GOING DIGITAL: Retailers pioneering way forward
STRICT lockdown and social distancing measures forced many Warwick businesses to go digital just to survive – a move that could prove one of their best investments.
Even as easing restrictions enable the town’s retailers to return to their thriving main-street stores, many have taken the opportunity to continue expanding their business beyond the Southern Downs.
Swan Creek Interiors co-owner Buck Tiddle said their decision to launch an online-only business model had paid dividends, and could pave the way forward for regional retailers.
“We always had to have a business focusing on the whole of regional and rural Australia, and we figured the only way to do that was to be online and look beyond the town we lived in,” Mr Tiddle said.
“We know that’s a long game, a really long game, and it can be frustrating, but we just keep getting up and going to tend our online business in the same way people would their shop in town.
“We’re here for the long-term, trying to create a sustainable business that people will come back to time after time – you have to offer value, but that value doesn’t always have to be monetary.”
Further afield at Ballandean Estate Wines, client relations manager Leeanne Gangemi said the “necessity” for change toward an online-driven future generated a 500 per cent growth in sales despite the region’s tourism drying up.
“We’ve always dabbled a little bit (in online) and we’ve been quite happy with the way it was ticking along, but now we’ve put a bit of money towards it, it’s been absolutely fantastic,” Mrs Gangemi said.
“We increased our spending on Facebook and social media, and I think that’s generating new customers by looking at what we’re offering and buying online before coming into the region.
“Now, we have to look at our business and see whether we maintain that level of online investment to generate the same amount of sales and growth – it’s quite an exciting time.”
For Condamine Sports Club manager Stephen Domjahn, broadening the restaurant’s mainstay takeaway menu was as much for his loyal customers as it was for his business model.
“We didn’t do it to make money – we just did it because we’re still here, ticking along, and we’re a community club so we wanted to stay open for the community,” Mr Domjahn said.
“During the pandemic, all the fast-food places exploded, whereas a lot of venues like pubs and clubs shut their doors because it wasn’t worth it.
“We’ve always done takeaway, we’ve just never specialised in takeaway. We wanted to make sure the people who like our lamb cutlets or a well-cooked steak were still able to get those.”