Hitchen member and director of 4R Office, Paul O’Shannhnessy talks about his business and how he has helped it to grow.
4R Office is a web based supplier of business products and services who promote sustainability by price supporting and leading with eco and ethical products.
The 4R Office ethos is that to achieve long term success there is a balance to be found between protecting people, the planet and profit.
Currently 2% of turnover is donated to Pump Aid www.pumpaid.org, a charity who save lives and improve the quality of life by providing clean water and sanitation to communities in Africa.
So whereas most competitors are primarily concerned with profit 4R Office embodies a more considerate, holistic approach.
My interest in sustainability originated from my time at a paper mill who had just built a recycled fibre plant. Up to 180,000 tonnes p/a of waste paper was diverted from UK landfill.
Businesses were considering their impact on people and the planet so when I left 4R was born.
Google Shopping is nothing new but as a small business owner I think it's the most effective way to win new customers especially if your products aren't exclusive to you eg they're available from many retailers.
The psychology of the sales process makes Google Shopping the perfect go between. Sellers want to engage with a prospective customer so they make contact electronically, by telephone or by traditional mail.
The chances of the prospect being receptive to such a random approach are slim especially if it's a low priority/generic product/service. However contrast that with the moment a prospect needs something specific.
They Google it and they are offered up a selection of Google approved suppliers. This is the point at which the prospect is most receptive & the balance of power has moved towards the seller. Google has put buyer & seller together at that perfect moment.
Google are continually changing and enhancing the way products are listed and presented to their search customers. Google’s reputation is built on the appropriateness of the potential suppliers they offer up to their search customer.
They demand that the quality of the product descriptions, attributes and prices loaded into Google Shopping are complete and accurate. A retailer has to align data with the requirements laid down by Google eg EAN/bar codes are essential.
Google use scary phrases like ‘non-compliant’ eg “If your data is formatted incorrectly for any of the new attributes, your item will be rejected during feed processing. Non-compliant product listings might then be disapproved and disappear from Google Shopping.”
It takes some prep work and ongoing data maintenance but has yielded the best results for 4R.