How to excel at (online) commerce

The Roof Box Company show how to do clicks and mortar the right way. A personal journey that shows what good (online) retail should look like.

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The Roof Box Company Review Dissatisfied customers tend to shout about their poor experiences with a brand.

A happy customer tends to be much more humble and gets on with their life without making a fuss. I have always thought that this was a little unfair and we should celebrate epic customer service.

With this in mind, and an attempt to move away from the onslaught of ‘back to school’ photographs on Facebook (Tom – you missed that one out…), I wanted to share a recent experience and consider what it tells us about online retail.

The condensed story is as follows:

  • I bought a new car
  • I bought new roof bars (the old ones didn’t fit) from The Roof Box Company
  • The bars looked great but didn’t really work with my roof box (which ended up sitting on the roof of the car and made more noise than a harrier jump jet at takeoff)
  • I rang up The Roof Box Company to ask about possible alternatives
  • They offered to take back the first set (despite having been used) and replace with another set that should work with my particular roof box
  • My trip to Wales wasn’t accompanied by the roar of an ill-fitting roof box

A story with a happy ending, but there are a few bits that need expanding to really understand why the experience has been so positive.

Firstly, the initial buying experience is very good. Their site, whilst being quite busy (I am a big fan of ‘less is more’), is clear and they have got their information architecture (IA) right. If you are, like most, a lazy browser, you can simply browse products that are suitable for your car by using the vehicle selector:

Roof Box Selector

This will take you to a page where you can filter the type of product that you are looking for (e.g. roof box, roof bars, bike carriers, etc.) so that you end up with a product page filtered to only show products that are suitable for your car.

I liked the look of this particular set and the product page had lots of excellent content to help me choose – loads of product images, a video and a product description that has clearly been written by a knowledgeable salesperson with a passion for the roof bars. I duly ordered and opted for the next day delivery.

The next day came, but the delivery did not. A phone call was made and they were instantly responsive and looked up the order, which had been messed up by the courier and had been sent out on a 48hr delivery. Despite not being their fault, The Roof Box Company immediately refunded the delivery charge. The right thing to do, but the manner in which they did it showed that they cared more about their customers than an £8.50 delivery charge.

I don’t want to bore you with a description of my roof box, but the combination of that box and those roof bars just didn’t really work. The roof bars fit the car brilliantly and it is just a peculiarity of my roof box. I had run out of time as Norfolk beckoned, so I made do with it and just grimaced through the roar that it generated, but I knew that it wasn’t a great long term solution.

When I got back, I called the Roof Box Company for some advice.  I spoke to an exceptionally helpful salesman who listened to my story and went through the options. I was fully expecting to have to resort to ebay for the the first pair of bars as they had been used, but they volunteered to take them back on the basis that I didn’t have the right solution.

There was absolutely no obligation for them to offer this exchange – it was not their fault and I had used the roof bars. For me, this demonstrates a refreshing desire to really care about your customers and ensure that they end up with the best possible product / service.

What has this got to do with SEO?

They rank well for roof box related searches and deserve to. The have earned the right to do so.

Modern SEO is all about authority and I believe that they absolutely deserve to be THE authority in the roof box world (how glamorous does that sound?!). Their site is rich in content and they add real value to the decision making / buying process.

Modern SEO is also about building a brand. That doesn’t happen overnight and requires continued focus. It should happen both on and offline.

Clicks and Mortar

I would imagine that accounts for the vast majority of their business and that many of their customers see them purely as a website, but my deeper involvement with the business (via the phone) reminded me just how critical the ‘clicks and mortar’ approach is to modern retail.

Their online and offline process are seamlessly matched and the product knowledge and passion both on the site and on the phone is really evident. This is no fly-by-night online retailer out for quick profit, there is a genuine desire to give an outstanding service to their customers.

They feel, and are, very real and this does wonders to boost your confidence in buying from them online.

So, thank you The Roof Box Company for a stellar service and for reminding us that successful online retail is built on a foundation at being excellent at retail full stop. Know your products, care about your customers, use your website as a 24/7 shop front but back it up with real people who want to help.


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