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E-commerce

Winning targets small appliances

Winning Group will step up its efforts to tackle the last mile in 2018 by expanding its company-owned logistics network with a fleet of one-man vans for small appliance deliveries in urban areas.

In an interview with Internet Retailing, Winning Group CEO John Winning said that logistics would be a key focus for the online appliance retailer this year, with growing demand for audio-visual and countertop kitchen appliances necessitating further investment.

“It’s not been a big part of our business before, but we’re selling more and more small items…you don’t need two men in a large truck that are geared up to deliver a huge fridge up a flight of stairs,” he said.

It comes after a bumper Christmas for the company, with a record-setting 25 per cent increase in year-on-year sales at veteran brand Winning Appliances and the busiest January in the history of Appliances Online.

Winning is buoyed by the performance and intends to cash-in further on demand for smaller items, by bringing on four consumer electronics product experts to run the growing consumer electronics category.

The new team has just returned from CES in Las Vegas, where Winning says innovation around voice and the connected home is particularly exciting, although the tech-savvy entrepreneur has his reservations, despite being a believer in artificial intelligence.

“From a business point of view, if people want to buy that stuff, I’ll sell it to them,” Winning said. “But from a personal point of view, I don’t recommend someone having a microphone in their house.

“I sit on both sides of AI. There are a lot of benefits, but there’s also a lot of evil and throwing a microphone feed recording everything in your house through an AI engine could lead to a lot of issues for consumers.

However, Winning does intend to use AI, provided customers provide data willingly, with plans in motion to use machine learning to drill down its communicable delivery windows from two hours to within 30 minutes by the end of the year.

“It sounds crazy, but [customers] will know what day things will be delivered,” Winning said. “I’ve waited for enough parcels myself, you’re waiting for Australia Post, you don’t get it today or tomorrow and then the next day, you get a card under your door. It’s not a great experience.”

Winning Group is not the only retailer investing heavily in the speed and flexibility of online delivery this year, amid an explosion in online shopping, with competitors such as JB Hi-Fi which rolled out same-day delivery late last year.

Winning believes the business’ decision to invest in its own fleet of delivery trucks over a decade ago, despite being expensive, will increasingly pay off over the next few years, as competitors struggle to mesh together systems with various logistics providers.

Winning Group is typically able to fulfil its deliveries within eight to 24 hours, with both Winning Appliances and Appliances Online reaching 80+ net promoter scores in January.

While conceding that Australia is a difficult delivery market, particularly for the bulky goods, Winning said that those offering excuses will ultimately fall behind.

“I hear a lot of excuses about a lot of things, but generally when someone is making an excuse, it’s because they are too lazy to get it right … we love a challenge and doing what others say they can’t,” he said.

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