Small Business Saturday Blog
Monday Seller Success with eBay: That Vintage Football Shirt
Monday, November 28, 2022 at 14:23Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Monday Seller Success with eBay: Purrfect Cat Gifts
Monday, November 21, 2022 at 09:25Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Monday Seller Success with eBay: Hampers by Lauren
Monday, November 14, 2022 at 10:17Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Monday Seller Success with eBay: Top Dog
Monday, November 07, 2022 at 09:37Monday Seller Success With Ebay
As you might guess from the name, Poo-ches®, based in Maidenhead in Berkshire, sells quality products for man’s (and woman’s) best friend.
The business was founded by Steve Taylor and his partner, Michelle. Steve originally set up the business as a side hustle while he was working full-time to try to create a second income, with a plan to build the business up and then leave his full-time job. They spent two months researching the marketplace, sourcing potential suppliers and choosing a strong brand name before launching their first product.
However, when the pandemic struck, Steve was made redundant and now runs the business full-time, with the hope that Michelle will eventually be able to join him. Steve told us, “It was actually a blessing in disguise because it pushed me to set the business up, and I’m so pleased because it’s going from strength to strength.”
Poo-ches started out with a single product: dog poo bags. They deliberately chose a good quality consumable product so that consumers would come back again and again, and their strategy has paid off. They have now added more products under the brand name, including fully compostable bags, which are more sustainable for the planet, alongside super quality harnesses and matching leads, which have proved to be a great success. Steve told us, “Being able to add to our range is important to us to continue to build our brand.”
Steve started out selling exclusively on eBay, although they have recently set up their own website as well. Steve told us, “We have found eBay to be a fantastic partner since joining the platform – always on the end of the phone if there are any queries and they really understand the issues small businesses face. Although we are working for ourselves, we never feel we are by ourselves.”
He ascribes the secret of his success to sheer hard work and being stubborn enough never to give up! Poo-ches provide top quality products that customers love, combined with great customer service. Steve told us, “We believe top quality customer service is the key to success. We try and go the extra mile for our customers – for example when a customer orders one of our dog harnesses, we always pop in a few free bags too. From the feedback we receive this does not go unnoticed and often they will come back to us and order one of our other products and become long term customers.”
Their top tip is prior planning and being prepared, whatever happens. What are you going to do if you have a bad spell of weather or a postal strike? Have you planned properly so the service you offer is still what the customer wants and deserves? Steve suggests planning now to ensure you have enough stock for what is usually the busiest and most profitable quarter for many businesses: he says to stack the cards in your favour by being prepared for any eventuality.
Monday Seller Success with eBay: Handpicked Penrith
Monday, October 31, 2022 at 06:00Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Monday Seller Success with eBay: The game is afoot
Sunday, October 23, 2022 at 19:44Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Monday Seller Success with eBay: Meteorite Man
Monday, October 17, 2022 at 12:52Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Martin Goff tells us how an interest in fossils sparked a passion for rocks from space which segued into a business selling meteorites online, how selling online has helped him grow his customer base, and why knowing your customer is key.
Tell us a little about your business.
My business is based in Rossendale, Lancashire and is called Msg-Meteorites. I sell rocks from space, known as meteorites, and also associated items including books, jewellery, cards, and space-themed gifts.
Around 40 tons of extra-terrestrial material lands on earth every day. It’s blasted off the parent body, such as a large asteroid or planetary body, and occasionally it intersects with the earth’s atmosphere and lands here as meteorites.
I enjoy the history and cultural impact on people and places that these rocks from space leave behind, as well as the science involved. It’s the interweaving of all these different aspects that makes collecting meteorites such a fascinating and engrossing hobby for me. They certainly provide a strong sense of place in this world we live in and show us how insignificant we really are in the scheme of things.
I do tradeshows and also sell to museums and institutions, as well as private collectors and the general public.
How on earth (no pun intended) did you get started with your business?
I started out collecting fossils. Back in 2007, one of the dealers that I bought fossils from had a few small meteorites for sale. I was astounded that you could buy a meteorite! so I bought a small Campo del Cielo crystal (which of course I still have) and that was the seed that started me off.
I am in awe of these rocks from space: just being able to hold something in your hand that is older than the Earth that we live on still blows me away every time. The feeling of wonderment and sense of perspective that this gives you never goes away and in fact only deepens as your knowledge increases.
The transition from collector to dealer was very fluid. I used to exhibit at shows where I would put items out on display and visitors were constantly asking if they could buy them from me. I knew that the interest was there and saw an opportunity to develop it into a business. I started the business in 2015.
I made my very first ad hoc sales of meteorites directly to other collectors through online forums and mailing lists. But my first regular sales were made through eBay. I had used eBay to sell a few things before and I found it easy to set up to sell in more volume. From there I also then sold on other online marketplaces and also set up a web shop on my website.
I scaled my business relatively slowly but surely. I still work full time as a Police CSI so fit the business in around that and my family. However, my plan is definitely to move to run the business full time as I do not have the time at the moment that I need to grow it further.
What channels do you sell your products on?
I sell online via my own website and shop, along with eBay and other online marketplaces. I also sell via social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) and at various astronomy and science shows and fairs in the UK and abroad.
I developed my store and business by using social media and using different sales channels. I started with eBay for example but now also sell on ETSY and directly via Facebook and Instagram and other social media. I was well known as a collector within the meteorite community, but those varied sales channels and social media are helping to spread the word further. I am passionate about meteorites and really do enjoy talking to people to spread the word. I find children especially are often fascinated by space and meteorites. So, the science and Astronomy shows that I attend in person really help to showcase my business and I really do enjoy attending them too.
What has helped you grow as a business?
Selling online has been really important for me. It’s been far easier for me to reach a greater number of people through platforms such as eBay than I would have been able to through my own marketing. As I’ve become better known, I will get repeat customers directly through my website, but those customers originally found me via online markets such as eBay.
Having a variety of different avenues for selling also means that when they differ in their sales volumes, I can get through any lulls more easily.
Monday Seller Success Story with eBay: Giddy Goats Toys
Saturday, October 08, 2022 at 20:58Monday Seller Success With Ebay
Each week we will be celebrating an amazing small business in the run up to 10 years of Small Business Saturday.
Small Business Saturday & eBay have visited the small & wonderful businesses of the UK to hear how they started, scaled their business and share their success.
This week we would like to introduce you to Giddy Goats Toys based in Manchester, founded by Amanda Alexander:
Like many people I fell into running my own business having worked initially as a Customer Services Manager and then General Manager in the watercooler industry for 10 years, but then children came along, and I didn’t want to work long hours. I did a variety of low-level boring admin jobs before going to work for a friend who had an online toy business helping her pack orders. She then took on first one shop then another and eventually I bought one of these shops off her. I learned a lot from my friend about running a business and about the toy industry and will always be grateful to her for starting me on the path to where I am now at the helm of my own toy shop – a job which I absolutely love.
In the early days most of the takings were ploughed back into stock. I had a few part time members of staff but paid myself a pittance of a wage so that I could invest in the business and so took on another job doing data entry part- time to make ends meet whilst I built up my stock. (The irony is not lost on me that in trying to reduce my hours post children I was working two jobs but that said it was still hours to suit me and not the crucial tea-time/bath-time/story-time/bed-time shift).
Five years on and I had paid off the bank loan I had taken out to set up Giddy Goat, given up the extra job and started to pay myself something nearer approaching the minimum wage and we had a good loyal local following of customers. However, at this point I was also struggling with health issues and I had a few years of battling chronic fatigue - which anyone with chronic fatigue, ME or long covid will know is both debilitating and depressing. Not only did I lack energy, but I lost my Tigger bounce and became more of an Eeyore. I could get through the day but then would flake out when I got home. I never once had to close the shop but there were a few occasions where between customers I had to go lie down in the stockroom, scrambling to my feet when I heard the door opening. This dragged on for a few years but happily I did make a full recovery and by 2020 I was ready to do Couch to 5k and I’m now fully recovered and as my kids don’t need my time anymore (just my money!!) I can now not only run the shop but consider other challenges as well – both personal and professional - and I’ve a cracking bunch of friends in the same boat with almost grown-up kids who are up for nights out and weekends away.
So here we are celebrating 10 years. We’ve survived covid (so so grateful that I’d already started selling on some marketplace platforms when lockdown happened and was moving us onto a big girl epos system rather than our 1960’s push button fisher price style till) so we were able to move to being an online retailer, which essentially kept us going through the long long covid lockdowns (and bear in mind Manchester was closed down and in Tier 3 for months on end – remember the mind boggling tier systems on top of everything else we had to figure out). So, despite everything the last few years have, business wise, been good years. The downside was the isolation which came from having to furlough all the staff and work alone in my closed shop, so it was really lovely to be chosen as one of the 2021 Small Business Saturday’s SmallBiz100 and feel a sense of connection and community. I’ve enjoyed engaging with other small businesses on Facebook and at the networking events at the House of Lords and the recent Blue Tie event plus it was just lovely to get that recognition and support from such an amazing organisation. The information provided from the Small Business Saturday & Small Business Britain team via emails and webinars is fantastic and after attending the eBay Business Roadshow in Salford I joined eBay and we’re on their new seller programme where they work with you to develop your online shop and already seeing steady sales coming in.
The new seller programme is perfect for helping you move onto eBay as you are assigned an account manager to talk you through the process of uploading and then optimising your products. Our account manage was incredibly attentive & patient with us, there is a lot to navigate when setting up on eBay, so having someone on hand was invaluable. Our eBay sales started almost from day one of uploading our products and have grown steadily since. As a small business it’s really hard to get found online and this is where a platform like eBay comes into the fore as they are putting your products in the front of customers.
I think the two main differences in selling online vs offline are that you don’t have the same rapport with your customers. I have had some customers who have been coming into my shop for years, I know them by name and I can order products in especially for them and you have a relationship with them and that creates customer loyalty. It’s difficult to get that with online customers. I genuinely feel the customer service we give to our online customers is as good as to our shop customers, in as much as it can be with limited contact, but it’s simply not possible to engender the same relationship when it’s a digital transaction.
I think that’s one of the key things of running your own business. You can’t ever sit back and think ‘right that’s us, we’re doing well’. You can’t ever take your customers for granted, you can’t take anything for granted. The last few years have demonstrated that only too clearly. You have to be actively seeking new sales channels, new customers, new ways of selling, new ways of engaging with potential customers or new business opportunities. But the good news is there are lots of people, organisations and communities who are able to help and who want to see you succeed and Small Business Saturday is definitely one of them.
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