E&S is hosting its annual conference at the Park Hyatt, Melbourne with more than 120 supplier partners in attendance.

Under the theme, ‘True Partnerships’, the conference kicked off with a video presentation featuring E&S senior executives explaining what the theme means to the business, supported by commentary from supplier partners.

“A true partnership means telling our suppliers’ stories through our teams and that is done through training so our staff understand the product features and benefits, as well as the history of the brand that they are selling to the customer. Our relationships are so strong and have been strong for such a long period of time because of collaboration, open dialogue and communication,” E&S category manager, Mark Meldrum said.

“Our relationships are based on a win-win relationship in the truest sense – we can’t be successful unless our supplier partners are successful. We ensure our ranging, purchasing and pricing is at a level that is sustainable and will ensure we achieve our goals.”

E&S general manager for merchandising and marketing, Peter Barry added: “Our performance over the last two years has been far beyond our expectations. Our growth has been incredible, but we still have so much untapped potential which is exciting.”

E&S managing director, Rob Sinclair then reflected on the marketing journey and why it was important to continue to invest in advertising with a consistent tagline. 

“We won’t be beaten on price is an unbroken rule. If there’s a lower price, we will beat it. We train and engage our people who then engage with our customers, so we don’t them walking out the door because they’ve find a product cheaper elsewhere,” Sinclair said.  

“Over the last two years, we have magnified our voice in the market and the average Victorian appliance shopper sees our ads over 10 times per month across TV, website, catalogues and digital campaigns. 

“We needed to be extremely nimble with our advertising because Covid restrictions were changing frequently so we needed to record different ads to suit varying requirements around retail.” 

Omnichannel strategy

E&S ecommerce manager, Simon Leighton (pictured below) took to the stage to explain how the E&S business moved from being a pure physical retailer with 58 years of history in the bricks and mortar market to an omnichannel business with a robust digital presence.

“We didn’t want to forget about the history, but instead build upon it with strong involvement from our team. We have taken processes offline to online and changed up our strategy to become an omnichannel business,” he said.

A key area of focus has been live chat which was up and running in just 10 days.

“We were experiencing more demand from customers outside of our normal trading hours, so we knew we needed to offer different communication styles and be able to respond in seconds, not minutes,” Leighton said.

“99% of our customers are served in under 60 seconds and 54% in under 15 seconds in the first chat response, and 98% of our chats rate positively – 16 basis points ahead of closest competitors.”

Moving forward, the quality of website content will continue to be strengthened beyond product features and benefits through the use of more lifestyle imagery and videos.

“When customers walk into our showroom, they are delivered a premium and luxury feeling, and we want to replicate that and portray the same experience online. We want to become content leaders by investing in brand stories and elevating products and bring them to life,” Leighton said.

Commercial division

E&S projects manager for Victoria, David Welsh (pictured below) and commercial sales manager for new homes, Brent Lee, discussed the growth of the commercial division, delivering on goals set at the E&S conference in 2020 in relation to increasing the commercial sales and support teams, focusing on brand partnerships, refining processes to enhance customer service levels, and providing more jobs interstate, particularly in South Australia and Queensland.

“Our commercial division is built on seven key pillars – professionalism, transparency, collaboration, respect, trust, integrity and family values. We share an open book policy, and we believe we need to be in partnership to deliver the best outcomes to our mutual customers,” Lee said.

“Our commercial operations span several areas but our project strategy remains the same – qualify, invest, deliver and service. Half of our commercial sales are derived from our showrooms, so we need to take the business to the next level,” Welsh added.

To close out the day, E&S’ Rob Sinclair had a fireside chat with Hickory commercial director, Steve Stavrou (both pictured below) about the building sector including the major challenges facing the industry, the key drivers for future growth, and the importance of quality product, longevity and customer service.

To conclude the first day of the conference, E&S hosted a dinner for all attendees at Elwood Bathers.

The E&S conference continues today with more presentations from E&S senior executives and guest speakers.