Saibu no Akuma is a Japanese translation of the western saying 'the devil is in the detail', and the business is not your average shirt maker. Inspired by the attention to detail and high levels of customer service in Japanese culture, the founders sought to bring that unique customer experience to Melbourne, Australia.
"We didn’t want to be like every other business, focusing on purely price or quality as their competitive advantage," said co-founder Tony Wu.
"For us, it’s all about the brand, what it stands for, and of course the unique experiences we provide to our clients. Instead of serving whisky and scotch, we serve hand-picked sake and green tea. We are always reviewing our end-to-end experience to ensure that we don’t grow stale," he added.
The business had been in planning for about a year and a half but has officially been running since July. The first pain point the business set out to address is the ability to accept credit card payments from customers regardless of location. Previously, the company would send the customer a PayPal invoice during a face-to-face transaction, which lengthened the process and created an unnecessary extra step.
"This requires our client to enter their details into one of our PCs to make the payment."
Being a small start-up, the costs of installing a Point-of-Sale system just wasn’t in the budget. However, it was essential to offer credit card facilities - research by financial software supplier MYOB shows that two-thirds of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) do not offer credit card as a payment option, and as a result one in ten have lost customers.
Wu started looking at smartphone payment solutions and went with the MYOB PayDirect app, which enabled them to use their existing smartphone as a secure credit card terminal with the aid of a paired $199 Bluetooth card reader.
"Setting up PayDirect for the business was simple. We simply held a quick 30-minute tutorial at our weekly team meeting about how the device works, getting it installed on the other mobile devices. Truthfully, when we were about to embrace this kind of technology we had our doubts. [There were] foreseeable challenges such as set-up, additional costs and just all round added ‘complexity’. But we’ve been really happy about how smooth the set-up and execution of the product into the business's family of essential tools [has been]."
The ability to process credit card payments on the go immediately brought about increased cash flow but also gave staff the freedom to meet customers outside of their studio in Fitzroy.
"We understand that a lot of our clients have full-time work or our hours of operation just doesn't fit into their schedule. Being able to meet them at their office, home, café, and still be able to take payment on the spot meant less work for us, and an overall more positive experience for our clients. We also do pop up events in offices [and] bars so having the ability to be completely mobile and paperless aligns to our brand and, of course, reduces time and costs."
In addition, the business uses a number of cloud based services such as Google Drive and Dropbox for file storage and collaboration, in addition to communication tools like Skype.
"We would often have Skype calls and update a document and get real time adjustments and feedback. We also collaborate with photographers so we get them to upload files into the Dropbox for faster access to the files. For example, we are currently working on a photo shoot in Japan, whilst being in Melbourne. Through using Dropbox I’m able to provide instant feedback on the creative direction of the shoot."
Staff also use project management app Trello, which allows team members to track progress on specific jobs in addition to providing a forum for feedback and review.
The use of mobile devices and apps has helped the business implement a flexible workplace.
"Our team members would rather be sitting in a café in Fitzroy or at a bench in the park rather than behind a desk. Utilising these cloud [and] mobility tools, it's the quality over quantity approach. Often we have to work late and into the early hours of the weekend. Being mobile, and being able to work from cafes, has also allowed us to manage our time and work flow more efficiently, and it creates a much more positive vibe around what we do."
Saibu no Akuma also heavily relies on social media as the primary means to build and market its brand which has resulted in an active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram presence.
With the ability to run all the main aspects of the business through mobile devices and apps, Wu says the need for a "traditional bricks and mortar establishment and associated overhead costs disappear with it."