Rob from Parade Antiques sells items in the area of collectibles, memorabilia and antiques. Based in Plymouth, the business was established in 1997. Around five years ago, Rob started the Company’s eCommerce business alongside friend and business partner Alex. Parade Antiques trade through their own website and through eBay and are based in an old early 18th century warehouse near the waterís edge of Plymouth.
Some thoughts from the interview
“The online sales started about 5 years ago when we went into a family run antique shop and started selling online for them. Parade Antiques has been a shop in Plymouth since ’97 so it has been going for a little while but they didn’t have an online presence so we saw a need to be filled.”
“It was myself and the oldest son of the family, we have known each other since we were 4 years old. It was around the time of both of us coming out of university and not wanting to move further up country in order to use what we had been learning. To stay local, we thought we would try helping out the family selling the bits online and it worked. Very quickly it was apparent it was a model that was going to work.”
“Both of us were in Science.”
“So long as you’ve got the right attitude towards the work I suppose it doesn’t matter what it’s doing.”
“The shop has been full of one off unique items and that is not really the easiest thing to retail online. A lot of people spend the effort listing the product and then have 20 or 30 or 50 of them to sell so you only have to do it once to make 50 sales eventually. Our issue was everything that we wanted to list was a unique one-off item so all of the effort had to be put into every listing.”
“To a certain extent the photography is the most important thing of all because the way that we work we now have 3 or 4 different shops or art galleries and we sell them through commission basis. So we demand a product description and a price but it is the photography itself that really sells the item. The person isn’t in the shop with the item is his hand so you have to picture every angle, every dent, every chip, every aspect of the piece to make sure that they can see from the other side of the world as best as possible.”
“It was certainly a learning curve when we came into it, myself and Alex my partner. He went to the photography side and I went into the web development side because we wanted to maintain our own website and we also wanted to take good pictures. If you look back at the earlier products perhaps the lighting conditions aren’t so favourable, the angles aren’t complete, the pictures are certainly smaller it took us a little while to realise that we had to make them bigger to be able to magnify properly. I would say that over the last 3 years we really have made some leaps and bounds because we have been able to invest more in our equipment. When we started off we didn’t want to spend too much money but it soon paid off once you had a bit of money behind you. It certainly made it worthwhile.”
“So long as you can get up nice and square so you are not taking a weird wiggly angle picture. The art itself is meant to be viewed so they come across well in the pictures it’s the details that are the issue.”
“We decided that with Amazon, because we are one off items, the nature of Amazon is selling multiples rather than just selling a one off thing. The amount of time and effort it takes to get on to Amazon and list just one item to be sold just once.”
“We list to eBay.co.uk but we have so many products online now it is worth being a becoming a featured shop which gives you cheaper international site visibility so we do sell over the world through eBay.”
“You have to have a 14-day return period but we offer a 30-day so they can take their time, pour over it, show it to experts if they want to be sure. We give people enough time around the world to send it back to us if they are not happy. At the same time, sometimes, we will sell a ring and we will get it back within a week and you have to wonder whether or not they liked it or whether they wore to an event.”
“We have a large amount of packaging going out on a weekly basis and all of it goes fully insured and fully tracked. Where you can you want it tracked and signed for. It doesn’t always work to all of the world. You have to do all you can to protect your interest without costing you a fortune.”
“We have a small office where we have everything we need to picture, list and post and item so there really is no extra work required from the dealer other than this is an item I would like to sell, this is what it is, and this is how much I want for it.”
“I would like to spend more time on social media to be honest but seeing there isn’t that many of us here, I think social media could be a full time job for a person just running it for one business but that is not always viable. The approach that we’ve taken is that you have to be a bit quirky, you have to be a bit cool; at the shop here we have a giant prawn on a massive iron frame and we just decided that he was going to be one of our forerunners of social media so we named him and gave him profile and he is the oligarch of Parade Antiques in his eyes. Obviously he is not, but it gives you a bit more interaction coming from a character perspective rather than just a shop front.”
“Pinterest is very useable, Instagram not so much. I think Instagram is a very personal thing, sharing experiences than somewhere like Pinterest where you go to collate. Pinterest is really useful because we have such a wide variety of items that if someone likes something shiny and silver you are going to get a re-pin and you are going to get a link that has going to go out to someone else on Pinterest.”
“We have tried Google Plus, we tried Stumble Upon, we tried many over the years to make sure we don’t miss out on anything.”
“Twitter we use slightly differently to Facebook. I think Facebook is a bit longer lasting you get to follow it whereas Twitter we use it as a product feed. The community we are in in Twitter is more antiques based, collector based and dealers based so you throw products out there and people who like your products re-tweet them and that way it doesn’t hang around as long as it does on Facebook which can be a bit boring if it is just product after product after product.”
“We have a YouTube channel but we have used it more for gimmickier videos rather than product introductions. It was something we thought long and hard about and we haven’t written it off yet.”
Best Advice: “Just make sure that the idea is viable. When we came into it we thought we had seen a good niche to fill, a good place where the market itself was booming but there wasn’t that much of take up in it. I think the best advice is just to make sure it is viable. Don’t waste your time, your effort, your money unless you can see it paying off in the end because you can throw years of your life into something and that doesn’t necessarily mean it will work. If the idea is no good, then you are not going to come out the end.”
What do they offer?
Parade Antiques offer a wide range of stock including artwork, china, glass and ceramics, antique furniture, silver and jewellery, coins and medals, toys, advertising, railway and motoring, maritime, ethnic items, entertainment memorabilia, science fiction and much more. Catering for all budgets, Parade Antiques offer products at various price ranges and the Company is committed to providing a great customer service experience. Their success stems from ensuring that all items are labelled with an accurate description and price. Parade Antiques are always available to advise customers on anything they wish to buy (or sell) and allow them to handle the items. Their team is dedicated to providing prompt and satisfied answers to customers.
How to contact Parade Antiques!
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