Online Retail Awards 2015 – Award of Commendation, Children category

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Guess what happened to us last night? We went and won an Award of Commendation (Children Category) at the Online Retail Awards 2015, that’s what !

Online Retail Awards 2015

We entered the awards way back in April 2015. We discovered in June that we had made the Online Retail Awards shortlist in two categories: Children, plus Fashion & Clothing.

ORA-AWARDThis is a HUGE deal for us! We are a small family business in sleepy East Sussex. Meanwhile the competition was steep, we were up against the likes of retail giants like Claires, Secret Sales, Warehouse and, of course, Toys R Us. Toys R Us went on to not only win the Children’s Category but also sweep the board winning Large online Retailer of the Year and the overall Online Retail Awards Prix D’Or.

Online Retail Awards 2015We are immensely proud to have been shortlisted in such dazzling company and, of course, even more delighted to have won an Award of Commendation in the Children Category, second only to Toys R Us. This came about at the second stage of the awards, when judges scrutinised the short-list of Finalists and decide the Category Winners and the Awards of High Commendation.

Thank you so much to the judges. Wow what a night!

Fake Online Reviews

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There have been stories in the press over the past few days about online reviews and the Fake Online Reviews investigation by the BBC.

We welcome the news that the Competition and Markets Authority is to investigate whether businesses are posting fake reviews in a bid to unfairly boost trade, and whether it needs to clamp down on the illegal practice.

The business regulator said an initial study had unearthed evidence that businesses were posting fake reviews in sufficient numbers to warrant a formal investigation.

Fake Online ReviewsI was invited to appear on Victoria Derbyshire’s BBC2 TV programme on Friday to talk about the impact good and bad reviews can have on a business, along with James Westlake from Trustpilot. We’ve worked with Trustpilot for 2.5 years and the reviews we receive on there, together with a number of other sites across the internet, as incredibly important to us. We’re lucky enough to currently be top of Kids and Baby Categories on Trustpilot with over 1,000 genuine customer reviews. Well when I say lucky… we work incredibly hard to deliver good customer service which I know everyone says about their business. It really is true in our case. We keep a constant eye on our reviews across the internet as it’s one of the key ways we find out whether we’re meeting our customers’ expectations and improve our service if we are not.

The revelations about fake online reviews in the past few days are disappointing, but not surprising. When we started trading over 10 years ago there were a handful of online review sites which were unmonitored and subject to real abuse.  Anyone could post reviews for their own business and others, good and bad. If your business was in receipt of a fake bad review it was difficult, if not impossible, to get it removed. And if your competitors were posting hundreds of fake positive reviews, it was impossible to compete with their online review ‘status’ unless you were prepared to join in by posting fake reviews yourself. We weren’t.

In recent years online review platforms like Trustpilot and Feefo have really shaken things up, in a good way. But there is always room for improvement.

Over the years we’ve been invited to buy Facebook fans, Twitter followers, YouTube views, Instagram followers and site reviews. Sad, but true. Because there’s always someone willing to game the system, presumably to either balance out the genuine poor reviews they have so they look a little better, or to get lots of online reviews quickly so that a customer will choose their business over someone else’s.

All of us are incredibly short of time these days, and bombarded with communications. It’s not that surprising that only 1 in 10 customers invited to review a product or service is likely to do it, and you can see how tempting it might be to short-circuit that process. And there’s always someone out there willing to help you to do that for a fee.

And yes, we too have been threatened with a bad review if we didn’t do what the customer wanted. It’s very rare, but it does happen.

We’re very proud of Little Sunflowers’ reviews on Trustpilot and on other review sites and shopping portals. We’ve worked hard to get them, you’ve been good enough to leave them for us, and they act like a barometer to ensure we’re meeting your expectations. We carry out regular customer surveys for the same reason.

It’s a pity that a handful of others abuse the system because it brings into question whether reviews for sites like ours are really genuine. I had an email from someone who saw me on the Victoria Derbyshire programme on Friday specifically asking me how I could possibly claim our reviews were genuine. “It’s this dishonesty about authenticity which causes lack of trust. The whole review system is a fraud. But people are pretending otherwise. Please stop pretending! It’s very annoying and damages trust.”

As I explained in my reply, the reason I said our Trustpilot reviews are real is because it’s true. The overwhelming majority of the reviews of Little Sunflowers on Trustpilot can be tracked back to a orders because of the way the review request process works using order numbers which can be traced back to real customers.

But without order numbers it is far more difficult for other businesses like restaurants, hotels, b&bs etc where purchases are made by walk-in customers, often in cash. That means the business owner is relying on something to prompt a customer to leave a review (which sometimes isn’t a positive reason unfortunately), and that review is one person’s word against another’s as to whether they were ever a customer. I’m not sure how you could possibly know that every reviewer had actually visited your pub, hotel or restaurant, and it must be incredibly difficult for those businesses.

Small online businesses like us without a large marketing budget or advertising spend rely heavily on genuine customer reviews. They are sometimes the only thing which prompt a potential customer to choose one children’s clothing business over another when they have never shopped with either before.

Fake reviews are annoying and damaging to the genuine businesses that give great service. We can but hope that our customers can spot fake reviews but that’s sometimes hard to do, so we would always recommend consumers to not only look at online reviews for a business but also their Facebook page, Twitter feed and so on to ensure customer feedback is consistent, particularly when they’re considering purchasing large ticket items for the first time. Sometimes reviewing a company’s whole social media presence can paint a clearer, more balanced picture than online review pages do on their own.

Here is a clip from the Victoria Derbyshire programme (yikes, me on the telly).

The full programme including other news articles of the day is available on BBC iPlayer here until 18 July 2015:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b05z15t7/victoria-derbyshire-19062015

Thank you for all your reviews. They mean the world to us and really help us to continually improve our service to you.

Bev :)

 

Online Retail Awards 2015 – we’re on the shortlist!

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Online Retail Awards 2015
Online Retail Awards 2015

The Online Retail Awards 2015 shortlist has been announced… and we’re on it!

We can’t tell you have thrilled we are to have made the shortlist in two categories: Children plus Fashion & Clothing.

 

The Online Retail Awards have 18 categories to celebrate great online retail sites in a variety of retail sectors, and companies eligible to enter are retailers who sell online. The word “site” is used to include web, mobile and tablet sites and dedicated “on the move” apps.

We feel honoured to be mentioned in the same sentence as the other names shortlisted. In the Children category Claire’s, The Letteroom and ToysRUs are also shortlisted. In the Fashion & Clothing category we are shortlisted together with Country Attire, Dalia’s Kaftans, Secretsales.com, Warehouse and YOOX Group.

The overall winners will be announced in September. In the meantime we are simply delighted to have been shortlisted!

 

 

Dollars and Euros now accepted at Little Sunflowers

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Dollars and Euros now accepted at LIttleSunflowers
Dollars and Euros now accepted at Little Sunflowers

Did you spot it? As well as having a bit of a site refresh last month, Dollars and Euros are now accepted at Little Sunflowers.

The LittleSunflowers.com website automatically defaults to Pounds Sterling when you first arrive. However if you’d like to pay in Dollars or Euros, simply select the appropriate currency button which you’ll see at the top right hand side wherever you are on the website.

Then you can pop see the prices in whichever currency you prefer, pop your chosen items into your basket and checkout in the usual way.

The site will automatically convert any codes or gift vouchers which you are using to the same currency.

These changes were made as a result of the feedback you give to us in our Little Sunflowers Customer Survey a few months ago. If you have any more ideas which would make your life easier just let us know.

We have many international customers (thank you!) and we hope this new multi currency functionality makes it easier for you to shop with us. We hope you love our new look too, which was specifically designed to make browsing and shopping easier on your mobile device.

 

 

 

 

Christmas Facebook Competition: Let us Post your Christmas Cards for free!

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Christmas Competition
Let us Post those Christmas Cards for you!

Friday Competition Time! Have you sent Christmas Cards yet? Nope, neither have we. So we’d love to help you out a little with our Facebook competition this week.

The prize is… <drumroll>… we’ll post all your Christmas Cards for free! We’ll send a courier to collect your cards next week (you’ll have until Wednesday to write them, including putting the addresses on the envelopes) and then we’ll post them all for you well in time for Christmas.

Interested? To be in with a chance of winning, please let us know on our Little Sunflowers Facebook page: How ready you are for Christmas? You can answer with a number if you like:

1 = I’ve done nothing

10 = Everything’s bought, wrapped & under the tree

Any number in-between = I’m somewhere in-between.

You need to do this by midnight this Monday 8 December 2014 for your entry to count.

This competition is for Christmas Cards collected from a UK address and posted within the UK (sorry to our friends overseas but we’ll make it up to you!).

If you’ve already written and posted your Christmas Cards: well done you (perhaps you’d like to come and do mine next?). Or maybe you’re not based in the UK? If that’s the case and you win, you can nominate someone else in the UK like your sister or Mum, or maybe give your friend the best Christmas present ever!

So pop on over to our Facebook page and let us now how ready you are RIGHT NOW! (or at least by the time the competition ends at midnight this Monday 8 December).

Good luck and please tell your friends!

Terms and conditions: The Winner will be selected at Random. If you win: we’ll post a maximum of 40 Christmas Cards for you to UK addresses. Your cards need to be written with addresses on the envelopes by the morning of Wednesday 10 December latest as that’s the day our courier will pick them up. Someone needs to be in at the UK address you nominate for our courier on Wednesday 10 December 2014 (it can be a workplace, though no business Christmas Cards please, just personal ones). You can nominate someone else to receive the prize. The prize is the prize, there’s no cash alternative available. We can only post your cards to UK addresses. We will put them in to the Royal Mail postal system well in time for Christmas, but we can’t be held responsible in the unlikely event of your cards turning up late or not arriving at all (though of course that’s NEVER going to happen). And you need to comment on our Facebook page by the close date which is Monday 8 December 2014 at midnight UK time for your entry to count.