David Conaghan, Owner of young fashion independent Chocolate Clothing in Derry, Northern Ireland, winner of the Multichannel Operator Award at the Drapers Independents Awards 2013.
In recent times it has been reported that we are now in the midst of yet another dotcom boom, with a huge surge in online shopping leading online companies to cash in on the ever-so-popular new wave in consumer shopping.
This year alone we have seen big names in retail poised for massive stock market flotations - Pets at Home, value retailers B&M Bargains and Poundland and, two of the most-watched, young fashion etailer Boohoo.com and appliances etailer AO.com.
AO.com’s rapid growth and sophisticated systems have put a value of £1.5bn on the company - that’s more than 100 times its earnings in its last financial year. The company’s launch on the stock market in February was the most frenzied debut since Royal Mail floated last year. When the etailer’s founder John Roberts accepted a £1 bet in the pub that he couldn’t set up his own business, he didn’t imagine the wager would one day make him worth £400m.
Boohoo is another hugely successful online retail story. Founded only eight years ago - very young in normal business terms - the company has made £3.3m profit on £67m turnover. On its first day of stock market trading, the Manchester-based etailer’s shares closed 40% up and its founders, Carol Kane and Mahmud Kamani, have been catapulted into the super-rich of Britain.
So what does this mean for the smaller retailer? It means our customers are going crazy for online shopping and we are now in a social media world of Snapchat, WhatsApp, hashtags, tweets, posts, shares and likes. This new wave of online retail floats, successes, shares and big paydays gives the rest of us evidence of the possibilities of online and confidence that the fruits of this new etail era can be achieved.
It does take a lot of hard work and a bit of luck and good timing, but never say never - anyone can do it.