I ran into Bernard McNamee, owner-manager of online retail business CosyHomeStore, who retails through multi-channel marketplaces, at ChannelAdvisor Catalyst and was interested to hear his story.
Leaving UCC with a Science degree, Bernard worked in the IT sector for various multi-nationals for 10 years (IBM, Microsoft, Lucent & Powercom). Bernard then changed career setting up business as a self-taught cabinet-maker trading as Bishopstown Fitted Furniture. During this time he gained a wide range of domestic construction experience and developed an interest sustainable building and living. 10 years later (coinciding with the 2008 crash), Bernard set up the online store as a part-time business. Since 2012, he has been working full-time as the business has grown beyond its Irish roots and now ships worldwide. Here is his story:
Based in Cork (south coast of Rep. Ireland), it’s a family business. Bernard works with his sister in a home office. She does Accounts/Admin/Reception and Bernard does,in his own words, “Well you know, all the rest 12-15 hours a day 7 days a week”.
Having a bright 15 year old daughter who wants cash for clothes, and whatever 15 year olds buy on eBay or Amazon means she’ll be joining the business as a summer job photographing and writing descriptions for new products.
CosyHomeStore’s products, marketplaces & management
They use FBA in UK, DE and FR and most of their Amazon sales are through FBA. All other order fulfillment has been outsourced to The Storage Place in Gateshead, UK – Bernard’s sixth attempt at outsourcing.
Marketplaces include & DE, Amazon UK, US, FR, DE, ES & IT, and a website, cosyhomestore.co.uk. Bernard is a new ChannelAdvisor customer and starting to sign up to new partnership markteplaces: New Egg in the US, Mein Paket in Germany, and CDiscount in France.
Bernard says he started aggressively listing Stormguard products on Amazon and did so well that Amazon contacted Stormguard (as he predicted) and now Amazon is his biggest competitor and yet still his biggest sales channel!
Bernard reads a lot, to unwind at night and to develop skills or gain insights. For example he says “I recently learned, from ‘The 80/20 Principle’ by Richard Koch, to ruthlessly focus on the top 20% of profit generating products”.
He met his accountant last week and had a pleasant surprise on reviewing 2014 – sales doubled, profit doubled and profit margin doubled.
Bernard finished up telling me “By rights, I should be looking for a premises and 3 new full time staff to do product listing, customer service and IT. This is the toughest part of growing the business, trying to break through the one man show operation to becoming a scalable company. I will need to take some risks.
Its been tough and has meant a lot of sacrifices over the last few years – ‘Dad, you’re always working’ – sound familiar? I’ve made countless mistakes and learned many lessons. I’ve been forced to constantly push myself outside my comfort zone. As Joe Schmidt (Ireland ruby coach) says, ‘all it takes is everything’!“