Getting a chill from the cold calls? by A dispirited small retailer who DOES pay UK Taxes…for #Indieretail

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)…

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About Clare Bailey

Clare Bailey, The Retail Champion (formerly Clare Rayner), is one of the most well-known and respected retail experts in the UK. With unrivalled knowledge in retail, high streets and consumer matters, she offers unbiased, independent content – whether engaged as a professional speaker, for broadcast media, or for a written feature. Clare is a business woman, entrepreneur and founder of several small businesses. Having been born into a family of successful business owners, it was inevitable that she’d eventually jump off the corporate treadmill and step out on her own! Today her brand portfolio includes The Retail Champion, The Retail Conference, the Future High Street Summit and the Support for Independent Retail campaign. In addition, she is co-founder of Mobaro Retail UK and a non-exec director of Beed Virtual Assistant Services. Having started her career as a fast-track store management trainee for McDonalds, she went on to work with leading retailers such as M&S, Dixons and Argos. She moved swiftly into management roles before being headhunted into senior consulting roles with global software giant SAP, and international management consulting brand, Accenture. Her corporate background in senior retail, consulting and technology roles, coupled with her experience of creating and running her own business, has enabled her to be equally capable whether consulting to global brands or micro businesses. This unique blend has not only positioned her as a leading expert in all things retail, but has enabled her to add meaningful commentary and insight to the debate around the future of the high street, and, how technology is driving fundamental change in the way consumers, and businesses, interact. Clare has become an influential voice in her field, which has resulted in her becoming a regular media contributor and sought-after conference speaker. Often seen on Good Morning Britain, BBC Breakfast, Sky News, and Chanel 5 (to name a few), Clare speaks on a myriad of retail, high street and consumer issues – but is particular adept when it comes to explaining the context behind retail trading results, newly released data, and government stats, in a palatable and informative manner. In addition to broadcast and conference speaking, Clare is the proud author of two best-selling business books published by Kogan Page - The Retail Champion: 10 Steps to Retail Success, published July 2012 and How to Sell to Retail: The Secrets of Getting Your Product to Market, published February 2013. She has provided contributions to various academic texts, including Retail Marketing Management (published by Pearson). With an engaging, conversational yet informative style, Clare writes for press and content agencies, providing features, articles, blogs and opinion pieces as well as contributions to white papers and reports. However, when the situation demands a more serious style, Clare can deliver - In 2016 she wrote an extensive report for a major insurance and risk law firm, as a retail expert witness, to support a public liability suit. She found that project particularly enjoyable as it played well to her strengths – assimilating large amounts of data and information, identifying the key points and articulating that in an understandable manner. When not on TV or speaking at conferences, Clare’s “day job” sees her supporting consumer-facing businesses through her consultancy services. When asked to describe what she most loves about retail consulting it is typically the opportunity to “dig deep”, getting “under the bonnet”, in order to leverage the business data to uncover the insights that lead to “lightbulb moments”. She also loves working on business change programmes that centre on improving the processes and systems to increase profitability by supporting more rapid, better informed decision making, improving the customer experience, or simply by become more efficient and streamlined. In this respect she considers herself a “business engineer” with a brain that works like a relational database! Due to her years of experience, her logical, objective approach, her quick, rational thinking, she is known for being able to cut through complexity, seeing right through to the crux of issues, finding creative solutions that others may have overlooked. As if all that wasn’t enough, Clare is a working mum, juggling a home life in rural Lincolnshire with her partner, their 5 kids, 4 cats, and geriatric Labrador! For all enquiries, contact Clare directly on 01727 238890 or email champion@retailchampion.co.uk.
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One Response to Getting a chill from the cold calls? by A dispirited small retailer who DOES pay UK Taxes…for #Indieretail

  1. noelle says:

    Thank You, Anonymous – I think I am you! All of the above – running a small independent is hard & I feel your pain. About a month ago I finally got around to getting caller id – perfect! I now answer the calls I want & ignore every withheld number, life has improved

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