Mobile phone accessory maker Ideal of Sweden has been on a whirlwind growth journey, from a small garage operation to an e-commerce leader. Discover the company’s keys to success and how it is using Nordea’s AutoFX currency robot to make more time for what matters – its core business.
When Joachim Lindström and Filip Ummer founded Ideal of Sweden, the two entrepreneurs had high ambitions, but few could have predicted the skyrocketing growth ahead of them.
The operation they started out of a garage in Norrköping in 2013 has since become one of the fastest-growing companies in the Nordics and the envy of e-commerce players around the world. The trend setter in mobile phone accessories has grown around 230% on average each of the past three years, from a local business into a world-recognized lifestyle and fashion brand within its sector.
“It’s been crucial to be quick-thinking and to focus on the right things that result in growth – both in revenue and profits. That said, growth and innovation are in our DNA and we are always striving to be better and faster in everything we do,” says Ideal of Sweden CFO Joakim Grip.
As part of that mission, the company has focused on turning manual processes into automated ones, with the help of technical solutions, such as Nordea’s currency robot, AutoFX. The tool supports Ideal of Sweden’s strategy to price their products in customers’ home currencies. Now, the hassle and time spent on manual currency conversions are gone. The result: fewer abandoned shopping carts and more time for what matters – their core business.
A dramatic rise
Before founding the company, Lindström and Ummer worked together at Swedish telecom operator 3, where they often encountered customers searching for iPhone cases other than the then-limited selection of transparent, black and white options.
“Inspired by these customer interactions, we realized there was a gap in the market and a strong demand for combining mobile accessories with beautiful designs and patterns,” says Lindström.
As industry pioneers, the pair founded Ideal of Sweden to bring fashion to mobile phone accessories. With a colour palette including misty rose, lavender haze and golden smoke marble, the product catalogue combines a fashion house feel with technical functionality, offering not only cases but also power banks, chargers and cables – all with the look and feel of haute couture.
The company, which has since gained the backing of venture capital funds eEquity and Altor, was recently named one of Sweden’s top 10 e-commerce companies, alongside H&M, Elgiganten and Boozt. Today, it has 22 localized and one global e-commerce operation, serving customers in over 110 countries, and the products are also found in brick-and-mortar retail stores in more than 70 countries.
Key ingredients for success
Over the past three years, the company’s revenues have shot up from SEK 167 million in 2017 to 427 million in 2018 and 664 million in 2019. The tremendous growth has brought its share of challenges, with the company having to adapt quickly through three different stages, expanding from a small to large business in a short period of time.
Lindström and Ummer attribute Ideal of Sweden’s rapid growth to a well-executed, data-driven approach to all marketing that’s focused on optimizing topline and profits, new customer acquisition as well as new channels and target groups. The company has been a trailblazer when it comes to influencer marketing, attracting major influencers from around the world and often topping the list of most mentioned brands on Instagram.
It has also focused on opening up new warehouses and third party logistics (3PL) services, offering customers fast shipping and delivery methods, as well as broadening its product range with new designs and categories.
When it comes to their success, the founders also credit their investments in technology, including changing their e-commerce platform and implementing new internal systems to automate their processes. One of those services is Nordea’s currency robot, AutoFX, which Ideal of Sweden has been using for around a year to manage its currency conversions and liquidity.
A customer-centric pricing strategy, what Nordea calls ‘Exchange at home’
From the start, it was a priority for Ideal of Sweden to make sure they were easy for customers and suppliers to deal with. Early on, the company adopted a strategy of pricing their products in their customers’ home currencies.
“The price should not be an obstacle for our end-customers, no matter where they are in the world. The customer should always be able to understand the price and compare it to their own local currency. This makes the purchase decision easier for the customer, increasing the conversion rate onsite and the profitability in the bottom line,” says CFO Grip.
However, the transactions in local currencies meant that the company’s finance department had to handle all of the currency conversions manually. Someone would have to sign in regularly, and if there was too much of one currency on an account, they would have to sell; if too little, they would have to buy.
AutoFX has helped optimise the process. The currency conversion is made regularly and automatically, requiring less manual work and with a minimal risk of errors.
Joakim Grip, CFO, Ideal of Sweden
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More time for what matters with AutoFX
Now, after using Nordeas plug-and-play solution AutoFX, the currency conversion process is fully automated, based on an established framework of rules. When certain conditions are met, AutoFX executes the trades for iDeal of Sweden.
“AutoFX has helped optimise the process. The currency conversion is made regularly and automatically, requiring less manual work and with a minimal risk of errors,” says Grip.
When Kristoffer Jansell, on Nordea’s FX automation team in Sweden, first started working with Ideal of Sweden about a year ago, the company had been growing at breakneck speed. That Black Friday, the company was having to process 11 purchases a second. AutoFX has since freed up time to allow the company to focus on its actual business.
“When you think of a company selling products to over 100 different countries from its headquarters in Sweden, you would probably imagine that they spend a lot of time tending to the various currencies that appear on their account. But they don’t have to. AutoFX takes care of it,” says Jansell.
In addition to FX conversions, AutoFX also helps Ideal of Sweden with their liquidity management, by utilizing overnight swaps to top up temporary negative positions on currency top accounts, using excess liquidity in other currencies.
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