Running 5 niche DIY sector eCommerce sites with ex Phones4u Andy Lockley of LoveShoppingDirect (episode 219)

Andy Lockley is the Head of eCommerce at LoveShoppingDirect the group behind one of the UK’s fastest growing online electrical DIY stores. The five websites are EnergyBulbs.co.uk, LEDBulbs.co.uk, AirConCentre.co.uk, MeacoDehumidifiers.co.uk, and Devola.co.uk. They launched their first store in 2008 have been featured in the Sunday Times Fast Track top 100, and now have a team of 20.

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About Love Shopping Direct

  • Located in the UK
  • Focusing on selling to the UK market with plans to expand internationally down the road
  • Recently migrated to Shopify Plus
  • Using Brightpearl to manage the back end
  • 20 person team

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The Creative Side of Business

Andy has always been drawn to the creative side of business and has steered his career towards the marketing side since the beginning. A self proclaimed love of instant gratification meant that the immediacy of digital marketing was a perfect fit. He especially loves seeing how rapidly a business can grow and the ability to very quickly understand if the campaigns and tactics being used are having a positive impact.

Though he now has a management role, he paid his dues and is a self described “infuriating junior employee” who cut his teeth at Phones4u. A natural inquisitiveness means that Andy may not have been the best junior employee—but the head of eCommerce is a great fit. After Phones4u, Andy jumped into a marketing role with a footwear eCommerce company that helped him flush out his experience and has prepared him for his current role.

The Love Shopping Direct umbrella is based in the UK and focuses their sales there exclusively for the time being. Much of what the company sells are commodity items and Andy points out that they’ve worked really hard to not base their business strategy on quantity and tight margins but rather on creating an excellent, ‘5 star’ customer experience. Because of the logistical difficulties with out of country shipping—especially with larger items—the company will continue to grow in a sustainable way.

Migrating to Shopify Plus

The Love Shopping Direct team recently undertook a massive project. Over the course of a year, they were able to successfully migrate all five of their sites to Shopify Plus. Previous to this, the websites were on a range of different platforms including Magento, WordPress and custom built.

Moving everything under one roof has allowed the company to do what Andy refers to as “Tech Stacking” which has opened up opportunities for increased efficiency. One area that has had an especially big impact on improving operations has been the cross-site PIM (Product Information Management) system that acts as a quality control and ensures there isn’t any accidental product overlap across sites. Andy describes PIM as a way to democratize product knowledge and ensure that data and product quality are held to a high standard.

Listen to learn what it’s really like to migrate several niche sites from one platform to another.

Ultimately, Andy also says the headache was worth it—even as he admits it nearly killed him. Knowing that the company’s ERP (enterprise resource planning) is streamlined across all of their brands is a huge relief. As for the new platform, Andy doesn’t hesitate with his favorite Shopify Plus plugin—the ever reliable TrustPilot for capturing and displaying customer reviews.

The Team

The Love Shopping Direct is detailed out according to specialty, not by individual website.  Customer service, finance and marketing are all kept in house. Andy’s own team is made up of 4 individuals who he says are committed to pushing the envelope and always getting the company to go outside of it’s comfort zone.

Marketing Strategy

As you can imagine, it can be difficult to get people excited about dehumidifiers. Without a trendy product line, Andy says that his team typically focuses on customer pain points for their marketing. He says the “I am too hot, too cold, too damp etc.” is where their marketing focus is because it works.  And even though the team is broken up by their roles, they do pay special attention to what’s happening specific to each of their sites. For instance, they were very strategic about which sites to migrate to Shopify first (the one with the least traffic—https://ledbulbs.co.uk) They saw the whole process as an opportunity to experiment with new ideas. Looking forward, the team hopes to implement a series of helpful ‘life hack’ videos.

Surprises in the Data

As the team was fiddling with the newly migrated ledbulbs.co.uk site, they noticed something unusual—that site was showing more activity and better numbers consistently over the other sites. They quickly realized the genesis were the 5 start reviews that were single handedly driving that site’s success—so they naturally rolled TrustPilot out across all sites and started focusing on getting as many five star reviews as possible. Every site across the company’s  portfolio has something unique to offer. Each site, Andy says, allow his team to do something a little different.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • PPC for instant results
  • SEO for the long term

Tool Top Tip

  • Supermetrics.com
  • Post it Notes

Growth Top Tip

  • Get your tech stack right. Make sure you are thinking like the size of business you want to be.
  • Fuel the five star review fire

Interview Links

Use the code MASTERPLAN on any of the five sites to receive 5% off your entire order.

Related episodes

Hear more about running multiple sites here

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