Mill Outlets - Volo

Mill Outlets

Zukeo is an etailer that knows a thing or two about recovering from adversity. The company grew quickly and successfully before dividing into two and going separate ways. This story describes the rise, the break-up and the further rise of this fascinating business. Zukeo, based in Northamptonshire, England, has a vast, predominantly textile-based, product range developed from almost exclusively hand knitting yarns and haberdashery over the last 35 years. The company is behind Mill Outlets and Classic Home Store. Their product range includes blinds, bedding, chefs’ wear and catering uniform, net curtains and window sets, ladies’, children’s and men’s clothing, bathroom towels and linens, table linens, dining textiles and kitchen accessories, pet beds and blankets, wools, yarns and haberdashery items, soft furnishings, furniture and artwork.
  • Category: Home & garden
  • Challenge: Knowledge, variations
  • Results: Tripled turnover in 2/3 months
  • Benefits: Fast re-build following business split
Tapping into the Knowledge

Marcus Galliford, Managing Director, Zukeo: “Basically, we started out as a retail shop. Then we started putting stuff on eBay, with one shop, putting it on individually. We graduated to Turbo Lister after that. Things were becoming a bit fragile though, Turbo Lister would fall over quite a bit when the listings database got too big.

“Amazon actually called us up and asked if we wanted to be on Marketplace. It was very new at the time. It was painful too, all the listings were done by flat files, which was pretty horrible. We realised we needed something else. We wanted to be able to upload our data once and push it to all the channels. Also we wanted to manage our inventory carefully. We tend to stock low volumes of items, and we didn’t want to oversell. We also wanted multiple eBay stores and an easy way of managing them that wasn’t manual.”

Knowledge is Power

“We were doing £9K a month when we started using Volo and within two or three months we had tripled our turnover. The business continued to grow strongly, around 30 to 35% per year, and we got it to £1m in turnover in May of 2013. Then my partner decided to go it alone. We split the business into two. With all the knowledge and experience I’d gained I immediately set about building the business back up with Volo. I had our Amazon store re-built from scratch in August 2013, and it’s our goal to get back to the 7-figure turnover within 2 years of starting again, which is more than twice as fast as it was the first time.

“The great thing about Volo for me is the control of the inventory across all channels, and as I mentioned, the fact that I don’t have to stock huge quantities. Also, we just have to enter our data once and Volo sends it to all the other marketplaces. Variations are very easy to set up, it’s simply a case of ticking boxes. We can run multiple sites on the one platform, we get the control from automating our purchase orders, and we can handle the customer questions from inside the system. All of these things help eliminate needless manual effort and keep the business moving.”

Serious about eCommerce

“We operate quite a complicated listing structure. We’ve around 2,500 items, of which 900 are drop-ship, and this will grow to about 1,400 very soon. We do quite a lot of size variations, these are our sub-SKUs, and then we have listing SKUs for each channel. Volo handles this variation complexity no problem. I would definitely need more listings staff and stock control without Volo, it’s as simple as that. With their help we’re also looking at reducing our seasonal dependence, which will really help us smooth out the year and find new growth areas.

“We had a visit from our account manager and our technical account manager recently. That couple of hours was for us an extremely useful use of time, probably the most useful ever. The Volo platform and staff are for people serious about ecommerce. It’s very comprehensive and there’s a lot of functionality. It takes time to learn, but once you’re over that, it’s very, very powerful indeed. And very stable too. I can import and export huge amounts of data, and it’s important to me to be able to do this easily.”