Looking To Leverage Your B&M Brand And Go Big Time E-Commerce?

Are you thinking of setting up or expanding your online store?  Why not? You know your business and your customers are already online purchasing and researching everything they can.  By simply leveraging your day-to-day brick and mortar showroom business you can be THE player online. 

Before finalizing your online business plan, below are some questions that are not always included in online e-commerce business plans that are leveraging a successful brick and mortar showroom.

Please take a moment to review your target online customer and their unique needs.  

  1. Why are you adding an online purchase point to your retail showroom?
    1. Make life easier for your current customers.
    2. Reach new customers that shop for your core products only online 
    3. Create a new online brand that focuses on a special niche of your product mix that you think offers an online opportunity.
  2. What special terms will your online customers be looking for that you might not be currently offering in your bricks and mortar showrooms? 
    1. Free freight
    2. Expedited delivery
    3. Free returns on all products
  3. What factor will you markup prices from your cost?
  4. Will you have to increase your inventory to meet your online customer’s perceived needs?
  5. What kind of customer service will they expect?
    1. Email and text only
    2. Personal telephone support
    3. AI chatbot with personal chat support
    4. Any mix of the above
  6. Will you have to add any people?
  7. What do your direct competitors offer?

If you have incorporated all of these in your business plan, bravo.  If you have not, I suggest you take the time to dig into answers from te to your business plan, you will have a more complete idea of the numbers and what you need to reach your income goals.

P.S.:  In the E-commerce world it is easier to start small with one profitable, under served product niche. This path allows you and your team to market your E-store to an needy market and learn the unique challenges of the E-commerce game.  Those that open their E-stores with thousands of SKUs covering many product categories can get quickly overwhelmed and damage the brand they worked so diligently to build. 

Good Luck!

Image by Donald Trung Quoc Don (Chữ Hán: 徵國單), Wikimedia Commons

The 21st Century Customer Experience

Photo by Alexander Kovacs on Unsplash

21st century retail rule: upper-end retail can only survive by offering an amazing customer service.   

But a great customer experience does not have to be a blow your hair back carnival ride.

An honest, quality driven sales process remains a great customer experience.  Some customers will want a Flying Whoopee but that might not be your customer.

If you set up a solid process, hire smart people and work with good vendors, your customer service experience will be attractive to many.  

It’s not easy but do not make it harder than it needs to be.

All is Good But Are Others Farther Ahead? Forget About it!

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs
Image by Richard Reid from Pixabay

It’s Friday afternoon, the sun is out and your business is strong.  In fact, you are ticking a bit ahead of your budget . Then a representative from from a good vendor walks in and informs you that your business is not keeping up with their other accounts.  Boom! The clouds roll in, the rain is pouring down, and you have to find out what is wrong. Horse poop! 

Always listen and learn; there are always new opportunities to research but remember to keep things in perspective…your perspective.  Short term thinking will only drive you and your team crackers. 

It is your business, not theirs.  You took the time to set your company’s goals and make a focused strategy to reach them.  Do not let others tell you what your business needs to be; it is not theirs.

Go back and enjoy your day.

Now, if you have not taken the time to set your game plan maybe it is time.  

Also published on the Decorative Plumbing & Hardware Association’s Connections Blog: Welcomed Thoughts from a Fellow (Jeff Valles): It’s Your Business! 

My Business Is Great Just The Way It Is!

Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

-John Kenneth Galbraith
The Human Touch II” 6″x13″ $80 Zinc etching using the Dodo bird as a symbol of something that can go very wrong, very fast; the result of human intervention. Created by Steve Nowatzki

“We can’t change that.  Really, what are you thinking?  That has done nothing but make money for us.  I see no reason to change.”  Sound familiar?  

We loathe change and will protect our past decisions to avoid replacing a product, brand or process with something new.  Change is even more difficult as a business owner, so much more.  You not only need to handle change, you must decide what to change, when to change and how to change.  The always intimidating triple-whammy. 

We all know change is hard but if we do not improve our businesses it will become irrelevant to our customers.  We need to grit our teeth and fully accept change, aggressive change.  Change must become a major part of our business planning structure.  

This level of change is necessary for two market driven reasons.  First, we are in the luxury business.  A business where yesterday’s hot profitable products will be copied by many.  This diminishes its glow with luxury’s progressive product seekers and its profit will slide to commodity levels.  Secondly, the 21st century is about how tech can make business better.  In fact, quite a few learned people think all businesses must fundamentally be a tech business first, market-looking second.  Might your next showroom be a new website?

In decades past, we walked into our businesses asking what was broken and needed to be fixed.  Today, we need to ask what is next, and how do I get there as fast as my team is able?

Change is hard and it is even harder when you, yourself must plot the course, craft the process and get it done.

“You knew the job was dangerous when you took it…”  

– Super Chicken, Jay Ward