Growing a reCommerce business to £5.5m through great customer experience with Helen Lord from UKE (episode 399)

Helen Lord is co-director and founder at family business Used Kitchen Exchange, the UK’s number one kitchen reseller, and a proud recipient of the Queen’s Awards for Enterprise in Sustainable Development. Founded in 2014 they now sell around £5.5m in product a year.

eCMP399 Landscape

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Getting Started in the reCommerce World

Helen’s journey in the reCommerce world began when she needed a kitchen, searched for one on eBay, and found that the people selling them weren’t giving the right information.

She saw an opportunity, seeing that she was able to purchase £120,000-worth of kitchen and paid only £5,000 for it. She sought out kitchen companies and asked their opinions, and began picking up a few kitchens along the way.

That’s how the business began, with a lot of lessons learned and process improvements along the way.

About Used Kitchen Exchange

  • Based in Widnes in the UK, but has photographers covering the whole of UK, plus a dismantle and delivery teams in the north and in the south
  • Sells to the whole of UK
  • Is on WordPress

Used Kitchen Exchange currently doesn’t have a checkout page on their website. Helen believes their customers may need to speak with them prior to making that final decision to purchase, and they’ve made that facility available to ensure a smoother buying experience.

However, their eCommerce site is in the works, which Helen says is a very exciting and expensive move for them. 

A Full-Service Solution

Helen explains that what they do at UKE requires in-depth service not only for the buying customer but also for the homeowner who’s selling the kitchen.

For buyers, UKE eases the tension that comes with purchasing a pre-owned item by preparing the necessary information and details they need. It’s the same for the seller, plus there’s also the aftercare and dismantling.

In effect, they’re not only selling a product but they’re also providing service to everyone involved in the process.

Sustainability as a Motivating Factor

Helen says there are two sides to the sustainability element becoming a motivating factor for consumers.

  • One, Covid changed the way people think, feel, and move about.
  • Second, money becomes part of the equation.

In the case of used kitchens, it becomes a win-win situation because not only do you reduce your carbon footprint, you also get to save money.

Helen adds that the next stage is to start working with the industry to actually begin designing kitchens meant for reuse.

More Opportunities

Helen says the amount of opportunity the reCommerce world has opened up for them is amazing because it’s leading them to business transformation.

They’re looking to give consumers a total solution marketplace when it comes to kitchens and hopefully, bedrooms and bathrooms as well in the future.

eCommerce Book Top Tip

  • Helen is more likely to listen to podcasts than reading books and aside from eCommerce Masterplan, she also enjoys The Diary of a CEO with Steven Bartlett.

eCommerce Traffic Top Tip

  • Especially with the sustainability aspect, it’s all about education so don’t think you’re just marketing a product. You’re also marketing the concept, idea, and awareness on every platform you’re on. With UKE, beautiful imagery and engaging content on Instagram and Pinterest are key.

Tool Top Tip

Growth Top Tip

  • Understand your customers and know what their journey is, where they are, and make it easy for them to find you, too.

Interview Links

Related Episodes

  • 372: Building a lucrative second hand market with Kalkidan Legesse founder of Sancho’s and Owni
  • 376: Clothes Swapping success and how it can work for brands too with Nuw’s Aisling Byrne
  • 392: Embedding ethics and sustainability into luxury brand Elvis & Kresse – super inspiring story

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