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Landys Chemist's Unique Path: Mitesh's Tips for Building a Strong E-commerce Presence

Mitesh Desai, CEO & Director of Landys Chemist

In this Wytpod episode, Mitesh Desai, CEO of Landys Chemist, shares insights into the unexpected shift from finance to e-commerce leadership. The discussion focuses on Landys Chemist’s core values, including sustainability, excellent customer service, and a wellness-centric product range. Mitesh highlights their target audience of women aged 35-70 and emphasizes best-selling products like collagen. The conversation covers plans, such as product expansion and international growth. Marketing strategies, including PR, influencers, and education, are explored. Mitesh concludes with valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs, offering a comprehensive overview of Landys Chemist’s e-commerce success story.

Landys Chemist is a renowned e-commerce platform specializing in sustainable wellness products, catering to women aged 35-70 with a commitment to excellent service and global expansion.

Mitesh Desai
CEO & Director of Landys Chemist

Hi, everyone. Welcome to our latest Wytpod episode. I’m Stephen Bland, your host with Wytlabs. I have Mitesh here.

Thank you so much for having me today.

We appreciate you joining. To help our viewers out, let us know your background and everything about you.

Thank you. So I am, we don’t reuse job titles, but I suppose in a notional way, I’m the CEO of Landys Chemist. It’s a business that I joined 12 years ago, it’s a family business that my parents and both my sisters are involved in. And over that last kind of decade, we have grown and developed to be one of the biggest pharmacy players in the UK. So although we have a single store our revenue is equivalent to about 20 or 30 pharmacies. So we’ve had a lot of good luck and good fortune, and we’ve learned a lot along the way.

That’s great to hear. So what inspired you to get into the e-commerce business?

In truth, it was never really a passion or something that was on my mind at all. I worked in finance for a bunch of US banks that you would have heard of. And it was in 2011, right towards the end of it, like getting up to Christmas, when my father had a heart attack and had to have emergency surgery.

And it was at that point that I realized that I was barely spending any time with my family. My dad’s not a phone person, so it’s not like we were in touch speaking. And it was at that point that I realized I had to make a change. So within about three months, I had left finance and didn’t know what I was going to do. I just knew I wanted to be a little bit closer to home. My sister at the time said we’ve got this website. It is making no money. Could you have a look and see if you can figure anything out? So I started to play with it in my spare time. At this stage, I was teaching economics and helping out a bunch of kids at a private school kind of doing their Oxford -Cambridge entrance exams.

And so in my spare time, yeah, I was tinkering with this website and starting to see little bits of success feed through really quickly. And it kind of became something that I was super obsessed with. And fortunately for us, it’s grown strongly now.

That’s great. Great to hear. I’m an economics major myself. Right. I’m not using too much of it, but yeah.

Very nice. Yeah. Guilty passion.

It’s interesting you say that though because someone asked me a very long time ago, what did you learn in your degree? And at the time I said I don’t think I learned anything. And then about five years ago, I was talking to someone about how you might look at the political leanings in a country that you’ve never been to. And I said you could look at newspaper readership, you could see what kind of papers are in circulation and what kind of headlines they’re printing and you could get a really strong sense. And that’s the thing that I learned as an economist. It was how to use the data available to answer the question in front of you. And maybe that’s, there’s an element of e-commerce outside in that as well.

That’s fair. You have a good point there. So who exactly is your target audience and what makes a difference in your competitors?

So our target audience is principally women. Generally, those women are aged between about 35 and 70. They tend to have slightly higher incomes. They tend to be concerned about their wellness. So it might be someone who, for example, is more careful about the kind of alcohol that they drink or careful about the types of food they eat.

And that’s our sort of classic customer. We’re different and we speak to those people for a range of reasons. Partly, it’s the way we work. So a couple of years ago, we won the award for being the most sustainable pharmacy in the UK. That’s reflected by the fact that we recycle more than 95% of all of our waste. Our entire operation is plastic-free, down to like sticky tape.

Great.

Down to every element of what we do, we kind of have sustainability at the heart of things. So that’s one of our huge differentiators. And the other ultimately comes down to quality of service. Particularly amongst our older customers, so many of them complain that other companies they buy stuff from don’t have phone call access. It seems like such an arduous thing for most companies today because we just assume that consumers are comfortable using the internet, going online, ordering something, and then waiting. But the truth is that a lot of people still aren’t fully there. So offering things like phone support via customer services is so valuable and people love that element of us.

Yeah, no. That’s great. I agree.

And I guess the last thing I’ll add is that our service levels are just better. I’ve noticed with a lot of companies that I use, that you email them again, an automated response saying, we’ll be back in touch in three to seven days, which is just ludicrous. To wait for 72 hours for a response to an email is unacceptable. So our average response time, which we monitor quite carefully, is currently at six hours.

and that’s Monday to Saturday. So people get really fast responses. There’s no automation. We don’t need an automated response because we know that we’re going to get back to you lightning-quick with an answer.

That’s great, great customer service, I like it. So what are your best-selling products?

So our business is wellness-focused and we look at wellness in a few different ways. There’s our biggest category, which is vitamins, and mineral supplements. And then after that, it’s skincare. And then lastly, in our wellness journey, we also have perfumery, which is a smaller side. So yeah, the VMS market is huge. We’re seeing big trends in products like collagen at the moment.

People are focused on looking after their skin and all the anti-aging benefits that come from that so yeah at the moment particularly something like collagen is really driving the market and moving us forward.

So, what are your plans for the business and yourself?

I mean, honestly, I would love to retire on a beach, but I don’t think it’s going to happen anytime soon. Failing that plan, one big thing we’re focused on is product expansion. So we are looking at new ranges and new businesses, and working out who we can support. And the other thing that we’re starting to focus on is our international business. So we already serve customers in around 100 countries. But we think we could serve them better. We think we could do greater volume and we’re currently exploring how we can do that. So it’s going to be things like a multilingual website, and multi-currency checkout. These are kind of the big changes that we want to make in the next few months to then start driving out that international expansion.

Where are you selling now? What countries?

Well, so our biggest markets outside of the UK are most of mainland Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand are also big and the entire Middle East is also a really big market for us. So places like Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Oman, and Kuwait are all places that generate a lot of customers for us.

Gotcha. What activities are you doing to promote the site now?

So it’s a mix. We do a lot of PR in general. So whether that is kind of classic PR where we are trying to get mentions and links in major publications or whether it’s, for example, via social media with influencers, that’s one element of our strategy. The other major element is education.

And so we are focused on essentially providing the answers that customers are asking. So we are looking at what kind of topics are trending on Google and other search engines, and then curating our educational content to try and impact those people.

Gotcha. Is there anything else you want our audience to know about you and your business? Anything else that I have missed?

My goodness, that’s a big question. I think I guess what I would say is if someone is listening to this and starting up and looking for inspiration, you know, I would say it’s hard work. And in truth, I think it’s harder to go from zero to one than it is to go from one to ten. Don’t be downhearted and keep pushing.

Great, it’s a great answer. Well, thank you for joining Wytpod. I appreciate your time and thank you.

Thank you for having me Stephen, really lovely speaking to you.

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