We're back again with Carryr's Q&A Sessions, where we give the spotlight to the people behind the magic of e-commerce and retail to hear about their thoughts and experiences.
This time we're here with Jason West, Managing Director at Lusso Life — one of the UKs most trusted places to buy and sell authentic luxury and street footwear.
Q: Hey Jason, can you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey at Lusso Life?
Jason: Where to begin… I guess you could say I’ve always been hooked on making money from a young age. Growing up on a council estate we weren’t impoverished, but we also didn’t have a luxury lifestyle. I knew I wanted more from life. Money doesn’t bring happiness, but it certainly buys freedom and flexibility. So, in a sense this is where the drive to become a businessman comes from.
I started my first business aged 15, buying and selling phones and games consoles fixing them to sell on or breaking down the parts for profit. This then led to other online ventures, many of which failed until we got to Lusso some 10 years later.
Working at a luxury car dealership as the marketing and e-commerce manager, I developed a blueprint for how I could replicate the same business model within the secondary market of footwear. Trainers have always been the one thing I treasured more than anything growing up, and it was my chance to build something around working with what I love.
It started off as a hobby, buying a few bits here and there then selling for a profit, and eventually moving onto a website. The first website we built was shit to say the least, but constant learning and developing led us to our latest website which you can see now. The core aim for me has always been to provide an exceptional experience for the customer which should come with buying an expensive product. Something that doesn’t exist in this market still.
We’ve had many ups and downs including losing out thousands to fraudulent orders as well as legal battles costing further thousands in fees. Sometimes you do think why am I doing this but then you remember your love for the product, and that’s why it's important to do something you are passionate about because in the beginning there are more downs than there are ups.
Q: What does fashion mean to you?
Jason: I’ll be honest, I’m terrible when it comes to fashion. Growing up, my idea of fashion was a fresh pair of Air Max 90’s and a crisp Lacoste tracksuit. It’s just something I’ve not been able to grasp since graduating to jeans and trousers. I tend to stick with black jeans, a nice pair of trainers and some plain T’s.
At the end of the day, fashion is subjective to whatever the person feels when wearing their clothes. You should wear what makes you feel good, not what makes you feel accepted or what others think you should wear.
Q: How did you first get into the e-commerce world?
Jason: I built my first e-commerce website when I was 15. I sold virtual coins on FIFA for real world money to friends at college. I then monetised it through Google AdSense before it got shut down for breaking FIFA policy - whoops. Since then I’ve moved into various digital and e-commerce roles, my longest stint at a luxury car dealership which I oversaw a full platform migration and implementation. This is when I knew I had a future in e-commerce.
Q: What have been your biggest successes at Lusso Life?
Jason: The biggest success so far has to be our latest partnership with The Sole Supplier. They are arguably the biggest source of news and info for any sneaker-head in the country and to be working with them is pretty amazing. I also relish the fact that we are an authorised distributor of Crep Protect. They have strict on-boarding criteria and turn away hundreds of Instagram sellers everyday, so to be working with them is a great privilege and a testament to the strength of our brand.
Q: What does a typical day look like for you?
Jason: There isn’t a typical day at the moment, If I’m not working on new partnerships I’m analysing our current website on ways to improve. Thinking of how to expand the business and looking at the weakest points in our processes.
When you’re a small business you have to wear many hats, so I even spend time replying to emails and picking and packing orders.
Q: If you could change one thing to make your day more productive, what would it be?
Jason: Hiring someone.
Q: What do your customers love the most at Lusso Life?
Jason: I think they enjoy our personal service. Our five star reviews speak for themselves and as I mentioned earlier in the interview, buying a pair of trainers should be a positive experience. It should bring back the same feeling I had when I remember going into JD Sports as a kid and looking at the endless walls of shoes.
For me, a trainer is more than just a piece of clothing, it affects how you walk, reflects your mood and personality, and can also even be therapeutic. My mind feels amazing when I step out in a fresh pair of white Air Force 1’s.
Q: What gives you the greatest satisfaction as a Managing Director?
Jason: Knowing that everyday I can give a customer a great experience and a safe trusting environment for them to enjoy trainers the same way I do.
Q: When it comes to the delivery experience, what do you think is most important for your customers and why?
Jason: Clear communication is everything. Amazon Prime has kind of spoiled customers by providing next day delivery on almost anything so it's vital that if your business model can’t facilitate a next day delivery, you communicate this well and keep the customer informed throughout the delivery process. Speed is important but in my industry making sure the trainer is authentic and safely packaged is very important.
Q: What changes would you like to see implemented to improve the overall delivery experience for your customers and why?
Jason: I think we’re in a world now where delivery is the best it's ever been. Prime has forced other logistics providers to compete in other areas where speed cannot be matched. This has raised the whole delivery game and pushed new companies to think outside the box.
Q: In light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic, what do you think the "new normal" looks like for both e-commerce and retail?
Jason: I’ve said this many times before COVID hit and echoed the same throughout. The in-store experience has to change for retail. It’s almost got to become a showroom, or a real life test drive of what you offer. It’s got to be the place of discovery rather than a place of transaction.
If you can draw people in the same way that Nike does with their basketball court, or Selfridges with their Skate Park experience, then you have a reason for people to want to the leave the house. It doesn’t have to be as expensive or extravagant as that, but retailers that want to succeed on the high street will need to provide more than just taking a payment and bagging up items.
Q: Lastly, if you could share one bit of advice to someone wanting to be successful in e-commerce, what would it be?
Jason: Build a brand. I’ve worked with lots of people who think that because they know how to build a great website, or that they know the ins and outs of social media marketing, that they can go and set up their own business and be a millionaire within a year. There is so much competition online now it is insane.
The chances are that there will be thousands of other retailers selling similar products if not the same products to you. You’ve got to focus your energy on your own strengths and give customers a reason to spend their money with you vs your competitors - and it’s not always being the cheapest!
Cheers Jason - I also like to keep it simple and stick with the plain tee, jeans and trainers look! I admire your passion and tenacity as an entrepreneur, you really do have an inspiring journey and, most importantly, an incredible brand. I'll definitely be keeping an eye out for some special kicks to spice up my wardrobe soon!
If you're in e-commerce, omnichannel/multichannel or retail and would like to feature in our In The Spotlight series, email firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.