Hot 100 2014: Alex McMillan, Pulse Tech UK

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The director of JewelleryBox.co.uk discusses his e-tail ventures.

Every 22 minutes. That’s how often Alex McMillan’s online jewellery site JewelleryBox. co.uk sells a pair of earrings. Not bad for a retail venture that offi cially launched in the summer of 2014.

But it is not McMillan’s first jewellery venture. His business Pulse Tech (UK) is the parent company of one-stop charm shop TheCharmWorks.com and Sayers London, which specialises in silver giftware and cuffl inks.

These businesses have been running for several years and, in the six weeks up to Christmas, help to generate about 32% of Pulse Tech’s annual turnover. In the past year, Alex spotted a gap in the online jewellery market for simple, affordable product, and so JewelleryBox.co.uk was born. “Over the past 12 months we have acquired and curated a vast range of 9ct and sterling silver jewellery which rivals the price of costume jewellery available both online and on the high street,” he says.

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“Our objective was to create a fi ercely attractive proposition for jewellery consumers who are currently underrepresented in UK online retail.” The site launched in June, offering more than 2,000 products from plain gold lockets and Christening bangles to silver toe rings and sapphire pendants. “Since day one we have dedicated ourselves to promoting a passion for excellence in the service elements of our business,” says Alex.

“This internal passion and customer-centric focus across our established brands has increased our customer loyalty significantly, as one in 20 customers purchase again within four weeks of their first order.” Alex admits that finding funding to bring to life his vision for online jewellery retail has not been easy. But, ever the numbers man, he and his team have become innovative in how they manage the business, freeing capital from less-productive lines and perfecting the balance between capital tied up in existing lines and capital to expand ranges.

“We are geeks at heart,” he smiles. “We love spending days modelling inventory and sales patterns to ensure our limited capital is working as hard as we do.” With four new members of staff in the past 18 months, the business is now looking ahead to the next year, with an audacious focus on technology that will introduce high-res, 3D images to the business’ sites. “The online landscape in 12 months’ time will be very different to now,” Alex advises.

“In order to remain in front and exceed our customers’ expectations we need to be innovating continually; I strongly believe that there will never be a point when our websites will be fi nished, as constant improvements will keep up with consumers’ ferocious adoption of new technologies.”

Alex McMillan was named IJL Retail Stars in the Professional Jeweller Hot 100 2014, in association with headline sponsor Pandora and principle partner The Company of Master Jewellers.

To read a digital version of the Hot 100 2014 book in full online, click here.

 

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