News : Interview with Open Range Ltd

Recently Jane Howarth (Managing Director) or Open Range Ltd joined us on a number of courses and we thought it would be great to do an interview with her to find out more about her company and thoughts on business training.
Jane explainedĒ Open Range Ltd works in eCommerce.  We provide a product data service to web store owners and distributors in the IT and Office supplies sectors (currently). 
What we do should be differentiated from the many companies out there providing web store analysis and statistics.  Unfortunately, we tend to use the same kind of language and buzz words to describe what we do.  Essentially, we take product information (Images, Technical specifications, features and bullet points, manufacturer data sheets) from manufacturers such as HP, Fujitsu, Toshiba, Fellowes, HSM, to name but a few and we put all the range information into a single database which is stored under the manufacturers part number.  
We then supply the data out to our customers for a subscription and they use it to populate their web stores with product information.Ē
I asked her to give us 4 benefits her company gives new customers

1)      On a web store, product information is key and assists in the increase of sales.

2)      This service is very valuable to web store owners as they canít handle all the different formats that the manufacturers use to supply the data.  We are the one stop shop for all the manufacturers data

3)      Web store owners just want to run their web stores and sell stuff.  We can provide this service for less than half what it would cost them to employ someone to do it in house

4)      We take daily feeds of part numbers from all the major UK distributors so our product records will match what the web store owners can supply from distribution.  Coverage is key

What is your free Trail about?
In order for our data to be used successfully in web stores, there is an amount of development and integration work that needs to be done.  All the large software houses have already done this work but there are many independent web developers out there who may not have integrated our data into their web platforms before.  So, when we get an enquiry, we usually suggest they sign up for the free trial data first in order for their developers to do the work before they sign up for a full data set.  The trial data is in the same format as the full data sets and comprises data for approx. 500 different products.  It means they can prove the data actually works in their platform before they spend any money.
Since starting your business what have been your largest challenges? 

Jane said that Back in 2000, we were a little early to market.  There wasnít much being sold on the internet so it was a slow start.  Since then, the biggest challenge has been educating web store owners as to the value of good quality data on their web stores.  Not so much in the IT sector but certainly in the office supplies sector, web store owners donít want to pay for dataÖ.. at all.  Good quality product information from manufacturers hasnít always been forthcoming.  Educating manufacturers as to what makes a good product record on a web store has and remains a challenge sometimes.  We can only provide the data the manufacturers provide us with.

What made you attend MLPís Training Courses Successful Selling & Goal Setting & Time Management Courses?

I am not a salesman and have no experience or formal training in this area.  Circumstances have led me to this point and as the managing director (sole owner) of Open Range I have decided that I will now fill that role.  I decided that as I am one of the founders of the company, I would have the most knowledge and passion that would stand me in good stead for actually selling our service.  Therefore, I considered it important that I at least dip a toe and try to find out how it should be done.  I have historically been what I consider a very poor time manager and I donít think I have set a goal for myself Ö. ever.  Iíve always been a shoot from the hip, reactionary kind of person.  However, I have discovered that when you have to much work to do, thatís not an efficient way of working and had no idea about how to change that.  
How has the training you undertook impacted your business now or how do you think it will help in the future?
Well its early days yet but I certainly learned a lot of techniques from Mike that I am certain will be very valuable to me moving forward.  I havenít been very productive yet on the sales side as I considered it important to change some other stuff first.  So, the time management and goal setting is what I am currently involved with.  Yes, I am taking sales calls and putting Mikes techniques into practice but not yet being actually proactive by going out looking for it.  I have to start doing that very soon but I am making much progress in changing how I work, delegating more work to colleagues and handling things like email in a much more structured way.

Do you think that training is a key part to your business?
Yes, I do.  I already have the passion and knowledge about my industry and what I need now is education and structure, which the courses I have been on so far have put me on the right path.  I expect that I will be taking further courses with Mike and maybe other providers in the future.

Mike Le Put and the MLP team wish Open Range Ltd and Jane every success for the future.