After I posted my "Dilemma in Progress" last week both Richard C and Stuart Baker advised me to take 'quiet time' on this and "you will probably discover the solution in something else you are doing!". Stuart also gave the following piece of brilliant advice:
"I ask myself if I can picture NOT doing something. What does my gut tell me about NOT doing something? If the inner response is that I will have turned away from something that wanted to be in my life, I have an answer."
I cannot see us NOT launching our online shop for DIY-ers. My gut feeling tells me the niche-market is out there and our progress is there too.
One answer had been staring me in the face all along - the logistical headache remedy lays in the price lists/catalogues of our 4 main manufacturers - suppliers. Where I normally focus on the best costs-effective solution per product (additional products like underlayment, oils and adhesives - which we do stock in small quantities) I 'only' have to turn that into most cost-effective solution per order/combination of products. All 4 suppliers stock most of these products and 'all' I have to do is find the right price for the online shop per product - wherever it comes from.
The second answer came to me during a phone conversation with my mother about how some customers just seem to 'drop out of the sky into our showroom'. That gave me the remedy for the scripting of (part of) the websites and really turn it into "DIY with a Difference".
Had I mentioned in the recent post the two main types of sales (called it type of customers there but in fact it is the 'type of sale') we have: GSI (Get Someone In - supply and install) - versus DIY (supply only) we also have three main types of customers:
As the description 'predicts' these customers (the ones I mentioned to my mother) 'drop out of the blue sky', have all their homework done (mostly online), know exactly what they want, how much and what other products they need. In fact, all they come for is to place the order and to pay.
Most of their homework done, know almost for sure what they want but are looking for some more advice. Be it on what wood type would suite their design most, what method of installation would be best for their circumstances, could we calculate exactly how many square meters they need?
- Likewoodbut's Know they like to have a wooden floor, but that's it really. Like to see lots of different samples; hear the various types of installation methods; the advantages and disadvantages of different finishes; other options there are. Apologise for having to ask so many questions, knowing so little - and we just reassure them (sometimes time after time) that's not a problem for us: that's what we are here for.
From the commercial point of view type 1 customers create the easiest and quickest turnover, but personally I like type 2 and 3 best because of the interaction and 'conversation' point of view. With them you can build up a real relationship and 9 times out of 10 they become our best ambassadors.
Our "DIY with a Difference" online approach must make all 3 types 'feel at home'. Translated into scripting and/or extra options this means:
Homework-doners: know what I want, can I find that here, what's the price, how do I order and where/how do I pay.
(Simple: in-out, no hassle, straight forward on-line shop)
- Couldyoutellme's: for them we will have the option to download pictures of the various flooring (interior design pictures, not just shots of small sample boards), simple instructions for installation and after care (including links to our FAQ blog where, if needed, they can even ask their own questions). This will (hopefully) turn them into type 1 customers.
- Likewoodbut's even more options, links to our information websites, many email-links with various body-text parts automagically filled in, to lead them to ask the right questions or request the right extra information in order to speed up the 'conversation' (happened before that it takes 4 emails before they even realise they have to tell us where in the UK they are before we can price the delivery), loads of pictures, downloadable leaflets and brochures, and many 'links' to our contact details including our phone number.
If they turn into a type 1 customer, great; if not we also give them the option to request a specified quotation and other (off-line) payment options.
Lots of work still to do, many boxes still to be ticked, but dilemma is definitely solved. "DIY with a Difference" will focus on our main company aim and mission:
supplying our customers with the most suited high quality natural wooden flooring in the most suited for them on-line way.
Self-service or with some guidance from the 'waiters'.