For the first day of Prime Day 2018, we went to visit a cross border seller, Rarewaves, where we met up with Brad Aspess and Rob Evans who run the business.
Prime Day Sales
Brad told us that based on previous years, Rarewaves are expecting somewhere in the region of a 50% or upwards bump in sales over the two day Prime Day period. One of the interesting aspects of Prime Day is that it’s now so ingrained in the public that it’s not just Amazon where sales are up. Other marketplaces both at home and abroad also turn in stellar sales due to the balloon effect of consumers being focused on online shopping.
With mega sales, one might have expected a frantic business as orders flow in and sales go out, but Brad and Rob have been doing this for years and so sales events are nothing new to them. Rarewaves was calm and operating as normal, Brad took time out to show us around and go for coffee, the office was running as usual with mulitchannel software from Lucid and an outsourced fulfilment operation with Whistl. There were people monitoring sales, people monitoring orders for new stock and a customer service team handling email enquiries. Indeed they were so relaxed about Prime Day that their head of customer support had flown out to the US Rarewaves office to train their US customer service staff.
Investment in People
Staff is where Rarewaves invest heavily and Rob explained that growing staff within the company is their strategy – Staff start at the bottom and work their way up through the business. The first thing you notice when you enter Rarewaves is the flags hanging from the office ceiling – being a cross border seller, multilingual staff are needed and each employee has their own country celebrated.
Brad went even further than Rob and explained that he sees a Rarewaves’ career success as when staff decide to leave to set up their own business and become entrepreneurs in their own right. With this in mind it’s no surprise that last year Rarewaves won the Queen’s Award for Enterprise although the award category was for International Trade. On one wall in their office you’ll find the flag presented to Brad and Rob by the Queen and on another the award itself hand signed by the Queen
The ultimate Cross Border Seller
Rarewaves are the ultimate cross border seller with their products exposed to an audience of half a billion consumers around the world. Brad reckons they sell to about 170 countries and if there were 500 countries in the world he’d be targeting them all. That’s why they opened their Chicago office and doubtless more international locations will come in time.
Naturally Brexit came up in conversation, but as Brad points out, whatever the final deal with the EU, trading from the UK to the EU will be little different to trading from their US office to the EU. They already have to collect and remit tax in different territories around the world and national borders mean little to them – It’s a technology problem that’s solvable and, even today, there are different VAT rates across the EU that have to be dealt with and that won’t change.
Rarewaves are the ultimate cross border seller, there’s hardly a country in the world they haven’t sold to, so it’s no surprise that they’ve been included in The Sunday Times SME Export Track 100 for the second year running. Running any ecommerce business is a challenge but Brad and Rob make it look easy.
“The SME Export Track 100 showcases the best of British innovation and entrepreneurship. I am especially pleased to see some familiar companies, such as Rarewaves (No 100), which has sold rare vinyl records, video games, books and CDs to buyers in more than 170 countries.
This company worked with the Department for International Trade (DIT) to build its overseas ecommerce strategy, and has benefited from specialist advice on launching in China and other complex markets.”
– Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State for International Trade