This week ShopTab interviewed Dan Forno of SureSource and wanted to share background information about where he works and his personal review of ShopTab. If you need assistance with getting your products into the hands of the consumer this is a must read blog post. SureSource has been in business for over 20 years and originally started as a fulfillment provider for manufacturers selling products directly to the consumer, and a call center to field “Where to Buy” inquiries from consumers.
With the advent of Internet, the transition from print to web made perfect sense and their business model followed suit. Today SureSource runs turnkey ecommerce operations for 60 significant partnerships providing everything from merchandising the product selection and warehousing of the inventory, to fulfillment and post purchase customer service… all of this on top of the design, development and hosting of the stores themselves.
Below are a few of the highlights from the interview:
Q: What is your role at SureSource and some of your background history?
I am the Senior Manager of Ecommerce at SureSource, which comes with many hats. Mainly I spend my day focusing on ecommerce technology, strategy and trends, looking for ideas that not only add to the top line, but ideas that enhance the overall experience. We are very careful about who we work with and what technology we deploy on our websites, I play a front line role in the vetting process. At the same time I manage a very talented team of designers, merchandisers, copywriters and photographers who are responsible for what you see when you visit our sites.
I have a background in design, development and project management and I’ve worked on ecommerce teams going back to the late 90’s. I’ve learned a lot from the amazing leaps and bounds ecommerce has experienced over the years, but I’ve learned more from the mistakes that caused the ecommerce bubble, and subsequent burst, and feel that we’re stronger today from those lessons learned.
Q: What type of solutions does SureSource provide and who are some of your popular brands you provide eCommerce solutions for?
Popular brands, well, that’s an easy one. We run online stores for dynamic brands like Guinness, Coca-Cola, Anheuser-Busch and Crayola just to name a few. We represent these and other top brands from a multitude of industries and product lines. We purchase the inventory of each store, warehouse it on site and build the shopping experience to match the overall brand experience. It’s really pretty awesome to walk through our warehouse and see the tens of thousands of products of brands we partner with.
Our overall business model is basically your standard retail model. We purchase the inventory from the brand, sell it to the consumer and operate on the retail margin. What makes us unique is that we do not charge fees for any of this… nothing for setup, maintenance and marketing (which we do a lot of, including email marketing and paid search).
Q: What is SureSource most known for and what type of companies should consider SureSource for their eCommerce needs?
Since we operate off of the retail margin, we need to ensure there is consumer demand for the products we will be selling. Otherwise we can’t recoup the costs we incur by providing the solution, not to mention the fact that we’re sitting on inventory. We partner with brands who are usually having a hard time justifying the costs and resources associated with building and operating the online store and shipping products to the end consumer.
We also fit well with brands that have a large selection of parts and accessories for their main product lines. Consumers have a hard time finding accessories for their model of product they may have purchased a year or two ago since retailers stock only a small percentage of top sellers. We are typically the only online destination where you can find the full line of parts and accessories for a brand.
Q: How has Social Media helped expand SureSource’s business?
We are still trying to figure that out, honestly. We have been testing the waters when it comes to social media and customer generated content for years now. Since the verdict is still out on how social media affects the purchase decision, we need to ensure that the time, money and resources we put into developing it makes sense. I have met many providers within the ecommerce realm who, over the past few years, have been promising to lift conversion and revenue by double digit percentages. I look at each provider carefully no matter how ridiculous the claim, and if it makes sense we will test it out to see if the claims match up to the hype.
I think social media has a long way to go in our industry before we see its full potential, but the brands that we work with are on board with using it as a marketing engine and we need to support that no matter what.
Q: What services do you provide Coca-Cola and why did you decide to implement ShopTab with Coca-Cola’s Store Facebook Fan Page?
We are the official online store for Coca-Cola and provide the fans, collectors and employees a place to shop for all of their favorite Coca-Cola memorabilia. We work with the great people at Coca-Cola to deliver the customers high quality and exciting products along with a fully branded shopping experience.
I decided to implement the ShopTab solution on the Coca-Cola Store Facebook Fan Page after speaking with a few different vendors offering similar options. Each option left me looking at a massive annual cost that made me reconsider even trying. I happened to see a press release detailing ShopTab’s offering and dug a bit deeper. The solution is simple, easy to use and it produces a great shopping experience, so I immediately figured the cost would outweigh the benefit. I was wrong about that; it is extremely affordable for any size company, so I immediately moved to implement.
Q: How do you feel ShopTab could benefit other businesses and entrepreneurs?
You cannot find a better solution for the price, so it takes away the unanswerable question of ‘how will I justify the costs of putting my products up for sale on Facebook’. This solution allows fans of your company, fans of your products or just fans of yourself to easily shop for your products in one spot and check out via your online store.
Q: As a new ShopTab business user, what has your experience been, so far, with ShopTab?
Simple. I deal with complex projects every day so it was nice to be up and running with ShopTab within a few hours.
Q: What features do you like best about ShopTab? Why does it work well for SureSource?
My favorite part about the solution is the ability for the consumer to navigate by category and price. This simplifies the experience on the Facebook side of things and allows the consumer to find what they want without having to navigate through our store. Once they find the product, the purchase process is simple on our side. I also like the fact that we’re not passing consumer data back and forth, it’s peace of mind for me and also for the consumer who is not quite comfortable with supplying their credit card information to Facebook.
Q: For a prospective company interested in SureSource services what is the best way to contact you or connect with you online?
Connecting with us is easy. If anyone has any questions for me they can contact me at DForno@SureSource.com, for brands looking to partner with us I would suggest getting in touch with our business development team via Robert Perkins at RPerkins@SureSource.com
Q: Is there anything else you want to share with our Facebook ShopTab fans and blog readers about SureSource?
It’s amazing to be a part of this fast-paced, high-tech industry for over a decade now. We’ve seen so much in such a short period of time and I urge everyone to keep on top of the trends, but to make sure they do their research and implement only that which makes the needle move in the right direction.
SureSource employs a talented team of professionals dedicated to keeping on top of the trends, and providing brands with state of the art online stores that serve to connect them with their consumers. If you are a brand interested in partnering with us, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
If you have any questions or comments for SureSource or ShopTab please comment below or visit ShopTab Contact Us online form.
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