Two years ago, 19-year old entrepreneur, Ben Ewart, from East Yorkshire spotted a gap in the market for a reliable supplier of electrical components selling high quality products at competitive prices.
Ben had big dreams but decided to start small and sell products on eBay and Amazon. He worked from his parents’ house, keeping overhead low and traffic high – leaving him free to source and advertise new products, resulting in the birth of Switch Electronics.
Training to be a professional golfer, Ben worked two jobs full-time while he got the business off the ground but his entrepreneurial passion quickly overtook his love of the game and he soon began to invest more and more into researching and purchasing new products to sell. The gamble took off and the business grew at such a rate that soon found himself looking for premises of his own.
From ‘bedroom to boardroom’
The challenges of expansion were never far from Ben’s mind, ‘It was an exciting moment when I realised I needed premises to run my business from. My parents’ place was starting to look like a Royal Mail depot, and moving to a warehouse meant we could expand the business at the rate we wanted. Trading from a business premises gave our customers confidence too. But one of the biggest challenges was increasing turnover to cover our costs – or risk failure at an early stage.’
By remaining true to their original business model – carefully selecting suppliers and stocking small size, high quality items at competitive prices – Switch Electronics have kept postage costs low, and retained customers who appreciate the good value and service.
The right tech for success
With 99.9% of their sales made on the Internet, Ben says that Linnworks, UK's most popular online business automation solution, is vital for his business because of its stock control feature. ‘With thousands of product lines, including composite items across three different selling channels, it was becoming a nightmare manually adjusting the stock levels. Linnworks has saved us countless hours by making the adjustments automatically. This has allowed us to apply our time towards more productive tasks and put our time and effort into growing the business.’ With the pressure off, Ben and his team can update products across all three channels at once, and he says, ‘what used to take us two weeks, now takes two minutes.’
With an annual turnover of £250,000 and with his business set to expand within the next three years to in excess of £1 million, Ben has made all the right moves from start up to success – and is on track to become one of the leading distributors in his field.
Ben’s top tips for online selling success
1. Focus on your business early on. Working two jobs helped with financial security, but it also cost time, and the business would have grown at a faster rate if it had been the main focus from the off.
2. Make sure your descriptions are up to date, accurate, and always include attractive images. And get it right first time, so you don’t have to update individual listings later on when you are busy fulfilling orders.
3. Keep your costs low and remain competitive by negotiating new deals with suppliers and other services.
4. Provide a first class service.
5. Use online business automation software like Linnworks to increase productivity and make you more efficient. After two years manually updating products on each sales channel, Linnworks lets you make updates on multiple channels in minutes.
6. Keep your eye on the detail. Monitor your finances religiously so you can see where cutbacks can be made and watch out for bottlenecks. Make adjustments at the end of each month, so you can plan for the month ahead.