When Lux Afrique founder Alexander Amosu realised how much people were relying on ecommerce during lockdown, it gave him the push he needed to launch a platform.
Alexander kept his luxury concierge business ticking over during the crisis by supplying clients with hard-to-access items like PPE, hand sanitiser and – at one point – eggs. But behind the scenes, his team started working on a new online platform.
“We’d been thinking about launching a luxury online platform for the last two years. When lockdown happened, we realised quite quickly that, with people being home, online platforms were their go-to source if they wanted to buy anything,” he said.
“Sometimes the world tells you that you’ve got to do it, rather than it being your personal instinct. This was one of those moments. We thought, if we don’t do it now, we’ll miss the boat.”
Give your platform the potential to scale
The biggest challenge was understanding how ecommerce systems worked and choosing the best option for the business.
Alexander had created a shopping site on WordPress when Lux Afrique first started. He spent a year building it, then realised it wasn’t the right platform. He estimates he built the website three or four times.
During lockdown, he did some market research and looked at businesses that ran major ecommerce sites, like Harrods and Selfridges.
“What we’d tried to do before was learn it all on our own and use guesswork. I thought that it was easy to build a WordPress site and add products to it. But that doesn’t serve you when you’re dealing with 20,000 customers a day and want to scale it up into a big business. You’ve got to build your system on something that’s robust.”
Work with experts to rapidly turn around projects
Rather than designing the platform in-house, Alexander hired external experts to help. He believes there’s never been a better time to recruit.
“Recruitment wasn’t difficult because everyone was at home. Right now is the perfect time to get the best people in the industry, because lots of companies are laying people off. There are gems out there, people who are great at what they do.”
The platform is due to launch next month. Although Alexander thinks they would have launched it at some point in the future, the crisis pushed them to do it now.
“Coronavirus accelerated things to the point where we thought, we must launch this. We couldn’t deflect it to next year or say something else has come up and it’s taken our time. It gave us a project to work on, to keep the lights on and to keep us being able to pay staff wages.”
Technology was a lifeline for businesses under lockdown, keeping teams together or moving operations online. Download our expert guide to find out how digital tools might see you through this next difficult phase.