On 11 October 2022, three years after launching his own watch with the sole aim of proving that a gap existed in the traditional business model by proposing a new distribution model, Thomas Baillod launched a Swiss-made chronograph powered by a Valjoux movement for under CHF 1,000. We take a look back at a disruptive business venture.

The story of Thomas Baillod and his watch brand is a perfect example of rapid success made possible because one person spotted a malfunction in the system and put forward an alternative model that works. His aim was never to create a watch brand, but to rethink the watch distribution model by inventing what he calls “we-commerce”, which gives a central role to the customer as both buyer and sales vector. In doing so, Thomas Baillod built a bridge between commerce and e-commerce.

 How do you define this concept of “we-commerce” that you’ve developed?

Like the natural evolution of e-commerce, which itself evolved from commerce, the traditional model we all know. The advent of digital technology gave rise to digital marketing, and its distribution version is e-commerce, a “direct-to-the-consumer” model which has the huge advantage of clawing back the distribution-related margins but lacks the kind of experience you get with in-store purchasing. My starting point was an academic idea: I wanted to reconcile the physical and the digital, commerce and e-commerce But I went further by adding a community element that I called “we-commerce”, which lets you switch to a digital paradigm while at the same time adding emotion and physical contact.

My model is based on “social selling”, where the customer occupies a central place. They’re not the ones stuck at the end of the table watching everybody else – the brands, the intermediaries, the influencers – stuff their faces without getting anything to eat themselves, the ones nobody says a word to, who get up at the end of the evening, pay the bill for everybody and whom nobody thanks. Behind all this thinking is the reality that we live in an economic model where the real heroes of industry, those who produce the watches, are called “subcontractors” and are hidden, and where the real bosses, those who pay the bill, the end customers, are not considered at all A model that doesn’t acknowledge those who produce and those who buy is a bad model, in my view. In my model, the co-contractors and end customers are seated in the middle of the table, and everyone talks to them and thanks them.

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Original text: Isabelle Cerboneschi - french - Europastar

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