One of the UK’s leading online aquatics retailers, AllPondSolutions offer an extensive range of high-quality pond and aquarium products all at budget-friendly prices.
What is the story behind the business and how did it grow to achieve its position in the aquatics marketplace?
The business was started by Brett Owen while he was convalescing from major surgery and grieving the loss of two close family members. Looking back, he cites his passion for fishkeeping as part of his healing process and a welcome diversion during that dark episode.
Feeling inspired, Brett channelled his energy into analysing the aquatics marketplace and he rapidly identified a gap in the market. Low quality and poor value for money typified products on offer at the time and this presented an obvious opportunity. Soon he was busy nurturing his initial concept of AllPondSolutions as the go to online retailer for fish keepers.
Back then, with the business in its infancy, products were sold via eBay and shipped from a small family garage in Hayes, Middlesex. The first employees were Brett’s mum – who is still with the business today – and a friend from Brett’s school days.
Early sales volumes were encouraging and were achieved with only a handful of pond products. Soon the growing customer base was demanding a broader offering and some aquarium products were added to the range. The business had started its rapid expansion and was evolving into a smaller version of what it is today.
Alongside products from various established brands the first own-branded products were developed and added to the business’s growing inventory. After this major turning point an increasing number of products were selected for in-house development and to carry the AllPondSolutions branding.
The first AllPondSolutions website was created to give the brand a distinct online presence away from eBay.
Hard work and dedication were paying-off and the rapid expansion meant that the business had to move to its first warehouse; a 3,800 sq. ft. unit in Hayes, West London.
A team of just four employees covered roles spanning product research and procurement, customer servicing and warehouse dispatch.
To accommodate continuing expansion a further re-location took place to a larger 13,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Stockley Park.
Brett’s sister Charlie joined the team. Now a significant presence in the market it remained very much a family business.
Another major scaling-up of work-space with a move to the business’s current home, a 23,000 sq. ft. office and warehouse facility in Uxbridge, West London.
Alongside the relocation the website was re-designed and the AllPondSolutions branding was refreshed.
For the first time the business attended the UK aquatics trade show, AQUA, providing an opportunity to showcase the AllPondSolutions product range and to meet fellow retailers. A valuable experience.
Digital scanning technology was rolled-out in the warehouse improving efficiency and ensuring the team were always able to keep on top of the growing number of orders.
Striving to be a true ‘one-stop online shop’ a livestock room was set up at the Uxbridge site and AllPondSolutions started to sell fish and plants.
A new website was launched to enhance the customer experience when selecting and purchasing products. It included a Live Chat facility offering customers real-time dialogue and instant access to advice from the team.
Business volumes continued to rise and the customer service team was doubled in size. The business now numbered 24 employees.
Most notably, 2018 witnessed a landmark expansion of the business with the launch of the sister brand, AllPetSolutions. www.allpetsolutions.co.uk
With the same dedication to quality products and customer service the product range broadened out to items such as dog beds, leads, cat stands, litter and much more all at budget-friendly prices.
Now managing an increased volume of orders across two brands it was clear that the effort required to support livestock sales was a distraction from sales of the core product ranges. The focus returned to what the business did best; offering quality pond, aquarium and pet products at budget-friendly prices backed-up with great customer service. Livestock sales were ceased.
The decision paid-off and the year saw AllPondSolutions shortlisted in the Sunday Times Fast Track 100 'Ones to watch’ league table.
The global catastrophe of the Covid-19 pandemic caused severe social and economic disruption. Strangely, and totally unexpectedly, the unprecedented circumstances generated a huge boost in sales. Forced to stay at home many customers spent more time with their pets and lavished more money on purchases for their companions.
By another stroke of good fortune, when the pandemic struck in March, the warehouse was full having just taken delivery of the summer 2020 stock and, unlike local pet stores, the AllPondSolutions / AllPetSolutions online business was able to trade 24/7. Order volumes doubled and additional recruitment took total employee numbers to 43.
From the adversity of the pandemic the business achieved the most rapid period of growth in its history.
The business enjoyed a similar trading pattern during the second year of the pandemic but was struck by the enormous rise in global shipping costs due to the disruption in supply chains.
Fortunately, as a sound, robust and profitable business it was able to weather the storm.
In common with other businesses that survived the pandemic this was a year of recovery. Volumes were relatively flat, no new products were launched and the business was bearing the previous year’s inflated shipping costs.
Sales effort was focused on clearing stock acquired during the pandemic but, recognising the loyalty of its customer base, AllPondSolutions avoided passing on price increases to the consumer.
Meanwhile management attention was channelled into a major reset for the business including a fundamental redesign of the operating model.
At this crucial time for the business Brett was unfortunate to encounter another health scare that kept him out of action for a few weeks. His full recovery was fortunately swift and he was back at the helm to manage the planned changes.
A year of recovery indeed!
A very busy year implementing major changes that emerged from the redesign of the operating model. Achievements included:
- Migration to a new market-leading order processing system
- Introduction of a new inventory management system
- New websites built and launched for the two brands
- Launch of a subscription service (for repeat orders)
- Launch of a loyalty rewards programme
- Introduction of ‘out of stock’ alerts
- Returns & exchanges portal added to website
- Order tracking system added to website
- Scale-up of customer servicing with increased hours and bandwidth for inbound inquiries.
The new operating model marks a successful transition to a far more efficient and streamlined business with improved customer experience across all sales channels. Based on improved reviews and ratings the changes have clearly been welcomed by customers.
We are proud to have shared our story having built our business on the simple goal of providing our customers with quality products delivered via safe and speedy shipping and all backed-up with excellent customer service.
Throughout our 17-year history AllPondSolutions has had a dedicated, passionate team and a supportive customer base and these have been the backbone of our continuing success.
We are an innovative and growing company within the aquatics industry providing products such as pond pumps, pond filters, aquarium fish tanks, aquarium filters and much more, straight to the customer’s door.
Remarkably, we still sell large volumes of a number of items from our original 2006 product range; testament to their enduring quality and value.
AllPondSolutions strives to bring the latest and best quality products to the aquatics market. Our product range is always growing and we ensure it is up to date with the latest equipment, technologies and product trends. We travel far and wide researching products, attending international trade shows and sourcing products for our customers.
As experts and enthusiasts in the field we remain as passionate and excited about ponds, fishkeeping and pets as our loyal customers. This ensures the high standard of our products is maintained and we can truly relate to the needs and wishes of our customer base.
We appreciate the importance of getting your purchases to you safely, so we go above and beyond when packaging your items. We are proud to offer free next-day delivery in the UK mainland.