May82012

“My philosophy is that we will always treat our customers exactly the same as we want to be treated when we shop online.”

John Sollars
John Sollars
Stinkyink.com
Founder

Mr Stinkyink himself, John Sollars has built the company up from its inception in 2002, on the pillars of fantastic customer service and great value. His drive to be the best in his industry has lead to Stinkyink being recognized by both Investors in People (IIP) and also the British Standards Institution (BSI) with its ISO9001:2008 accreditation. And being a believer in getting stuck in, he can still be found helping out on the sales and customer service desks, sometimes even getting his hands dirty in the warehouse.

Stinkyink.com is a UK-based online retailer selling printer ink cartridges.

John Sollars, Stinkyink.com - Founder

MO: I have to ask how you came up with the name Stinkyink?

John: I was visiting London my family in 2001 and everywhere you looked (on the back of buses and taxis and down into the tube stations) were advertisements for dot-com companies. I wanted something that would stand out, something that people would remember and which was also relevant – Stinkyink .com ticks all of those boxes!

MO: What makes you better or different than your competition?

John: There is a lot of competition in any internet niche these days; you have to give your customers the very best online shopping experience that you can. My philosophy is that we will always treat our customers exactly the same as we want to be treated when we shop online and all of my team subscribe to that view and go the extra mile to achieve that level of service.

MO: How has significant investment in 2011 in your IT systems opened up a whole raft of potential opportunities for website features and services you can provide for your customers?

John: We completely re-wrote the front end of our website in spring 2011 and the first objective was to make sure that we didn’t affect either our organic search results or our website conversion rates. Once the new ecommerce software went live we allowed the dust to settle, and we were then able to focus on improving the visitor experience, creating customer online accounts, managing discounts etc, but all the time focused on improving our business.

MO: Can you talk about why you’ve integrated supporting charitable causes into the foundation of your company?

John: I was brought up by my mother to believe that you have to ‘give something back’ and from the very earliest days of my business we have always contributed both to the local community and also to various charities. I think working in a rural location helps because we are part of that community, and we all contribute and help wherever we can.

MO: If I could grant you one business related wish right now, what would you ask for?

John: That is a really difficult question. I spend my time involved very much ‘hands on’ in the business and feel that I know what I need.

I watch Dragons’ Den and ask myself, if I were pitching to these people, how much would it be for and what would I do with the money? The honest answer is that as a self-funded, organically growing business we are financially strong and don’t really need anything. If you could grant any wish then keep the Government busy doing whatever it is that they do, and leave small businesses alone to do what they do best – create wealth!

MO: You experienced tremendous growth in 2009, how did you manage to scale the business accordingly?

John: That was a really difficult time because I had people off on long-term sick leave and we were really short-handed. At one point my son, on holiday from university, plus his friend were all the staff I had available and every phone call started off with an apology.

That experience made me determined that in the future we would have nothing to apologize about. I set about, not only strengthening both my customer service and stores teams, but also investing in a brand new back office system which has contributed enormously to the improvement in our service levels and profitability. I have to say though that managing growth is always better than managing decline.

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