Just 11 days to Valentines Day. This is one of our busiest times of the year and so I need to be disciplined to make time to write my contribution to TLP. I decided the best thing would be to write a mini diary… so here goes.
Sunday 3rd February and the building is quiet. I am the only one here at the moment, although I expect Jen will be in later to catch up on the accounts. I check the orders and find that we have some customers hoping to order Diki by Diane Rubach made-to-measure lingerie. A problem this, as the normal lead time is 14 days and they want their items for Valentines Day which is now just 10 working days away. I rattle off a quick email to Diane and, bless her! She comes back with a positive answer. Lucky customers!
I then check through the contact messages from the site and find one that is very interesting. It is an invitation from a distributor to check out a lingerie brand that I had not heard of. We get a regular flow of distributors and manufacturers contacting us to sell their product and a lot of the time the product is just not right for us but this time is different! I browse their website with increasing excitement. It’s not a big range but it is very suitable for Ever-so-Sexy. I check out their current outlets and find that they are not heavily into the UK. Now I am really excited! I am not going to tell you the name of this lingerie brand now as I think we may very well add them to our site… so watch this space!
Monday 4th to Friday 8th – a blur! No time to write even a single line a day.
Saturday 9th – I am panicking! Stock we had ordered from Europe and America in early January has still not arrived. We increase our stock levels ahead of surges in business and should the stock not arrive in time we lose out on important sales and worse still disappoint our customers. For over a week, we have been watching these shipments via the tracking service of Parcel Force. The Axami order is the worst. It has shown as being out for delivery on 2 consecutive days then shows as missing for 2 consecutive days before reappearing as out for delivery for 2 more days. The American shipment, having been delayed at the suppliers, left the US on the 26th January, cleared UK customs in early February and is apparently languishing at the courier’s depot. I go into complaint mode! But my complaints seem to have no affect. Saturday morning has dawned – still no product – hence the panic. I shoot off two more complaint emails more heated than before. Then an hour later – a delivery! Relief! Both consignments have arrived and I book them in happily. And insist on opening the US consignment myself because it contains new designs. They are lovely…here’s one of them, a very pretty mini cami-top and briefs in pink and white lace. Unfortunately, this design has turned out to be smaller than anticipated and so only available in sizes 6-8, 8-10 and 10-12. I’ve written to the supplier pointing out that ladies of a larger size would love to wear this.
Saturday also brings decision time on a problem Jen brought to me in the week. A customer is asking to return items for exchange that were bought before Christmas. My first reaction was what part of the 14 days returns period (UK customers) is difficult to understand! Jen argues the case for the customer. A difficult task because there are two items and one of them is the made-to-measure Alicia bra set from Diki by Diane Rubach, made to the customer’s specific measurements. Jen argues that it was the husband who placed the order and clearly had made a guess at his wife’s size and it is only the briefs that don’t fit. I retort that was a silly thing to do on made to measure lingerie. Jen tries again with an offer that goes well beyond customer service! “I’ll buy the briefs,” she says… “I’ve fancied a pair of the silk briefs for a long time and they are my size.” Now I ask you? How can I argue with that? So I agree to the exchange but heatedly say we need to strengthen our message to customers about the returns policy.
11th to 12th more blur! Some lines run out. Curses! Melissa brings me a returned item. The customer wants to exchange for a different size. I nearly explode! The order was from November 2007. Again I ask how difficult is it to understand our returns policy? Jen suggests we should put our returns policy on the paperwork that goes out with the order as it seems customers are not reading the website. Good idea! It’s now done. I guess this might be a good moment to mention that our returns are very low. We put this down to the quality of our product and usually returns are with requests for an exchange for another size.
13th February turns out to be a quieter day than we had expected. We are accepting orders up to 4.30 for same day shipment and we work steadily through the day without panic. A possible fraud order comes in. I’ll write at more length about the problems an online shop faces with credit card fraud at another time. We were stung last Valentines Day so we are twice as cautious now at this time. We do not accept the order. I’m cheered up when a French designer contacts me about their designs. I like them!
14th February… One last Valentines delivery – Hand delivered to a friend in time fore a special Valentine’s Day evening. A lovely Luxxa Cannes Body, which I am told was a great success.
15th – 16th February – phew! It’s been a tough eleven days with a greater number of problems than usual. But you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth when running a business. And when it’s difficult I always take the view that it is going to get easier soon. So now it’s time to tidy up and get back to normal.
Gill Fernandez – Ever So Sexy
A background in finance and sales but a deep desire to do something more feminine brought Gill into the world of lingerie when she decided to form her own company Crysalis Ltd which trades on line under the name www.ever-so-sexy.com and specialises in the glamorous, pretty and down right sexy stuff..