The brothers convinced their parents to reinvent their 30-year-old jewellery store as an online business which took off at a time where traditional retailers like Michael Hill and Goldmark were “dabbling in online but not doing it properly.”
Ice Online now has a turnover of $1.7 million a year and it was from here that Afterpay launched.
“Nick had the brain bubble of Afterpay in early 2014,” Simon Molnar said. “There were two versions of the product – there was one ‘pay after’ division and one was ‘pay before’. When we launched Ice Online nobody was using pay on delivery.”
Michelle Molnar said the need for Afterpay became apparent when the family noticed customers were getting to the checkout online but not making a purchase.
“We realised buying jewellery online was not like buying a dress,” she said. “People were getting to the checkout and not confident to complete the transaction. We used to sit around the dinner table and work out how to make the transaction easy.”
Take up of the Afterpay ‘pay on delivery’ option was immediate and Simon Molnar said customers started asking where else they could use Afterpay.
“We went out to all these highly passionate customers and said to them ‘Which retailers do you want to have Afterpay? Go and let them know’. The customer base started doing our sales. I think some retailers had to switch off their feature request board because it was inundated.”
The Molnars said 50 per cent to 70 per cent of Ice Online sales are made using Afterpay although they conceded having the payment method “blasted all over” its website does help drive use.
As Ice Online and Afterpay have grown the Molnar family dinner table has continued to be the place for business discussions.
“I would say 90 per cent of our dinner conversations are ideating about new business ideas and improving Ice Online and Afterpay,” Simon Molnar said. “The moment you stop reinventing yourself is the moment you get left behind.”
Michelle Molnar said her entrepreneurial sons are a result of encouraging them both to follow their strengths.
“[Nick] was my jock and Simon was my nerd,” she said. “My advice is to assist your kids in developing their strengths, don’t make them be something they are not.”
When the boys were younger Michelle Molnar she was a “very firm” mother.
“As they grew older I realised my husband and I didn’t need to be firm or strict,” she said. “I never had any problems with them, never ever. I used to have big parties in my own home when my parents were away. But I said to them ‘Don’t you want me here to help and clean up with you?’ My kids never had a party when I was not home.”
Ice Online continues to be a testing ground for new business tools and ideas for the family.
“We are no different to any other family, it’s just the four of us are very passionate about business,” Ms Molnar said.
Cara is the small business editor for The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald based in Melbourne