Earth Bathrooms is an online-only bathroom retailer seeking to differentiate itself from bricks and mortar showrooms through its commitment to customer service, a larger product range and quality design.

I talked to Shane Quigley, the CEO of Earth Bathrooms about the business and its plans for future growth.

What problems does it solve?

The business saves people time as they’re able to view far more products than any traditional retailer could afford to display in a showroom space, whilst also reducing home improvement costs.

What are your goals?

We plan to build into one of the UK’s leading suppliers of home furnishing and improvement products over the next three to five years. Customer service is at the very heart of our business and we want to be recognised for leading the market in this area.

We believe that ten years from now, in an era of truly global retail, everyone will be offering similar products at similar prices and it will be good old fashioned customer service that again becomes the true mark of how much you can trust a brand. Our plan is to be the most trusted brand around.

Is this a crowded market? 

Yes! The announced closure of 60 B&Q outlets shows how competitive this space is and just how much impact we and other online retailers are having in this sector.

With our more agile and frugal business model we are able to retail an entry-level mixer tap at half the price of B&Q and still make a healthy margin. However, it’s our team’s marketing agency background that allows us to truly compete, as we’re able to remove one of the largest costs to our competitors and out-perform them in this area.

What are the biggest challenges you face?

Finding talented people on mass. As you grow, keeping the talent-pool quality high is always difficult. Building a digital marketing and technology-training academy is one of our key objectives, ensuring that staffing levels can keep pace with our growth.

Logistics is also a challenge. People like DPD are leading the change in UK logistics innovation, but for oversized and palleted orders nobody is really innovating or offering a particularly high level of service to the end user or retailer. 

The challenge we face goes beyond just us and if the UK’s booming online sector is to continue to grow, then not only us but the UK logistics industry as a whole needs to find new ways of delivering products fast and in good condition.

Where would you like to be in one, three and five years’ time?

In one years’ time we would like to have widened our offering to five key categories to cater for a broader market.

In three years’ time we would like to be turning over in excess of £100m and in five years time we would like to have secured at least 5% market share of a £9bn industry.

How will you make money?

The revenue model is pretty straightforward and as long as we keep our costs low and our marketing smart then the profits should follow! We’re currently on target to break even by the end of year one. 

Who is in your team?

I founded Earth Bathrooms after my digital marketing agency Epiphany was acquired by Jaywing PLC. I’d dealt with my fare share of client internia and budget restrictions whilst there and unsurprisingly it was always the clients that truly embraced ideas and weren’t afraid to try something new that thrived. 

This experience spurred me on to build my own ecommerce business around my knowledge and truly put my money where my mouth is. I’ve now begun to build an in house team made up of some of the best in the business to drive the company forwards.

Chief Technical Officer, Ryan Townsend has worked with me for a number of years now on multiple projects and is responsible for the technological direction of the business. He makes sure our state of the art ecommerce platform performs in all conditions and is a Ruby on Rails wizard and modern technology encyclopaedia.

Chief Operating Officer, Andrew Banks has been at the cutting edge of digital marketing and ecommerce for over a decade now and is responsible for ensuring our supplier integration and onboarding, supply chain management and operating performance supports our rapid growth trajectory.

Peter Gould worked alongside me at my former agency delivering growth strategies for the likes of Matches Fashion, Teletext Holidays and eBuyer with excellent results. He now heads up the entire marketing function with his strong analytical skills and keen eye for innovation.

Other than your own, what are your favourite websites, apps or tools?

ASOS.com due to its simple, minimalist design and also the use of video to sell products, something that has helped to revolutionise retail online.

Made.com again has a very minimalist design with high quality product imagery at its core. Products are arranged in a logical order making it easy for the user to find exactly what they want.

The Guardian’s site is very progressive in terms of the technology influence behind it, and they’re always pushing boundaries. They also have a strong focus on mobile and responsive design which is a hot topic at the moment.

To read more from our Start Me Up series check out: Tipit and ParcelBright