In November 2013 I started to get to know Trevor Ginn. He hired me for an internship as an online marketing executive. To me, Trevor embodies a classic entrepreneur from head to toe. His reliable and charming appearance combined with his strong desire to improve his business every day made him a perfect fit for the second interview on this blog. In the interview we spoke about the online retailing business, SEO and entrepreneurship.
Hi Trevor! It is really an honour for me that you take some of your valuable time to answer my questions as I know that you always have a busy time schedule. Please introduce yourself to my readers in a few sentences and explain them how you came up with the idea of founding Hello Baby.
Trevor: In my previous job I met lots of online retailers and felt that with my knowledge of web technologies and online marketing I could do a good job of running and online retailing busieness. I was also inspired by the birth of my first child and how much money people spend on baby stuff.
I am sure that you did a lot of research into different retail sectors in order to decide which direction your business was going to take. What made you decide for the nursery industry?
T: The nursery has quite a few advantages:
Broadly non seasonal
Not as competitive as some sectors e.g. books, electronics
Can we sold though multiple channels (see below)
Is there another industry for online retailers that you would follow or recommend to others?
T: I don’t have any specific recommendations but here are some pointers (none of which apply to nursery products!) Items which are small and valuable (e.g. jewellery) are easy to store and post Any items which are barcoded will be for sale on Amazon hence the competition will be greater. For homeware items there will be less competition. On the flip side, it is much easier to start selling products which can be sold on marketplaces. ’Adult’ products for example, can’t be sold on marketplaces and so it more difficult to start selling in these categories
How do you see in general the development of e-commerce platforms such as ebay and amazon for online retailers ?
T: Marketplaces in general are going to be a large part of the eCommerce landscape with companies such as Tescos launching their own offerings. eBay and Amazon are going to refine their interenational offerings to streamline cross boarder trade which will become a large part of their business. Finally Rakuten will hopefully combine their various properties (play.com, buy.com) into a single marketplace which can make an impact in the market.
In your selling online guide for small businesses you wrote that many issues arise from a lack of e-commerce skills within the company. What are according to you the most important e-commerce skills that you need to have in general and specific for online retailers?
T: That is a very big question. To start an ecommerce company I think it is important to be willing to get your hands dirty and get involves in all areas of the business. Outsourcing areas of the businesses such as online marketing will ad expense to the business and may not be value for money.
In an interview you said that your USP in the market is your expertise in online marketing, particulary search engine optimisation. Ever since, SEO is a major issue for many businesses. What are your strategies that you can share with us.
T: Since the recent Penguin and Panda Google updates the whole SEO landscape has changed radically and I’m not sure if I really know the way foward any more. It is now more important than ever to have quality content which is unique to your site and focus on obtaining only quality, relevant links. These things are very time consuming, for example we have been writing unique product descriptions for each of our product and so we are currently focusing on paid advertising e.g. adwords.
How do you see the latest developments regarding the new Hummingbird algorithm by Google?
T: I haven’t studied it yet.
Hello Baby has developed an iPhone app in 2010. How many visitors does it attract to look at your site and how many downloads do you had so far?
T: It generates quite a bit of traffic to the site but no conversions. The clicks are caused by kids accidentially clicking on the hello baby link.
Do you suppose that there will be a stronger focus on mobile devices in the future? Also for Hello Baby?
T: Mobile traffic is booming and undoubted a large proportion of transactions will occur on mobile devices in the future. This is a challenge for retailers as they will require a mobile site which works across multiple devices. Conversion rates on mobile sites are also about one third of desktop.
What makes a good Entrepreneur to your opinion and what traits does he have?
T: That is a very big question! I think that first and foremost an entrepreneur must be good at wanting to run a business and take the risk that it will not work out. I have many friends who would probably be better at running a business than me but they don’t make that first step. I also think that entrepreneurs need to be self reliant and willing to try and lend their hand to all aspects of their business without paying for expensive external help.
In a recent interview I was asking Patrick if failure and setbacks are an integral part of entrepreneurial success. What is your opinion?
T: I certainly think that having a few set back make you realise that life goes on and not to be scared of trying new things out.
How do you overcome setbacks in your business?
T: By never giving up!
Lets talk about networking. How big is the importance of having a broad network for Entrepreneurs?
T: It is very helpful to be able to talk to people with similar problem to get ideas. We frequently talk to online retailers in other sectors to get new ideas. Networking is not so important to us as we are selling to a large number of consumers and so don’t need to make sales contacts.
How did you get in contact with other people to share experiences?
T: Though customer days mainly from eSellerPro and Channel advisor If you were free to chose, without any time boundaries, what kind of other business would you like to start and why? I am interested in setting up online retailing businesses in other sectors such as Pet products. The skills and systems we have developed selling baby stuff would be easily transferrable to this area. I am also interested in customer service software applications for online retailers as there are no systems available which are tailored to eBay and Amazon sellers.
What books, blogs or articles would you recommend for every Entrepreneur to read?
Thank you very much for your time!
Originally published in December 13, 2013.