Vender of the Week: Borough Kitchen

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Since opening their beautiful cookware store in the historical Borough Market two years ago, David and Justin have just opened their second location and are transforming Londoners’ kitchens across the city. We asked them how starting their business in the cloud has helped them grow.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started and what you’re all about?

We started Borough Kitchen nearly two years ago for a few key reasons. One was a passion for cooking and entertaining – preparing a meal with fabulous cookware and then sitting down at a beautifully set table with friends and family to enjoy an afternoon or evening together. The other was that we felt there was something missing in the UK retail cookware market; we wanted to develop a different concept that would bring together amazing products in a well laid-out showroom along with second-to-none advice and customer service.

We’ve picked every product for a reason and if we test something out and don’t love it, we won’t sell it. There’s a real range of products in our shops, but the focus is always on quality and performance.

What’s your local community like?

Our home is Borough Market, London’s 1000-year-old farmer’s market. We have a great community of local traders, residents, and workers, not to mention all of the tourists from around the UK and the world. One of the top 10 tourist destinations in London, the market is always bustling and brings inspiration to us about what’s in season and which recipes we can share with our customers and friends.

We opened our second shop in Hampstead, North London this past May. This has a very different, village-like feel in a beautiful, leafy high street setting. We’re getting to know the neighbours and receiving some great support from our new customers, who are discerning in their tastes and keen to support independent retailers in their community.

What brought you to Vend and how have you found it? 

Before setting up Borough Kitchen, we met all of the usual suspects in the industry to try and figure out the best till system to use. We met with vendors whose systems would have entailed substantial up-front equipment costs of anywhere in excess of £5000 for clunky equipment, a fair amount of training, and limited features. After a recommendation, we met with Vend and were relieved to see it just needed an iPad and then a reasonably priced printer, cash drawer and scanner. The iPad design and Heckler stand were the perfect look for the design and feel of our shop, with the rest hidden away beneath the cash desk.

In terms of functionality, we can pull up anything we need on our iPads, macs or on our phones We can easily run reports and analyse all of the data by cutting it any which way we need. Vend’s inventory management allows us to quickly see at a glance how many units we have in stock at which location. We can pull reports to see which items we’ve stocked out of or run low on and quickly and easily send out orders for our suppliers.

Whether you’re just starting out or already established and trying to grow your business, a system like Vend gives you a huge amount of flexibility. The money we save versus other systems leaves us better able to keep our prices competitive and provide better service.

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Where does your passion come from?

Our team comes in to work every day and gets to talk about food all day. We love cooking and sharing that passion within our team and with our families, friends and customers. It’s about a customer sharing with us a personal favourite recipe for a slow-cooked lamb shoulder boulangere or a team-member passing on their best short rib or pulled pork recipes. We’re constantly learning about better products, finding new and exciting tools when we’re travelling and hearing from our customers what they like and don’t like so we can constantly bring in new and interesting pieces.

What’s the best thing about using iPads in your store?

Using Vend on an iPad is so flexible and easy to use. Training staff is easy because the app is so intuitive. For our first shop, we used a great reseller Vend recommended to get everything up and running easily. However, for the second store, setting up a new outlet took a few minutes and all of our products were immediately available so we could start ordering new stock. We set up everything ourselves on the day before we opened; it took no more than 30 minutes from start-to-finish, with no technical support needed and no problems at all getting the hardware connected and up and running.

Within our shops, at peak times, and in particular at Christmas time, we can add a new till instantly by switching on another iPad. That just wouldn’t work with a traditional till system.

Do you have any advice for retailers that you wish you’d known?

It’s so important to bring your personality into your business and your brand. Showing your passion for what you do is a key part of what you’re building. Getting the right team around you is also critical to make sure you’re able to convey that to your customers all of the time, especially since you can’t be physically there 100% of the time.

Constantly push yourself to bring in new and interesting products and keep the mix fresh all the time. Behind the scenes, keeping an eye on the detail is critical to make sure you’ve got a handle on everything from inventory to online orders. Involve the team as much as you can in training, bringing in new products and getting feedback on what customers are asking for. Take some time with the team to get together now and again, especially if you’ve got a few physical locations. It’s critical to make the team feel like one integrated operation rather than a competing branch. Make a night of it with a great meal together and some drinks.

– David Caldana & Justin Kowbel, Founders, Borough Kitchen


About Sim Ahmed

Sim was a writer and technology journalist in a former life, before coming on board at Vend to help us communicate with our amazing community of retailers, partners and developers. Feel free to get in touch with Sim on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.