David from Run Active has 2 aspects to his website, one is for the performance running market and his second eCommerce business expands into the niche market for his other multi channel site Muddy Kit for people that endure the tough muddier events & races. As well as running successful eCommerce websites David also owns bricks and mortar stores which supplies to the casual jogger to cross country.
Some thoughts from the interview
“We have two aspects to our business. We have runactive.co.uk which focuses on performance sports for the running market and we’ve diversified very recently, within the last 12 months, to a very niche site which is a sub-site of run active, which is muddykit.co.uk which focuses on those people that do the ever increasing ever more popular tough mudder events. We felt that on that particular site that there was a need for special products for safety.”
“Overall we focus on online on performance products for running markets.”
“We own bricks and mortar store as well and we deal with a variety of customers from your casual jogger to your school or club cross country and there is a real cross over which is actually how it started in terms of diversifying into the muddy kit.”
“I was at an event and I picked up a magazine called obstacle race magazine which I thought was quite niche in itself having a magazine for this sport. Having a read through it I thought that we sell a lot of this product ourselves and there doesn’t seem to be anywhere online selling the product; shoes which are suitable form running cross country and also suitable for running a tough mudder obstacle race. So we contacted the magazine themselves and asked them whether they would be interested in co-retailing, us managing the product and website and clearly they were connected to this community which was ever growing, and we put a joint venture together.”
“Icecbug is a Swedish brand hat is trying to break into the UK market at the moment they are finding it somewhat of a challenge. We have managed ourselves to source a particular shoe called the VJ Sport Irock and we are the only company retailing it in the UK and it’s now become the most successful shoe that we sell which has been amazing. It is really good to have a product that isn’t competitive online so if people want to buy it they come to us. It is a very good product, it does exactly what’s needed so we are creating a bit of a niche. What is interesting is brand such as Icebug try to come the UK market with a lot of PR and a lot of energy behind it because the products aren’t as good product we have.”
“(VJ Sport Irock) is a Finnish brand that didn’t have a route to market in the UK and we identified it as a product from someone which was wearing it who we knew, e happened to be the world champion in the obstacle race market and he jumped product from a different successful brand to the Irock in 2015 and we jumped on it and made connections with the brand and we are currently in talks with them to become a UK distributor for the product.”
“We operate 5 stores; we have got a flagship store in the heart of London and a handful of stores around the Essex/London boarder.”
“There is an online community in the running circles called running bug which has got a great big following and fortunately enough they are London based so I had a meeting with them when I was moving towards the online market from the bricks and mortar model and he was saying the online running market are very competitive, all these big companies out there, and it is very price driven, good quality and good service. It was very hard for us to break into that market which is where Run Active would be competing. Further to the conversation he said that this muddy kit think that you are talking about sounds like the opportunity as it is niche.”
“Whilst it hasn’t always been smooth saving since taking it on, I am not massively experienced online retailer I am learning every day, it is really showing significant promise particularly in a couple of key products which we have got as exclusive to us. So, as long as that happens we are doing well.”
“As we are close to the market and small we are able to adapt when we see an opportunity.”
“We have a centralised EPOS with stock management which allows us to input the data, images, the process structure in to the system but an issue we found that when you start with a big bricks and mortar store is getting everything on there when you have an enormous amount of products and it is time consuming.”
“We focus on working backwards so any new products that come in go on and then were are gradually filtering through.”
“The great thing about the platform is that we have one system that then feeds the information into the different channels we sell on and once they sell it filters back the information to the system.”
“Because we have a bricks and mortar and it is not a seamless process because they are some time delays so we do have a few issues now and again whereby we may sell in it in the shop at the same time as we sell it online and the 2 don’t synchronise instantaneously so every now and again that happens. We did experience initially about 6 months ago with Amazon as we were trying to embed this solution in there was a loss of data and stock levels weren’t as accurate as they needed to be. So just as were ramping up our Amazon sales we lost some of those for not having the stock in the business. We got a big telling off from Amazon.”
“Amazon actually withdrew us from sale for a period time whilst we had to put a business case back to them saying what had happened and how to rectify it.”
“Amazon’s incredibly high standards helped us have incredibly high standards and they are teaching us how to operate a successful business online.”
“There is a rating system on Amazon. We had gone down on to the low sixties in January which is quite poor in their eyes and we are now on 96.52 so we have worked significantly hard to ensure everything runs as smooth as possible.”
“The other aspect of what we like is bricks and mortar you are quite narrow to your consumer base because it is the same people walking past our shop or visiting your town. We have chosen at the moment not to become discounter on Amazon as we feel that the commission that Amazon takes is enough for us to loose. The great thing for us is that we have more opportunity to sell peripheral sizes in footwear.”
“We are trying to launch a system called desk drop whereby someone can call, click and say I want this, bring it to me.”
“Running a business isn’t always simple, there are lots of challenges every day of the week.”
Best Advice: “Make sure your friends and family understands it is full commitment running your own business. Make sure you focus on understanding the cash flow model, your stock purchases. In terms of the online world make sure you get your stock holding right don’t upset customers by not being able to fulfil orders. Make sure your deliveries are prompt, customer service is excellent and communication is excellent, customers expect nothing less now. The problem with the online consumer is that they are happy to type away and other people can see what they type whereas compared to a bricks and mortar store you can generally talk and appease online it’s a bit harder. Reputation is paramount so always maintain that 100% service level, communication is key. If you have a problem deal with it, don’t let it fester.”
What do they offer?
Everything that could possibly be needed for any type of running, whether it be school cross country or trekking up a rocky hill. Shoes to suit every occasion supply spikes, trail, triathlon & barefoot accessories. Supplying men’s and women’s clothing apparatus including shorts, tights, t-shirts, vests, jackets, base-layers & hoodies. Needing some fit tech? Run Active also supplies accessories, headphones, fitness trackers and tomtom devices.
How to contact Run Active!
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