Interviews

Ziffit: Landfill's Worst Enemy

The pre-loved goods market is thriving. Here's how Ziffit is profiting by saving unwanted items from an unsavoury fate at the rubbish dump.

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The pre-loved goods market is thriving. Here's how Ziffit is profiting by saving unwanted items from an unsavoury fate at the rubbish dump.

Interviews

Ziffit: Landfill's Worst Enemy

The pre-loved goods market is thriving. Here's how Ziffit is profiting by saving unwanted items from an unsavoury fate at the rubbish dump.

Share this article

Ziffit: Landfill's Worst Enemy

Ziffit co-founder Stephen Boobyer explains how his business, which trades people's pre-loved goods, went from zero to 7 million items, 44 staff members and expanding sales by 30% last year.

Describe your business

Ziffit is a website and app that lets you sell your unwanted books, CDs, DVDs and console games for cash.

We provide a quick, free and simple service where customers enter the barcode of the product they want to sell (or scan it on their phone with our app) and we offer them an instant price.

Customers then box up their items, send them to us free either by courier or through the Collect+ network and we deposit the money straight into their bank account, Paypal account or we send them a cheque.

Where did you get the idea for your business?

People are always looking to find a bit more balance in their lives, whether it’s through less clutter in the home or taking more control of their finances. Ziffit helps people to achieve just that, making it easy for them to sell their pre-loved possessions and make a bit of extra cash at the same time.

It’s also a business model that’s responding to the times. Despite what many people think, book sales are increasing and digital album sales are actually decreasing faster than physical sales. While we are used to hearing about living in the age of downloads, plenty of people are still buying and selling physical objects.

rubbish dump

Starving landfills is a priority for the business

We also provide people with another means for recycling and re-using unwanted goods. This is an aspect of the business we are particularly proud of – paying people to sell us their used possessions and preventing huge amounts of waste from ending up in landfill.

How has your business grown in the last three years?

Ziffit has expanded rapidly since launching the website and app in 2013. In May we accepted our 7 millionth trade-in item and recruited our 44th employee. Last year was also a year of massive growth for us, with a 30% growth in turnover compared to 2014. This year looks set to be our biggest ever and we’re only halfway through.

What problems have you overcome so far?

The biggest challenge we have faced is finding enough office and warehouse space to cope with our growing operation. Our current premises already cover 7,500 square feet and to meet our current demand we need to expand in the next 12 months. Finding viable warehouse space in the South East is a huge issue for a number of business owners in the region.

How have you spread the word?

In our first two years we invested heavily in getting our marketing right, and we know that finding the right expertise in this area is essential to being able to sell your product in sufficient quantity. Our marketing mix includes TV advertising, PPC, SEO, external PR support, social media, competitions and blogger outreach.

Stephen Boobyer, co-founder, Ziffit.com

Ziffit co-founder Stephen Boobyer is please with progress to date

One particularly successful campaign was our recent partnership with MoneyMagpie.com, headed up by finance expert and TV personality Jasmine Birtles, to launch the first National Clear Your Clutter Day. It was a huge success and we managed to get our message out on radio stations right across the country.

The campaign also saw our spokespeople feature in national news titles with massive audience figures.

What is the hardest thing about running a business and what makes it fulfilling/fun?

Keeping an eye on the bigger picture is always a challenge. When running a business it can be easy to immerse yourself in the day-to-day tasks – reacting to every request, email or concern. The ability to develop a vision for the future is essential for long-term success, whether you are the sole founder or one of many.

There are lots of fun aspects in running a business, so it’s hard to pinpoint just one. Starting your own business requires you to think on your feet a lot. It helps you learn to trust your gut instinct, because no one else knows your business like you do. It’s a great feeling when you can make your own informed decisions and are proved right.

What does the future look like for Ziffit?

We are really excited about our plans for the future. Firstly, we’re investing in more TV campaigns to increase traffic and raise awareness of the Ziffit brand. Secondly, we have plans to accept additional products like phones, laptops, and even Lego.

Finally, we have plans to expand internationally and over time we will be opening Ziffit warehouses in new countries worldwide.

Stack of old, broken and obsolete laptop computer

The businesses will start taking old phones and laptops soon

How have you nurtured your unique selling proposition?

The thing that gives us a really competitive edge is our bespoke software. Developed by our talented in-house team, the technology calculates the saleability and expected price of books, CDs, DVDs and games using the barcode number.

This has given us a competitive edge on pricing, and allows us to find a profitable balance on the number of items we buy and re-sell across the globe.

How do you recruit and inspire your people?

Since launching in 2013, we’ve grown our team from 10 to 44. Our staff work in a number of different departments, from customer service to the warehouse floor, which means we’ve got to work twice as hard to maintain a united team.

We invest a lot in to staff training and development, and we are always looking to promote staff from within the company. Our staff are attracted to Ziffit because they see how dynamic the business is and they are excited by its rapid growth.

A business that’s growing is a business with opportunities, and we always try to encourage this optimism and excitement that our team feels about the Ziffit.

What are your top three tips for people starting a business today?

Firstly, analyse your competition. Competitive advantage is very important. When considering a new product or service, examine not what your company could do well, or differently, but what it could improve on.

Secondly, get to grips with your market. While this may sound obvious, not enough new business owners do their research. Talk to everyone in the industry – potential customers, suppliers, competitors, distributors and ex-employees of competitors.

Finally, remember your idea does not always have to be new. Being first is not necessarily being best. There are advantages to launching a product or service people are already familiar with.

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Ziffit: Landfill's Worst Enemy

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