Business Advice met entrepreneur Jannik Lawaetz, whose startup LuggageHero offers local London shop owners an opportunity to develop a new revenue stream.
Competition is tough for independent retailers, and to have a chance at rivalling larger high street chains, local independent business owners must consider new and innovative ways to make money.
Identifying this need amongst small local retailers, Jannik Lawaetz, a Danish entrepreneur, has launched LuggageHero – a new online platform offering travelers luggage storage options in local shops, cafes and restaurants.
Launched in London this year, LuggageHero’s growing network of small local retail partners is benefitting from the hourly rates the platform offers tourists to safeguard their bags and suitcases in prime locations while they’re exploring the city.
Business Advice spoke to Lawaetz to find out why he thought smaller local retailers in Britain needed to diversify their offering, and the role technology will play in future high street survival.
(1) Who are you and what’s your business?
I’m Jannik Lawaetz, founder and CEO at LuggageHero. Since achieving a graduate diploma in business administration from Copenhagen Business School, working in the leisure and travel and tourism industries on sales and marketing strategies.
(2) How long have you been around for?
LuggageHero was founded in July 2016 in Copenhagen. By 1 March this year, we were launched in London.
(3) What makes your service different?
LuggageHero gives users a different option from the traditional way of storing luggage in rail stations or at airports. The service offers luggage storage in regular, local shops, freeing up space to people on the move, that are in need of somewhere temporary to keep their belongings.
We now offer travelers over 65 locations in London and 50 locations in Copenhagen, with low hourly rates offered for premium locations.
(4) What was the key to getting things up and running?
The key is meeting the demand for convenient locations to store luggage at a low hourly rate. Shops with good opening hours and premium locations are a high priority for our business concept.
Strong partnerships have been important when launching in London. We partnered with StreetPR, who provided us with a team of temporary brand ambassadors to carry out a leafleting campaign.
This was an enormous help for a company like ours. Without needing to hire any staff, we could hit the ground running, and get out on the streets with a crew of helpers to bring attention to our concept.
Two important outcomes for us from the leafleting campaign were that we ended up signing a lot of new small local retailers, as owners could understand our platform more easily, and it delivered instant footfall to our partner shops.
(5) Who do you now count amongst your London retail partners?
Since our launch on 1 March 2017, we have set up partnerships with more than 60 shops and small local retailers. These include all kind of local businesses, including coffee shops, printing- and parcel shops, hotels and even a whisky shop, and the feedback with has been positive.
Beside small local retailers, we also work alongside Sandemans, Europe’s largest free walking tour operator, and Hostmaker, who manage more than 1,000 Airbnb properties in London. Overall, we feel like we are understanding the London market well and getting a good foothold.
(5) What is a key challenge facing UK high street retailers in 2017?
Today, competition for customers is tough, and being small local retailers fighting against well-known high street brands is a fight that is hard if you don’t think out of the box.
(6) What role will technology play in ensuring the high street has a future?
Technology will play a huge role in attracting customers to small local retailers in future, especially the younger generation of customers, who may already be using services like Uber, Airbnb and Google Maps to plan trips.
People no longer just pick a random experience when traveling and hope for the best. They research online, they book beforehand and they read recommendations from other customers.
(7) How else can high street retailers increase footfall this year?
We continue to see new concepts come to the surface to offer small local retailers a new way of using their premises to make extra revenue.
Copenhagen has seen everything, from one shop owner setting up a parcel delivery service for local retailers in the immediate area, to a restaurant launching an app to sell food that would otherwise be wasted.
(8) In five years’ time, we will be…
On the way to becoming the biggest luggage storage provider in Europe and the US. When thinking about where to store luggage, we aim to be the first service you think of to solve your needs.
Our main aim is to act as a market platform. We don’t wish to take over any of the small local retailers that we collaborate with, we just want to be the link between service providers and customers.