Biz column day, yay hay.  Since we’ve ventured into the manufacturing side I feel a little overwhelmed with our biz if the truth be told.  It’s like I’ve taken on a whole new business which consumes every waking hour,  I rather naively thought it would just be an extension of the retail side. No way hosay, rather its like this needy kid that doesn’t let you relax or take your foot off the pedal for a minute. Just when you think you’ve calmed it down up pops more problems!

Down to the matter in hand I could drone on for hours about our biz, but I fear that would bore you rotten. I will just add though we have added one last Retail School for the year (we had such a long wait list after the last one) this new date is in October in my pad. Talking of schools we’ve also put up all Design School dates until the end of the year. Scarily I think that’s only 4 classes remaining until Christmas (can’t quite get my head around that)!

Lets talk  customers and how to keep them coming back. Creating or buying products and delivering good service isn’t enough I mean its fundamental and we’re touch on that in a minute but you need to do more.

Create a community: Customers should not be seen as just data but rather a  community that your company interacts with. I think we have the best community I love communicating with people across all our social media channels and I try to always answer all questions on social. If people take the time to write in I’m going to take the time to reply. Conversely  the store always answers queries, design dilemma’s, we do our utmost to get personal.

Customization is key: I spend a lot of time as does the store answering design queries, helping customers customize their homes into amazing spaces. We are all obsessed with interiors here at AA, we live and we breathe them so providing personalised experiences is something important to us. It’s also funny because on Design School days I often go round the room asking if there is a particular reason people have come along, renovating, inspiration etc and more often than not its ‘to have a nose’. Which is fine by me, having a nose ignites a fire, it certainly does when I’m circumnavigating the globe shooting my books. Nothing more inspirational than being in someone’s cool home. Although I should say now to my class coming along tomorrow, you will have to excuse the garden, we haven’t had the time to plant everything in yet!

Create a loyalty programme: We have created a VIP programme, when customers join they gain access behind the velvet rope as it were getting discounts on selected products and getting access to sales in advance. Sometimes we collaborate with other companies and we pass on those discounts also. It’s important to reward customers for their loyalty whether that’s through exclusive offers or other stuff.

Provide entertainment: I write the blog for this reason, to provide a dizzying array of information and entertainment to our community. Its not full of sponsored posts like most other blogs, I’m lucky in that I don’t need to make a living from mine so I can do exactly what I want. But whats in it for me you may ask well that is pretty simple.  My blog (not that I realised it at the time) attracts new customers all the time, retains existing ones and delivers a lasting, multidimensional experience. It’s global, America and Australia are our strongest markets after here, and its very important to our business. You don’t need to have a blog just make sure you have good content on social (and by that I mean don’t constantly push product you’ll drive people away).Up the ante on social and create fabulous content that challenges, inspires and makes your customers come back for more. Winning customer loyalty isn’t easy but then as I say all the time in business what is!

Have 4 to 6 drops a year: We have two big drops a year S/S and then A/W with a number of other lines coming in in between. This means that we can juggle things around online and in store and keep things looking fresh.

Buy vintage:The great thing about buying vintage is that its a one off which means customers have to keep returning to your site or your store to grab the ‘latest, coolest find’ you’ve uncovered. Its an easy way to keep foot traffic up, creating a buzz and not shelling out tons of money on stock!

Bottom line you need to differentiate, that might sound like tough talking but get this no-one really needs you. The marketplace is crowded enough, hey we can buy everything we want anywhere in the world so why would we even buy from you. Simply existing is not enough, any business that thinks it is will either fail, or take so little money its beyond depressing.  You’ve got got got to differentiate!

 

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