Running a small business in these modern times is no easy task, being successful at it is even harder. One of the challenges faced by small business owners today, particularly those in regional cities like Orange NSW, is that the world is now so much bigger. Whereas once you were surrounded by customers who had little choice other than to shop and do business locally, today’s technology now gives them access to shops and businesses all over the world. Shopping or supporting your local businesses is the cry but the reality is, more and more people are buying and doing business online and local small businesses, if they are to survive or continue to grow, have to keep up.
One small town regional business that stands out like a beacon is Lucknow Skin Shop and Boot Barn and on face value, this business looks to be an outstanding success in every sense of the word. The level of stock they carry, the range and the quality are obvious the moment you walk in the door. Just browsing the store is an adventure and many a tourist would regard a visit as similar to exploring a traditional tourism display or exhibit of sorts. The layout of the store has been thoughtfully designed to compliment the ‘western’ feel. Customer service is also very high on their agenda and despite having a store full of people most weekends, customers seem happy to enjoy the bustling atmosphere. Lucknow Skin Shop and Boot Barn is clearly an outstanding small business and one that others could use as an example to learn from. National Life is therefore proud to share part of their achievements with you. We hope you enjoy David Dixon’s story.
From gold-mine to online; Lucknow’s finest taking-on the world
It’s the classic Australian retailer selling a range of locally-designed clothing with its biggest seller a national icon; the ugg boot!
Lucknow Skin Shop and Boot Barn has become an institution over the past quarter of a century at the old gold-mining village east of Orange, but times, they say, are a’ changing.
Three years ago, owner Dianne Gee took the plunge into online retail with the same attention to first-rate customer service for which the Lucknow (pronounced “Luck-know” after the famed Indian city of the same name) store has become recognised.
“I think you’ve just got to go with what’s happening; you can’t stand still,” Dianne explained.
The classically-simple easy-to-navigate website at: www.lucknowskinshop.com.au features many of the best-selling boots, fashion and outdoor clothes, belts, and accessories which attract customers from around Australia.
“We update it ourselves, constantly… We were always confident that it would go well,” Dianne said. “Our customer base is very wide; we’re fairly well-known Australia-wide,” she explained.
Since establishing their website, about 20 percent of all sales are now online with the figure growing. “It’s the distance that is amazing, we get orders from Queensland, Victoria, Western Australia. And of course, lots from country NSW. Yesterday we sold stock to someone from Nyngan,” Dianne added.
But while the online sales are the cream; Dianne believes it is the unique Australia ambience of the Lucknow store that anchors the success of the business.
“I think a vast majority of our customers are aware of the shop, they have a relationship to the shop. They want that physical connection to us as people.”
Dianne uses a literary analogy to explain the relationship: “I’m a big reader, I love books. I do read a tablet when I’m traveling, but I love a book to touch and feel,” she explained.
The key to success, Dianne believes, is old-style customer service which begins with the eclectic Lucknow store that she describes as: “a bit of outdoor; a bit of fashion.”
“I think we do very well on customer service; even to the point that we stock-take almost every week.”
“You need to do that well; a lot of the customers online are people who have been our physical customers here.”
“But people will look through catalogues. When we order on Monday, we order for that customer first.”
The iconic retailer is also on Facebook and are currently supporting a Baxters boot line to raise funds for a charity based around the tragic suicide of a Queensland schoolgirl. “We put it on Facebook and we had orders the next day,” Dianne explained.
As well as the Aussie favourite ugg-boot, big-sellers online are Thomas Cook, Ariat, Ringers Western and Wrangler.
Dianne has some prudent advice for other local retailers looking to dip their toe in the online sales world.
Taking a leaf from online giants like Amazon and Alibaba she says; put your best boot forward and get your product out in a timely fashion. “Make sure you’ve got good photos of the products you’re trying to sell,” she explains.
“Also, it’s incredibly important if we’ve got stock, it goes out the same day for sure. If we don’t have it, the moment it comes in, five days maximum, it goes out the same day.”
Her online sales philosophy matches her positive world-view. “You can only try; have a go. You’ll soon learn if it’s working or not,” Dianne concluded.
To discover more about this iconic business, go to their website www.lucknowskinshop.com.au