Transforming a traditional business to an online one sounds like the norm. But believe it or not – even businesses that first date back to the 1930s are still in the process of being fully digitised.

Without moving traditional businesses online, there is a risk of being left behind by their customers and the world as technology evolves. For launderettes, this was becoming a close call – until Ninjadry took Belfast by storm.

In this week’s ProfileTree TV interview, Ciaran Connolly sits down with Louise Houliston, owner of Ninjadry, an online laundry and drycleaning service.

Throughout the interview, Louise talks about idea conception, marketing – and her plans for Ninjadry’s future.

If you are contemplating taking your business to the next level and developing an online strategy, then this Business Leaders episode will be very beneficial to check out. Watch the video and read on to find out more.

Creating an online business from a traditional business concept
Converting a traditional business to online

Ninjadry: From An Idea to an Industry Revolution

Louise embarked on her entrepreneurial journey after identifying a common problem and an underserved solution – as well as simply wanting more time to savour with her young family.

Speaking on how Ninjadry came to life, Louise relives her ‘eureka’ moment and reflects on how much her life has changed.

“I started my career as a primary school teacher in England. I taught for seven years there, was very enthusiastic and passionate about my job but made the decision when I started my family to take time out and have a career break.

“I was at home until my children were school age. Then I made the decision to go back to work and fulfil my own career aspirations.

“That’s how Ninjadry was born – the concept came from me wanting to return to work and also that worry of how I was going to balance everything, spend time with my children and keep up with working life.

“In the background I worried about what would change in terms of all those mundane household chores that still need to be done with a young family. When I moved back to Belfast, I had experience in London where it would be more commonplace for services to come to the door. So this is where the idea came from.”

Not only did this daily inconvenience convince Louise to take the plunge – but analysing the market and conducting market research also played a big part in Ninjadry’s creation.

“We are obviously trying to break and disrupt the market – we are the only company over here at the moment with the online platform. I guess when we did our market research and analysed the market – it did feel very aged and needed that injection of modernisation and that’s what we’re trying to do in Belfast.”

Ninja dry ad
Ninjadry’s USP is convenience. Image credit: Ninjadry

What Do Ninjadry Offer?

It may seem simple, but Ninjadry do not limit themselves when it comes to online launderette services. Talking about how Ninjadry operates, Louise explains what makes the business so unique and ahead of the curve in Belfast.

She said the way it works is: “Ninjadry has a website, customers place their orders online, a driver comes to the door – we collect the order and it is guaranteed to be returned 48 hours later. We also have four different categories for people to choose from in terms of their laundry needs, so it is specialised.”

As time is a luxury these days, Louise emphasises how Ninjadry’s mission is to give time back to people. With so many people online more regularly, Ninjadry addresses these factors by creating a culture around laundry service convenience and accessibility.

“Where families would spend two and a half to three hours a week on laundry chores, we at Ninjadry are trying to give that time back to the customer by creating this simple, convenient service.

“We coordinate with text messages and emails throughout the process, so customers can be informed and track their order. It is very seamless. We really pride ourselves on returning clothes immaculately and providing the best possible service.”

With Ninjadry being only 14 months old – Louise’s statistics prove that there is an increasing need and relief for Ninjadry’s services.

“We have an 80% customer retention rate so we’re thrilled about this. Ninjadry is catching on in Belfast.”

Ninjadry’s Marketing Techniques

Business owners and managers alike will know that oftentimes they try to wear too many hats. Not only do you need to be an organised leader – but you also need to be an innovative creative.

Louise explains how she brought her transferable teaching skills over to Ninjadry.

“I would have been creative in my career, a lot of these transferable skills have been brought over to Ninjadry. I have really enjoyed the creative side with marketing and visuals for artwork, digital marketing and every aspect to the branding.”

Marketing a new product can be a difficult trial and error process. Where Ninjadry has noticed exponential traction is through online marketing.

“Marketing and sales is certainly a challenge. Just even finding those touch points where people can find us. Digital marketing and social media have been successful for getting our name out there – far more than the traditional marketing.

“We have different types of customer personas. You can find groups of different customers on different platforms. We run our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn – and we have found all of that very successful in finding customers and keeping them updated with promotions and offers.”

Ninjadry van
Ninjadry is an increasingly well known brand around Belfast. Image credit: LoveBelfast

The Future of Ninjadry

While Ninjadry may have already futurised a traditional service, they are nowhere near finished yet as Louise reveals the big plans she has for Ninjadry’s future.

“We have a big vision to be one of the market leaders here in Belfast. We want to tap in and create a new trend of being a standard thing for families to outsource their laundry and create that consumer habit. It’s just as simple as your grocery order, your Amazon delivery – we want to be the next biggest convenient service for laundry and dry cleaning in Belfast. We have so many ideas!”

Developing a Detailed Transition Plan with Timelines & Flexibility

A successful transition plan requires strategic milestones, testing, and adaptability to navigate the unique pace of different business units. Here’s a framework to break down the process:

1. Assess and Define:

  • Current State: Analyze your current business operations, resources, and performance across all relevant areas.
  • Desired Future State: Define your vision for the post-transition state, including goals, objectives, and expected outcomes.
  • Gap Analysis: Identify the gaps between your current state and desired future state in terms of processes, infrastructure, skills, and resources.

2. Develop the Roadmap:

  • Phase 1: Planning and Kickoff (0-3 months):
    • Key Milestones:
      • Establish transition team with representatives from all affected areas.
      • Develop detailed transition plan with timelines, tasks, and resource allocation.
      • Secure leadership buy-in and communicate the plan to all stakeholders.
      • Initiate initial training and upskilling programs for relevant personnel.
  • Phase 2: Implementation and Testing (3-12 months):
    • Key Milestones:
      • Execute transition tasks according to the plan, prioritizing critical activities.
      • Conduct pilot tests and simulations to identify and address challenges early.
      • Refine processes and adapt the plan based on test results and feedback.
      • Provide ongoing support and training to employees throughout the transition.
  • Phase 3: Stabilization and Monitoring (12+ months):
    • Key Milestones:
      • Fully implement the transitioned state and assess its effectiveness.
      • Monitor key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and identify areas for improvement.
      • Refine and optimize processes based on ongoing monitoring and feedback.
      • Celebrate successes and acknowledge team achievements.

3. Embrace Flexibility and Iteration:

  • Acknowledge Different Paces: Recognize that different business units may progress at different speeds due to unique complexities or dependencies.
  • Testing and Feedback: Encourage continuous testing, feedback loops, and adjustments to the plan throughout the transition.
  • Communication and Transparency: Maintain open communication channels with all stakeholders to address concerns and ensure alignment.

4. Tools and Resources:

  • Project Management Tools: Utilize project management platforms to track progress, assign tasks, and manage resources effectively.
  • Communication Channels: Establish clear communication channels for updates, feedback, and collaboration across teams.
  • Performance Dashboards: Develop dashboards to track progress against key metrics and KPIs.


  • A successful transition is a dynamic process, not a linear one.
  • Flexibility, testing, and continuous adaptation are key to navigating the inevitable challenges and maximizing success.
  • By creating a detailed plan with clear milestones, embracing flexibility, and utilizing effective tools, you can guide your organization through a seamless and successful transition into its new future.

Driving Change: Effective Strategies for Managing Your Digital Transformation

Successfully implementing a digital transformation requires more than just technology – it demands effective change management strategies to navigate human behavior and optimize adoption. Here’s a detailed breakdown of key strategies to secure executive buy-in, equip employees, and overcome resistance:

1. Securing Executive Buy-in and Building Champions:

  • Vision and Value Proposition: Clearly articulate the vision for the digital transformation, highlighting its benefits for the company, employees, and customers. Quantify the expected impact on efficiency, profitability, and customer satisfaction.
  • Executive Sponsorship: Engage key leaders and decision-makers early on. Ensure they understand the vision, champion the change, and actively demonstrate their commitment through words and actions.
  • Building Cross-Functional Teams: Create a dedicated team with representatives from various departments – technology, operations, HR, business units – to champion the change, oversee implementation, and address cross-functional challenges.

2. Equipping Employees with Knowledge and Skills:

  • Tailored Training and Development: Provide comprehensive training programs tailored to the specific needs of different employee groups. Include training on new technologies, processes, workflows, and soft skills required for the new digital environment.
  • On-the-Job Support and Mentorship: Implement mentorship programs and offer readily available on-the-job support to guide employees through the transition and address any immediate concerns or challenges.
  • Communication and Transparency: Maintain open communication channels throughout the process. Regularly share updates, progress reports, and address employee concerns with transparency and honesty.

3. Addressing Internal Resistance and Supporting Adoption:

  • Understanding Concerns: Proactively identify potential challenges and anxieties employees might face, such as fear of job security, workload increase, or technological skills gaps.
  • Open Communication and Feedback: Encourage open communication, address concerns openly, and actively seek employee feedback to inform and iterate on the implementation plan.
  • Incentivize and Reward Adoption: Implement reward programs and incentives to encourage early adopters and celebrate successes throughout the transition.

Additional Strategies:

  • Change Leadership Training: Equip managers and leaders with change leadership skills to effectively guide their teams through the transition, address anxieties, and foster a culture of acceptance and support.
  • Pilot Programs and Proof of Concept: Consider implementing pilot programs in smaller units to test new technologies and processes, gather feedback, and demonstrate the value proposition before wider rollout.
  • Change Communication Campaigns: Develop effective communication campaigns using multiple channels to keep employees informed, engaged, and excited about the change.

Remember: Change management is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. Continuously monitor progress, adjust your strategies as needed, and remain committed to supporting your employees throughout the journey. By proactively addressing potential resistance and creating an environment of support and learning, you can foster a successful digital transformation that empowers your employees and propels your organization forward.

Adapting to the Demands of Online Ordering

While online ordering opens doors to new customer segments and sales opportunities, it also presents its own set of challenges for your supply chain. Here’s a deep dive into the potential implications and strategies for successful adaptation:

1. Inventory Management Under the Microscope:

  • Demand Fluctuations: Online orders might exhibit different patterns compared to traditional channels, requiring more agile inventory management to avoid stockouts or excess inventory.
  • Increased SKU Variety: Consumers expect wider product options online, impacting inventory complexity and storage needs.
  • Enhanced Forecasting: Develop accurate forecasting models that consider online trends, seasonal variations, and promotional campaigns to optimize inventory levels.

2. Renegotiating Supplier Relationships:

  • Lead Times and Minimum Order Quantities: Shorter order cycles and smaller batch sizes for online orders might require renegotiating lead times and minimum order quantities with suppliers.
  • Transparency and Collaboration: Build stronger relationships with suppliers, foster transparency in demand forecasts, and work collaboratively to adapt production and delivery capacities.
  • Alternative Sourcing Options: Explore alternative sourcing options for products with high online demand or long lead times to ensure consistent availability.

3. Building a Speedy and Flexible Fulfillment Engine:

  • Order Processing Efficiency: Streamline order processing and picking systems to handle frequent smaller orders without impacting overall fulfillment speed.
  • Warehouse Layout and Automation: Consider optimizing warehouse layout for online fulfillment, potentially incorporating automation solutions for quicker picking and packing.
  • Multiple Fulfillment Options: Offer diverse fulfillment options like next-day delivery, click-and-collect, and returns management to cater to evolving customer preferences.

Additional Tips:

  • Implement inventory management software: Real-time inventory visibility and forecasting tools can significantly improve inventory control and reduce out-of-stock situations.
  • Partner with reliable logistics providers: Choose logistics partners with robust infrastructure and capacity to handle fluctuating online order volumes efficiently.
  • Invest in data analytics: Leverage data analytics to identify trends, optimize routes, and improve overall supply chain efficiency.

Remember: Adapting to the demands of online ordering is an ongoing process. Continuously monitor your supply chain performance, adjust strategies as needed, and remain flexible to embrace new technologies and best practices. By proactively addressing these implications and building a nimble, efficient supply chain, you can ensure your online journey is paved with success, delivering a seamless and satisfying experience for your customers.

Ensuring Compliance in Your Digital Transformation

Embracing the digital landscape unlocks exciting possibilities, but it also demands careful attention to compliance obligations. Here’s a detailed guide to ensuring your digital transformation journey adheres to critical data protection, accessibility, and documentation requirements:

1. Data Protection and Privacy:

  • Data Mapping and Inventory: Identify all personal data you collect, store, and process through your online platforms and activities.
  • Compliance with Relevant Regulations: Understand and adhere to data protection regulations applicable to your region and target audience, such as GDPR, CCPA, and others.
  • Robust Data Security Practices: Implement robust security measures to protect data from unauthorized access, breaches, and loss. This includes encryption, password policies, and regular security audits.
  • Privacy Policy and Transparency: Craft a clear and transparent privacy policy that outlines how you collect, use, and disclose personal data. Obtain appropriate consent from users for data processing activities.

2. Online Accessibility Standards:

  • WCAG Compliance: Ensure your website and online platforms comply with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) to make them accessible to users with disabilities. This includes features like screen reader compatibility, alt text for images, and keyboard navigation.
  • Accessibility Testing and Audit: Conduct regular accessibility testing and audits to identify and address any accessibility barriers.
  • Accessibility Statement: Publish an accessibility statement detailing your commitment to accessibility and outlining the tools and features available to users with disabilities.

3. Continuity of Compliance Documentation:

  • Digital Documentation Management: Develop a system for securely storing and managing all compliance documentation, including policies, procedures, and audit reports. Ensure easy access and version control for regulatory reviews.
  • Data Breach Response Plan: Prepare a comprehensive data breach response plan outlining procedures for notification, data recovery, and remediation in case of a security incident.
  • Regular Compliance Reviews: Conduct periodic compliance reviews to identify any gaps or potential risks and proactively update your processes and documentation to maintain compliance.

Additional Tips:

  • Seek Expert Guidance: Consult with legal and data protection professionals familiar with your industry and relevant regulations to ensure accurate compliance.
  • Employee Training: Provide your employees with training on data protection, privacy, and accessibility best practices to avoid accidental non-compliance.
  • Stay Updated: Remain informed about evolving data protection laws and accessibility standards, and adapt your practices accordingly.

Remember: Compliance is an ongoing journey, not a one-time destination. By actively managing data protection, accessibility, and documentation, you can minimize risks, build trust with customers, and pave the way for a successful and compliant digital transformation journey.

Transforming A Traditional Business: FAQ

Q: What are the benefits of adopting a hybrid commerce model?

A: Hybrid commerce offers numerous benefits, including:

  • Improved customer experience: Customers can enjoy the convenience of online ordering and the personalized service of physical stores.
  • Increased sales and conversions: More channels reach customers and provide purchase options, potentially boosting sales.
  • Enhanced brand awareness: Omnichannel marketing strategies reach a wider audience and strengthen brand recognition.
  • Boosted operational efficiency: Integrated inventory management and data analysis optimize resource allocation and reduce costs.
  • Competitive advantage: Differentiate yourself from purely online or offline competitors by offering a unique hybrid experience.

Q: How do I decide if a hybrid model is right for my business?

A: Consider factors like your current operations, target audience, product type, and available resources. Analyze the potential benefits and challenges before making a decision. Consult with experts if needed.

Q: What are some examples of successful hybrid commerce models?

A: Many popular brands have implemented successful hybrid models, including:

  • Nike: Offers online ordering and in-store pickup with personalized fitting sessions.
  • Sephora: Blends online beauty consultations with in-store product testing and sampling.
  • Apple: Connects online product research with in-store expert advice and Genius Bar appointments.

Q: What are the biggest challenges in implementing a hybrid model?

A: Some potential challenges include:

  • Integrating online and offline operations seamlessly.
  • Providing consistent customer experience across all channels.
  • Managing inventory effectively and avoiding stockouts.
  • Training staff to handle both online and in-store interactions.
  • Investing in necessary technology and infrastructure.

Q: How can I overcome these challenges?

A: Plan carefully, implement a phased approach, invest in employee training, utilize technology solutions, and continuously monitor and adapt your strategy based on data and feedback.

Transforming A Traditional Business: Conclusion

The rise of hybrid commerce presents a transformative opportunity for businesses to adapt to evolving customer expectations and unlock new avenues for growth. By bridging the gap between the physical and digital worlds, hybrid models offer personalized experiences, seamless convenience, and enhanced brand engagement. While challenges exist, the potential benefits are substantial. By carefully considering your unique context, planning an incremental approach, and embracing continuous improvement, you can navigate the hybrid landscape and establish a thriving business model for the future.

Remember, a successful hybrid journey requires commitment, flexibility, and a focus on creating a truly integrated and delightful customer experience across all touchpoints. Start your journey today and watch your business blossom in the exciting realm of hybrid commerce.

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