Welcome to this e-commerce business success story! In this profile, we interviewed Ian Turner, the owner of Care Lamps. Our hope is that you find this interview to be enlightening and inspiring as you seek to start and grow your very own online brand!
Thank you for joining us for this Boardroom Profile! We’d like to start by getting an understanding of your backstory. How did you come to own your business?
I have suffered from psoriasis since I was 16 years old. In January 2014, after my second successful course of UVB Phototherapy at the hospital a nurse suggested I purchase a small device that I could use at home to treat any small flare ups of the condition. I went home and purchased a device for around £300. When it arrived I realised that the product wasn’t great and definitely not worth the money. I immediately took it apart to see how it worked and then started creating my own prototypes.
Once I had what I considered the minimal viable product I set up a test website and ran some ads to see if I could make any sales. I followed the process in Tim Ferris’ Four hour work week which I had been reading at the time. I realised there was potential for the business so I started selling them, making them all at home.
By June I was making some O.K money, nowhere near my salaried work as a Business analyst but I figured that I could move to a different country that was much cheaper and run it remotely. I quit my Job and booked a one way ticket to Mexico. I went through the process of getting the device medically certified and I ran the business remotely until September 2019 while backpacking when I moved back to the UK with my wife (who I met on my travels).
Terrific! Now, this article is about profiling successful e-commerce businesses. So – can you share your top 3 keys to running a successful online brand?
You need to have excellent customer service. It is inevitable that some customers will not be happy. We always think about how we can turn a negative experience into a positive. We have had people leave us five star reviews even after having to return a product.
You must have a good product. The product must be at least one of the following
1) Better than the competition,
2) Cheaper than the competition
3) Better marketed than the competition.
Lastly, distribution is key. You must be able to get your product to your customer as quickly as possible, with minimal cost (Preferably no cost) and without fuss. In the Amazon age, no one likes to wait a week to receive their product.
Excellent. Now, I’m sure it hasn’t always been that easy. Can you tell a story about one challenge, setback, or mistake that you’ve had to overcome on the road to success? How can others learn from your mistakes?
There was a point in time where we sold our UVB lamp on Amazon in the UK. about 90% of our sales came from this channel. One day Amazon decided to ban the sale of phototherapy lamps on their marketplace. This immediately killed our largest revenue stream and we had to really switch our focus onto our shopify store.
My advice would be to not rely on anyone else’s marketplaces to sell your product. By all means utilise these platforms to make extra sales but you want the bulk of your sales to come from property you own.
Thanks for that. Now – we want to know what’s next! What new initiatives are you rolling out at your business and what results are you hoping to see?
We have seen increased competition so we are really focusing on an industry leading customer experience and are going to focus more on our marketing efforts. Also, we’re constantly looking to improve our products to keep the price competitive and the quality and performance better than the competition. We also have a website redesign in the works to help us optimise our SEO and push up our organic ranking.
Sounds exciting! Any final words of advice for our readers?
If you do not have previous experience starting an ecommerce store, don’t let it put you off. There is plenty of information out there (for free!) that can help you.
Work out your target audience, and test your product in the market before committing to any large investments. If you can get a few sales with a basic website and some test ads then you are likely onto a winner. Also, cash flow is king!
Brilliant! We want to thank you for participating in today’s interview. Hopefully our readers agree that there is a lot to be learned from your brand’s story. What links can our readers use to follow along with your journey?
Our website is carelamps.com and we would love a follow on our instagram @carelamps
Ian Turner is the director of carelamps.com, the UK’s leading light therapy provider since 2014.