Retail Opinion: Pressing the service ‘button’

As part of its service to customers, Red Card changes its window display frequently. This one was to promote Arthouse Meath.
As part of its service to customers, Red Card changes its window display frequently. This one was to promote Arthouse Meath.

With the changing shape of card publishers’ sales forces, a paucity of agents and a spate of changing distribution arrangements recently, Sally Matson, owner of Red Card in Petworth revealed how she is feeling about service from suppliers and what would be on her wish-list for improvements.

Red Cards’ themed Facebook postings elicits positive responses from customers.
Red Cards’ themed Facebook postings elicits positive responses from customers.

How are suppliers doing on the service front?

“I find that the smaller the company, the better and more flexible the service. When you are dealing with the owner/artist these are also the people you meet and deal with at the trade shows, via email, and on the phone. You build a relationship with them, they know your shop and you are able to work together to the mutual benefit of both businesses, especially regarding issues like minimum order quantities, delivery times, damages and special requirements.

Sally Matson (second left) at PG Live at where she spent her Greats voucher with Stop the Clock Designs.
Sally Matson (second left) at PG Live at where she spent her Greats voucher with Stop the Clock Designs.

The medium-sized companies, which often started small, tend to offer the same good service as long as you build a relationship with their support staff. Invoicing and delivery issues can be a little frustrating once the company gets larger, but they are generally okay.

As a small independent shop, the larger companies are generally a nightmare! Sorry, but sadly this is true. The only real exception to this rule that I have found is Paperlink, who are terrific – but I have been seeing the same agent for more than ten years. I feel, the larger companies always give priority to the large retailers, which means availability of stock, deliveries, invoicing and service always suffer.”

 

I Drew This scored on the service front by creating this localised design at Red Card’s request.
I Drew This scored on the service front by creating this localised design at Red Card’s request.

How do you feel about the online ordering v face to face?

“Now a lot more companies offer the opportunity of ordering online, which I find works for some companies and not for others. I still like to maintain contact with the actual people involved, as that is one of the things I most enjoy about running my business. I also like to see and feel the actual product when new things are available as this is pretty important when selecting stock. If companies are going to stop having reps and agents then they have to increase their presence at trade shows, otherwise shops will not see their product.

There seems to have been a lot of shuffling about with sales agents/reps and companies in the last couple of years, and this is not always communicated very effectively, meaning sometimes companies drop off your radar as you are not contacted or don’t know who to contact.”

 

Sally on a sourcing mission at The Henries judging this year.
Sally on a sourcing mission at The Henries judging this year.

What is on your wishlist service-wise?

“I would like to see more representation from card companies at trade shows. And I’d love to see bigger companies behaving like smaller companies and treating small independents with the same care and attention they give their largest retailers.”

MORE NEWS
 
Publishing stalwarts battle it out on the tennis court for almost 5 hrs...
 
Real attraction were happy waggy tails at Paperchase’s media launch...
 
UK’s largest card chain has opened 38 new stores since February...
 
PG Buzz caught up with Cathy Frost, owner of Loveone in Ipswich on how she is gearing up for Christmas....
 
Greeting card publisher Lucy Ledger heads up a course on creativity at the V&A...
 
Publisher that invented giftwrap looks to mark its first century...
Get the latest news sent to your inbox
Subscribe to our daily newsletter