John’s blog

If You’re Not Paying For It, You’re The Product Being Sold

18 July, 2019

"If you're not paying for something, you're not the customer; you're the product being sold." This really speaks to my view of the world of social media and big tech companies. Here's why:

Family Business is Like Renovating vs New Build

26 June, 2019

The other week at Retail Global Gold Coast, I was speaking with my friend Jason Kencevski, who mentioned an analogy that I couldn't agree more with: A family business is like renovating vs a new build.

Sh*tbox Rally

07 May, 2019

I am very excited to take part in the Sh*tbox Rally tomorrow, travelling from Perth to Sydney via Uluru in a car worth under $1000 to raise money for charity.

No Challenge is Too Challenging For This Husband/Wife Delivery Team

20 February, 2019

The other day, another one of our legendary husband and wife driving teams set out for delivery, when they came across a roadblock. Read more to find out what they did next.

To All of Our Legendary Drivers and Installers

07 February, 2019

This summer has officially been the hottest summer on record, so I wanted to give a huge shout-out to our legendary drivers and installers.

Feel Good Friday

25 January, 2019

One of my favourite messages that we received this week wasn't from a customer's NPS review, but they have since become a customer because of something legendary that they saw one of our drivers do.

Feel Good Friday

18 January, 2019

Here are my top 4 favourite recent customer NPS reviews.

From Catalogs to Ecommerce Podcast

15 November, 2018

At Online Retailer 2018, I had great fireside chat with Pavan Bahl for his podcast, Fashion is Your Business. Listen here.

Should a bot be required to tell a human it’s a bot?

23 October, 2018

Artificial intelligence is getting smarter and stronger than ever before. This poses an interesting dilemma; should a bot be required to tell a human that it’s a bot?

Refining the reason why you do what you do

24 September, 2018

When launching Appliances Online 13 years ago from my father’s warehouse in Sydney, I was told no from a lot of people, including my own dad.

What's the value of a company branded t-shirt?

09 August, 2018

I recently read an article in Smart Company by Dominic Powell that really resonated with me about the value of branded t-shirts for startups. Now 13 years into the business, our t-shirts have become part of our culture. It is a visual symbol of what we stand for as a business, our values …

The Power of Customer Connection

09 August, 2018

I read a great article today by Jennifer Hewett in today's AFR about service being the future of shopping. Absolutely it is, but there are two parts to service that Australian retailers could do better; training staff and offering end-to-end …

The Best Thing For An Entrepreneur To Do... Is To Do

09 August, 2018

Entrepreneurship isn’t for the faint of heart. Deciding to finally act on that big decision that you’ve been thinking about for the past couple of years is a massive step. Is it worth the time, money and risk to start this really awesome new business idea that I have? Will it succeed?

Amazon's Arrival and the Future of Australian Retail

31 October, 2017

I recently spoke on the Amazon panel at Citi Bank’s 9th Annual Australia and New Zealand Investment conference with Ben Franzi, GM of eCommerce and International at Australia Post and Gavin Dennis, CFO of eBay Australia. We talked about what Amazon’s arrival means for …

Masters failure doesn’t come as a surprise, but what’s next?

25 August, 2016

Australian consumers already had a successful, established offering from Bunnings yet Masters failed to deliver a point of difference that appealed to the market.

Retail Winners and Losers – who will come out on top?

15 August, 2016

Over the last two years, one of our most iconic and longest standing department stores has been privatised, resulting in a South African retail group taking over the reins.

Apology note

17 April, 2015

This week we made the decision to end our partnership with Stencil (a third party social media agency who Appliances Online has used since 2013) after we discovered that they had been using content on Appliances Online’s Facebook page and not crediting the original source nor asking for permission.

Reflecting on 30 years

28 October, 2014

I wrote this blog whilst sitting on a plane from Sydney to Paris on my way to attend the Oracle World Retail Awards. The Winning Group were finalists in three out of the nine categories and Appliances Online won the award for Best Customer Experience for any retailer globally online or offline.

My 50 rules for life that I try and live by, put on paper for the first time

28 October, 2014

My 50 rules for life that I try and live by, put on paper for the first time

Street Talk

11 June, 2014

Well it has been an interesting day for me waking to many phone calls, emails and texts about an article that ran in today's paper.

Knowing your target audience

15 April, 2014

Whilst driving home this week an advertisement on the back of a bus caught my attention and not because of its smart positioning, but because it completely demonstrated the brand's lack of understanding of its target audience and relevance in today's world.

How to navigate the online retail obstacle course

11 February, 2014

With online retail sales continuing to rise at double-digit levels towards the end of 2013, there will be an abundance of growth opportunities for online retailers in 2014, if they can handle the pressure.

How to handle rapid online growth

02 October, 2013

Looking around at the industry it’s hard not to notice that many online retailers are currently facing a fork in the road moment due to achieving strong growth. How to handle growth on this scale is one of the biggest tests I’ve faced as a CEO.

Inspiration is at the heart of the new retail experience

20 August, 2013

There’s lots of “doom and gloom” retail stories floating around, and if retailers can’t see that they need to wake up, mix it up and start experimenting, they will be left behind to smell the roses.

Debunking 10 of the biggest retail myths

04 July, 2013

As we look ahead to a new financial year, it's important to shed some light on the retail myths that have been thrown about for the last 12 months and bring to the surface some retailing realities.

Recipes gone wild: finding Australia’s Best Home Chef

09 June, 2013

In June this year, we will host a live cooking competition to crown Australia’s Best Home Chef, the result of our newest brand and website.

Building your brand one customer at a time

15 May, 2013

"Advertising is the tax you pay for being unremarkable," said Geek Squad Founder Robert Stephens. This is a true and significant statement that really sets apart competitors in Australia's highly crowded retail market.

Changing the rules in an overcrowded retail market

11 April, 2013

It's tough to compete in the retail industry not just because consumers are watching every dollar they spend, but it's also a heavily crowded market, particularly in Australia.

A bank ahead of the rest: Why Virgin should take on the big banks

27 March, 2013

Banking is the biggest business opportunity. This statement seems a little far-reaching considering the big fours' stranglehold on the Australian market but like all service industries, if your competitor listens to your customers and acts on it more than you do, you could be facing a mass exodus.

Employee intentions - a true indicator of business success

12 March, 2013

People say you can judge a business by the way employees’ work when a boss or a manager is away. How management respect staff will impact how employees act and their level of respect for management. To gain respect employees and management must be engaged in a company’s values.

How to cook an innovative business

28 February, 2013

I recently had the pleasure of eating at one of the world's best restaurants, the Fat Duck. It was mesmerising – I was taken on a food journey like nothing I had ever experienced. It made me think that if one of the world's greatest chefs is a chemist, what type of people will change retail?

Dynamic selling: Five tips for selling anything

15 February, 2013

Coming from a family who's been in retail for over 100 years, I have several unique perspectives on sales.

Retailing now: respecting the consumer

22 January, 2013

The January sales period always leaves a lot to be desired in terms of how marketers attract consumers.

The business planning debate - what works for you?

02 January, 2013

Last night I caught a taxi home and had a thought-provoking chat with my driver. He was a 26 year-old single man from Bangladesh, who was in Australia completing his Masters in Computer Networking.

Convenience and experience; essential elements of bricks and mortar shopping

06 November, 2012

Traditional Australian retailers have had a tough couple of years, and if anything has a chance to revive the struggling industry, it’s Christmas.

The two-speed consumer shopping economy

25 October, 2012

Appliances Online reached a shopping milestone recently – becoming the first retail outlet to offer 24-hour Australian-based customer support, 365 days a year.

Flip the debate to realise opportunity

27 August, 2012

I’m bored of the sensational debate created by many traditional retailers and journalists where online is pitted against bricks and mortar retail.

5 business facts you don’t need a university degree to understand

01 August, 2012

Winning Appliances truck drivers taught me about customer service and going the extra mile to give customers and experience they don’t expect

Cheap Advertising

25 July, 2012

It is not always easy to differentiate yourself from others when you are selling the exact same item.

"Sorry, that's not my department"

04 July, 2012

On Saturday, while out shopping for a few supplies, two different consumer experiences were marred by the same lazy attitude and general disdain held by some staff towards their customers.

Five reasons we don't outsource our marketing

26 June, 2012

Last week, one of our search marketers received a call from an SEO company asking why we were only ranking 15th on Google for a low-volume term that actually didn't make grammatical sense.

High drama at Winning HQ

03 May, 2012

It's been 24-hours of high drama at the Appliances Online and Big Brown Box headquarters... with a fire breaking out in an underground substation between our two offices and 200 people being evacuated.

The great pricing debate

02 May, 2012

I was warned against purchasing Big Brown Box from Thorn Group, being told that the world of televisions, home entertainment systems and sound equipment was the place of a great pricing war, where once sound marketing strategies were being held hostage to diminished margins and loss-leading products

Winning Appliances: 106 years young

23 April, 2012

Early last week our development team put live a new Winning Appliances site with a few more bells and whistles than the old site which, I admit, was more than a little outdated.

How agency brands can hurt our customers' experience

15 March, 2012

As consumers become more inclined to voice disgruntled opinions on social media and other online forums, brands are left without a smokescreen or an excuse for poor customer service.

Going to great lengths for our customers

14 March, 2012

To indicate the kind of customer service standards we believe in I’ve detailed the liaison with a customer which occurred recently.

Pirates and planes: group buying surprises me twice

01 March, 2012

Just a few days after I hit out at daily deals, two of the most prominent group buying sites further exceeded my expectations of the industry in two very different ways.

Am I the only one that thinks group buying is a fad?

28 February, 2012

I'm going to come right out with it: I don't like the deals space, and I don't think it'll be around in the longterm.

Know your website so it's easy for customers

02 February, 2012

Creating a complete customer experience has always been a major factor in the success of the Winning Appliances brand since it was established more than 100 years ago.

We're one big family, and always getting bigger

02 February, 2012

With an ever expanding workforce, Appliances Online founder and CEO John Winning says it is important to remember to treat all staff like family.

Always determined to make a mark on the retail market

02 February, 2012

Appliances Online founder and CEO John Winning admits despite being born into retail he has remained committed to making his own mark on the industry.

Social media is the best tool to engage with your customers

02 February, 2012

Interacting with customers through social media is key to online retail success, according to Appliances Online founder and CEO John Winning.

A great customer experience is at the heart of everything we do

01 February, 2012

Ensuring a great customer experience remains "at the heart" of the retail plans set out by Appliances Online founder and CEO John Winning.

Affiliate marketing: who we work with and why

27 January, 2012

Affiliate marketing is an integral part of our marketing strategy, but it's often one that confuses customers and our suppliers. In short: affiliate marketing, for us, is where external sites refer customers to our site for a portion of the sale value (never more than 3%).

Hoff goes crazy for Appliances Online

25 January, 2012

In case you missed it, Vince Sorrenti and David Hasselhoff gave us an awesome wrap last week when we caught up with them.

Believe in your staff

06 January, 2012

The biggest asset of our business is our staff. Great ideas come from all staff members and I am always open to hear anyone's thoughts.

Why we don't stop for Christmas...

23 December, 2011

This Christmas I'm working... 10 Appliances Online and Big Brown Box employees, along with their partners or friends, are spending Christmas Day manning the customer support centre. We also have some suppliers dropping in for the occasion.

Children's Hospital Christmas with Appliances Online

16 December, 2011

This week, our team at Appliances Online volunteered at the Children's Hospital in Randwick.

Getting back on the water on Yandoo

09 December, 2011

I can thank my dad for pulling me out of the early sailing retirement when I'll return to sailing an 18" Skiff on Sydney Harbour this weekend.

Testing the murky water of traditional marketing

08 December, 2011

Appliances Online recently sashayed into more traditional marketing methods by conducting a simple two-month branding campaign on Sydney radio station 2GB.

Welcome online, Harveys

02 December, 2011

Harvey Norman bit the bullet and came online last month: "kicking and screaming", as some noted.

Nissan comp backfires

25 November, 2011

Nissan is in hot water after the 'BFF' (Best Friend Forever, they tell me) of a staffer managing its Facebook competiton won a $20,000 car, while a $1,250 voucher went to another personal friend.

Is being copied all that bad?

23 November, 2011

Six years ago when I launched Appliances Online, online retail was a different place - none of our current competitors were online, the Harvey Norman-Kogan clash was still some years away and most people thought that selling appliances online was crazy.

Why I’m keeping our $$ close to my chest, for now

21 November, 2011

Every week I receive an enquiry from an investment bank wanting to meet with me to discuss the retail landscape in Australia.

No beer today: what Coles Online should learn from their pricing error

15 November, 2011

Beer-lovers across the country, including some sneaky Appliances Online employees, thought they picked up the bargain of the summer last night: cases of Coopers and James Squire beer for $15 and $16 each, respectively, from Coles Online.

Appliances Online on Google+

14 November, 2011

Google+ launched pages for businesses last week and Appliances Online were quick to get on board with our own page.

The state of bricks and mortar retail in Australia

14 November, 2011

I couldn't agree more with this article in the Herald Sun 'Problem is service not their department'.

5 tips for online retail success

10 November, 2011

Last week I spoke at the Interactive Minds conference in Brisbane. In preparing this speech, I thought about what I would have loved to know when I was starting out six years ago.

Welcome to

10 November, 2011

This blog is a blackboard for ideas about launching and running online, and now offline, businesses. I’ll canvas and test ideas, share experiences and videos relevant to those interested in the retail industry, e-commerce and business in general.

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