My Local Pool Shop
Frequently Asked Questions

DropletHere are some questions that are often asked. Click each question to go to the answer.
If you have another question you'd like answered, submit it in the question form below. The response may help others when it's listed here.

Why do I need to have an on-line shop? Why would you want to impose consulting on to this? Why is there a charge to get my own customer list?
I think it's often best just to list the product, and get the shoppers to "Call For Price". That keeps suppliers and everyone happy, doesn't it? Why is there an annual charge and a service fee? How are the postcode areas allocated?
Why should I give in to the internet and drop prices? How does this help my existing pool shop? What does 'primary catchment area' mean?
How could I possibly be competitive? If I show my prices, won't that lead to a price war? What if I get an order from an out-of-zone customer?
Why do you call this a 'portal' or an electronic 'mall'? Why must there be a link from my website to yours? What do you mean "Account for the sale value and the order handling charge in your .. system"?
How can 'my' shop be just mine? How will web visitors find my e-shop? Why do I need separate applications for other sites?
Why don't I just do this myself? How will visitors get to my e-shop, not another one? What if I want 'out'?
But it doesn't cost much to do an on-line shop, does it? What will you do to promote the site? Is that all there is? What next?
What do you mean by 'having a digital strategy'? How will I best promote the site?
Why are you talking about 'omni-channelling'? (Previously called "multi-channeling") How will you prevent undue competition between participants on the site?
What are these other services you refer to? Will web customers be my customers, or yours?
And Here Are The Answers
Why do I need to have an on-line shop? Go Back to questionsArrow Up

The so-called 'new-age' of retailing has arrived because the internet provides complete price transparency, and it allows web visitors to buy immediately if they want to. It is one of the many new channels now available for retailers to engage their customers. You don't have to have a web shop, but you will not be able to compete in the growing market of new-age customers, and you will miss out on any sales to web shoppers who would prefer to trade with you.

In 2010 we prepared a strategy paper, which has been offered to you, in which it is made clear that the transaction costs in your pool shop have to be driven down, so you can live in this age of the 'new retail'. Your on-line shop is a new sales outlet that you will be opening at a fraction of the cost of a new physical location. Now you can have two streams of sales serviced by the fixed overheads you already incur! That drives down the transaction costs, and helps you adjust to the new market situation.

I think it's often best just to list the product, and get the shoppers to "Call For Price". That keeps suppliers and everyone happy, doesn't it?
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This is no option at all and we have a very clear policy on it.

  • If a price is not listed on the web shop, it cannot be sold because the shop needs a price to make the sale - just like you do! So your web shop becomes nothing more than an unpaid advertising banner for the supplier.
  • We are not in the business of providing cost-free advertising to suppliers who are clinging to the past and holding back everyone.
  • We will not list items unless a price is on the shop so that a sale can be made. That price may be hidden from casual browsers, but it must be there.
  • Where for some reason a product is listed without a price, or if for some other reason a price enquiry is run through the web shop, we make a charge to manage that message.
  • You might need to invite people in to your store to check out your special offer - because you want to "keep your powder dry" in a competitive market. Fine. That is easily done, and we can explain how. Just ask, using the question form below.

The notion held by some suppliers that not showing the price helps maintain your margin is nonsense. It simply means lost sales - on-line shoppers want to buy on-line. If they are not going to buy on-line, they are checking you out to see if you are competitive. That means you need to show your price - or your shopper will go somewhere else where the price can be seen! You should also be careful that you are not yielding to a threat by a supplier which amounts to resale price maintenance - which is illegal!

If you have a special price and you want customers to come into your shop to get that price, they may walk out without buying, taking your price with them. If they log in to your web shop to get the price, the situation is similar. But in the web shop you have captured their details, and you should follow up each of your web customers. Well, you would, wouldn't you?

In any case, each new sign-up you get is a new name for your email list. If you are not using your email and mailing list to keep in touch with your customers, you are losing money. And that's NOT smart!

Why should I give in to the internet and drop prices?
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With the emphasis now firmly on on-line shopping, internet retailing is here to stay. One of the attractions of internet trading for customers is complete price transparency, and web customers will buy where they perceive the best value. You are a local pool shop, and will be there for them when they need you. But you will need a red hot price to get the business in the first place. In many cases, the problem is not in dropping the price. The problem is that some prices were too high in the first place. Adjustment is inevitable!

There are some simple tactics you can use to really hit all the right buttons. We will help you here. But you need to be alert, flexible, and committed to success. Otherwise, you'll just simply fail!.

How could I possibly be competitive?
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Internet trading has got a bad name because there are some people who have priced inappropriately. However, in most cases, the prices being charged are commercially viable prices in the present market.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that price alone is the determining factor. It is a big factor, so your price has to be good. But you are offering something really special!

Instead of an unknown cyber trader somewhere else who is prepared to take the money and run, you are there to provide first-class service, warranty support, and a money-back guarantee if things go really pear shaped! For example, one of our staff paid $800 to an Australian based web store instead of $400 to a China store so she could be sure of local support if it is ever needed.

Why do you call this a 'portal' or an electronic 'mall'?
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mylocalpoolshop.com.au (and mylocalpoolshop.com and mylocalpoolshop.co.nz) are websites that host a number of independent web stores. It is the gateway (portal) to those stores. Because there is a number of stores in the program, it is like a shopping mall with different shops.

How can 'my' shop be just mine?
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Instead of one great big on-line store that has to be all things to all people, we are building individual stores for each participant. Each is a completely separate store, they just happen to be on the one big web site.

Why don't I just do this myself?
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You can always set up and run an on-line store. Lots of people have! But then all of it is yours - including all the set-up and operating chores, the daily grind to keep it up-to-date, and all the Search Engine Optimisation and other web update work. By and large, to be successful, it is a full time job for at least two people. Not that easy to find a couple of spare people in a pool shop in the season peak, is it? And isn't that when you want the store to be running at its best?

But it doesn't cost much to do an on-line shop, does it?
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Do you want the cute answer, or the true answer? Actually, if you take the full cost of the whole job, it will be about $50,000 a year to do it.

Some people 'dud' themselves by thinking that they have staff idle for much of the time, and so putting them to work on this kind of stuff is a good way to get something useful out of them. That is illusory. When you really need them, the store is busy and they can't be spared. Or else they are actually not needed, and so their wage and salary expenses are a cost you are bearing solely for the web store.

Is such a person going to be employed because they are good retail sales person, or because they 'know computers and the internet', or because they are really good at web marketing?

Of course, you can always take the cheap option and do it in your spare time. Then you will do as well as the others who have done that. They've all failed!

What do you mean by 'having a digital strategy'?
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So much of the new media is internet based these days, that a business development program needs to take into account advertising on the web, running a proper web site, trading on-line, engaging in social media, and using digital media to engage your customers. A business plan that fails to do this, is a plan for a rapidly disappearing era. If your plans for business development do not include making use of the new digital technologies available, you are simply missing out on a huge slice of the market. Planning to use all the digital media in ways that suit your business is 'having a digital strategy'.

Why are you talking about 'omni-channelling'? (Previously called "multi-channeling")
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Today's savvy customers use the internet to check the market offerings, and sometimes to buy on-line. They also visit the stores and showrooms to see the 'real McCoy' then buy on-line from the best offering. They are getting information from customer comment websites, social media sites, and from email and SMS messages. More will be getting multimedia messages (MMS) in the future.

A 2010 study showed that customers who use more than one of these channels buy 20% more in stores than customers who only visit the store, and 60% more on-line than those who only buy on-line. Omni-channelling offers some great growth opportunities!

What are these other services you refer to?
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The services to support your marketing and sales effort include:

  • Running your web store
  • Managing your 'Facebook' and 'Twitter' accounts - and we suggest a 'LinkedIn' account as well
  • Managing your customer database
  • Keeping contact with your new customers as they join your list of new web buyers
  • *Operating your programs for regular customer contact (sometimes called CRM programs) so that you maximise the use of all media to capitalise on your sales outcomes
  • *Where you are not ready (or too busy doing what you do best) to prepare and plan these vital new tools to maximise your customer engagement and so maximise sales, we will advise and help you get these things happening.

The last two listed services (marked with a *) may be chargeable services, if we need to spend considerable extra time. Any extra charge services will be quoted first. You will never get an unexpected charge for these services. These marked services all come as part of the consulting package, so participants taking the full package are home free on this one!

Why would you want to impose consulting on to this?
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If you have read the strategy paper published oin 2010 by 'My Red Zebra', you will appreciate that a fundamental change is overtaking retail - especially pool shops. You need a new business model to really succeed. Consulting is a vital part of that process to help store operators make the right moves.

Most importantly, being successful in this e-commerce environment requires very skilful pricing - and pricing is one thing we have unique tools and talents available to get your pricing right. We don't want you doing daft things with prices, and hurting yourself, or failing on the web.

Why is there an annual charge and a service fee?
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Two reasons. First, we know we will set up the e-shop right, but we don't know how successful you will be. After 26 years of consulting, we know only too well that clients don't always take our advice and then make a mess of things. In other words, there is a fixed cost to this program, and that has to be paid up front.

Second, where a shop is very successful, they will take correspondingly more resources, so they will need to pay more - according to their volumes.

The combination recognises the fixed cost nature of the tasks involved, and the need to achieve a balance in contributions between participants.

How does this help my existing pool shop?
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The physical pool shop is one of those channels we have referred to above in "omni-channelling". This activity drives more people to your shop. In addition, you will have the opportunity to offer installation services for equipment bought on-line. You will develop a new list of customers from the web who would never come into your store. By using the other omni-channel services we describe above, you can engage this greater number of customers more easily and more effectively. If you don't sell more, there is problem in the shop!

If I show my prices, won't that lead to a price war?
Go Back to questionsArrow Up

The internet is displaying a wide variety of prices from all kinds of sources. Your prices are just one more list. Your prices will take into account that there is greater certainty in dealing with you, and you are an internet supplier buyers can trust.

So you probably won't be at the bottom of the price pile, and there will be no extra pressure driving prices down.

Why must there be a link from my website to yours?
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MYLOPSButtonThis is your new e-shop. Your customers already know your current website, and probably visit it often. You want them to buy on-line while they are there. So your existing site has a link that looks like this to drive your customers into your e-shop so they can buy while they are there. Without leaving your site!

How will web visitors find my e-shop?
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When they are surfing the web, they will find mylocalpoolshop.com.au, and reach a landing page that features a state selector. From this selector, they will be taken right to the store that services that region. Later, this process will involve postcode locations

How will visitors get to my e-shop, not another one?
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Right now, the seelctors are driven by state or territory. Later plans will see the selectors driven by postcode only. The store that a visitor reaches is determined solely by the postcode. If they enter their own postcode and it's in your primary catchment area, the sale is yours!

If a web-shopper chooses a different store, (or later, enters a different postcode) to compare prices in different regions, they will go to that other store.

What will you do to promote the site?
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mylocalpoolshop.com.au will be using as much internet advertising as can be sensibly afforded to achieve the highest possible 'hit rates' for the site and your store. The more participants you can encourage to join you, the better for all.

How will I best promote the site?
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We will encourage you to advertise your own site to build up your own presence in your local area. Help to do that will come with the full service consulting package.

How will you prevent undue competition between participants on the site?
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Why would there be undue competition? However, there are two things to remember here:

  • You are trading on the web, and there are no limits on whatever prices a web visitor can see - whether or not that represents undue competition is matter for you to decide. If there are artificial limits imposed on this site, the web buyer simply vanishes - goes elsewhere - and never comes back!
  • Limiting competition is always a bit fraught. It is unlikely that any 'anti-competitive' action could be sustained against us by the Consumer and Competition Commission when we are competing on the internet, but we won't risk it.
Will web customers be my customers, or yours?
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Yours. If you have left us and a web customer comes back again later, that is a new contact.

Why is there a charge to get my own customer list?
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The database is an integral part of the web store. You are not entitled to the store - just the customer data. So it has to be extracted and formatted, and that takes time which has to be paid for.

How will the postcode areas be allocated?
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The key consideration is that a customer can consider your store as their local pool shop. That means that there will be around twelve to fifteen across metropolitan Sydney. Other capital cities will have suitable ratios in their areas, recognising that population densities vary. In regional areas, it is mainly a matter of local geographical reach.

What does 'primary catchment area' mean?
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A set of postcodes will ultimately allocated to each store to facilitate and stabilise the determination of a 'local' pool shop. This is the area that we would expect you to depend on for the catchment of customers. However, you may occasionally get a customer from outside that area, but that is likely to be an exceptional case. No exclusivity attaches to any catchment area - nor can it under our competition laws.

What if I get an order from an out-of-zone customer?
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You will supply it - with suitable freight charges if you have elected to charge freight, and the relative freight rate is determinable by the customer in your e-shop. Should a problem arise, refer the issue to us and we will contact the customer to resolve the issue.

What do you mean "Account for the sale value and the order handling charge in your .. system"?
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The customer will have paid the credit card amount required by your web pricing and any freight charge policies, and they will have received an invoice from you. But you will have received the invoice amount less the service charge. This means that the invoice you issue will be for an amount greater than the cash you receive. You will need to apply the book-keeping practices you normally would apply to account for this difference.

Why do I need separate applications for other sites?
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Each site you operate will (in most cases) have a different catchment area, and the charges relate to the rights for that catchment area. in rare cases the catchment areas might be amenable to consolidation. Remember that the key consideration is that the participating store must be reasonably considered as the local pool shop by an ordinary customer.

What if I want 'out'?
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Notify us that you do not wish to continue participation. together we will determine an effective date for the separation. We will take down the specific e-shop, and look for a replacement local pool shop. You may request and pay for separation of the customer database, and that is that. However, you will remain responsible for any sales arising out of your participation, and for any downstream customer or product issues that might arise.

Is that all there is? What next?
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This is a very large project, and it has taken some time to bed down and have working smoothly. But that does not mean that there are no more avenues for future development. A very significant list of possibilities provide plenty of scope to grow further!


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