5 Minutes With James Klymowsky, Founder, Peddler

Launched in late 2017, Peddler is an AI-driven social retail platform that lets you shop with like-minded people to get the things you love for less. Founder James Klymowsky chats with Retail Gazette to explain how they harness people power to bring prices down to wholesale prices.

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James Klymowsky Peddler

Congratulations the launch of Peddler!

When I saw the site live for the first time, I felt so proud of my incredible team. They have all worked so hard to put all the pieces together and now it’s finally come to fruition, and I couldn’t have done it without them. We’ve already generated heaps of sales and had lots of positive feedback, but we are continuing to make changes based on our customers’ responses to make the site even better for them.

Tell me about the story of Peddler.

I already had a taste of business success when I was younger before going to work in insight-led communications and I guess I always dreamed of running my own business. Then one day, I just decided to go for it. So I quit my job and headed over to Vietnam with nothing but an idea and all of my savings. Within a week, I’d recruited a team of engineers and set up an office to develop the Peddler.com prototype.

We actually came up with the name after a long day at work when we were sitting in the pub. We’re all about getting a good deal for everyone. We wanted something fun and social that feels open to everyone to join in with. With the name Peddler, we want to invoke the idea of a busy marketplace, where everyone can feel empowered to get themselves a good price and stop paying over the odds for the things they want.

“The idea behind Peddler is to empower the consumer by allowing them to team up with other like-minded people to bring prices down on the products they want”

How is Peddler different to other “social shopping” platforms?

We use an innovative artificial intelligence system (that we created) which analyses data from forums anywhere on the web to find out what the consumer wants – nobody else does that. This also allows us to almost guarantee our stream of suppliers that we can sell their products, so in return, we get price reductions for our customers.

For example, the average discount on Peddler is between 30-40 per cent and that’s on high-end, premium products like Dyson, Sonos and Smeg. These sorts of discounts can’t be matched by any other social marketplace or online retailer.

How is Peddler addressing some of the challenges facing the high street as a whole?

Everything is going digital now. Banks are shutting down bricks-and-mortar stores because people are banking online. Shopping is the same. People are choosing to shop online. So we are not only reacting to the shopping trends but driving them.

The idea behind Peddler is to empower the consumer by allowing them to team up with other like-minded people – friends, social media contacts or people they’ve never even met before – to bring prices down on the products they want.

We’ve seen small businesses and entrepreneurs empowered by the crowd over the last few years, with the likes of Kickstarter, so why can’t the same be done in the retail and ecommerce industry?

We want to prove that it can. We also want to make shopping online more than a solitary experience by bringing people together to purchase the things they love, but maybe didn’t think they could afford.

Another trend that stood out to us is how much people are paying to be targeted by retailers. Brands are promoting their products via ads everywhere, which then drives prices for consumers up and this difference in cost needs to be accounted for in the price.

Our estimates indicate that it can mean prices of products you are looking at buying online and researching details on can go up by 30 per cent. Peddler ensures that people are always paying under whatever the RRP is.

What would you say is the biggest risk for the retail sector, given the current climate?

I guess with any business, there’s a certain degree of risk. There’s the chance that people won’t understand your product, or more importantly in retail, trust it. Luckily, we haven’t had that problem.

We went from BETA to launching the website in less than two months because the demand was so high. We’re also fortunate in that we don’t have to worry about the changing market – we know what the market wants before any other online retailer, so we are always prepared for change.

We’ve already signed some huge deals with partners that have substantial communities (in the millions) and are already planning another round of investment. We also believed in the product but honestly couldn’t have predicted everything would move so fast – it’s really exciting.

Describe your role and responsibilities as founder of Peddler.

From the outset we decided, Peddler should be run the way we want our business to be viewed by our customers. We aspire to be the marketplace that provides equal value to both customers, retailers and manufacturers.

We are all self-starters and we want to provide a fairer more transparent online shopping experience. We believe the value is being added by customers and retailers/manufacturers so our day to day is focussed on how we can empower them.

Our vision is to use technology to assist our users in this process, and to always remain transparent in how we do this. I’m proud of my team, they inspire me every single day, and I’m excited about being able to coordinate those inspiring ideas into a roadmap towards our success.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your background before Peddler.

I’ve been obsessed with computers, gadgets and robotics since I was a kid. Then I started a web application business at university with two friends, which gave me my first taste of business and we did pretty well. Then I worked for a few insight-led communication agencies as a head of digital and technical director, but always had this idea beavering away in the back of my mind.

“The web, in particular the social web, provides the opportunity to introduce new disruptive concepts to retail”

What got you into retail in the first place?

I was lucky enough in my previous role to work with some of the biggest retailers and retail brands in creating technically innovative solutions. I felt that although online retail has come a long way, the web, in particular the social web, provides the opportunity to introduce new disruptive concepts to retail.

How has your previous experience aided your current job?

Most of the companies I worked with had brilliant people there with a real desire to ensure their business is not just part of but also leading technical innovations in our connected world.

However, most were also large corporations where the bottom line is everything. This means regulations and processes designed to protect revenue are introduced and unfortunately some of these unwittingly compromise a company’s ability to change and introduce better, more efficient and innovative ways forward. I always thought it is paradoxical to have great talent within a framework where they can’t exercise their ideas.

For Peddler to be a success we need to remain open to anyone with new ideas, in particular our customers and employees. If we want to achieve our goal of being the go to crowd buying marketplace, we need to listen, learn and remain innovative every step of the way.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

We are lucky at Peddler to have an amazing team of retailers, marketers, technologists and most importantly customers. All of which have brilliant ideas on how to improve our product.

However, choosing which one would achieve our goals, even with lots of data it is always difficult. We are ultimately a start-up and, and I always remain conscious of the fact that some of these choices can have a serious impact on the future of our business.

And the most rewarding?

Hands down, it’s a customer calling us or writing to us to say thank you for providing them with the product they always wanted and making it affordable. Or manufacturers getting in touch and asking us how we do this – it affirms that we are going in the right direction.

What advice would you give someone who is considering a career in retail?

It’s hard work, the competition is fierce. So always think outside of the box, listen to your audience (it’s easier said than done) and understand their needs, but don’t be afraid to try out your own ideas – you have nothing to lose, except for not trying.

Every online retail store can buy online advertising or post on social media, so ask how will you stand out and do things differently?

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