Ahead of IRX 2013 we’re previewing some of the key highlights of our annual expo. Today we speak to Darren Cresswell, co-founder and technical director of WAE+, who is speaking in our conference stream, to find out about the etailer’s story so far – and what he’ll be covering at IRX 2013.
Internet Retailing: Tell us about WAE+ and how you went from start-up to where you are today.
Darren Cresswell, co-founder and technical director, WAE+: Back in September 2011, we decided to start up what was originally a business-to-business office supplies website. From our point of view it was a technology-first business. We added consumer-focused products in early 2012, and then food and drink and toys at the latter end of the year. The main focus has always on making sure that the information we have, that we get from users, the website and the internet, is presented as well as we can have it. Everything comes in based on that.
We’re here today because our foundation is in technology and the information – you get the information right and everything seems to follow. We’ve grown quickly and have now moved to larger premises because of the volume and size of the products we’re selling. You get to a certain size and have to make big decisions to get to the next level. With our fast growth we’ve had to learn about playing ahead very quickly.
IR: What was the biggest challenge you as a team faced in that time?
DC: The biggest challenge has been the fast growth coupled with a young age. A lot of companies out there are well-established and have been around for 50 or more years. Getting other businesses and suppliers to understand our vision when we were a year old was a big challenge. As we’ve been growing we’ve been making sure we keep up the pace. If we hadn’t expanded our warehouse we wouldn’t have been able to keep up with the growth. Just because we’re young doesn’t mean we don’t know what we’re doing.
IR: And what thing did you get really right?
DC: You can never rest on your laurels. I think big companies like HMV, Comet and Jessops would probably be saying they got things really right and then they didn’t change for years. One thing we got really right is that we realise we always have to change – you can never sit still. We’re always trying to improve, to work out ways to make things better.
You have to make the changes and keep on changing – in this climate that’s what everyone is expecting. If you’re standing still you’re missing out and three or four other companies are trying to make a niche in that area that you’re not moving into. Everybody’s moving, changing so we have to change with it.
IR: What one piece of advice would you give to others starting out?
DC: I would say believe in your product, believe in yourself, believe in your service. Not only that but make sure others realise your belief in it. From our own experience, a lot of people have the tendency to say yes, that’s good. We went to them, said we’re on course to turn over £1.5m in the first year, they say that’s nice, that’s good, but then when we did it they came back to us and said, ‘oh you’ve done it’. I’d say believe in yourself and make sure people realise your vision. You can go a long way then.
IR: You’re appearing in the Advanced Selling session – what is your top tip when it comes to achieving and growing sales?
DC: Know your products, the data, the information. Why are people coming to you for the item – what do they want? If it’s services, what are you providing for them, if it’s products what can your product do? The top tip I’d say is get as much information as you can out there about it. If you’re competing with another person in your market and they have a better image, description of their version, your product might be better, it might be cheaper faster but if you don’t have much information people are going to be left with unanswered questions.
IR: What else are you going to be talking about at IRX?
DC: We’ll be talking about the use of marketplaces and price comparison on the internet. This year more than any other, it’s going to become a vital part of the online shopping world as people move a lot more from the high street onto online services. People will start to distrust Google a little bit more and will go to lots of different sites. One thing we’re starting to do this year is wherever you try to find us, we’ll be there. Just as on the high street the big brands stick to a store in every town, online if you can get your presence somewhere else you’ll get more customers, more sales and more recognition.
IR: Beyond your own appearance at the event, what else are you looking forward to seeing/doing at IRX?
DC: I always go to any convention, any conference, be it IRX or another, with an open mind. I’ve been to ones before where I’ve gone to see a big name talking and it’s been good but then I’ll go and see a smaller company talk and I’ll get a lot more from that. If anything I’m looking forward to seeing the smaller companies having their say and presenting their story. That’s where I’ll learn a lot from. A lot of people go to see the big names, the Amazons and the Facebooks. But there’s a lot to learn from smaller companies and what they’re doing.
Darren Cresswell, co-founder of WAE+, will be speaking in the Online Merchandising and Selling conference at IRX 2013. He’ll be speaking at 2pm, as part of the Advanced Selling Techniques panel session. For more information on IRX 2013, to register to attend for free, or to book a place in one of our 12 workshops, click here,