Being the exclusive US distributor of products like a 70-year-old, multi-generational shaving brand demands something that eclipses today’s common definition of success. A product like that needs to be stewarded and shepherded, all buttressed with understanding that success doesn’t necessarily mean fast growth or disruption. For Ian Ginsberg, delicate exercises like these are second nature as the third-generation owner of C.O. Bigelow. It’s a 180-year-old New York City pharmacy, online and retail store, and wholesale distributor of some of the finest beauty and care brands from around the world.
“We’re a 180-year-old business trying to operate in the modern world against giants. You have to be really creative and nimble.” Ian Ginsberg, President, C.O. Bigelow
Selling products with the same ethos that inspired Eleanor Roosevelt to pen a thank you note in 1942 doesn’t mean C.O. Bigelow needs to change its business model, or look for an exit strategy, but instead find ways to maintain its legacy in a fast-moving, complex market.
On the retail and wholesale distribution sides of the business, managing B2C ecommerce, in-store sales and B2B distribution for retail partners became complex. Inventory software wasn’t integrated with the ERP system and couldn’t provide a single view of stock across multiple channels complicating order management and shipping from two different warehouse locations.
With a single view and tighter inventory control in NetSuite, the business has been able to grow its wholesale channel upwards of 30 percent annually across more than 1,000 partner stores, such as Sephora, Barney’s and Nordstrom. Cash flow has increased, and the business has better control over pricing.
The fourth generation of Ginsbergs, Alec, recently earned his PharmaD from UNC Chapel Hill. As the business seeks to continue to build C.O. Bigelow’s legacy by keeping the store in the family, NetSuite can scale with it adding efficiencies and enabling the company to grow its manufacturing operations.