26 May 2024, 03:02
By Victoria Noakes Jan 26, 2016

Carl Walsh, Bed Guru

Furniture News explores the practices and philosophies behind e-tail enterprise Bed Guru in a discussion with director Carl Walsh …

Bed Guru retails online to domestic and commercial customers in the UK and overseas and specialises in bespoke and non-standard sizes. Launched in 2007, the site offers over 9400 SKUs, and is looking to achieve huge growth imminently.

Why visit your website?

We are a leading online bed brand specialising in a whole lot more than selling beds. Because no two people have the same sleeping requirements, Bed Guru will listen, educate and advise on a huge choice of beds, mattresses and headboards. We produce bespoke beds and have a wide range of special sizes perfect for unusal-sized spaces. We also pride ourselves on our ‘We Deliver Anywhere’ ethos and have delivered to a variety of unusual spaces including a turreted castle in Scotland.

How did you enter the trade?

When I left school I started working with my father in the family bed business. Then in 1979 I joined the business permanently. What started out as a Saturday job turned into a lifelong career in the bed industry.

Who is your e-commerce hero?

Kelly Hoppen (www.kellyhoppen.com). Online isn’t about cheap products and poor service. This is a really great interiors and lifestyle website, stocking quality products and unique design pieces. The website is very attractive and gives users a real feel for the brand and conveys the products beautifully.

Describe a typical working day

Today, for example: 5am start; at 6.15am I attend the BNI Network Central business group – there’s almost 50 people in the room for a great networking meeting; 11am – meet with a client, an apartment letting company in Leeds City Centre, and have lunch on the hoof; 1.30pm – back to the office to check all is ship-shape;

“I think online companies will realise the importance of investing in digital marketing such as video and social media as it is the modern word of mouth”

2pm – work with web developer over at digital agency Zeal on additional functions and develop social media campaigns with the social team; 3.30pm – arrange shipping of a bed to the US by sea; 3.50pm – payroll is organised; 4pm – check out new catalogue and product CD from Julian Bowen; 4.30pm – estimate for a client for 10 bed frames to a Nottingham apartment complex; and 5pm – phones are offline, so there’s time to check everything is ready for the next day!

What part of your job would you prefer to avoid?

Making the tea!

What has been your greatest challenge to date?

I think it has to be organising the delivery of 518 mattresses to some student accommodation in Leicester. All were delivered in just one day and 518 old mattresses were removed. It involved organising the timing of transport in and out using two articulated lorries.

How much do you invest in making your site more visible?

I employ Zeal, a digital agency, full time to work on the online marketing and promotion of Bed Guru. This includes affiliate advertising campaigns, blogger collaborations, daily social media posting and competitions and content marketing strategy.

What’s your take on how the relationship between online and physical retail might develop?

People only have so much time in a day and subsequently they cram in lots of things – work, family, entertainment – and as much as they would like to walk through a shop door it isn’t a priority to most people, so I believe online will become even more important. I also think online companies will realise the importance of investing in digital marketing such as video and social media as it is the modern word of mouth.

What are your growth plans for the business?

I plan to dedicate more time to increasing our overseas and commercial customers.

What advice would you offer an aspiring e-tailer?

Don’t try to do everything yourself. Delegate, put good systems in place and get a good business coach who’ll give you an independent view of your business.

This interview was published in the October 2015 edition of Furniture News magazine.

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