Founded in 1991, Manufaktura has always taken pride in its local production using quality ingredients sourced directly in the beautiful Czech countryside. All that is combined with the goal to turn the company’s stores into “experience labs”, trust in omnichannel, heavy investments into system integration in recent years, and the use of smart cameras that allow the company to determine conversion ratios in stores.
Manufaktura’s formulas contain beer from Benešov, thermal spring salts from Karlovy Vary, and lavender from Pálava, with their cosmetics boasting up to 97% natural ingredients. “We’re not trying to create 100% natural products because it is not always a good idea. Our products must be, first and foremost, safe for our customers to use, so they must be stable and adhere to strict health standards. Each product is tested at every stage of production, we use sustainable ingredients, and each batch contains precise information on the ingredients that were used to make it,” says Tomáš Kratochvíl, the company’s Executive Director. Manufaktura was also the first Czech brand to receive the “Cruelty Free” certificate confirming their products are not animal tested in 2009.
“We aim to offer world-level quality products and, at the same time, maintain the connection to local traditions and ingredients. Our company first started out selling traditional, hand-crafted items, so we are well aware how many skilled people our country has to offer – which is why we mostly work with Czech companies and Czech artists.”Tomáš Kratochvíl Executive Director, Manufaktura
The company has been around for 30 years now, but it still manages to come up with new limited editions every year – and according to Kratochvíl, they are not about to run out of new ideas and unique ingredients any time soon: “We follow the market trends, but we also look to Czech traditions and history for inspiration. There are so many things to draw inspiration from – for instance, the long Czech traditions of fruit farming, beer making, and mineral baths.”
However, it’s not just ingredients that Manufaktura prefers to source locally: “We prefer working with Czech companies – our country is full of amazingly skilled people. Our product designs are created by Czech artists, just like our digital solutions that are delivered by Czech companies,” says Kratochvíl, adding that the Czech Republic doesn’t lack the skill to compete on an international level – merely the confidence.
The brand has ventured abroad in the past, but the customer experience provided by foreign partners wasn’t to the company’s liking, so now, they are looking for other ways to expand – and digital channels are one way to do exactly that. Another method the company uses to reach international customers is cooperation with hotels – if you stay at the legendary Grandhotel Pupp in Karlovy Vary, you can expect Manufaktura’s products in your suite. “We receive many collaboration offers. Maintaining exclusivity is what’s important for us in B2B – we don’t want to be everywhere. We value customer experience highly, and we want to make sure that our partners meet our standards and expectations in that field,” Kratochvíl explains, adding that you can also buy Manufaktura’s products at Rohlik.cz online grocery store.
As a family-run company, Manufaktura pays great attention to keeping their employees engaged and included in the company’s operations. Store employees receive regular training, but they also get to visit production sites, see how products are tested, lend a hand when daisies are collected, or get to voice their opinion on which scent is the best and deserves a spot on the shelves. “We only make and sell things that we ourselves want to use. Because when you like something, you’ll gladly recommend it to others – and that’s better than a million training sessions,” says Kratochvíl to explain the brand’s philosophy. The company regularly asks its employees about their opinions on products and about customer feedback too – a practice that has already pushed them to replace the caps on their products with a more practical version.
What helps the brand deliver amazing customer experience? Helpful, friendly staff and the unique atmosphere of Manufaktura stores that are equipped with renovated old furniture to match the brand’s sustainable spirit. Not even the pandemic has stopped the company from making investments into their stores – instead, they used the opportunity to rebuild them and make them even better.
Since 2020, customers can also visit the company’s experience lab to learn how natural cosmetics are made, and even make their own bath salt or shampoo.
We already introduced Manufaktura in our CX study back in 2019. Since then, the brand has grown a lot, especially in the digital field. “Covid shook and tested us at every level. It was like pulling an emergency brake on an express train. In the spring of 2020, we were working on a new online store, but suddenly, we needed to have it ready in one month, not two or three – and we did it. It was a huge lesson for us,” the director explains. Today, the brand is working on a new online store solution yet again – the one from two years ago is not capable of meeting current integration requirements anymore.
According to Kratochvíl, the company’s focus is aimed at omnichannel right now: “Customers have changing preferences. Sometimes, they want to go to a store. But sometimes, they prefer to stay at home and order their favourite products online, which is why we are trying to bring these two channels as close together as possible.” Therefore, the brand is currently working to integrate their online store and their payment systems into one software, already having integrated databases with customer care. “The customer communicating with our brand should get the same level of service regardless of whether they send an email or message us on social media. The new software allows us to provide truly comprehensive customer service, with every customer’s orders, claims, and questions clearly organized in one place.”
The brand’s data warehouse – a place that holds all data on customers and orders – is new, too. The company also monitors logistics and supply parameters in real time, allowing it to maintain continuous delivery of supplies to the stores. Revenues of individual stores are monitored as well. And with a new smart camera system equipped with analytics software developed by – you guessed it – a Czech company, Manufaktura is now able to monitor conversion rates not just online, but in their stores, too.
However, all the “soft criteria” have a much deeper meaning for the brand: “We focus on long-term goals. We want our customers to feel good in our stores, which is why our staff receive a list of priorities, with customer satisfaction at the very top. Some people like a nice gift wrap, others prefer a good discount, and some want help choosing a product that will work for their skin type. We always strive to find the perfect solution for every customer,” says Kratochvíl.