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September 2021 ertonline.co.uk


Q: What other issues have you faced? DF: In the early days of the pandemic, online retail went absolutely bananas! Even Amazon was struggling to keep up with demand. One particular issue was getting enough stock, because suddenly every day was like Black Friday. Lead times went from around eight weeks into the warehouse up to four or five months! And now with the shipping issues out of China, container prices have skyrocketed; with fridges, for example, you’re looking at a knock-on cost of about £200 at retail. Customer service was also tricky as sales were


going through the roof but most of our teams were getting used to working from home, so it was a tricky time for sure.


Q: You exhibited at the Exclusively Show this year. How was it? DF: By all accounts it was the best show we’ve ever had! It must be our tenth year running at the show now, which is fantastic, and I think we were the first or second electrical brand to take part and before then it was famously all housewares. There was certainly a bit of trepidation about


going to the show because it was a new date in the school holidays, but by all accounts it was as busy as it always is. There was a really warm feeling across the show because the whole industry is one big family; everyone knows everyone and it was the first time a lot of people have probably had chance to catch up in person for a long time. Also, I believe there were more social media


influencers than ever this year, and they were really buzzing about Swan.


Q: Swan is big on its social and community activities. Why is this? DF: With 130,000 followers on Instagram now, from a UK brand point of view we are bigger than most other companies in this industry; globally I think we’re only a few thousand short of Smeg and the big guys like that. It’s been so important for us to keep in touch


with our consumers, but understanding our community and our demographic. We know that the usual Swan customer is likely to be around the age of buying their first home or it’s a young family, that’s where we sit, so we try to tailor our online content towards that. We’re not one of those brands that says “buy this kettle, buy this toaster” all over Instagram. We have done lots of work with influencers over


the last 12 months. And while we sometimes gift celebrities or influencers for our social campaigns, earlier this year we decided we wanted to give back to the NHS, so we donated products to various hospitals up and down the country to help make the lives of frontline staff that little bit easier. They have all done so much for us. We figured everybody needs a cup of tea or


coffee, so that’s the kettle stock sorted, and how can we then cover hundreds of staff and patients needing hot drinks all at once? A large Swan Tea


Staff at various UK hospitals with their donated products from Swan


23


Urn of course. And what about food? Let’s get these people some well-earned Swan microwaves and toasters. The results from our donations were amazing;


we couldn’t have been happier to see how pleased it made the staff in the middle of the UK’s first lockdown.


Q: How important is this side of the business? DF: It’s extremely important. Millennials want more than just a product at a price, they want to see who is behind the brand. The more we nurture our community the better, and consistency is key in that respect. We started taking the social side a lot more


seriously around four years ago when we did a brand partnership with Fearne Cotton. That was big for us and we could see consumers’ positive reaction, which we just continued to build on. Since then we have found that if our community is happy taking pictures of their products and essentially encouraging others to look us up, we couldn’t ask for more. One example is our April Fool’s Day campaign


from this year – we had a great reception from it. We announced the launch of our ‘Daisy Range’, which was a cow print design on our complete collection! It got so much traction online, and many people were actually disappointed that it was a hoax! I am always monitoring our channels and seeing what people are talking about, or if there are any


negative points that we need to address. You can find out so much about your business from what people are saying – it’s real data in real time. It’s all about producing engaging content, to


make people feel that they are part of the brand. For example, if someone doesn’t know how to use something there is usually a comment on our socials and others will respond with advice and help before we even have a chance to get to it! To have that in this day and age makes a huge difference to our brand.


Q: What is the impact of all these activities? DF: Everything is so traceable and we can see exactly what people are thinking and where they are coming from. Our B2C offering now accounts for nearly 20 per cent of our business and the beauty of that is that you can completely control your brand message from cradle to grave, and completely own your operations. So if someone has an issue with a product, this can reflect negatively on us, but we have the opportunity to be transparent and to be on top of absolutely everything. Anything that crops up we deal with it in the best


way that we can quickly and efficiently. Nobody wants to get stuck in email tennis over a potentially faulty or problematic product – it’s just not worth it. But because we are in control of the situation we’ll know how best to handle it; for example, we might send that customer some matching Swan products as a gesture. And that helps to ensure that their next purchase is Swan!


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