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  #21  
Old 28.03.2011, 23:14
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Re: My naive business-mind

At this stage, I'd go viral and tell us who the supplier is, how cool you find their products and what a shame it would be if you could no longer supply their prestigious brand to the largest website for English speakers - a golden demographic - in Switzerland.

You seem to have satisfied customers who love the products you sell; any supplier worth their salt would want to be associated with such an enthusiastic retailer. The smart ones pay for such endorsement.

Show us some examples of what you sell!

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Old 28.03.2011, 23:15
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Re: My naive business-mind

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At this stage, I'd go viral and tell us who the supplier is, how cool you find their products and what a shame it would be if you could no longer supply their prestigious brand to the largest website for English speakers - a golden demographic - in Switzerland.

You seem to have satisfied customers who love the products you sell; any supplier worth their salt would want to be associated with such an enthusiastic retailer. The smart ones pay for such endorsement.

Show us some examples of what you sell!

Look at her post history, you'll find her very cool website!
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  #23  
Old 28.03.2011, 23:18
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Re: My naive business-mind

That's very interesting.
The supplier did tell me months back that they legally cannot tell me what to sell for. They just stated how much other shops in Europe are selling for. But now, today's message from them, stated that they usually don't sell to online shops and that they made an exception for me. So I take it as being a polite "threat" that if I don't sell at the shops price, they'll stop supplying me.
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  #24  
Old 28.03.2011, 23:26
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Re: My naive business-mind

There is a Swiss saying "Recht haben und Recht bekommen sind zwei Sache"

"To have the law on your side and to receive justice are two different things"

You don't need a fight with a supplier because your competitors are complaining do you? You can easily advertise a price and secretly give a huge discount.

Your competitors won't be buying from you, so they won't discover your cash back tricks. But amongst your customers word of mouth is very powerful, for good and for bad reasons! And even if you were challenged, tell them it was a mistake and thank you for pointing this out!
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Old 28.03.2011, 23:30
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Re: My naive business-mind

I totally agree with you Ziger but the practical side of this specific small operation is that she is not going to get "lawyered up" to go after the supplier. So she needs to find solutions that work for her specific case.

Issues around supply and pricing in CH are very difficult legal areas. They are not for the faint at heart (or the underfunded).
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:17
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Re: My naive business-mind

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I totally agree with you Ziger but the practical side of this specific small operation is that she is not going to get "lawyered up" to go after the supplier. So she needs to find solutions that work for her specific case.

Issues around supply and pricing in CH are very difficult legal areas. They are not for the faint at heart (or the underfunded).
I guess it depends on the exact wording of the email from the supplier. But from what I gather, it merely alludes to changing the "suggested" price and threatens (although not outright) to stop supply based on size of shop. What an unfortunate situation.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:39
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Re: My naive business-mind

Yup, you got it right! It may be illegal to "force" me to sell the products for a certain price, but if I don't, they'll stop supplying me. I guess there are always ways to get around the legal issues for these companies.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:53
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Re: My naive business-mind

Another thought.

Since this is an EU supplier, and you have a CH website, might you be able to say that you ship only to CH and FL addresses? This might go part way in resolving the issue IF the complaint(s) are coming from other EU customers and not from someone in CH.
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Old 29.03.2011, 12:57
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Re: My naive business-mind

That sounds like a good idea and definately worth a try. Thanks.
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  #30  
Old 30.03.2011, 22:28
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Re: My naive business-mind

We were in your exact same situation with our running shoe business and we were forced to raise our prices. Our solution was just to immediately set up a basic "loyalty club". Free membership with a purchase over amount X and then X percent off every buy after that.
The supplier could not say anything about us setting up a loyalty program for our business.
That's just how we did it.

Good luck!
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  #31  
Old 30.03.2011, 23:30
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Re: My naive business-mind

quite a few good ideas for you here already, I would get back in touch with the supplier and say that you will increase your prices to be more inline with their other customers who supply to CH. Also mention that you have been keeping your prices lower to try to generate interest in your brands and to build your business in the short term, and that is clearly working.

I have always said that my suppliers are almost as important as my customers, keep them updated with press interest in what you are doing for them, what exhibitions and events you attend etc. If they see that you are working for them in the long term (and what you are doing now is just a starter), they will be keener to support you in your business. Good luck, and if you need any more non public discussions, please email me.
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  #32  
Old 30.03.2011, 23:44
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Re: My naive business-mind

That's some great advice. I like the loyalty club idea, as well as what Grumpy Grapefruit said. Thanks.
I've been looking into the possibility of setting up some kind of coupon or gift certificate thing. The only problem is I can't offer a discount on all my products because for a lot of them I'm going as low as I can go. So for instance if I set up the possibility of receiving 20% off with every order over say 30 francs and a customer ordered only items that I'm not being "forced" to increase the price of, I would lose out big time.
I'm having trouble working out the details with the host of my website.
The only solution I can think of right now is to offer a percentage like I mentionned, and request that customers pay by advanced payment so I can adjust the amount. I think I need to wrack my brain some more, and review some of the ideas that have been presented to me!!
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  #33  
Old 31.03.2011, 12:39
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Re: My naive business-mind

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I only get a small handful of orders a month.
If this is the case you should be happy that they even want to do business with you and don't refer you to one of their whole sellers.

Someone in this thread mention that you should not show your prices in the shop. Very bad advise. I would never buy from you or even spend 5 seconds looking at your shop, if prices are not available.

Don't forget that the main reason for people to shop online is the price as online shops has less overhead than physical stores and thus can carry a lower margin.

Don't be affraid to increase your prices but make sure that every package shipped is PERFECT!!

I had a sucessful online store a few years ago and I spend all my energy giving each and every customer a good shoping experience by:

Answering questions by e-mail instantly.
Ship all orders (received before 15:00 o'clock) same day
Wrapping all items individually in colourful silk paper.
Added free gift (of low value naturally)
Added discount vouchers for more shopping.
Informed customer of Track & Trace info.
Had a 14 days "No hazzle" full return policy.

You have to make it worth while for your customers to come back and if they feel that they are your most valued customer - they will come back and they will tell their friend of your shop and great service.
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  #34  
Old 31.03.2011, 12:54
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Re: My naive business-mind

Those are some good points. I like the idea of a discount voucher and am working on that.
I just started this online shop before Christmas last year and haven't done much advertising (except on the EF ) and I've heard from lots of people it takes time to get it going. I've had quite a number of repeat customers so I consider that a good sign! I agree, that I am lucky that this supplier (and others) considered selling to me- quite a few other companies refused me (which at first I couldn't understand because they would be making money off me with no risks).

I will try to work out the part about returns so that it stands out on the website. I try to write each person who orders an email indicating that if they aren't happy with what they receive they should let me know. I'm learning as I go.
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  #35  
Old 31.03.2011, 14:49
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Re: My naive business-mind

I used to manage a couple of online mail-order companies when I lived in the UK. In my experience, there was usually an unspoken agreement where no retailer would offer products below a certain level of discount, and if anyone broke that level - by even a tiny amount - then there was strongarming from the suppliers to prevent it.

I'd say the biggest problem you'll face is when you start making the hurdle from small to medium. Initially you'll be able to give a very individual and focused service to every customer because of the size of your operation. The problem comes when (if) the venture picks up momentum and you have to cope with higher volumes, potentially staffing requirements, including all the taxation / accounting / governance that goes hand-in-hand with that, maintaining the same highly individual level of service to customers falls way down the list of priorities.

Also the time will come that just one of your customers hits you with some fairly solid legal chapter and verse as to why your common sense, real world customer service / returns policies are not correct - it's a shame but when it does happen, the minority will likely ruin it for the majority.

Lastly I'll share the mantra we used to live by in one of the companies I worked at - genuine customers will get genuine customer service - time wasters will have their time wasted.

I share that mostly because it's a very tempting mantra to live by, and it will almost definitely be something that you think of often when dealing with some awkward customer complaint, but ultimately if you do want to make a go of it then it's a view you have to absolutely ignore. (in my opinion)
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