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Dawsons launches new website

PRESS RELEASE: Musical Instrument Retailer Dawsons Music are growing their business at a time when many other retailers have been tightening their belts and curbing ambitions.

This year they have opened two new stores (Leeds and Huddersfield; to take their tally to 11 stores) and launched a brand new eCommerce website.

The company is bucking the trend by growing sales year-on-year, through excellent Customer Service, coupled with careful Buying and Marketing strategies.

This significant move towards expansion during recession started with the appointment of their new Managing Director, Mark Taylor, in February 2011. Taylor has brought with him a wealth of retail experience from the likes of M&S, River Island and Littlewoods Shop Direct, the like of which is rarely found within what is a relatively small specialist MI industry. He brings over 25 years of High Street, both UK & International, experience and also 10 years of eCommerce knowledge.

This Internet experience has been essential for the development of the company's eCommerce website which is an integral part of Dawsons' expansion plans and long-term sales growth.

Whilst Dawsons have been online since 1998, around the time Google was barely a twinkle in their founder's eyes, they have not built on that initially strong position. Taylor commented, "We may have been one of the first in our Industry to establish an Online presence, but we have not moved forward as the Internet developed. As a consequence, our competitors moved ahead of us in this channel."

Taylor is understandably excited about building a dynamic online operation on the foundations of a solid retail business. "You could say we've done the hard part, we've already got a great retail business and now we're building on that by improving our online offering". He continued, "This is about delivering a high level of customer satisfaction, not a stack-it-high, sell-it-cheap, approach."

Dawsons are looking to deliver a true multi-channel business, with strength in each area. "We have a strong store foundation, which is expanding, and we have a good Education division with plans to develop further. With the addition of this new website, we can provide customers with access to our business, from whichever channel they prefer."

The eCommerce team has recently been strengthened further, with the appointment of Tahera Dudhwala as Online Marketing Manager, and the company's business development strategy has been boosted by the appointment of Sales Director, Gary Bond.

Chief Executive of the Music Industries Association, Paul McManus said "Dawsons has been referred to by some in the industry as something of a "sleeping giant" in recent years. The professionalism of their "bricks and mortar" retail operation has always been something to aspire to, but others in the industry have gained ground in the past by investing a lot more seriously in the online aspect of their business. If Dawsons can now build a successful on-line business on top of their strong existing retail business, things could get very interesting indeed."

Managing Director of Roland UK, Tim Walter said…

"The recent appointment of MD Mark Taylor, joining from outside of the MI industry, the development of the new eCommerce web-site and two new stores this year highlight the importance of progressive retailing in the current challenging economic environment. Dawsons is a key partner for Roland, embracing the significance of true partnership over the traditional supplier and customer relationship."

By growing their retail business alongside the scale of their online operation, Dawsons is demonstrating the kind of multi-channel ambition that they will need to realise in order to take their business to the next level.

This is stage 1 of several releases, which will see Dawsons move significantly forward down the eCommerce path. "We want to build a site that is commercially viable but one that does this through adding value to the customer experience" explains Taylor.

So what next for this expanding business? Taylor was tight-lipped on the details but with a wry smile, he added, "Watch this space."

Some features of the new site include;

Fast Infrastructure, leading to faster page load times and query response rates.

Multi-Layered Navigation, which means you can select multiple options, eg. several brands or colours etc. Most websites only allow the user to select one item. Dawsons is the first MI retailer to offer this kind of multi-layered navigation.

Attribute Led Navigation, which allows users to drill-down to the highest of detail. Eg. on a Guitar, users can select from brand, colour, product range, bridge type, pickup type, finish, size and so many more. In fact, there are 170 categories to select from, and over 1,000 options within those categories! This is the most extensive product selection process in the MI industry.

Price Slider, allows users to narrow their search by price, without leaving the page, and is so much more advanced than a simple high-low price order filter.

Videos, are an integral part of the new site, and whilst these are still to be added, you can see an example here (click on the Video tab).

Image Zoom, isn't actually new but the quality is still excellent.

Integrated Multi-Channel approach to the new site, including stores, Twitter, Facebook and Google +1.

mCommerce, the site will shortly (this month) be supported by a dedicated mobile site to enable mobile phone users to have an equally satisfying user experience.