BA111OD is a Swiss brand that started in 2019 as an experiment in how an alternative distribution model can fundamentally change the way watches are made, marketed, and sold.
The company ostensibly sells directly to consumers online, but it rewards customers who recommend the BA111OD watches to their friends.
This has led to powerful word-of-mouth marketing and sales for very little cost, a community-led tactic BA111OD calls e-commerce.
Cutting margins for wholesalers and retailers and keeping marketing costs so low means higher operating profits for the company, much of which has been passed on to customers in the form of sophisticated watches that sell for much less than comparable pieces from players. more traditional.
BA111OD’s first chronograph, the Chapter 5.1 Chrono Magma housing a Valjoux movement, launched in September priced at CHF 1,110.
Even more eye-catching was the Chapter 4 Veblen Dilemma Tourbillon, released last year for less than CHF 5,000.
Now BA111OD founder Thomas Baillod is evolving his channel strategy with a plan to appoint a single retail partner with national coverage as partner in the UK and other countries.
Being BA111OD, the layout plan has a twist. Not only is the brand looking for a single, country-only retail partner, but that retailer is not required to hold stock or even make sales.
Instead, the retailer would provide a quality experience to customers once a watch has been purchased online from the BA111OD e-commerce site.
In exchange for providing that service, a fee of 20% of the retail price of the watch would be paid to the retailer when it is picked up at the store.
Baillod named Goldsmiths, Beaverbrooks, Chisholm Hunter, Ernest Jones and Fraser Hart—prestige retailers with networks of stores across the country—as the type of partner he wants to sign with.
“To make it work for all parties, this has to be a single partner of several stores in each country,” Mr. Baillod tells WATCHPRO.
“They wouldn’t take the risk because they wouldn’t be required to invest in any stock, but for every watch sold in the UK, our exclusive retail partner would get a share,” he continues.
The retail partner would be encouraged to do inventory on consignment and could sell online or in stores. “We would certainly love to see our watches in store windows,” suggests Mr. Baillod.
Working with a UK-based premium jeweler would also help overcome a challenge faced by BA111OD, which is that customers find it hard to believe they can buy complex, highly finished Swiss-made watches at such low prices.
“Distrust is a big problem. We overcome this with word of mouth recommendations from customers, but the right retail partner would help,” says Mr. Baillod.
BA111OD celebrated its third anniversary this year and has reported that sales reached 2.5 million Swiss francs during the first nine months of 2022.
Baillod says the company has sold more than 5,000 watches in its first three years, including 500 tourbillon pieces.
However, his business remains highly concentrated in the French-speaking parts of Switzerland, where his community accounts for 80% of global sales.
The power of word-of-mouth marketing is most clearly demonstrated in Taiwan, which has become the second largest market for BA111OD thanks to the owner of a major Porsche owner’s club becoming a fan and recommending the watches to customers. members and other friends.