Interviews

Selazar: 'Levelling the ecommerce playing field for small-to-medium businesses'

  • After Amazon announced recently that it is hiring an additional 75,000 people to meet the increase in online shopping amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, I chatted with Jack Williams, CEO of eCommerce operations and fulfilment specialist Selazar.

    A lot of people feel like Amazon is the only way that they can order their online goods, or indeed sell them. However, after the online giant only allowed what they deemed as “essential items” to be sold on their site up until 5 April, the likes of Selazar may have thrown a lifeline for small-to-medium size enterprises in continuing to function.

    According to Selazar’s own website, it “allows retailers to focus on growing their business while giving them access to the best rates, reducing costs by up to 40%”.

    Jack said that whereas other eCommerce platforms might take a direct percentage cut of whatever price the business is selling a product for, Selazar’s “pay-as-you-go model eliminates the need to tie up capital on warehouses, equipment, staff or software”.


    Selazar's CEO and founder, Jack Williams

    Large corporations like Argos and ASOS can afford to build their own online shopping websites with software that costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. Jack said that of course many smaller businesses or start-ups can’t afford this, so Selazar does all the hard work for them, thus “levelling the playing field”.

    He commented that another beneficial difference of Selazar to larger eCommerce fulfilment platforms is their eco-friendly and retailer-emphasised attitude:

    “Sometimes when you order from the likes of Amazon, you could order two or three things that come in three different boxes, from three different carriers, on three different days.  I know one person that ordered a tiny packet of razor blades and it came in a massive cardboard box with lots of plastic and excess wrapping.”

    “Everything we do is environmentally focused.  We use a ‘Tetris algorithm’ to figure out the best way to get all your items in one box. That one box will be delivered in the one vehicle. It’s all being processed from one facility, so you’ll still get it the next day.”

    “We try and keep our own brand minimised at the moment. The packaging is blank, but we can use your own brand labels or stickers on the packaging, and it comes directly from the retailer itself rather than saying, ‘Amazon’s marketplace’.”

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    Jack added that this is a pro as when businesses sell products via Amazon, it is Amazon’s branded packaging that arrives to the customer; a person rarely remembers the name of the actual retailer they bought that item from.  This way, a business can make their own mark, even if it’s in a tiny way.

    Selazar started in 2018 as a pilot with a few companies and began officially rolling out in January of this year.


    (c) Selazar

    When I asked Jack if looking back now he thinks 2020 was the wrong time to launch properly, he assured me that Selazar was well equipped to ramp up their services during the pandemic, with a warehouse facility of around 250,000 sq. ft:

    “All of our sales and development team are working from home. Obviously, warehouse staff can’t do that because it’s a physical, hands-on job.”

    “Usually we would guarantee next day delivery on orders before 9pm but now we’ve had to scale that back to about 7pm to accommodate for our warehouse staff.”

    “There are however, four separate teams that work in the warehouse for Selazar, which rotate in shifts so that they are never in contact with one another. This means if one person in a team gets sick and the entire team must then self-isolate, there are still three other teams on hand to work.”

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    Jack added: “Things like homewares and gardening equipment are massively popular now and trampolines are up by around 300% because people are keeping the kids at home.”

    “One of the biggest decreases in sectors is fashion. A lot of the spring wear clothing was already manufactured and started arriving in warehouses a little over a month ago. So, expect to see a lot of sales in the coming months because they will need to get rid of that stock.”

    Although the fashion industry is suffering, he pointed out that loungewear is doing well compared to other types and interestingly, vaping product sales have gone down, which he attributes to people worrying about the health of their respiratory system obviously due to COVID-19 fears.

    Selazar currently operates out of the UK and Ireland, but Jack’s future plan is to roll out across Europe and for the firm to have a warehouse in every country, so that any retailer from a specific location can then have their stock in a warehouse nearby to be distributed internationally.

    Jack said Selazar will also be able to then offer “a French website, German website or any website in their local language and local currency, but you will still be dealing with us, Selazar, a UK company. It just means you will be able to expand your brand more and more.”

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    To find out more about Selazar or to find out how they can help your business, visit their website here.

    About the author

    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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