We talked to Jack Williams of Selazar on how to automate eCommerce operations in a more intelligent and efficient way while cutting costs and this is what he had to say.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Jack Williams: As well as can be expected. These unprecedented times have demonstrated more so than ever the importance of resilience and adaption to change. I feel very fortunate that I could work from home and maintain normality during last year. My partner, Hannah, is an artist. The restrictions imposed have greatly affected her ability to work and exhibit and participate in events, like many creative industries. We find solace in the simple things like beach walks with our dog, Elmo; getting outdoors has kept us sane.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Selazar?
Jack Williams: I am passionate about the digital logistics and eCommerce industries. Over the last 12 years, I have founded and successfully exited multiple logistics enterprises, including a UK based laptop recycling company and a fully automated eCommerce platform that sold over 100,000 products. With each, I managed the full logistical elements of the business, including carriers, warehousing, architecting efficient distribution, and returns solutions models.
We operated by holding around 8% of our stock for the fastest selling products on our eCommerce platform, using the supply network to distribute 92% of items via dropshipping. The process required multiple platforms to function simultaneously to operate, which led to mass inefficiencies because if one platform failed, they all failed.
Having identified the distinct shortcomings in this operational method, I recognized the need for an innovative end-to-end fulfillment platform that spurred the evolution of Selazar.
Using[EM1] [MJ2], our platform, retailers can manage storage and fulfillment operations integrated with omnichannel selling strategies. Our innovative pay-as-you-go model makes it flexible for businesses of all sizes, there are no sign-up fees, and retailers only pay for what they use. We level the playing field for SMEs as they don’t need an upfront start-up capital to expand their brand and have the robust, scalable software that allows larger retailers to onboard quickly and efficiently.
How does Selazar innovate?
Jack Williams: We innovate every day. We listen to what our customers need and deliver market-leading technology to solve them. Selazar’s tech-first ideology backed up by a dedicated development team, is how we innovate. The why and what we deliver is a much longer conversation but simply put, we solve real problems for retailers in today’s environment. Just yesterday, a client came to me with a story I keep hearing.
My bricks and mortar won’t support me reliably moving forward; I need to sell online.
While foot traffic is free-flowing location is king, online was under-appreciated or entirely neglected by many businesses. Our innovative and evolving product is designed to scale with you regardless of your starting point. Our current partnerships include Scandinavian start-ups and big-brand bricks and mortar moving online in a significant way. As you can imagine, their requirements range massively but, at the core, are the same. We store, pick & pack, ship, and handle the returns process for online retailers. We do it in a new, scalable way that has an environmentally friendly approach.
I should mention our 2021 initiative to have all Selazar orders come with Eco-Packaging as standard. Plastic-free alternatives are not only good for the environment and but also for your reviews.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business?
Jack Williams: The pandemic has affected every aspect of life and business. Our priority was to ensure the safety of our staff and continuity of service for our clients. We took rapid, decisive action and luckily have had no major health concerns or operational downtime. It is something I am genuinely grateful for, and hope remains the same.
Despite new restrictions, we managed to decrease clients’ service time over the Black Friday Weekend, saving about 20% of the time taken for picking and packing. We work from a pay as you go pricing model that is timed to the second, so our clients are only charged for the actual work being done. Saving time means saving our clients’ money. Saving significant impact would have to be the evident need for agile and dynamic solutions for fulfillment in 2021. Last year taught retailers and third-party logistics alike that circumstances can and will change rapidly. Meeting this new landscape head-on has proven a successful tactic for many of our clients. Using our fulfillment features like bundling and custom packaging gives consumers the “experience” they are used to receiving from the high-street.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Jack Williams: Yes, last year the government and Innovate UK call for UK businesses to fight the pandemic’s impact on the Economy. Responding to this, Selazar launched a new initiative focusing on supporting communities to return products to retailers. We’ve called it ReturnRobin. We designed and delivered a system to help protect the public and service a vital function of distance selling. While multiplying, we are in exciting conversations with many big retailers, particularly in the fashion industry, where return rates are as high as 30%.
This new and improved service is rolling out nationwide as we connect with those brands who understand that customer service is a significant differentiator in 2021. Look after your customers, and they’ll look after you!
Your final thoughts?
Jack Williams: What Selazar ultimately does at its core is to alleviate businesses’ everyday stresses through technology while helping them scale and expand into the online market. We also assist with the most recent market updates and industry changes, such as Brexit. Brexit is a big concern for all UK sellers right now. We are helping them navigate through these changes.
We also digest customs papers by producing them digitally as orders are processed, speeding up the entire process since paperwork is automatically integrated across the critical systems. I am incredibly proud of our team’s ability to adapt to these changing circumstances and help our customers too. If you are looking for more information on how Brexit is affecting UK sellers, reach out to us or keep an eye on our blog.