Advanced e-commerce is beneficial in the time of the pandemic

Author: Lucia Páchniková

E-commerce platform GymBeam has grown from zero to millions of satisfied customers in six years. The pandemic is clearly not hindering the company’s other global aims. The Košice-based company has been wagering on digital innovations since the beginning.

GymBeam introduced revolutionary innovations  into  a sector that has been ruled by major players or, paradoxically, small brick-and-mortar shops at fitness centres  for years,. And the company isn't stagnating, not even now.  . Because of this, GymBeam remains is unique in its segment as it continues to develop, sell and distribute products, including fitness supplements, functional foods and equipment for an active lifestyle, throughout Central and Eastern Europe. It ranks among the fastest growing brands of its kind. It is built on a technologically advanced e-commerce platform, sophisticated marketing, IT and customer service and an executive team comprised  of more than fifty people from thirteen countries.

Millions of products and clients
Tthe coronavirus has had a significant negative impact on the operations of numerous companies in Slovakia. The Košice-based GymBeam, which is already followed by more than one million people on Facebook and Instagram, is definitely not among them. The company has long wagered on the possibilities and advantages brought  about by  the digital age. Since the beginning, the company has leveraged innovative processes  the quickly saw benefits. And it is no different today. “We have branches in several countries and we have accordingly adapted the system of working. We are also building up the distribution of goods almost exclusively online. Therefore, switching to 100% home office due to the coronavirus was not a major challenge for us,” says Dalibor Cicman, founder of GymBeam.

GymBeam has grown its profits from zero to EUR 24 million  annually in six years. It has been fully adaptable since its establishment in 2014. “In everything we do, we try to go the extra mile, which is not entirely common in business,” says  Cicman, explaining the basis of the company’s success. The metropolis of eastern Slovakia is not only the site of the company’s headquarters, but also the place from which approximately 4,000 shipments are dispatched daily. There is also an ever-growing client portfolio for regular clients. “We are in the right sector at the right place and time. The economic results for the first five years of our operation are above-standard,” Cicman says. The company is betting onB2C distribution and multi-brand sales with a focus on its own product brands, a  business model that has proven successful not only in Western Europe and the United States, but also in the CEE region.

The company has global ambitions and has focused on growth since its establishment. Turnover in 2019 reached approximately EUR 20 million. At the same time, sales of its own brands account for nearly 60% of total sales revenues. Thanks to analyses of shopping behaviour and trends, as well as the company’s development strategy and competitive prices, it is able to respond flexibly to customer demand. This is evidenced by the fact that GymBeam has delivered millions of products to approximately four million satisfied customers and has developed hundreds of its own products under five brands.

Growth and global ambitions
GymBeam’s biggest current goals are to gain a leading position on all of the markets of the Central and Eastern European regions, achieve an annual turnover of EUR 100 million by 2024, carry out modular automation of its distribution centre and build a development centre for its own products. Financing from investors is helping the company to achieve those goals. “Our impetus to start working with an investor was a specific offer from a prominent one. However, we were handling several offers at the same time. In the end, we went with the Crowdberry investment platform,” saysCicman. “Its business model is very appealing to us. From the professional perspective, we see it as one of the largest experts in the field in our region.”

When making their selection, GymBeam considered not only professional skills, but also character traits. “Integrity, honesty, transparency and open communication. We have a similar corporate culture, so this chemistry should work over the long term,” says Cicman. He  is pleased that the Crowdberry team and investors are also involved in matters which help the company.

GymBeam also appealed to investors due to the fact that it has diversified risk. “Millions of end consumers fall into different buyer personas. Also, the growth of companies like ours is supported by several macro-trends, such as the growth of the share of e-commerce in retail, the growth of cross-border e-commerce in the European Union and the growth of household spending in the segment of online food, sports nutrition and functional foods, minerals and vitamins,” says Cicman, explaining why GymBeam is an interesting investment opportunity. “We put a significant part of the 4.5 million euros into the automation of logistics and capital-intensive product lines, which will help us increase our margin,” says Cicman, describing the positive contribution from investors. Allowing a private investor to enter the company has already proven to be a good idea. “I would like to invest in this way sometime in the future,” the head of this successful Slovak company concludes.

This article was created thanks to cooperation with the economic daily Hospodárske noviny as part of its Investment in Business series: hnonline.sk/prakticke-hn/2145577-vyspela-e-commerce-je-v-case-pandemie-benefitom

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