The greatest challenge has been the difficulty of sourcing gray-market products. The supply is inconsistent, which leads to us not having items that customers are looking for in stock. Our No. 1 complaint from customers is that we are often out of stock on certain items.
Another challenge we face is having to compete with counterfeiters and [online] retailers that have low or nonexistent customer service. They are doing a major disservice to the reputation of online retailers.
I would say our biggest success has been the building of relationships with haircare brands. This has been a long, ongoing process, but we are very proud of the direct relationship we have with many brands today, including Elchim, GHD, T3, Ouidad, BaByliss and hundreds more. Not only have we gained numerous direct brands over the years, but we continue to build deeper relationships with them, including co-op marketing efforts, sampling programs, cosponsored contests and events, etc.
My objective is to have direct-vendor relationships with 100% of the brands we carry in 2012. This is a huge change from how this company started, where the vast majority of products sold were gray market.
We have a strong customer-service orientation. It can be the simple things, such as having someone answer the phone when a customer calls, no-hassle returns or making it very easy to handle warranties. This also takes the burden off the companies we work with. Standing behind the products and being there for customers translates into loyal customers, and we have a strong loyal following.