NormansOnline retail is instrumental to success

Company Overview

Normans is the UK’s number one seller of musical instruments for schools and universities. A family-run business that started off as a small shop in the middle of its village in Burton, Normans has been running for over 50 years and supplies high-quality products to customers in the UK and overseas.

Normans provides its instruments and accessories to pupils, schools, local education authorities and professional players. Its product line ranges from a packet of string for £2 to a grand piano for £15,000.

The Situation

The introduction of the internet completely changed the way Normans interacted with shoppers, allowing anyone in the world to become a customer at an economical price. Normans was quick to take notice of the online boom, and it wasn’t long before it set its sights on eBay. By selling its products through a marketplace – along with on its website – Normans could reach a far larger consumer base than ever before.

It took only a short time for Normans to find success on eBay. In fact, the company soon noticed that its sales on this marketplace were outperforming those on its actual website. The music retailer eventually reached the point where it needed to automate its eBay selling process, due to the high demand for its instruments and accessories.

“I remember reading a book about top-selling eBay traders and how they did their business”, recalled Gareth Haines, managing director for Normans. “The word ‘ChannelAdvisor’ kept coming up.” Normans was looking for a partner that could manage and automate its ever-increasing inventory on eBay. The answer was ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces.

The Solution

With ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces, Normans now had a tool that could automate the management of its online selling, as well as deliver product data for eBay and any number of other marketplaces.

To begin with, Normans used ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces solely for eBay. However, it wasn’t long before the retailer recognised the potential of expanding to new marketplaces — the first destination being Amazon. Normans was able to transition to Amazon relatively easily, with ChannelAdvisor guiding the company through the entire process. “It enables us to plug in to different channels, like eBay and Amazon, without being real experts in the mechanisms of the marketplace”, Haines said.

Nabeel Saddal, a web administrator for Normans, spoke of the impact that ChannelAdvisor has had on his day-to-day operations. “The main challenge when selling on marketplaces is that each channel wants different things. ChannelAdvisor helps by allowing me to set up inventory that has customised fields in each product. I can then send the information that’s important to different marketplaces.”

The Results

Since teaming up with ChannelAdvisor in 2008, Normans has seen its revenue grow by a dramatic 688%, with year-on-year growth of over 23% from 2012 to 2013.

Through ChannelAdvisor, Normans is now selling on a multitude of marketplaces, including eBay, Amazon and Rakuten. Confident in the widespread appeal of its products and service, it has also started selling internationally on Amazon.fr and Amazon.de, both via ChannelAdvisor Marketplaces.

“I think we took ChannelAdvisor to another level when we integrated it with our internal systems”, Haines explained. “That means that our cost for processing each individual order is minimal because no human hand touches that order until it reaches the warehouse.” Normans has seen monumental growth since aligning with ChannelAdvisor, both in revenue and the scope that it’s now selling to — including a multitude of marketplaces both in and outside the UK. The future is looking very bright for the already highly successful partnership between Normans
and ChannelAdvisor.