Buses, businesses, books and booze – another successful NORA Expedition in Sydney takes in two shining lights in new retail, The Co-Op and AussieCommerce. Paul Greenberg reports from the back of the bus.
With a big day ahead, our group of 28 gathered at Café Foveaux in Surry Hills. Although the wonderful sponsors of the expedition, Online Retailer, provided tempting platters of fresh fruits and pastries, all attention was fixed on the hipster barista as we queued for lattés, cappuccinos and espressos, especially appreciated by those who flew in from interstate that morning to join us. After a little networking and a welcome speech from me, another round of coffee in takeaways was served for us to bring on the bus.
Arriving at Sydney University we gathered outside the Co-op where we were greeted by CEO Peter Knock andNational Retail Manager, Gareth Fowler, who introduced us to the retail team. The Co-Op team told us about the business’ previously troubled times as year-round book sales dwindled, leaving it to rely on the two peak times of new semester text book sales. As a co-op, its funding depends on membership and profit, so armed with a new leadership team The Co-Op was recently given a new logo, a fresh image, an expanded product range and a new strategy for surviving in a competitive bricks and mortar and e-commerce world. At the end of the presentation and a tour of the store, we were each given a $30 voucher to spend, but their excellent new range made it very hard to choose. Thankfully their customer service team were on hand with advice and recommendations so we were soon all queued at the counter ready to make our purchase and/or become Co-Op members.
After the tour of the Sydney University Co-Op retail store, we headed to The Co-op headquarters in Ultimo. We were given a tour of the HQ, viewed the Co-Op’s proud ORIA Award for “Best Site Optimisation & Design” and listened to a presentation by Peter Knock about how Co-Op was reinvigorating its brand. This was followed by a Q&A session with the Executive Team. We were all given a bag of goodies before heading off to lunch.
Business cards were exchanged and ideas were shared as more enthusiastic networking took place during a delicious lunch at The Naked Duck in the CBD. Then after lunch, armed with new inspiration, we headed back onto the bus ready to visit the master of “flash” selling at the brand new, one week old premises of AussieCommerce Group.
CEO Adam Schwab welcomed us all with wine and drinks and gave us a brief run-down of how he had started and grown his business. We then split into two groups and were taken on an in-depth tour of the different sections of AussieCommerce. We saw the on-site photography studios, admired the amazing views that staff had of the harbour, Barangaroo and the Harbour Bridge, met some of the interesting and varied staff members and were given more information about the journey that had taken AussieCommerce to being such a successful, passionate and funky online retail business.
After the tour Adam Schwab and the Executive Team provided a forum for questions and answers and welcomed all sorts of questions from the enthusiastic NORA attendees. A quiz was held at the end of the forum and observant attendees were rewarded with generous vouchers to use on the LivingSocial, The Home, The Gourmet, BrandsExclusive and Luxury Escapes websites.
Around 4:30 we boarded the bus for our last stop, for networking drinks and snacks at Goros in Surry Hills. More networking was accomplished and our interesting and informative day was complete.
Check out these pics from the day.