On the surface, it doesn’t make sense for custom framing service Framebridge to use coated hanging wire. Coated wire is more expensive than uncoated wire and difficult for the retailer’s machines to work with. The vast majority of its competitors—which range from small “mom-and-pop” shops to nationwide chains such as Hobby Lobby and Michaels to online merchants such as Simply Framed and Level Framed—use uncoated wire. And consumers aren’t asking for it. In fact, since Framebridge launched in 2014, the retailer has yet to receive a customer compliment for its coated wire, said Susan Tynan, the retailer’s founder and CEO, at the Internet Retailer Conference and Exhibition at RetailX in June.
“Every six months, someone from operations or finance says we should replace it,” she said. “But it’s one thing I absolutely will not compromise on.”
Switching to uncoated wire would be a step in the wrong direction, she said. The coated wire doesn’t scratch consumers’ walls, making it preferable to uncoated wire—even if that element isn’t typically at the top of consumers’ minds. Moreover, that step might lead to other cost-cutting measures, such as sticking the wall-protecting pads on frames at the factory instead of including them in the package and leaving it to the consumer to do at home, Tynan said.
While “business pressures always conspire against the consumer,” Tynan believes that Framebridge’s customer focus has been a key to its growth. Framebridge is hardly alone in that respect. For many retailers, loyalty is built upon retailers finding ways to put the customer at the center of their operations. And throughout the four-day event, which included pre- and post-show workshops, retailers in sessions and on the exhibit hall floor were focused on finding ways to better serve customers—whether that meant…
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