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Important News For All Customers

October 15th, 2013

More warehouse space desperately needed!

It’s fair to say that 2013 has been a mental year for us so far in terms of product sales, with the spring and summer periods easily being the busiest we’ve experienced to date. However, it’s equally fair to say that this growth has thrown up a number of challenges that have, at times, threatened our ability to maintain a high level of customer service across all of the shopping channels we currently serve. Not only have we struggled to hold enough stock (due to a dire shortage of warehouse space) and keep track of it properly (due to walk-in sales bypassing our main database) but we’ve also found ourselves extremely pushed for time, to the extent that many telephone calls have gone unanswered (mainly when we’ve been tied up serving local walk-in customers), replies to voicemails and e-mails have often been tardy and a lot of exciting web content has gone unmade (we had plans to make at least a dozen new demonstration videos this year, but so far we’ve only managed to publish three). Consequently, we’ve given a lot of thought over the last couple of months about how best to resolve these issues, in order to accommodate future growth whilst at the same time improving the level of service we offer to all of our customers. The outcome of this process is as follows…

• During the second week of December we will be relocating the product sales side of our business to a much larger warehousing unit, which will enable us to significantly increase our stockholding over the next couple of years. This will not only enable us to better cope with spikes in demand during busy periods in future, but will also allow us to take on a wider range of new product lines and thus position us better as a one-stop shop for detailing supplies. The services side of our business will remain unaffected by this move, and will continue to operate out of our current detailing studio.

• From the 2nd of December 2013 walk-in sales will be politely refused. The reasons for this are threefold. Firstly, we wish to create a situation where all of our customers have the same level of access to us in future, as this will ensure that everybody receives an equally high level of service. Secondly, we wish to funnel all future sales into a single order management system, as this will enable us to control the stock levels shown on our website in real-time, and thus all but eliminate the risk of back order situations arising. Thirdly, due to the increasing scale of our operation, we will be operating heavy machinery in our new unit (fork lift truck, cardboard recycler, etc) and public access poses a significant risk from a liability standpoint (it’s more than likely that our insurers will prohibit public access regardless of any other business decisions we may or may not make).

We appreciate that the above news will have an impact on many local customers, and that it may not be seen by everybody as a positive step. However, we believe that the loss of walk-in sales (a potential inconvenience for a relatively small number of people) will be offset by a significant leap in our productivity, which will result in a lot of highly informative new web content being made (a potential benefit for all of our customers, i.e. local, national and international). Furthermore, we see no reason why this change will result in local customers receiving a lower standard of service. Our Feefo feedback shows that we offer excellent service in the absence of direct face to face contact, and we are wholly committed to ensuring that this continues to be the case in future. We hope that the above clearly explains the forthcoming changes to how we operate and our reasons for making them, but if you have any questions please do not hesitate to add a comment below or get in touch by phone or e-mail if you would prefer.

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30 Responses to “Important News For All Customers”

  1. Alan says:

    I wish you all good luck, it seems that you’ve done everything right so far and as someone who loves buying on internet, I know that when we get people calling in to us unannounced it always makes for an extremely complicated sale when compared to an online sale. All the best. Alan.

  2. Alwyn Ralphs says:

    It’s a pity to stop your passing customers in a time when you need every customer. Asda do a click and collect, is this what you could do for locals so they go through the database and stock control and collect it at the desk? Better still have it run round to the local Ann Summers shop for collection, saves your till/shop front space and every man could collect a little something for the weekend to keep the other 1/2 happy! Can’t see many people buying the “why were you in Ann Summers?” when the answer is foamy car wash! Just a thought. Serious about the click and collect though – it worked in Asda York. Glad you’re doing well chaps.

  3. @Alwyn – We have given serious consideration to this option but ultimately we’ve decided to knock it on the head for several reasons linked to the physical layout of the new unit and the public access liability issue (in short, we’d have to partition off a very large awkward-shaped area at the front of the unit in order to accept visitors without exposing them to the main warehouse space, but unfortunately the costs associated with doing this would be too high for us to bear).

  4. Peter Cunningham says:

    Guys, I’ve been a customer for five years and I know I am far from your biggest spender but, I’ve benefited greatly directly from your pop in past service, your “contact us” service and tonight from your blog. I have loved every contact I have had with you and if I have to become a distance sales customer then I suppose I’ll just have to accept it. I hope your enhanced website includes more videos as I think these have been great this year. I remember back when I had only a lambswool mitt, two buckets, three towels and a Werkstat kit, and coming along to the breakfast learning sessions which have spurred me on.

    A lack of a covered workspace currently prevents me spending more money on a DA machine and the accompanying products. I’ll definitely push to see demos and get hands on with machines before I fork out in the future so I’d be interested by then to hear how you’d accommodate me? Please don’t take any of this as negative as I will always take your advice as gospel, continue to recommend your advice section and product sales to everyone who will listen. AND I’m still waiting for a PB window sticker! Cheers, Peter.

  5. @Peter – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. The biggest challenge we’re currently facing is how to successfully manage our continued growth whilst simultaneously improving the service we offer. While the move and associated changes may appear to be a contrary step, we’re quietly confident that it will significantly boost our efficiency, and thus free up a lot of time for content creation. Videos are high on our agenda for the future, and not just product demonstrations either, but also a full series of in-depth guides to detailing, focusing on techniques rather than products. Hopefully these will go down well and help to justify our decision! Furthermore the reason why we haven’t run any open days recently is simply down to time pressure. Once we’ve moved and the dust has settled we’ll see what we can do in this respect next year. We’ll keep the sticker idea in mind too!

  6. Neil says:

    I’m with the other guys, I am not a “big” spender @ PB but never the less it was nice to be able to drop in past when passing buy to pick up the odd bits and bobs and usually come out having spent more than I went into spend. It was good to be able to speak face to face with the experts as all of you were always keen to give out good advice and not just take money from folk. Good luck with the new structure , just a pity for all your local loyal customers.

  7. @Neil – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. While we understand that some people prefer face to face transactions, we wish to reassure you that there is no need to worry about good advice no longer being available as a result of this change. After the move we will remain on hand at all times during our normal working hours (which are not changing) to have one to one discussions and answer questions, albeit on the phone or via e-mail instead of face to face. This is how we’ve traditionally served over 90% of our customers (i.e. those folk that don’t live within easy driving distance of us) and, based on their feedback on Feefo, it seems to work very well. This change does not mean we’re going to put less effort into serving our customers in future. The opposite couldn’t be further from the truth!

  8. Steve Strachan says:

    Guys again I am not the biggest of spenders by a long shot but I have both ordered online and picked up products in-store on my way home from work. I enjoyed coming in and getting face to face advice from yoursleves but I have also had some e-mail contact regarding specific product advice and in all honesty the e-mail advice is just as good if not better for me (I dont have to try and memorise the chat over an e-mail, its there for me to print out whenever I require!). There has never been any issues with delivery’s either, if in stock it only ever takes 2 days at the most! I wish you all the best with your new warehouse and I cant wait to see some more demo videos and hopefully some more open days in the near future! Cheers, Steve.

  9. Rob Paton says:

    It’s unfortunate that you are stopping the whole walk in thing. I am not your biggest customer but the face to face thing was excellent I have also had some online advice also which is good but is not the same. Surely spending time replying to e-mails / chats will take up a lot of time too? Also I work offshore ad hoc so detailing my cars is usually a spur of the moment thing which involves a drive down to collect things then and there. Although it’s now an inconvenience now I will still use your services though and keep up the good work.

  10. @Rob – With regards to calls and e-mails taking up a lot of time too – yes they will, but there is an important difference compared to face to face contact. For example, if someone walks in you have to drop everything and serve them there and then, even if a server is melting down or a massive delivery has just turned up or some other crisis is occurring. With phone calls and e-mails there’s a lot more flexibility involved, thanks to voicemail and the fact that e-mails can be answered any time of the day. Furthermore, maintaining walk-in sales also means tying somebody to being present throughout the day, which is not always an efficient option (for example, on quiet afternoons in future we fully expect to be answering the phone from within our studio, whilst doing some filming and making good use of the time in between calls).

  11. Ryan Nelson says:

    As a long-term web customer I think this makes a lot of sense, especially with regards to stock availability which means we should all find it easier to get the more popular items when we need them. The quality of the product guides and demos set PB above the competition in my opinion so more time to work on that has to be a good thing. Overall it does seem well thought out and will no doubt make operation more efficient. Good luck with the move!

  12. Doug says:

    All the best with new warehouse. Again as stated by others I’m disappointed that a click and collect service won’t be available. I like the face to face interaction and asking opinions of yourselves which I value, more a personal touch. This is a big factor of why I have used and supported you guys so much and not bought from other traders unless you dont stock the item. Now you’ll almost feel like any other trader which are all down south and inaccesable anyway. No doubt I will still buy from yourselves, I understand where your coming from with the liability/cost issue for the buisness. Still a shame.

  13. @Doug – We appreciate your disappointment, but we’re confident that we can continue to offer an excellent (and personalised) level of service in the absence of a walk-in facility – experience tells us that you can get to know your customers and form excellent relationships with them equally well via phone calls and e-mail conversations, so please don’t hesitate to get in touch in future.

  14. Robert says:

    It is good news about the bigger warehouse, but not so good for me about the walk-ins. Been a small company and with a trade account with you this will cause a few problems. The reason I started using you was it was local. Did not mind paying that few more pounds for the local service. The problem I have now is if I have to order and wait for it to come it opens up other online store that offer items you dont, as I have used other items rather than order online. For me to stop back orders catching you out simple way is to make it so you still need to order online but have option for store pick. But wish you all the best anyway.

  15. @Robert – As we mentioned above, we did give serious consideration to a click and collect scheme but ultimately we decided to knock it on the head mainly due to the layout of the new warehouse and the public liability issue. Furthermore, we could foresee some collections turning in to ‘while I’m here, could I just add…’ situations and this would pose an issue with regard to the new online only stock control and payment systems we will be using once the move is complete. We appreciate your position and do accept that we are going to lose some local custom as a result of our decision, but we have to look at the bigger picture and do what we think is right for our customer base as a whole.

  16. John from Daviot says:

    Glad to hear that current business success means expansion for you. As a semi-regular customer that clicks and collects or walks in, I’m dissapointed. You cannot beat face to face contact in my opinion. Had it not been for the face to face, I would not have purchased as many items from your goodselves as I have to date. All the best for the future.

  17. @John – Thanks for sharing your thoughts. While we understand your thinking (and have much appreciated the additional sales!) we have to maintain the right perspective. We started life as an e-commerce retailer, serving the national market – the walk-in sales option was added further down the line as a convenience for local customers. Loyal customers across the whole of the UK (and beyond) have got us to where we are today, and we are very grateful for this. However, we are now aware that the service the vast majority of our customer base is receiving is being impacted upon by our walk-in facility. Given that we fundamentally remain an e-commerce retailer (and fully intend to grow this side of our business further), we cannot ignore this because to do so would be tantamount to us saying that local custom is more important than other custom, and it’s not – all custom is very important, and all or our customers deserve to be treated equally. Therefore, we are willing to accept some lost local sales in order to balance the books; it’s not about clawing in every pound, rather making sure we offer excellent service across the board.

  18. David Harvey says:

    I agree with all of the contributors who will miss the walk-in sales service. An important aspect of my dealings with yourselves has been the face-to-face contact and the helpful advice (not to mention the odd glimpse of something exotic in your detailing studio!). The key to successful stock management is rigorous recording of transactions (both online and walk-in) and having enough of the right stock at the right time. The solution is not always to have lots of everything as this will have an adverse impact on use of capital and on cash flow, not to mention warehousing costs, but instead to have an efficient and responsive supply chain. I understand where you are coming from and will miss the friendly personal service I have enjoyed over the years. I wish you well for the future.

  19. @David – With regards to stock management, we certainly won’t be simply piling it high and hoping for the best! Rather, we’ll be able to hold more stock as and when the need arises (i.e. during the busy spring period) and also take on a wider range of new product lines and thus position ourselves better as a one-stop shop for detailing supplies. Some of these lines are going to require a lot of storage space (due to the physical size of the products and the minimum order quantities involved) so the extra space is going to used sensibly to open up new opportunities and fuel further growth.

  20. phil says:

    Got to say im really disappointed and as someone who spends a good few hundred everytime i come to visit i think your doing yourselves a massive injustice.. i think everyones losing the ability to chat face to face in general – sign of the times.. everyone too busy in their own little world. Surely using the same software as the web for any walk in customers must be the easiest. When the world is in a recession it seems strange to actively want to turn away business.. with a customer only area in your new premises you could still carry out this valued service. i fear you may have lost me as a customer.

  21. @Phil – That’s a shame, particularly given that we have a proven track record of being able to deliver excellent customer server in the absence of face to face contact. There’s little more we can add, as we covered all of the points you raised in our previous replies above, so we’ll simply take this opportunity to say thanks very much for your past custom, and please don’t hesitate to get in touch in future if you change your mind.

  22. Michael says:

    It’s a win, win for me as a purely online customer – additional product lines, fewer back order situations whilst maintaining the same excellent level of service. Totally understand the frustrations from a few who will lose the ability to pop in but it just isn’t efficient to have a drop in service for less than 10% of your customer base when the costs for creating the service and maintaining it are so high. If more of the customer base dropped in to pick-up items, I’m sure your solutions would have been slightly different but with the way things are at the moment, it makes sense for your business. Keep up the good work, I’ll certainly continue to spend far too much money with you guys! :)

  23. Mark Morrison says:

    As a local and local customer who has bought products from Rich since he started out in his garage, I don’t see why the other locals are so concerned. My home and place of work are within 20 mins of PB and now I find myself having items delivered, it’s free and quick. This saves a journey out, even though I could take a detour on the way home from work. The product descriptions, and application advice is all there for people to read, and is pretty fool proof. There are also the guides on the website, which are some of the best guides out there. What more do people need? If you want advice you can call or send an e-mail. From PB’s side of things it will be a much more efficient operation, at maybe a small sacrifice for local customers who want to come in and see what they’ve been up to (I am guilty). In terms of being a valeter/trader and wanting to pop past, why don’t you hold more of your own stock at your place of work or home. My wife always buys toothpaste in pairs, it makes sense for products which are used frequently. With regards to the recession comment turning away business, I feel you are not looking at the bigger picture. If anything, Polished Bliss are saving you fuel and time, by offering free delivery. I for one am in favour of this move. I totally understand where PB are coming from in all the points they have made. Yes it was nice to pop past and so on, but the personal touch is still there on the phone if you want it.

  24. Andy says:

    Hi PB, firstly well done on success in 2013. As a chap based in Shropshire I have ordered many times from you and have always found it to be a very friendly service. I must be honest and say if I was local I would be disappointed about not being able to ‘ pop’ in, but as the saying goes ‘you can’t please all of the people all of the time’. Myself being a business owner understands fully how time is the most precious of all things (over money) and have like yourselves struggled to give the level of service I would like due to being forced to being unsystematic in my approach by certain clients. I give you a huge pat on back for your guts on pushing the business forward and your clear plan of action. Look forward to my next order from you guys. All the best, Andy.

  25. @Michael @Mark @Andy – Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts; they’re much appreciated.

  26. Alan S says:

    Hi Rich, Angela and Clark, sad news on the loss of the walk-in but fully understood that you need to maintain quality and growth in your business and making this a level playing field for all sounds tremendous and well thought out and knowing you none of these decisions will have been made lightly so good luck to you all, yours, a faithful customer regardless. Alan.

  27. John says:

    Firstly I’d like to say thanks for my Desire kit I received today, couldn’t miss out on a good deal will look forward to applying it once the salty roads are by. As for the walk in service it was nice to pop in collect and get advice too, but working up the road in Inverurie and only getting 30 mins for lunch its not so easy to pop down. But always have received a fab service online. Cheers guys and all the best in your new warehouse and will look forward to new products in the future too. Keep up the good work!

  28. @Alan @John – Many thanks for taking the time to comment; it’s much appreciated. Only a few days now to moving day – we’ve got a lot of work to do!

  29. Andrew Bailey says:

    I am fairly new to detailing and have been using Polished Bliss for around 12 months now, I am located in the midlands (Leicestershire) and have only ever used the PB website which I feel is the best and most user friendly. I have contacted Rich and the team via email on a few occasions asking for their help, advice and product recommendations, I have always received a swift response and had some excellent advice. As I have limited knowledge when it comes to detailing I find the product videos very useful and informative. I operate my own company and I am very passionate about customer service, Polished Bliss haven’t failed to impress me yet, keep up the good work guys and wish you all the best for 2014.

  30. @Andrew – Thanks very much for taking the time to share your thoughts. They very neatly reinforce the point that we do offer excellent customer service in the absence of face to face contact. While the latter might be preferable to some people, it’s by no means necessary in the modern world – personal and mutually beneficial relationships can still be built regardless!

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