This is a guest post by Derek Traynor of AllMoto.ie, an IIA Member Company, republished with his permission from his blog. In it he writes about a subject dear to our hearts in the IIA: online retail and the knock-on effects of reputable online business for the economy. If you would like to ramp up your own online retail business, don’t miss our upcoming conference, 8 More Ways to Sell Even More Stuff, designed especially for retailers, whatever stage of the online game you are at.
OK firstly let me explain – this isn’t a story about my personal ‘Bedroom Efforts’ (I’ve another blog for that 🙂 ), it’s my opinion, as an etailer (online retailer), on the damage that small, online, bedroom based efforts cause to industry in general.
What I mean by ‘Bedroom Efforts’ is someone sitting at home, on a laptop, listing products on ebay, Amazon and similar, and ordering in stock as it sells. However, let me clarify, my issue isn’t with the sleepy entrepreneurs but rather with the suppliers who decide to sell product through them.
I’ve been harping on about this pet-hate for years now and I’m “happy” to report that in just the last month I’ve had three suppliers contact me with concerns over it – way to get with the times guys – but at least they recognize the problem. These suppliers are eventually requesting minimun retail prices on their products. I’ve no idea where they stand legally if challenged about anti-competition legalities but…. well who cares about that for the moment.
I’m sure a few people are now thinking, “but sure you’re a online shop – who are you to talk?”, but this is where most people are missing the difference: I’m a reputable online retailer, adding value to a customers experience. I do this by providing:
- product knowledge. We’re experts on what we sell and use this knowledge to only sell product that is good.
- product support. If our customers have difficulty with a product we’re there to help by phone, email and often in person at events.
- product backup. Did a purchase break or fall short of what a customer expected? We always repair and/or replacement based on the circumstances.
- stock off the shelf. When a customer buys something it gets shipped within 24 hours (over 85% of the time in my shop).
- a unique user experience. The customer always subconsciously relate to their experience of the product.
- a physical store where people can drop into in person if they want to.
Bedroom Efforts generally damage a product having little or no technical knowledge, no repairs, no returns policy, no parts backup and NO stock. The customer ends up waiting longer, buying ill advised and losing all if an issue arises. What is not seen here is the damage to the brand that was sold. Note to suppliers – one way to lose repeat business is to allow a terrible customer experience in the initial purchase.
The hidden damage goes further though. These bedroom efforts often make almost no margin and that’s fine as they’ve almost no costs. But the damage arises in the lost sale the ‘real’ retailer has lost. Don’t be misled, reputable online etailers have almost as many costs as your local shop (Google ads, website development, online presence maintenance, customer support, STOCK, rent, taxes, to name a few).
What also makes me laugh is that these same suppliers then complain about having trouble getting paid by their retailer network. Maybe it hasn’t crossed their minds yet, but, support your network of retailers. Note to suppliers – IT’S EASY TO GET PAID FROM PEOPLE THAT ARE IN THE BUSINESS OF MAKING A PROFIT.
Imagine this outside Victorias Secrets: “knickers, knickers, two for a tenner”
Chanel and Gucci don’t supply someone so they can set up a market stall outside Brown Thomas (Ireland’s exclusive department store) on a busy Sunday afternoon. Why do suppliers continue to sell to people who just list on Ebay, Amazon, etc, and provide no backup on a Monday morning?
Chanel and Gucci understand the principals of brand image and most importantly – making profit.
Thanks to Derek for that heartfelt post! If you are a member of the IIA and would like to share a guest post about doing business online (any aspect: it doesn’t just have to be retail!) please read our guidelines and get in touch.
Maeve Kneafsey, IIA Chair and MD of Elucidate was recently asked to contribute to a Sunday Times article about broadband in light of Vodafone‘s entry into the market. Here below are her thoughts which make a handy pocket sized guide to choosing broadband in Ireland.
What should consumers expect to get from a decent basic broadband package?
One of the big things for consumers to watch out for is not just the monthly cost, but also to compare the speed or megabytes (mb) they are being offered and all the additional extras involved in installing the service into their home or business. There can be a lot of hidden costs, so check the detail and then make your cost comparison. Watch out for the cap on the amount of files you can transfer in any given month as this can be really expensive if you go over your cap. The opening offer from Vodafone for a 2mb broadband connection for EUR49.00 a month, includes installation.
What is the best type of broadband – (ADSL), cable-TV connections, or wirelessly through the air via a satellite dish or aerial?
Depends on what is most important to you, convenience (being able to move around), speed, cost and of course if the service or choice are available in your area. Most areas don’t even have a huge choice as often served by one or two service providers.
Wireless via satellite can be expensive, wireless via the air is reliable and convenient (depending on providers coverage of course) but can be a bit slow (e.g. 3.5mb or download or upload speed), sky offer 8-9mb which seems very fast, ADSL still seems to be the fastest and the most reliable, but it is not always the cheapest and it may not be available in your area. Also watch out if it says it is an up to 2mb it may be less than 2mb.
What is the best way of shopping around for a deal?
Maybe start by using a very handy online tool called the Broadband Calculator that allows you to fill in your preferences and it will deliver a result – http://www.callcosts.ie/broadband/Broadband_Calculator.175.LE.asp which is (from what I can tell) an independent source of information. It asks you questions such as do you want to exclude the cost of a telephone line rental as some providers don’t need a phone line to operate, what speed you want etc.
I would also use the price comparison websites http://www.broadband.gov.ie/List+all++Services/ to compare costs and download speeds. However, your journey does not end there, because then you have to check that your shortlist providers are available in your area which you can find out from http://mapviewer.broadband.gov.ie/ServiceByLocationSearchWF.aspx.
Then double check there aren’t any hidden costs associated with installation and add-ons to your monthly charges, which may not have been mentioned earlier. You need to double check exactly what you will see as a total charge on your monthly bill before you agree to sign up to any service provider. No harm in asking them to confirm by email. You should also check how long it will take before it will be set up (“Is there a waiting list?”) and exactly what is involved. You don’t want to be sitting waiting all day for them to arrive, or have a team ready to work without any access to broadband. So ask how this is managed and can you book a specific time for installation.
An added difficulty can be getting a response from the providers, especially if you contact them via their website or email. But if they do offer you to contact them via email or their website and don’t respond to your query, it might indicate how well they will deal with you in the future if you are experiencing problems with your service.
Who do you think is offering the best deal at the moment?
I would love to answer this one, but it depends on what is the top priority for you. Is it speed, ability to move around, reliability, availability in your area or cost? Good luck!