30 Digital Champions: Empowering shoppers to find the best deals across the nation
8 min read
07 March 2016
The idea of bringing together all retailer’s discounts in one place is pretty clever, rendering Love the Sales an easy sell. However, without the use of technology, the company would have arguably garnered less success.
Running on Microsoft Azure, the idea for the company was formed after co-founder Stuart McClure became a teenage father and began bargain hunting.
When you consider that the average price to raise a child is £230,000 in the UK, and the average household income is £30,000 – it’s clear that purse-friendly initiatives such as Love the Sales will be a hit with families across the nation.
With that in mind, we talked to McClure about how his own experience led to the formation of Loves the Sales, as well as what technology the company employs.
(1) Please give us a brief introduction to the business?
While crunching over two million items twice a day, we help people unearth all sorts of great products people may not otherwise have known were on sale – this is because most retailers have reduced prices for many items even though they are not being advertised.
As such, we are helping shoppers get more for their money, and are the first company to congregate every sale product in the UK.
(2) What have the significant growth milestones been in the last few years?
We are still in the early stages of our business so it feels like everything is a milestone! I suppose the first has to be getting our MVP site live – that allowed us to gather users and test the waters. That went well so a full site went live a few months later. Closing our first round of funding was obviously significant, and getting past the 100 marker for retailers on board was great – we’re almost on 500 now.
(3) What inspires you as an entrepreneur and how does that come across with your company?
My family is a massive inspiration to me. I was a father at a young age and that actually gave me the initial idea for Love the Sales – always looking to get more for my money when shopping. I can certainly sympathise with the everyday challenge of making sure you can afford all the great things you want for your lifestyle.
To play a part in changing people’s shopping habits, and to help educate people that the sales are actually on every day and can be used as a tool to enhance your lifestyle, is most definitely something that inspires me.
(4) What kind of obstacles are you encountering as you grow your enterprise?
Resource is probably the biggest issue for us. Getting staff is not a major challenge, but getting the very best is. We have a very lean approach to business – we listen to our data, work agile and ensure we have focused planning for our work – so we believe that small, expert teams can create amazing things. To do this though, you have to hire the best.
(5) How is technology helping you to overcome hurdles, and what are the challenges of implementation?
We work with almost 500 retailers which all supply us vastly different sets of data – getting these into one single, normalised source is a huge challenge for which we have had to build significant tech.
On top of that we are very user-centric so we’ve built tech to enable us to understand behaviours and patterns from an ecommerce point of view so we can make our site as good as possible for our users.
(6) Do you employ any kind of flexible working, and how does technology fit into this?
Absolutely. Something else I sympathise with is the challenges that can be faced with balancing life and work. I also believe that if you allow people freedom and autonomy they will have a stronger desire to perform when they work.
We are a results driven company. If people can deliver results, what does it matter where they sit or what time of day they work? We are happy for people to come in late, go home early or work from home. As long as we can deliver on our plans, that’s fine.
I want the people who work in our team to be the happiest individuals around, I believe that breeds success. Work gets in the way of life, not the other way around. It’s our job to make them fit together well for our employees.
(7) What kind of technology tools can you not work without?
I’m probably not too different to most people. All I need is the internet, a smartphone and laptop and I can achieve most things. I guess if there was one other thing I couldn’t live without it would be Excel – I’m a total Excel nerd, mostly because it is such a powerful tool if used to full effect.
Our lead developer is a .Net developer so from a programming language point of view Azure made complete sense for us. Also, upon review, Azure had a great search facility and could offer all the speed, power and scalability we needed – and all under one roof.
Better yet, we were also lucky enough to be given the opportunity to take advantage of Microsoft Bizspark+ – which gave us up to $5,000 of hosting per month. That provided a real game changer for us.
(8) What kind of technology would help you better compete with larger rivals?
To be honest, we don’t focus on rivals. Our concern is that we achieve our goals. By doing that we will focus on the task at hand and surpass what everyone else does whilst they watch us to see what we are up to.
In regards to technology, we focus on incremental improvement of performance through testing. So if we have a hypothesis on something we’ll put a test together, which will probably mean some development time. If the test is good, or it yields a need for a different test, we go from there. Once we know what we need to do, we build it in-house.
(9) Where do you want to take your business in the future?
The aim is to make Love the Sales a global success. I want to make it easy for everyone to shop the sales – and I mean everyone. That means we need to expand overseas after we cement ourselves in the UK, which we are well on our way to doing.