Meet Gary and Lisa Lyons
Gary and Lisa Lyons are the founders of Plastic Box Shop. The business, established in 2003, had humble beginnings but has grown to be the UK’s number one shop for plastic boxes and storage solutions, offering great products, a simple buying experience, and exceptional customer service.
1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?
We founded Plastic Box Shop in 2003 after we noticed plastic storage boxes sold well in our brick-and-mortar homeware store. The idea was a simple one — we wanted to supply creative, innovative storage solutions through a comprehensive and easy-to-use website. We knew early on that we would focus on giving great service at competitive prices, offering a one-stop shop for plastic storage boxes, and we think keeping things simple and easy for customers to understand has worked really well for us. Even the name Plastic Box Shop we chose because it’s clear and upfront about what we do, and we think it definitely contributes to our success.
2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?
When we first brought our idea of selling storage boxes on the internet, e-commerce platforms were relatively new. We were familiar with eBay, but we wanted our own website where we could showcase all our products and provide customers access to our expertise, providing a great buying experience. As a fledgling company we could not afford to ‘buy in’ the expertise to help us set up the website we wanted, so we had to learn the tech side of things ourselves very quickly.
The pace at which we had to learn and adapt to new technology was very fast. We always wanted to be the best at what we did and give our customers the easiest and best buying experience, so we were constantly pushing the boundaries and embracing new customer interaction technology as it came on to the market.
Our business expanded very quickly. But, as we were reinvesting in expanding our product range, technology, and advertising, we had to think outside the box when it came to cost-effective solutions for offices and warehousing. We were very fortunate in that we found several suitable options for warehousing and an old mobile classroom, which became our offices. It wasn’t very glamourous, but it worked.
When you’re still establishing your business, it’s difficult when you can see all of your costs are growing too. But, you have learn to prioritise which costs are worth it to get the growth you need, and which you can save on so they won’t hinder your growth. The lovely offices and warehousing we occupy now came later, as we grew.
3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?
Just like in the beginning, our best ideas are always the simplest. Focussing on things that are simple but well executed has worked brilliantly for us in the past, so it’s something we are going to continue to do. In terms of inspiration, it’s our customers that inspire us. Even though we’ve grown as a business, we are still extremely interactive with our customers, so we have plenty of opportunities to listen to them and learn what they want from us.
4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?
As a business, we’re motivated by giving exceptional of customer service. We’re a young, vibrant company with energy and creativity, and we have a great team that’s passionate, dedicated, and knowledgeable — all of which make us a great company to work with. We love what we do, and it shows.
This is important because it’s allowed us to expand at the rate that we have by growing our client list to include customers from all over the UK. People want to work with us because we have great products and a great website, but the service they receive is a crucial factor for why they ultimately decide to come back.
5.What is next for your brand?
Storage has a real buzz about it just now, especially since the pandemic. We have all been spending more time at home, so it could be that we are looking for ways to increase the space we have by organising our belongings. Or, maybe it’s just because we have more time to spend tidying up!
Whatever the reason, at PlasticBoxShop we are looking to really grow our product range this year and we have some fantastic products coming on board that we know our customers are going to love. A website upgrade is also on the cards and we are excited about that too.
6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?
Every problem has a solution, you just have to keep on pushing through and find it. Don’t give up, and make sure you ask for help from your team if you need it — it’s always better to be honest, and they might have some good ideas you’ve not thought of! We’ve also found that it helps to keep good contact with suppliers, as this allows you to build the best trading relationships. We stay honest and open with them, just like we do with our customers. And, when it comes to financial issues, it helps to forecast your cash flow as much as you can so you can be prepared for whatever may happen.
7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?
Customers drive the trends, so it helps that we make sure that we have good contact with ours. We do this by having good, solid communication routes via email and phone, as these platforms allow you to provide first class service, but we keep all lines of communication open. Instagram, for example, is another great way to interact with people, so we also monitor which types of storage products are proving to be a hit with our customers on there. We think it’s important for a business to know what customers want, rather than trying to force their own thing.