UK Sports Warehouse, based in Oxfordshire, England, has been selling sporting goods though online marketplaces for fifteen years. They specialize in clearance – products which other retailers have been unable to sell through their normal channels.
Clearance (or liquidation) is a normal part of the retail business. Shelf space in stores and warehouses is a valuable resource, so items that don’t sell need to make way for those that do. And that often means selling them off in bulk for less than the cost price. Sometimes much less.
So clearance can be a great source of profitable stock for marketplace sellers, but there are downsides. One problem is that the supply changes every day – you can’t simply reorder bestselling products. Other businesses can sell the same line successfully for months or years, but clearance sellers need to constantly refresh all their SKUs.
UK Sports Warehouse (UKSW) saw the risk in only selling clearance products and decided to diversify, by adding a number of current product lines to their portfolio. But there was a problem. A “cheap and cheerful” image can work for a company selling clearance gear, but people who want the latest equipment expect to buy from a company that is serious about sports. That’s a very different brand.
So I caught up with Elizabeth Hitchins, an experienced ecommerce consultant who has been working with UKSW for a number of years. Elizabeth had the job of building a whole new sports brand for UKSW. This is the story of how she created SportsBubble, and the ups and downs of launching it as a new business on multiple online marketplaces.
Chad Rubin has achieved a rare thing among marketplace sellers: a genuine, recognizable brand name that stands for something.
Not only that, his business was built selling on Amazon’s marketplace – a channel that gives sellers little control over how they market themselves. And he did it selling products that seldom get people excited: vacuum cleaner spares and accessories.
In 2013 Chad’s company, Crucial Vacuum, made Inc.’s list of the fastest-growing private companies in the U.S., with $5.1 million in revenue the previous year. Another rare achievement and recognition for a marketplace seller.
I caught up with Chad to talk about ecommerce, branding, marketplaces and his latest project co-founded with Damir Kunovac, Skubana – a brand new ERP system for marketplace sellers.
Since 2006 eSellerPro has been a software platform for businesses selling high volumes of products on Amazon and eBay.
Over those years they’ve established a solid reputation, but in typical British fashion they haven’t made a lot of noise about what they were doing. It was undoubtedly an effective piece of software – a reliable workhorse – but seldom in the news.
Then in February 2015 a new company emerged. That business, Volo, had a bold design, distinctive videos, and big photos featuring happy customers. Volo seemed full of confidence, innovation and ambition. This was eSellerPro’s new brand, and it couldn’t have been more different.
Why did they make such a big change, and what does it mean for the company? To find out I spoke to Volo’s CEO Paul Watson, who’s been running the business since October 2013. It turned out there’s a lot more going on than just a new brand. Volo also has 50% more staff at the company, a brand new user interface coming soon, and an imminent expansion into the US.
Yet there’s still a focus on high performance: Volo’s customers hold the records for both the highest sales by value, and the highest by order volume, in a single day on eBay, worldwide. It was definitely time to find out more about this company.
This is the first post in a new series interviewing some of the highest rated suppliers in the Web Retailer directory.
I spoke to Abbas Tharkar, Founder of eBay and Magento design company dZine-Hub. We talked about what’s changed in eBay design over the years, getting eBay designs to work on mobile phones, and the challenge of extracting product data from eBay listings.