Store of the Month: October

4 Oct

Freewebstore’s Store of the month time 😁😁. This month’s accolade goes to KitUK – premier supplier of kits and equipment for sports clubs in the UK. Jason, the store owner, took time out of his very busy schedule to answer a few questions.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background.

I’ve worked in marketing for over 25 years. I’ve also played football to a semi-

image005professional standard, I’m a level 2 football & goalkeeper coach, a voluntary football manager and I’ve been involved (and still am), in amateur football for nearly 40 years! I say I’ve got two full-time jobs – my marketing career and my website! I’m also a season ticket holder at a premier league club and lifelong supporter, though I won’t say who! My wife has pretty much given up now on trying to get me interested in anything other than football!

Where did you get the inspiration for KitUK?

Sounds a bit odd now but I used to spend my time as a kid re-painting Subbuteo players kits, organizing football leagues, in between playing and watching football! So I suppose I always had an eye for design and a bit of an odd interest in football kits, which to this day, my friends and family don’t quite understand! There were only 3 TV channels back when I was a kid and most of what was on was absolute rubbish or repeats, so I did my own thing – and that pretty much meant something related to football 24/7! Even now I hate sitting around watching TV.

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I’ve always had an eye for design – all my kits on my website I’ve designed myself from scratch and bring them to life in a 360 degree customized kit builder. And I do all the marketing stuff myself which helps keep costs down a bit. When I left university I got into marketing – it was the one thing I really enjoyed (apart from football!) and I was never going to be an accountant! I now sell football kit and equipment to clubs across the UK – everywhere from Cornwall to Aberdeen and also Ireland. I have basically made a business out of a passion. I’ve also worked in marketing football teamwear for PUMA for pro and amateur clubs.

As a football coach myself, I could see how difficult is can be sometimes to buy kit and equipment. It’s quite a complex purchase and can be frustrating and time consuming – so I’ve set up to make life easier and more fun for clubs / teams / coaches to purchase football kit. I’ve been there as a customer myself and I understand the football kit industry inside out, because I’ve been involved in it all my life! I’ve got a bit of a habit of thinking I can do things better, then give it a go. But I’ve lived and breathed what I do for most of my life, so my inspiration comes from doing what I enjoy to the best of my ability!

What is the best thing about owning your own business/online store?

You’re only as good as the effort you put into it. For me, it’s a passion – a hobby of mine. I’m part the way down the road now making this a viable business I can take a salary from and make a living, but I’ve a well paid, responsible full time marketing job that means I don’t have to rely on that while I build the business up and earn a living from.

I work really hard full time and I work as hard again on my website business! I like the fact that I’m in control and I don’t have to report to anyone and can make all my own decisions, right or wrong – and learn from them!

How do you market your product? Do you supply your kits to schools?

I’ve built up a marketing database, so most of my advertising is on email, Facebook and Google Adwords. I supply amateur football clubs and teams across the UK including schools, although I’m planning to do more with colleges and schools very soon! My biggest cost is marketing and you know what – I’ve had more business come from word of mouth and recommendations – but my business simply wouldn’t exist without marketing and lucky for me, I’m blessed with lots of experience there.

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If you could have a celebrity employee, who would it be and why?

Ha! I wouldn’t! Why? Because I know from experience they are expensive to hire and retain and can be high maintenance (not all of them I might add!) I’ve been involved in lots of photo shoots with pro footballers and with other celebrities outside of football and it’s a high cost / high risk strategy. Plus while I’m building up my business, there’s not enough budget. But you never know!

Your web store really does stand out. What tips would you give new store owners? Why do you feel good quality product images is key?

Thanks. I look back at what I’ve achieved and how much time I’ve put into building my website and I’m really pleased with it so far. But there’s so much more I want to do to develop it further. I wish there was more time in the day! The best advice I would give any new start-up / store owner is to do something you are really passionate about and enjoy. Keep negative people well out of your life and just go for it – life really is too short! It’s better to give it a go and it not work out than spend the rest of your life regretting not trying. The world is full of negative people who don’t / can’t / won’t make decisions – and not one of them are successful, at least I’ve never met anyone who is.

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I would also say be persistent and never give up – you need to be really resilient as it’s tough, especially in the first 12 months (I’m still not quite a full year into my website). Your website is your shop window – I spend more on imagery, photography, graphics and banners than anything else, so I’m a little unique from that point of view. I also think you need to be quite selfish and driven, but not stupid enough to recognize sound advice when you see it!

Is there a specific reason you chose to use freewebstore as your eCommerce platform?

I prefer to work with local partners and suppliers and most are. Ones that aren’t I think it’s important there is a good relationship and honesty. That said, I chose freewebstore because customer service is something I value very highly in my life and freewebstore have been really good from day one. My site has quite a lot of technical add-ons and I’ve found the support ticket system really helpful. I like the layout and options freewebstore offers but my site feels like my own, not an off the shelf template. The other thing I would say the freewebstore platform is easy to manage and good value. I also like the fact that the people you speak to via the support tickets are based in the UK and not some overseas call centre who you can never get through to then wish you hadn’t when you eventually do!

If you could choose one magic power, what would you go for?

Easy one that! I’d slow time down so we could all do more every day!

Why is eCommerce important for your business?

ALL my sales are via e-commerce. It gets me in front of customers I would never otherwise reach or speak with. Many of my customers are like me – they work full time and buy football kit in their spare time! I wouldn’t have a business if it wasn’t for online. The Internet is the best invention of the 20th Century as far as I’m concerned.

Tell us your best joke.

Sorry to disappoint. I don’t know any jokes and tend to forget them anyway, good or bad! I find the most funny things are the stuff you see and hear in everyday life. Good comedians don’t tell jokes, they tell a great story we can all relate to!

And finally, do you have any celebrity customers using the products you sell?

Actually, I do! I’ve had a few ex-footballers who are now coaching and have bought kit or football equipment off me. They tend to be quite modest, but I’ve checked them out quietly and were definitely who they said they were! I won’t say who though and to be fair, they aren’t household names – but if you know your football, you’d know them! Do they count as celebrities? Otherwise, no I haven’t!

Jason is using the boundless design and he’s done a fantastic job, the customizable kit section definitely adds a real cutting edge to his web store. If you would like to be considered for the freewebstore store of the month get in touch with our success team at successteam@freewebstore.com.

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