‘A guid New Year to ane an’ a’ and mony may ye see’
I opened and closed my blogging Hogmanay reverie for 2012 with the above toast last year. We’d had an incredible rollercoaster of a year.
A new shop, new online platforms, social media and awards from Scottish Borders Business Excellence and The Herald. We were tired. We were happy. I ended the post by suggesting it might be a fitting toast for 2013 and that seems to have done the trick, another outstanding year in the bag.
At that point when I looked ahead into 2013 all I wanted was to sustain the momentum, to continue the journey onwards and upwards.
Meaning no time for kicking back on our laurels.
Karen and I rolled into 2013 like a couple of retail ninjas. And let me tell you… when you hit your fifth decade, rolling like a ninja is no easy feat.
Targets. Strategy. Goals. That’s the language of an expanding business and we have all of these. Karen wouldn’t have it any other way. There isn’t an eventuality that Karen hasn’t planned for in a spreadsheet. Even if by a snowball’s chance there is then our Digi Mktg guru James has it on one of his.
At heart though, what it’s about for us is making A Hume the best possible country lifestyle shopping experience for our customers.
We introduced iPads into the Kelso shops in 2013 because there was a need for it. We’re not going to jump on every passing digital bandwagon unless it enhances our customer service, or improves our product offering.
The iPads fulfill a need because they help customers find products in the shop that they’ve come across while browsing at home. Simply put, it’s easier to navigate your way back to a memorable page than it is to browse several floors of clothing.
So that’s why they’re there – a digital aide memoire. Once hooked up though we find that customers enjoy the chance to see additional online content and videos that otherwise aren’t available in the shops.
Last year we launched our mobile website and in 2013 it got smarter, faster, bigger and better. This techie initiative seems to have gone down well with customers and now 15% of visits happen on the move. What works for you, works for us.
Sometimes in my idle moments, which are few, regardless what Karen might say. I like to ponder where our customers are when placing an order via mobile. I rather expected a spike during the Scotland v South Africa match as despondent fans at Murrayfield sought comfort in retail therapy.
The new shop at Horsemarket has gone from strength to strength. Rob has been an indispensible member of the team, sadly though he has neither the wet nose nor the shiny coat needed to steal top billing. That honour goes to Brody, Rob’s dog and A Hume mascot.
Over at The Square, Vanessa Murray has taken ownership of Ladieswear. We’ve added Schoffel and Johnstons of Elgin to our expanding Ladieswear range strengthening our sporting pedigree and our luxury credentials.
In November Ladieswear had a big moment when we were asked to tailor bespoke tweed outfits for Beverley Rutherford and Emma McCallum to wear during their #eastofabbotsford Visit Britain China mission to Chengdu, China to promote Sir Walter Scot’s Abbotsford as a top tourist destination.
They must have done an amazing job of communicating their tourism message as by the time David Cameron arrived the Chinese media were singing like larks about how great UK tourism is – even if they thought we were good for nothing else.
Bit much we thought. For one thing, our new for 2013 15-minute window delivery option with our courier company, Interlink Express operates with an efficiency that would make the inhabitants of Shanghai blush.
We’re always working to improve our delivery and customer service. There’s no doubt that December brings additional pressure, but our systems hold good and the customer feedback we get makes the extra effort worthwhile.
Recognition for a job well done is catnip for a tired pre-Christmas team and we were thrilled and delighted to scoop the Customer Service Excellence Award at The Herald Scottish Family Business Awards this month.
What an accolade. Though the best reward is the approval of our customers. Nothing indicates that we’re getting it right better than the enormous numbers of new and loyal customers who’ve supported us through 2013.
We’ll be raising a glass to you at The Bells – thank you for your continued and loyal support.
A guid New Year to ane an’ a’ and mony may ye see’
– Archie Hume, 31st December 2013.
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