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IRX 2012: Preview Interview with Tayyab Akhlaq of My1stWish and Eamonn Costello of eSellerPro

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In our latest preview of one of our major events of the year, Internet Retailing Expo (IRX 2012), we asked speakers Tayyab Akhlaq, managing director of online retail business My1stWish, and Eamonn Costello, director of product management at eSellerPro about what it takes to grow a business fast, and how technology can support that.

Tayyab Akhlaq built his online retail business, My1stWish, quickly, going from a standing start to £1m turnover in just two years. Now he is helping others to do the same through ecommerce managed services business Genie & the Geek.

Akhlaq himself realised the possibilities of ecommerce when he was asked by a friend to help sell some excess stock on eBay. Before long he decided to leave behind his career in electronic engineering in order to start his own online business on eBay. “A lot of people do it on the side to supplement what they’re earning from their usual job,” said Akhlaq. “But then you feel eBay isn’t delivering because you’re not giving it the time. I felt if you’re going to do something, you need do it properly.” My1stWish started by selling non-branded women’s footwear and soon it was selling 50 pairs a day of each the six styles it offered.

By the end of the first year, it was turning over £100,000 and a year later turnover had passed the £1m milestone. Today it sells products from women’s clothes, footwear and accessories to DVDs, board games and kitchen accessories through Amazon, eBay and its own websites, which are also mobile-enabled. It is also selling overseas through Italian, French and German-language websites and is exploring the opportunities that could be offered both by China and by franchising the business model.

It’s this kind of fast growth that Akhlaq now aims to help others achieve through his second business, Genie & the Geek, which runs managed ecommerce services for a wide range of brands including Religion, Kookai and Ben Sherman . “[Our clients] like the fact we treat each business as if it were our own because we’ve gone through the practice of buying and selling,” he said. “It’s not always about turnover: it can be about less turnover but being efficient so that you end up in a better position for the business.”

The Genie & the Geek business uses the eSellerPro multichannel sales solution, which supports traders looking to sell across channels including eBay and Amazon. These marketplace channels are important, argues its director of product management Eamonn Costello, who says that failing to recognise the opportunities that these two most-visited UK sites have to offer is like “neglecting to sell on the busiest high street in the country.” He says the key to trading successfully on them lies in mastering multichannel, from managing inventory through to ensuring maximum exposure across the channels, to scaling the business and streamlining processes – and technology has an important role to play in achieving that.

Costello said: “From the end customer’s perspective, when they’re interacting with the brand or company, it shouldn’t matter whether they’re in the store, online portal or through marketplace – there should be consistent service and processes for dealing with that customer.”

Find out more about growing an ecommerce business quickly from Tayyab Akhlaq, managing director of My1stWish, and Eamonn Costello, director of product management at eSellerPro, firsthand at Internet Retailing 2012 (IRX 2012). Together they will deliver their presentation, From armchair seller to multichannel: a story of smart technology, at 11.30am in the Fast Track Conference, on March 21st.

Entrance to IRX 2012, which will be held at the NEC in Birmingham on March 21 and 22, is free. More than 4,000 visitors are expected at the event, which features an exhibition of 150 suppliers to the ecommerce and multichannel industries alongside a two-day learning programme, Selling in the Digital Age.

The programme features four conferences, dedicated to Mobile and Social Commerce, Fast Track, Enterprise and Customer Experience, as well as a series of workshops, learning sessions and demonstrations of the latest technology.

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