An eCommerce retailer success story: Ladders UK Direct

Ladders UK Direct team photo

Some of you may remember that we welcomed back Ladders UK Direct, who had been with us previously at The Business Centre (Cardiff) and had moved into a showroom. However, they quickly returned to us after missing the flexibility, cost-effectiveness and ease of The Business Centre! They now have two offices, which they’ve knocked through to create one large office. They love the support and the business community that we’ve cultivated here, as well as the wonderful Mel’s Café, the modern gym and onsite parking. And we can’t blame them; we love it here too! 

Ladders uk direct logo

Similar to many other eCommerce businesses, Ladders UK Direct has had a whirlwind few years including recently navigating the pandemic. However, what was positive for them is that Covid and lockdown restrictions has forced them to re-assess many of their processes and introduce automation to their business for increased efficiency. Now that we’re coming out of the other side of the Covid pandemic, we were thrilled to catch up with Anthony from Ladders UK Direct and find out what they’ve learnt from this rocky pandemic period. 

Ladders Direct soared as more people opted for DIY projects 

As we all were back in March 2020, Ladders UK Direct were hit with the daunting prospect of closing their doors. The team expected it to be dead as we went into lockdown, and initially, they were quiet. Ladders’ suppliers thought that they would have to close as their competitors were closing their stores and moving everyone to work from home. Ladders had just launched a new website; they anticipated that it might take some time to pick up some traction, especially now in lockdown. None of us knew what to expect or what was going to happen next. 

But what they didn’t expect was to see an influx of orders which they put it down to several factors: 

  • Suddenly they had the market to themselves because all suppliers, like B&Q, were closed
  • We were all at home in lockdown and couldn’t get anything for the garden, so instead, lots of us turned to DIY projects around the house, so needed ladders and accessories

However, there was also the work behind the scenes that Ladders UK Direct had been doing and steadily investing in their online presence. They had recently improved their eCommerce site, they were working with a team of professional SEO and online advertising experts, plus they had recently stepped their toes into social media. Their advertising team kept optimising and improving throughout Covid. They were already established in their market, and they had lots of social proof with over 4,000 reviews on Trustpilot. 

As the orders began to grow, their rapid growth presented some new challenges. For example, suppliers were struggling to meet the demand, and delays grew. Getting deliveries made became the biggest challenge, so delivery times went from 3-5 days to 10-12 days to manage customer expectations. 

To keep up with demand they embraced change

It was all hands on deck! By April 2020, Anthony had returned to the office, and Brian & Leanne were working flat out at home. It was an incredibly challenging time; orders had doubled, which was amazing but highlighted key processes within the company were still manual. This was fine when their orders were at their standard capacity, but once they began to grow, it was evident that these manual processes were no longer working. They spoke to their developers and sought out a solution. Some processes could be automated, which freed them up to focus on other tasks & actions and meant they could focus on their business growth! 

As they got busier, they started to become reactive and see the benefit that automation was bringing to their business. So, they continued to look for other areas within the business that they could automate. With each automation, they have invested their time and resources elsewhere, continuing to grow the business. Over time, the rest of the team returned to the office, and by November, they had hired two new staff members. 

Before Covid, Ladders UK Direct had already been doing well online and hadn’t been far from being the biggest retailer for ladders and access equipment in the UK. The work they did on their processes during the pandemic, the ongoing work with their developers, marketing partners and bringing automation into the business has, without a doubt, catapulted them even further towards getting that top spot. Their website and online presence would’ve got to where it is now one way or another, but it would’ve been a slower process. Their competitors closing down, plus the surge in orders, gave them extra revenue to invest. 

Ladders UK Direct team photo

Ladders UK Direct offer advice for other eCommerce retailers

We asked Anthony what his top tips for other eCommerce retailers looking to boost their online sales would be. Read his gems of insight below! 

  • Go slow and steady, don’t rush your website. Take your time to work at it. It won’t happen overnight but have faith, invest wisely. Don’t throw money into too much advertising. You without a doubt need the advertising, but work on the rest in parallel. 
  • You also need to be particular with where you are putting your money, put the hard work into your website and make it work for you. On top of that, you need staff who will work as hard as you and have the same ethos. If you don’t spend money on Google ads, then your competitors will be there in your place! 
  • Have faith in your business and keep investing the money that’s coming in; invest in your services and business wisely. You need to know your market and where your orders are coming from. For us, there’s no point advertising locally when we are nationwide and get lots of traffic from around the UK, and London in particular. 

We love seeing the businesses in our community reach their goals and succeed at what they do, like Ladders UK Direct! We also love to see some good news stories come out of what has undoubtedly been a difficult time for many business owners. 

Here at The Business Centre (Cardiff), we have many interesting businesses in our business community, just like Ladders Direct. Would you like to join them and find out more about how The Business Centre (Cardiff) could support your business dreams? We are based in the Vale of Glamorgan, on the edge of Barry just 10 minutes from Cardiff Bay, Dinas Powys and Penarth. Our modern facility comes fully equipped with a range of amenities, including super speedy broadband, breakout areas, a friendly reception team and free access to our modern gym. Plus, the best cafe in Barry, Mel’s Cafe, is onsite! 

Posted on: 04th Oct 2021