Sales calls are irritating. Especially on the rare occasion I answer the phone when a customer is in the shop, perhaps because I have been waiting for an important call or because the phone has rung persistently over the last ten minutes and that mother’s anxiousness kicks in that someone is urgently trying to contact me. Because none of us are sitting idly waiting for the phone to ring it’s a real nuisance when whatever useful job you’re doing gets disturbed too.
To me it’s all about relationship building in a non pushy manner.
Facebook advertising people are the current bane of my life. One caller last week even went so far as to tell me scathingly that I might as well close my facebook account if I wasn’t doing facebook advertising as it was a waste of time. Now I’m the first to admit that sales and marketing aren’t my strong points, but actually in my business the soft sell is the correct approach to take anyway and I like to think that my facebook page and twitter feeds reflect this and are used more for banter, jokes and inane comments. To me it’s all about relationship building in a non pushy manner.
So anyway I tend to field sales calls off quite quickly with the simple and honest truth that whatever they’re trying to sell me I don’t have the money for. Our marketing budget was planned early in the year and we’re not about to throw some money the way of a random caller.
However, every now and then, even I can get drawn into a conversation that makes me think I should listen further. And so it was with the man from Play.com.
Play.com and Amazon…
From what I can see Play.com are trying to muscle in on Amazon’s success and wanted to know if we wanted to list on their site. Now we don’t list on Amazon, no doubt many of your will view this as commercial suicide, but quite honestly after the Amazon monthly fee, their commission and vat and the fact that we would also lose money on the shipping costs plus the time it takes to manage it’s never been commercially viable. (My previous employer did list on Amazon and was duly appalled when a colleague did a cost analysis of the money she was making, which was pretty much pennies per sale).
Now I fully realise Amazon’s clout in the marketplace so was quite interested initially at being able to list with a similar company, especially when I was promised their fees were significantly lower. So I asked for more information.
Well it turns out that they still ask for a commission per transaction of 13%. What’s more, like Amazon, they also list themselves as direct suppliers and I noticed they were undercutting by as much as £10 on a £45 product. So essentially a product that would cost us £20, they were selling at £35. So if we sold it at that price we would pay them £4.55 commission, the vat man £7.00, lose a couple of pounds in shipping as we charge £4.95 whilst our couriers charge us £6.50, so giving a profit of about £1.95 and that’s not even taking into account manpower in unpacking and pricing stock, doing the admin to list the products and packing and sending them out.
And if that wasn’t bad enough. Guess where their Head Office is. It’s in Jersey. So just like Amazon, they’re also conveniently avoiding paying UK tax duties.
Are Play.con yet another organisation trying to bleed Independent Retailers dry?
So once again it feels very much like another organisation that is trying to bleed independent retailers dry. We join these huge marketplaces to try to compete with the rest of the world, but it’s not a level playing field. I wouldn’t expect to be listed for free or not pay commission. I don’t expect free rent for my shop premises, but I’d be pretty cheesed off if my landlady opened a shop next door selling the same products for 25% less. (That day could well come when Tesco finally take over the world and we find that actually they also own all commercial properties…)
Why an anonymous blog?
I’ve asked for this blog to be posted anonymously purely because it doesn’t reflect my usual upbeat self. I don’t like to be moany and whingey and whiney or stamp my feet saying ‘it’s not fair’, but the blog a day for Independent Retailer month seemed a good forum to have a bit of an honest moan about this particular aspect of being a small, independent retailer and during the course of writing it I’ve also had two calls trying to sell me pay per click advertising.
Next call I get I’ll give them a list of our best sellers and see if they fancy buying any of them…
This blog was writted by a dispirited small retailer (who pays UK taxes and rates and is actually usually quite jolly)…