Who Gives A Crap reaches European bums

When the well-known Australian toilet paper brand was ready to move into European markets, Shopify’s power and simplicity made a smooth path.

Retailer Who Gives a Crap
Industry Health & Beauty
Case Study Banner

In the post-pandemic world of retail, Who Gives A Crap is a brand that needs little introduction. A profit-for-purpose toilet paper business that launched in 2012, Who Gives A Crap has grown from its humble origins in Australia into an internationally sourced product – and Shopify has been key to that journey, having powered the business since its inception. 

According to Jehan Ratnatunga, Who Gives a Crap’s co-founder and VP of strategy and growth, their mission of delivering sanitation to those who don’t have access to it has been bolstered by Shopify’s simplicity and power – something that was incredibly useful when the business was starting out and had only a small technical team. 

Now, however, Who Gives A Crap faces new challenges. The business expanded internationally into the US and UK in 2017, which, like Australia, make up around a third of the business’ revenue each. 

europe time

More recently, Who Gives A Crap launched into the EU, opening itself up to a whole new raft of languages, currencies and shipping considerations at once. 

For Who Gives A Crap, a wider international expansion was always going to be a necessity for meeting its goal of delivering waste-based impact. 

“When we started this company, we set a goal to help everyone on Earth get access to clean water and sanitation. We’re talking about 2 billion people who don’t have proper access,” Ratnatunga explains. 

“So, we knew when we started the company that Australia simply didn’t have enough bums to generate the level of impact we needed.”

For Ratnatunga, the expansion into the EU was backed by customer spending data, with the company seeing orders from its UK store shipping into continental Europe. It was a huge untapped opportunity. Who Gives A Crap ran an analysis on which markets would suit an expansion, and Europe came up as a particularly interesting possibility. 

“Obviously the EU Zone allows you to tap into a lot of markets at once, and you can have one warehouse and set up some specific supply-chain efficiencies.”

At this point, Who Gives A Crap was considering two major markets for its next expansion – Europe and Canada. While Canada had the benefit of mainly being an English-speaking market, as well as offering synergy with Who Gives A Crap’s US warehouses, it also introduced new issues such as extreme weather and a sparse population, making shipping more complicated. 

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Shopify has allowed us to create stores in our key markets that adapt to the correct regulatory needs and, more to the point, it’s allowed us to tell our own unique brand story in each market. Jehan Ratnatunga, Co-founder & VP of Strategy & Growth, Who Gives a Crap

In Europe, however, the logistical side of the business would be simpler, with well-documented supply-chain efficiencies already built into the market through the EU Zone’s free-trade agreement.

Until this point, Who Gives A Crap had largely focused on English-speaking markets that trade in a single currency, and with a European expansion, the business would need to open itself up to far more currencies, and languages, to deliver strong customer service in each new market. 

Once the business decided on Europe for expansion, it needed to figure out how it could deliver a stable, content-rich and localised site for each potential storefront within the broader EU offering. 

Plus, with a multitude of different tax and regulatory considerations, Who Gives A Crap would need to find ways to stay on top of changing international conditions in a way that it hadn’t before. 

Tapping into the breadth of Shopify’s features was the answer, Ratnatunga says.

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The Aussie Shopify Plus team is here to help your business sell more, scale faster and simplify your tech stack Get in touch

shopify speaks the languages-and simplifies global expansion

How did the company achieve this? Firstly, using Shopify, Who Gives A Crap was able to create multiple storefronts that automatically display the business’ products in its European customers’ native currency. 

Doing so within Shopify is quite simple, as it gives you the ability to manage multiple storefronts, languages and currencies all from one backend – allowing brands to see the entirety of their business easily in one place. 

Additionally, by using Shopify’s own currency conversion API, the business can convert any sales made overseas into Australian dollars, while gathering an overarching view of worldwide sales. This makes Who Gives A Crap’s worldwide presence that much easier to understand for the Australia-based team.

Ratnatunga explains the benefits of Shopify making the business’ international expansion easier: “It really helped simplify a lot of those capabilities for us, so we can focus on marketing and growing the brand. Shopify helps serve as the backbone of our international expansion,” he says. 

On the language front, the business’ European websites are all displayed in English with plans to localise them further with multiple languages in the near future: something that Shopify supports. 

“We have ambitions to do that, and Shopify has a lot of functionality that allows you to have that localisation happening, but right now that’s still an emerging opportunity for us,” Ratnatunga said.

The ease of setting up multiple sites across individual countries in Europe has already saved the Who Gives A Crap team development time and effort. Being able to view all sites from one central backend has given the business a better view of its global presence. 

Additionally, using Shopify’s Recharge plug-in, Who Gives A Crap is able to offer its toilet paper subscription anywhere in the world, opening the business up to a more consistent revenue stream.

Recharge enhances a brands’ offering with additional data insights and retention options, such as making it easy to skip or reschedule a delivery.

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EU markets poised to prosper

2x year-over-year revenue growth since international expansion store launches via Shopify

2/3 of overall revenue driven by international markets

Who Gives A Crap reports that the first year of EU expansion has gone well. Despite launching in only English, the business has been able to get a good read on countries of focus and how European customers order and re-order products. 

The next step is to further invest in the platform, and tackle individual localisation to ensure the brand’s message doesn’t get lost in translation.

The European expansion is still in its infancy, Ratnatunga says, but already it is delivering strong opportunities. 

Following Who Gives A Crap’s initial expansion into the US and UK via Shopify, year-over-year revenue growth doubled in the first year. Now, Who Gives A Crap’s international markets make up around two-thirds of the business’ overall revenue. 

The other third is made up of Who Gives A Crap’s Australian presence, which is far more mature than its international offerings. 

This bodes well for all of its international markets, as they are still new, providing each one a lot of room for further growth and optimisation.

“Australia had a head start, but ultimately provided a lot of data and lessons with which to launch into these other markets [with a better product],” Ratnatunga explains. 

Shopify and experience foster expansion success

Leaning heavily into the strengths of Shopify’s international capabilities, as well as the lessons learned in two prior major expansions, has led to a strong first year for Who Gives A Crap’s European business. 

Being able to compare customer and internal company data across all of its markets has helped Who Gives A Crap bolster all aspects of its business and reach a whole new continent of bums, bringing it one step closer to achieving the business’ overall mission.

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If we truly want to reach our big, hairy, audacious goal of giving everyone access to toilets and sanitation, we need to think about being where the customers are, and that means many more markets into the future. Jehan Ratnatunga, Co-founder & VP  Strategy & Growth,
Who Gives a Crap