisition to services as we grow. Regarding services, our skills lie in customer service, digital marketing, content, and technology.
Inhouse product development requires developers. We have decided to launch local operations in Denmark and Sweden so we must improve the international component of our team. It is important to find the balance between correctly-timed and appropriate recruitment regarding growth management."
(Woolman’s recruitment page can be found here.)
How will the situation look on Woolman’s second anniversary?
"That is a very difficult question compared to a year ago. We want to double our operation, but do it smartly. We are not an integrator or a consulting firm. Our revenue does not come from the hours we sell, but the additional value we provide.
In fact, we want to provide as much additional value as possible with less work, not to milk our customer unnecessarily. We want to improve the way we operate and create things smarter and faster."
There has been talk of Woolman expanding its operation to Sweden and Denmark. How are these developments doing at the moment?
"We are removing growth bottlenecks within our existing services. We are increasing the productization of current and new services. We are recruiting specialists in Finland. We are considering and searching for a route to the Swedish and Danish markets through people."
From Woolman’s vantage point: What is the situation of Finnish e-commerce and online stores?
"When we look at the sharp rise in Shopify’s popularity in Finland, we can see that we are going in the right direction. The growth of the industry is real. This is also evident by the success of the Become an Online Retailer in a Day training tour. At the moment, we have at least ten training events lined up for this year and we are sure to add more stops on our tour in the fall.
Building the online store itself is no longer the most significant bottleneck. What the merchants need now is competence and support for business operations. Courage and skills expand over mental and geographical borders. In 2017, there were 1.79 billion online store customers who could be reached by any Finn."