Today I am presenting another written interview with Harry Bettencourt. Harry is an entrepreneur who imports and re-sells a wide range of furniture into the UK consumer market. Specialising in bar stools, he has become the number one UK retailer of bar stools, and is considered one of the leading experts in the industry. His rapid business growth led him to developing a website dedicated to selling them, and set him on a journey of discovery with ecommerce systems, back-end ordering systems, and online marketing. In this interview he shares some of his story.
1. What got you started with Barstools.co.uk? Why this niche? Share your story.
I spent a lot of time in Italy working with interior designers over the last decade. At that time bar stools were making a little bit of a resurgence in many different forms, in particular in kitchen refurbishments. I could see an opportunity to bring some of these amazing bar stool designs back to the UK and get them popular in my home country.
I set the Bar Stools Company up a few years back, and haven’t really looked back since. From the off I had a huge learning curve discovering how to set up my ecommerce website, how to drive traffic and sales, and developing a bespoke ordering system integrated with my warehouse.
2. What’s working for you today to bring traffic to your site?
I work with an SEO agency who advise me on weekly tasks in terms of online marketing initiatives and traffic building strategies. To be honest though, I’ve self-taught myself a lot of stuff too. Selling bar stools online is quite a competitive business, with a huge amount of potential customers.
Being able to create new compelling and interesting content about bar stools isn’t an easy task, so I am having to constantly think up new creative ideas on how to generate new website traffic. Recently I’ve been looking at re-targeting methods as well as Facebook advertising to try to drive highly targeted traffic from people who could be interesting in buying bar stools. It’s a steep learning curve but am definitely getting there!
3. Do you utilize other sales channels such as Amazon and eBay? If so what are your thoughts on selling on multiple channels?
Yes I do. In fact I tend to test some product lines on eBay first to see if they sell. It’s very easy to list a new bar stool on eBay and get quite quick feedback on whether it will be popular or not.
I also tend to sell end of season stock on these channels too. We have a large warehouse full with different bar stools and designs and sometimes it’s quite a quick win to get them on eBay and Amazon – especially when selling in bulk discounts to trade buyers who need large consignments of bar stools quickly and cheaply.
4. What type of CMS (Content Management System) does your site run and why did you choose it to build your eCommerce site?
At the moment the Bar Stools UK website is run on the Magento platform. We also integrate WordPress into it as our blogging platform. We had a couple of issues with Magento recently from an SEO perspective so are currently working through that to optimise it best for all he different bar stools keyword searches that occur in the UK market.
5. What are your future plans for 2014 and beyond?
We are planning on releasing a whole new line of retro designs which I am hoping will prove popular with the British public! There are also plans to expand out into tables and chairs on a new ecommerce website – basically taking everything that we learnt from the Bar Stools UK project and repeating those successes in a different niche.