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Bricks and Clicks episode 5: Connecting with customers and managing growth

Posted 4 months ago in Small business by Tiana Barns
Posted by Tiana Barns

It’s the final session of the Bricks and Clicks sprint weekend, and while the six retail businesses have nearly completed their course, there are still a few lessons to learn about connecting with customers and keeping them on board as they transition to the online world.

While the businesses put the final touches on their websites before the big reveal, they heard from a range of industry experts – including Xero’s Managing Director, Trent Innes, who offered insights into managing growth.

But first, to help keep their customer focus in sight while making the move online, they received some sage advice from health food expert and co-founder of Emma & Tom’s, Tom Griffiths.

“We launched our business in 2004 – before online shopping was a big thing. We soon realised we needed another pipeline for our consumers, so we started our online store and from there it was pretty simple. We’ve got software that talks to our online shop and we can load up the products ourselves. It’s all a very simple and intuitive solution.”

Tom emphasised the importance of staying connected with customers both digitally and in person, which was a main take-away for Fleurie Arthouse owner Anna Small.

“Tom gave us a lot of advice around different areas of business, but what we really found useful was how to deal with the customer relationship when someone complains. He said it’s important to get offline and talk to people directly to get to the bottom of the issue.”

Managing growth after online expansion

Trent Innes – a leader with plenty of experience in expanding a business – discussed how to manage the potential pain points that the retailers may face after launching online. His chief piece of advice while expanding is that it’s vital to maintain focus on the business’ purpose. In addition, Trent stressed the importance of always hiring the right people.

“Whether it’s the first person you hire or the fiftieth, it’s important to find the right people based on attitude. Look at finding that person who really relates to what you’re all about and your business purpose.”

He added that to focus sufficient time and energy on growing, your business needs to explore innovative ways of doing things.

“What you’ll start to find as you grow is that things will break. Which is why you want to be thinking about the investments you need to make ahead of time to minimise any fallout. It could be investing in an accountant, bookkeeper or other resources to help with growth – especially from a technology perspective.”

Key take-aways from this week’s episode

From sustainability to reputation, thought leaders spoke about the integral things that many small business owners don’t tend to have the time to think about.

  • Sustainability is within reach if you just start small

Devan Valenti from Green Building Council of Australia said it’s important to start small to reduce your mark on the environment. “You don’t have to minimise your water, power and electricity at the same time. Just start with one.”

  • Your brand’s reputation is more than skin deep

Jodie Taylor from International Towers explained that when it comes to protecting your brand’s reputation, it’s about more than looking good in the media. “Really delve deep and get across your whole business. If you encounter a service failure or can see an issue bubbling along, the first thing you need to do is take accountability.”

  • Artificial intelligence is the new digital power tool for small businesses

Steve McGovern from Dubber encouraged the retailers to think outside the square and harness the power of AI. “Use AI to make your life convenient in the way that you deal with your business, your customers, customer engagement sentiment, your brand – both building and protecting it – and just basic communication.”

  • When it comes to culture, it pays to remain human

Echoing Trent’s sentiment, Samantha Allen from Be More Human discussed office culture and how to be more human at work. “The workplace culture is about bringing that human element back to life. Once we have people aligned around our culture and mindset, we can inspire them.”

Missed episode five? Catch up here.

Are you a small business that wants to transform your business from bricks to clicks, and kick goals in the online retail market? The online e-learning platform designed to help local Australian businesses is free. Get started at the Bricks and Clicks website now.

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