Why Winning sees Appliances Online as a logistics company that ‘happens to sell appliances’; expanding Handy Crew to other retailers

After his recent purchase of Kitchen HQ, CEO of the Winning Group, John Winning has spoken about a new entrepreneurial pursuit in the works, transforming his installation business Handy Crew into a logistics company to provide delivery services to non-competing businesses.

The Winning Group launched the Handy Crew installation company in June 2012 to offer delivery and professional custom installations.

Winning attributes much of Appliances Online’s competitive advantage to its ability to fulfill about 95 per cent of its deliveries using their own trucks, rather than relying on a third party.

Speaking at the Online Retailer Conference, Winning recounted his instructions to his chief logistics officer, “We do really well for our own customers, I want you to take what we’re doing and I want you to scale it so that we can now do this for non-competing businesses”.

He said that the service might be of interest to furniture or mattress retailers and that in the next year the Winning Group will have its own logistics business.

Winning also said that the Appliances Online mentality is that it is “a logistics company that happens to sell appliances.

“Other retailers are more sales engines. They like selling and then it’s a bit of a headache to get it to the customer. What we do is we say that our job starts once we’ve got the order.”

Winning said their mission is “to provide the best shopping experience in the world”, which is set apart by personal touches. For example, Winning said Appliances Online staff send out between 70 to 100 handwritten letters to customers each week and he also told a story about a driver who delivered a replacement fridge along with a bottle of milk to a customer on a Friday evening.

“We want to impress our customers to a point where they want to refer us to family and friends and come back and buy from us time and time again,” he said.

About his suppliers, Winning said, “Our vision is to be the preferred partner of our suppliers, so we are not there to tick our suppliers off, to constantly bring them into meetings and grind them down on price because we are getting scale. We want to work alongside them, we want them to understand the benefits of our business.”

Last night, Appliances Online was awarded joint winner of Best Pureplay Online Retailer at the 2014 StarTrack Online Retailer Industry Awards. The judges couldn’t pick an outright winner, and the Appliances Online will share the title with surf and fashion retailer SurfStitch.

SaaS provider SLI Systems congratulates Appliances Online and SurfStitch for their joint victory.


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13 Responses to Why Winning sees Appliances Online as a logistics company that ‘happens to sell appliances’; expanding Handy Crew to other retailers

  1. Michael Hallre Thu 24 Jul 2014 at 2:40 pm #

    A big yeah for Appliances online the main reason so many people no longer have a job in retail. Great work Guys. Enjoy the award and the knowledge that so many families are not battling with no commission due to your crazy low prices and others are trying to feed their families as they do no longer have a job in retail. Great work, a wonderful Australian Company that shows how greed can allow you to succeed. I mean how rich does Mr Winning want to be? Very sad, very un Australian.

    Why not spread jobs around and come to the Maitland/Newcastle area and give us some of our jobs back, then again it would probably be at $16 an hour. How sad this whole situation is. MH

    • Dim Sym Thu 24 Jul 2014 at 6:18 pm #


      Everybody in Australia a has the opportunity to be as successful as Winning. Why don’t you stop wasting your time complaining about it and make a change in your life to start your own journey to success. You might be earning $16 an hour now, but through hard work, commitment and dedication you could start your own business or work your way to the top of a multinational company and earn the big bucks.
      Success isn’t handed to you on a plate – you need to work for it.

      • Spring Roll Fri 25 Jul 2014 at 1:35 pm #

        Dim Sym I would love to see Mr Winnings P + L sheet . It is impossible to sell things for 10-20% less than most people , deliver and install them for FREE! Once the growth stops the music will stop and no one will be dancing! AO in the UK which the business was copied from here is very profitable because they offer the same fantastic service but more importantly they charge for the experience. Unfortunately other Narta members have believed the spin and created similar websites and loaded everything they can get their hands on and now it is a race to the bottom.

      • Michael John - Hallre Sat 26 Jul 2014 at 12:13 am #

        I am a self made millionaire though being a millionaire is not all that unusual nowadays, but I did it by looking after others, treating them as myself, and sharing wealth around when possible. I am well and truly retired now but I feel sorry for the young ones starting out. I have a fairly communist approach to life and think there should be a sealing on how rich one person can become. I know many will disagree with the old guy, but you can have as much money in the world and if you are 6ft under it will do you no good whatsoever. MJH

  2. Dim Sym Thu 24 Jul 2014 at 6:04 pm #

    Editing for you…

    Winning also told said

    Winning said their mission is “to provide the best shopping experience in the world”, which is set apart by personal touches.

    • Patrick Avenell Thu 24 Jul 2014 at 8:44 pm #

      Thanks Dim – now corrected.


  3. Greg Dowling Thu 24 Jul 2014 at 7:03 pm #

    Sadly, I’m laughing at the above comment. Although I don’t see anything funny about it at all. Unfortunately the Winning Group is just another cog in the broken down machine that is electrical retail.

  4. John Winning Mon 28 Jul 2014 at 8:19 am #


    I’m not sure why you feel that way about our business. Winning Group employs upwards of 500 people in its 12 stores, warehouses, offices and Australian based customer support centre. My family has been in business for over 100 years and we currently employ people in the Maitland / Newcastle area. We have a showroom in Newcastle with local sales experts and a distribution centre in Heatherbrae which also utilises local drivers – both of these teams have staff that have come from other retailers that have folded.

    There is no denying that Australia’s retail sector is doing it tough however much of that comes down to our slowness to adapt and move with the times. If we never changed or innovated there would be an even greater influx of offshore retailers targeting Australian consumers who ​ would​ jump at the opportunity to shop with a company offering a superior shopping experience.

    So I ask you, would you rather see Australian business grow and innovate alongside the rest of the world or watch more Australian retailers struggle to keep afloat due to an inability to keep up with global trends?

  5. Behrouz Bolurieh Mon 28 Jul 2014 at 6:42 pm #

    Dear Michael,

    While this ‘Criticism’ window of opportunity is open on the topic,I should say that some of your mentioned concerns are valid in the current Australian retail market in general, however I think you have confused the concept of overseas based “Online Websites” that sell/dump into the Australian market and Australian based retailers that do have an “Online Division” as well as their local brick and mortar store(s).

    I should highlight,I’m from Electro Seconds Factory Outlet, in fact Competing retailer to Mr Winning but I found your comments being unfairly targeted at the wrong player of the appliances industry.

    Winning Group has expanded its operations Thanks to Its online presence which has allowed the company to reach out to a larger audience of Australian customers in turn the Winning group hiring more locally engaged staff members including those in your hometown of Newcastle to service the needs of the local markets.

    Your ‘lost jobs’ argument would have made more sense if your finger was pointing out at the Online retailers such as Kogan.com.au that operate with a PO Box and an email address,and also grey import alternatives to our Australian standard products which in the medium to long term actually adds no value to the Australian consumer,economy nor the Industry that we try to be an active and responsible member of.

    In reference to your ‘Crazy prices’ concern,while online retailers can be more flexible and adaptive to price changes in the industry,you will find that not many consumers will be complaining about the fact that online retailers offer a more competitive or more value added service than the traditional department stores and that is not a bad thing at all!

    Michael,you should not frown upon an Australian Entrepreneur that has entered into an existing or a new business,made innovative and proactive changes to its operations which ended up offering better value to a larger audience of clients,increased distribution power to the suppliers,created more jobs and employs & trains Australians to cover those jobs & at the end of the day please forgive him if he ends up with a dollar or two in his pocket after putting 80+ hours a week into his business.

    I echo John’s sentiment that Innovation and pro activeness in a tough market is nothing to be apologetic about and I do hope you would kindly reconsider your discouraging perspective towards young Australian Entrepreneurs.

    Cheers & Regards,

    Behrouz ‘Baz’ Bolurieh
    Electro Seconds Factory Outlet

    • Spring Roll Tue 29 Jul 2014 at 11:07 am #

      So Behrouz what happens when there are hundreds of online retailers selling on price with no margin at all offering the same service and there are no Bricks and mortar stores left for people to view the products at? Most wholesalers complain about the pure online sellers as they are shrinking their distribution network because the bricks and mortar stores are sick of being used as showrooms for pure online traders so are not displaying the products and some are closing down.
      Its very easy for anyone who has access to products to put them online at the cheapest prices but it is not a long term strategy, If you are working on no margins you will not survive a downturn or recession as you don’t have the proper cash flow and balance sheet!
      Its sounds like you are trying to copy John Winning anyway not being innovative as you claim! Newsflash no big box pure online sellers are profitable(except those who sell there own products), the more they turnover the more they seem to lose.
      I hope you do well but if not I hope you don’t end up driving a truck for Mr Winning for minimum wages because there are no jobs left in retail!

      • Behrouz Bolurieh Tue 29 Jul 2014 at 5:15 pm #

        Hi S.R,

        Thank you for your feedback,

        I agree with you that It is easy for a business of any type/size to list products they have access to online and try to sell as many and as cheap as they could but that’s not what we are about here,we are about developing a business model that delivers great value and service to its customers, is an active and responsible reseller for its suppliers and commercially sustainable for its shareholders.

        By Innovation I did not mean creating a new industry or inventing a new product to sell but what I meant was offering an alternative,more convenient and a more customer oriented approach to selling appliances offline and online.

        A classic example would be your suggestion of me working as a truck driver,you are first of all associating a truck driver with a minimum wage and in a way “bottom of the barrel” which is the total opposite of how I look at it,In my business,the delivery crew are the highest paid of staff in the entire business which reflect the importance of their job as our front end brand ambassadors,they look after our customers by providing unpacking,installation,removal of the old appliance and removal of the packaging of the new one.

        I don’t find price being a deal breaker in our industry anymore,

        The majority of the customers that I come across are not looking for the cheapest price but for the best value for money offering and a turnaround time of delivery so if an online retailer in Sydney could get a fridge to a customer in Brisbane sooner that what the customer could get locally with a much better service offering,who is to blame here,The online retailer OR the local out of touch retailer?

        Many thanks for your time,

        Behrouz Bolurieh
        Electro Seconds Factory Outlet

  6. John Winning Tue 29 Jul 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Hi Spring Roll,

    Thank you for your comments. I want to respond to each of your comments but will try and keep it brief as it’s now late and been a long day. My full opinion on this topic is above.

    Appliances Online and Winning Appliances are both individually profitable and always have been. In this case you might just have to take my word for it however I can say that being privately owned we need to be profitable to survive and if we weren’t then credit insurers would not allow for our suppliers to give us the credit that we get for the stock that we buy from them so this line of credit will in this case need to be proof enough that we are profitable.

    In answering your earlier comment, when we started Appliances Online in Australia believe it or not we did not know that Appliances Online in the UK even existed (again you may need to take my word for it) and at that point in time they were only a couple of years old and tiny which is probably how we didn’t notice them (that and the fact that we weren’t looking). We both learnt of each other some years later and have since been surprised at the similarities of the 2 businesses.

    I have showrooms that customers are more than welcome to view products in. As for Appliances Online we would be more than happy to open showrooms if we had enough customers asking us to view our products. In fact, it would be one of the cheaper investments I could make for that business when compared to the investment in technology, infrastructure, staff, training and enhanced product content. The reality is that the Appliances Online business focusses on serving time poor customers that are generally replacing products and happy to do research and make a decision without touching the product, even given how exciting touching a washing machine, vacuum cleaner or air conditioner can be.

    I am not sure that we are 10-20% cheaper than the competition but yes we are competitive and yes we do have some great free services that our customers have always enjoyed from both Winning Appliances and Appliances Online and to repeat my previous comment we are profitable and we are growing on the back of customers enjoying our service. In fact if the growth stops which it isn’t showing any signs of doing our lives would actually be made easier because we wouldn’t have to spend so much time moving offices and warehouses every year and hiring and training staff to continue to serve more and more customers with the high levels of service that we pride ourselves on.

    Also there are actually plenty of big box pure online retailers that are profitable even though globally there are not too many when compared to traditional physical retailers. You even listed one earlier in AO World in the UK, we would be another and there are a few more in the US both in both appliances and bathroom products which you would not expect (I am not sure what else you classify as big box). I think where you are getting confused is by high growth retailers that are not profitable as they are soaking up more funds than they make in funding their growth; however this is part of their plans and the good ones can achieve great scale and profitability such as Amazon or Asos. This is not a new concept to online, this is common with large scale offline retailers too. Masters would be an example of this. There are many more examples but I have now gone on for far longer than expected.

    I will finish by saying that our truck drivers are also some of the most appreciated staff in our business, they are not paid anywhere near minimum wage which is reflective of the great job they do for our business and great service they give to our customers. I am a proud holder of a heavy vehicle truck license and my Dad and my sister hold semi trailer licenses and we have all done our fair share of deliveries to customers and enjoy the work just as much as serving customers or being in an office (probably more to be honest).

    Kind regards,

    John Winning

  7. KB 23 Wed 30 Jul 2014 at 10:13 am #

    I used to work at Clive Peeters then Harvey Norman. We purchased a dishwasher from Appliances Online (we live in Vic where there are none of their stores). After my wife looked at a machine in a HN store, established what she wanted and never got approached once for service in a fifteen minute visit we researched price elsewhere.
    After establishing price at AO was competitive (we could have got cheaper elsewhere) and arranging delivery that was time convenient, and price effective as well…we purchased it from AO.
    I hold no grudges against AO for Clive Peeters demise, nor HN ultimately. I am still employed in retail elsewhere.
    As you can post comments on here, you know Internet Retail is part of the new world order. Those that can adapt and give the consumer what they want will survive. Others fall by the wayside. People will always want to purchase – just the delivery is slightly different.

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