Board Basement: Nursery slopes to off-piste - Volo
Go back

Board Basement: Nursery slopes to off-piste

Stuart Tait is Co-founder and Director of The Board Basement, a specialist provider of winter sports equipment, clothing and accessories. He talks to Volo about how he turned a £3,000 investment into £1 million-a-year business…

Click the different images below to read the evolution story of The Board Basement.

How did The Board Basement start life?

The business was born out of a simple idea to help people fight against the growing cost of doing what they love to do. We’re a small company of keen snowboarders with over 20 years’ experience in the snow and surf industry, so we really understand what’s important to our customers – namely quality gear and great prices.

My business partner and I came to The Board Basement out of another business we were involved in. We said ‘let’s do it slightly differently this time’. We started like thousands of small businesses do, out of our bedrooms with just £3,000. We set up an eBay shop, got a warehouse and built a website. After that came the hard part, figuring out how to make our eBay store and website talk to each other. We went down a different route to start with, one which I would describe as interestingly painful.

The second time around, about two years ago when we were making about £250,000-300,000 in revenue, we did things properly. We had so much online success, it meant we could set up a physical store for customers who wanted a more ‘real’ experience, along with access to our expertise.

After that we hired a guy with great online experience and we started working with Volo. We felt a lot of synergy working with the creative team when it came to setting up our web shop. Now we have the ePOS system to take care of drop-in business at the front of our warehouse, which serves as the shop. It’s not bad progress for five guys in a corner of Devon.

We’ve really enjoyed growing the business and it’s fair to say it has come on leaps and bounds since implementing the Volo system. It’s right at the heart of the business, reporting from every angle, and we’ve embraced all its phases. We’re now at around £1million turnover.

Can you share any moments that transformed the business?

Volo has helped us think strategically and find the pieces of the system to make things more efficient. I remember when we went to see the guys, we were talking about a problem and they introduced us to a special packing screen which we’d never seen before. We came back, used it, and now it saves us a huge amount of time getting orders out of the door.

When I look back, the crux of our success has been our journey with Volo. It all started with the platform and the seamless integration of our warehouse with our online channels: the web shop, eBay and Amazon worldwide. We got the web piece working, and Volo grew with us. Because of our growing online reputation, people started coming to see us – we’re tucked away in an industrial estate in Exeter. The front of our warehouse effectively became our store and we were able to add the ePOS system as our in-store tool.

What’s the biggest challenge the business has faced?

As I previously mentioned, we had difficulty making our website talk to our worldwide eBay store. We discovered Volo and have found over time that the system can do it all for us. Now all of our customer touchpoints are integrated, regardless of the channel they come through, with the reporting at the back end. It’s been phenomenal.

What advice do you have for anyone who’s thinking about taking their business to the next level?

I’d say treating customers as you would like to be treated is one of the key beliefs we stand by, and the cornerstone of our customer service – it’s served us well so far. If you decide you need a system like Volo, it can be daunting at first because all the possibilities are in front of you and you start to see all the things the system can do. Start slowly, focus on what’s important, be patient, and you will get to use all of the stuff you saw in the demo at the very beginning. For me, at the end of the day it’s all about your data and seeing what your data can do.

What does the future hold for The Board Basement?

Cross border is really important for us, it’s about 20-25% of our business. We’re lucky in that in our business we don’t need to do translating. We offer international shipping, and we’re also on Amazon Germany, France, Italy and soon Japan. Australia is a very important market for us. Last year we sold 140 snowboards to Australia.

The fact that everyone is changing the goalposts all the time, means we need to future-proof the business to maintain our competitive edge and the Volo system is helping us become more efficient. It has also given us control over managing our stock across all the channels.

Are you ready to go global? Volo can help take your business to the skies.
Start your ecommerce adventure today.
Contact us