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Opinion

What’s in the Big Brown Box

What’s in the Big Brown Box

Big Brown Box

Big Brown box made an astounding  debut last year with its advertising campaigns and exciting viral competition, which assisted the new online start up in establishing a solid brand identity very quickly with the site reaching an excess of 800,000 visits by August 2009.

What is behind the Big Brown Box concept?

I asked Peter Krideras when he was the General Manager at Big Brown Box . To start with, Big Brown Box is a subsidiary of  Radio Rentals , a well known and trusted brand that has been around for 70 years.

Peter says that Radio Rentals management found that it was a challenge to talk to a different customer given their existing business model and they wanted to target a more affluent demographic, so Radio Rentals looked at moving into the retail space. Radio Rentals was aware that the retail space was overtraded; they did however feel that the industry in Australia had not embraced online in that the following essentials were missing from many retailers selling online:

  • Be competitive
  • Offer free delivery
  • Have an existing reputation
  • Security (such as VeriSign for example)

 

Peter says that the Thorn Group (which owns the Radio Rentals brand) had been contemplating a new concept for 4-5 years where they could talk to a different kind of customer (i.e. retail consumers rather than customers seeking only to rent). For example in 2002 Rent Try Buy was their first concept in the retail space, so it was a natural progression for management to agree to investigate the possibility of selling online. Radio Rentals (and Rentlo in SA) already had an online presence and also offered Cashfirst (loaning up to $5000).

The response from suppliers to the concept was overwhelmingly positive. Sony and other n

ew suppliers were happy to come on board as they trusted Radio Rentals, and many already had a working relationship with Radio Rentals.

 

Pulling it all together

The project management process was managed internally. To a large degree Big Brown Box is modelled on the successes of ABT in Chicago a successful multi channel retailer with a turnover in excess of $1 billion. The plan says Peter was to take bricks and mortar and mirror this online as closely as possible.

  • BCM in Sydney provided the research, branding, offer, look, feel and creative.
  • Search engine optimisation (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) was undertaken by The Found.
  • The site was initially built by William on their proprietary platform however Big Brown Box outgrew this platform very quickly. (Big Brown box featured on a Current Affair and the site fell over from such high traffic volumes indicating a better infrastructure was needed).
  • Fontis a web development company based in Melbourne which focuses on development of the open source Magneto platform was chosen to help implement a more scalable system using the best elements of the original site.

 

Marketing

Clever television promotions a viral campaign and the use of the Kyle and Jackie O show helped launch the brand; however a very important and successful element of the campaign was when the brand went viral. A competition was created in January 2009 were entrants were invited to shoot and win, i.e. shoot a video to be submitted as part of a competition to win $10000 spending money at BigBrownBox.

 

Some money has been spent on banner advertising however the bulk of marketing has been spent on search engine marketing. Existing email database subscribers get to see upcoming offers, a 24 hour special and a weekly special are also sent out and there is a dedicated customer service team and web content team. Appearing on blogs is important and the marketing team has been aggressive in seeking links to its site from reputable sources.

 

Peter says the unique selling proposition is free delivery. Radio Rentals has years of experience of safe delivery of sensitive electronic components so customers can be assured that their delivery is done professionally by experienced delivery teams. Some smaller items are pick packed from a mini central warehouse in Sydney’s southern suburbs; however bulky items are shipped from regional locations that have a Radio Rentals presence. Free delivery removes the hurdle for many buyers who see delivery charges as a hindering factor in buying online. Big Brown Box will also cover cost of returns. Another important aspect of the site is customer reviews as they tell the absolute truth about the products and service. Even constructive comments are posted on the site by less than happy customers.

 

Advice on multi channel retailing
  • Talk to as many professionals in the industry before embarking on an online venture
  • Lots of information is open to interpretation (research what people tell you)
  • Spend money on research and focus groups and let people talk about the concept (Big Brown box used Alan Jacobson Research AJRA)
  • Use people to develop, market etc. Understand what you are trying to do!
  • If on a limited budget there are software solutions to get started
  • Online retailers are about driving traffic into store too
  • Cannot see Australian businesses embracing free delivery
  • More people will come into the online space which is good
  • Success really depends on what model you bring to market
  • To be in control of your own destiny you must have stock ready to ship. No point in offering FREE delivery if the stock is not available.

 

Peter is disappointed that the industry has not embraced multi channel retailing but feels this is about to change in the future.

 

peterkrideras

Update: Peter is now head of ecommerce at Bing Lee and wishes the Big Brown Box team all the best for the future

To read more about Peter or get in touch with him, click here!

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