Ecommerce Careers: An Interview with Ben Dale, Founder

With a bigger pool of talented graduates applying for jobs than ever before, it’s becoming more and more difficult to obtain the most sought-after positions. With competition high, we spoke to Ben Dale, Marketing Management graduate and founder of modern-rugs.co.uk, to get his advice for graduates wanting to move into the ecommerce industry.

Why did you decide to work in the industry and how did it start?
After I finished university I was working as a marketing manager for a large ecommerce website design company called Enigma Interactive. This gave me some great experience in how ecommerce sites are created, the technology involved, and the marketing techniques such as search engine optimisation and pay per click advertising.

While I enjoyed helping other businesses get into ecommerce, it was still something I really wanted to do for myself. I felt I had enough knowledge to start my own online business but I wasn’t sure what product I could sell.

My dad had a small carpet shop in our home town, obviously carpets seemed too large to sell online but rugs seemed well suited. They were not too big to deliver with couriers and not easily damaged. Selling online would also mean I could offer a much bigger selection of designs and sizes than any physical shop could.

Ben Dale – Founder of Modern-rugs.co.uk

What was the turning point in your career?
When I was in a position where I felt confident I could run modern-rugs.co.uk as a full time business.
I started the website while I was at Enigma Interactive, working on evening and weekends to develop the site. I didn’t really have much money to invest into a bespoke website, so I used an off the shelf ecommerce website design package which cost just £30 a month. This allowed me to design and manage the website myself.

I contacted some large rug importers and asked if they would supply me through my dad’s business – some of them agreed. I made sure the website was well optimised for search engines and soon it started to rank well for the target keywords, bringing relevant traffic to the website without any high marketing overheads.

Orders starting coming through and within a couple of months I left my job at Enigma and we converted my dad’s carpet premises into the warehouse and office for Modern Rugs. Since then the business has grown and grown every year.

What do you need to do to get into the industry?
1. If you really believe in something but you aren’t successful the first time, try not to give up. Refine your ideas, work hard and try again.
2. Get experience and gain skills in all aspects of business.
3. Research your market carefully.
4. Always try to stay one step ahead of your competition.
5. Do something you enjoy and you’ll find it all the more rewarding.

How can entrepreneurs make sure they stand out from the crowd?
Some people have the misconception that setting up a successful ecommerce business is easy, but building the business to the point it is at today has involved a lot of hard work. We have over 10,000 designs on our website now which has been gradually built up over the last eight years. We have always tried to stay ahead of our competition with innovative features such as our product videos.

What does the future look like for you?
The next big step for us is moving to new larger premises which will allow us to employ more people and hold more stock. We’re always looking at new exciting products and new ways to grow the business, for example we should soon be at the stage where we can look into targeted television advertising.

Do you have any motivational words for students aspiring to make it in this very competitive industry?
You need to be committed 100% to what you are doing, have good general business sense and skills, and have the ability to take calculated risks. Finally, it is important to surround yourself with the right people that are going to work with you towards your goals.

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