Brown paper packages tied up with string
Recently, scrolling through the news from the few people I follow on Instagram, I was interrupted by an ad from The Revival Club, a mens clothing brand. I don't have a problem with that. It's the price we pay for choosing to share our lives with friends and family online. It looked more interesting than my feed so being an easily distracted male I followed the link to explore further. I was disappointed to find that my oversized shirt/jacket (it was already mine) was out of stock. Not entirely surprised, I looked around only to find other items that I would have willingly modelled instead were also unavailable. My disappointment turned to frustration. In this world of media efficiency why bother advertising when you don't have the stock?
Normally, I would have dismissed it as a wasted opportunity and some badly-timed advertising. Another marketing department that doesn't get it. But they'd got so much of the experience right, down to describing the colour of the shirt as 'Clifford Red'. I was sure this was a throwback to the children's tv series which my kids had enjoyed as toddlers - nice touch. When I didn't get a quick response about restocking I wrote a mail which was direct and admittedly designed to prod a bit.
Jonathan answered with anything but a trite response but I was still convinced it was a conversation with a virtual assistant and challenged the cheap trick of needing to sign off as the owner.
I had not been hoodwinked. Jonathan had indeed answered my mail. A healthy exchange followed and I ended up placing a forward order for my shirt. As I said at the time, you can't blame customers for being skeptical. Most of the time, our permission has been abused by talentless marketers that have taken short cuts to interrupt us and steal from us and don't care how much that might erode trust.
I purchased several items from Asos over Christmas, presents for my daughter. Even though I opted for their guest checkout, I still couldn't pay without opening an account which included telling them how old I was? Removing myself after purchase involved effort and time which most people wouldn’t be bothered to do.
When I opened my first order from The Revive Club, I was greeted with a neatly wrapped brown paper parcel it took me straight back to Micklewhites, long gone on Wellington Road. The shop was a long, narrow-like corridor with high ceilings and dimly lit by todays standards. It smelled delicious. There was a thick blend of coffee, cheese, meats and wood polish. A ladder ran behind the counter on brass rails, attached to the floorboards and ceiling. Shop assistants would climb to retrieve the tea, dried apricots and walnuts stored in tins and glass jars stacked from counter to ceiling. Weighed out on one of the two sets of scales the loose tea would slide off the big stainless steel bowl into a brown paper bag, neatly folded a couple of times to prevent escape. While this happened there was conversation about what else was on the list or how Mrs Jones was coping around the corner.
As Jonathan reminded me,
I'm spending my time trying to craft a business that is fundamentally human and traditional in how we treat our customers, whilst utilising a barren, soulless medium such as the internet to sell on.
If you have 5 minutes have a read of his blog post, 'Building a Slow Business'. The clothes and the conversation are pretty good too. But please don’t buy anything.