Hello Nicotine Freaks!
Dr Samuel Johnson, the famous writer, polymathic genius and creator of the first modern dictionary of the English language, elegantly quipped during the mid-18th century,
"You find no man, at all intellectual, who is willing to leave London. Sir, when a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.”
I left London for warmer climes. Ouch, that's painful! What does that say about me and my intellect?! Whether or not you agree with the sentiments of Dr Johnson, he was emphasising over 250 years ago that even then London was an immense city. Despite my limited intellect under Dr Johnson's definition, I can say this remains the case to this day.
It is therefore a pleasure to be writing another retailer review today, this time of London Pods. For those of you who listened in geography class at school, the name suggests this retailer might be from the United Kingdom!
London Pods was established in early 2020 and is just about to celebrate its first birthday (always a big one, but I can't remember mine!).
It must be said, do not let its age fool you - Nicotine pouches are a new and rapidly growing product category and by default, most brands and retailers in the industry are likewise relatively young. What matters is the progress London Pods has made during its short history to build trust, differentiate itself from retail competitors and in gaining customer loyalty by delivering a fantastic service. In this respect, it feels they've been around for a lot longer.
Established by Mr Adam Gambrill, the business has seen tremendous growth in its reputation and notoriety, an achievement worthy of genuine congratulation. It is not easy starting something from scratch, I've done it myself several times and I can only praise Adam for "Doing the Work" - this is how people succeed and we wish him all the best as he continues.
London Pods has established a good reputation in the market among brands and consumers - we know this to be true because Nicotine Freak speaks regularly with end consumers, brands, retailers and manufacturers. London Pods stocks many well-known and some less well-known brands, offering the consumer a great deal of choice.
Adam shares a vision that aligns with Nicotine Freak's, believing in a smoke-free future, consumer choice and harm reduction through safer forms of nicotine consumption. He is right in seeing great potential in this market not only to make money but at the same time support public health. A win-win. Let regulators take note and listen to consumers! You can read Nicotine Freak's view on how you can influence sensible nicotine product regulation in the UK (and further afield) here.
So without further ado, let us take a look at candid look at London Pods as a brand, the website, its product range, its shopping experience and customer journey.
It's cool, it's fun - it's London. One of the most marketable cities on earth. London Pod's logo is based on the 'Millennium Wheel'/'London Eye', an internationally recognised symbol of the city. As a British retailer with a target audience in the UK (although they do ship internationally too), this makes complete sense from a branding perspective - businesses must appeal to their audiences through their branding. Capitalising on the capital city (no pun intended) is a wise move.
Being brutally honest, "London Pods" has a better ring to it than "Grimsby Pods" or "Blackpool Pods" - no offence to anyone living in those places - you can probably agree as well. As someone who grew up in southern England I am aware our stereotype among northerners (jokingly) is that we are all softies and snobby, southerners in exchange think northerners should all get back in the coal mines or cotton mills. I can say for sure, however, having spent some time working in the high-stress environment of the City of London, northerners are (mostly) friendlier and more personable than the stressed-out inhabitants living in London! I digress with the English stereotypes...let us continue.
The Website and First Impressions
The homepage is flashy, colourful and dynamic with sliding promotions of some of the latest and best-selling offerings. You are met with an array of different options within 1 minute of being on the site.
The top user bar is segmented by category, when moving the cursor you are met with a list of all the brands in that particular category allowing you to locate your favourite brands quickly and easily. There are a great many to choose from.
Something else which helps with the shopping experience is the notifications you get of recent purchases made by other customers. It is always interesting to see what others are buying in more or less real-time. As online shoppers, we do take cues from what others are doing, so this is a nice touch.
"Mix Packs" - Giving Customers What They Want!
Too much choice can sometimes be a problem for the consumer, however. London Pods solves this problem. When visiting the website, one is struck by the 'Mix Packs' on offer on London Pod's homepage.
This is great for consumers who want to try something new in their preferred flavour category but want a quick and easy way to purchase a variety of products/brands without having to trawl through all the products individually.
This contributes to a positive customer experience with convenience at its heart. Convenience is what people want and its what people pay for. That's why we pay extra to shop at a local 'convenience' store or order food online. London Pods has hit this nail on the head. I like this thinking. Many retailers are still figuring out what customers want and these mixed packs allow retailers to compare what returning customers come back for after they have purchased one. Customers can then be recommended more appropriate offerings.
The Ordering Experience
Adam has thought out his 'customer journey'/customer experience (CX). This is essential to delivering an experience that keeps people coming back for more. Upon making my order, I received an immediate email thanking me which was nice.
I chose to pay via bank transfer and was sent an immediate follow-up message within seconds.
London Pods clearly understand the importance of getting customer feedback. I later received a couple of non-invasive emails asking how my experience was and asking to give a trust pilot score - these things are what makes one stand out as a retailer. It kills two birds with one stone - it makes the customer feel cared about and the feedback is how London Pods can keep delivering what its customers want.
Nicotine Freak is a resource that end consumers look at when deciding what to buy and retailers look to us when considering what they should be stocking and what is hot or not on the market at the moment. We have a flooded inbox with such questions which we do our best to answer.
For retailers, you must collect the data on what customers want and spend time analysing it for valuable commercial insights, while of course respecting privacy. London Pods has struck the right balance here and are on the right road by treating their customers as individuals and not simply as statistics.
Sensible follow up emails were sent from London Pods informing me about new products which did not come across as invasive or irrelevant - this is how one should run a retail business and "cross-sell" new products to customers. This not only increases business revenue but grows customer loyalty and simply makes it easier for consumers to buy. It's the electronic version of a knowledgeable member of staff behind the counter in a tobacco or any other physical retail establishment.
New Project - London Pods' Own Brand - 'Trippi'
London pods are working on a nicotine pouch product of its own in collaboration with others called 'Trippi' - this is one of the few British brands we have seen. You can view Nicotine Freak's review of the Trippi range here.
Over the past 30 years, Britain closed down much of its industry in favour of a focus on the service (tertiary) sector, in which the country is a leader in Europe. I think post-Brexit we may see an increase in industrial production in the UK as the government provides the necessary tax incentives, grants and training to make it possible. We already know that nicotine pouches are already being made in the UK and long may that grow/continue.
An attractive website, sensible promotions, easy navigation, excellent and broad product selection, great non-invasive follow up and after-sales care for customers.