The award, for InStore's Stillorgan outlet in Dublin, reflected the ethos of the company's founder
Oliver Moloney, who believes that the customer is always king in retail.
Through the eyes of the customer"Seeing everything through the eyes of the customer is our strategy across every business decision we make. We take every available opportunity to ask our customers what we are doing right and what we are doing wrong," said Moloney.
InStore has a customer feedback section on its website. It stocks feedback forms in all of its shops and cafes and has a separate form for deliveries. "That information drives our decisions, whether about products or services," said Moloney.
The company uses social media like Facebook and Twitter to talk to customers and promote the brand.
Creative Campaigns"We try to do creative campaigns. On Valentine's Day, the first couple photographed in a particular bed in each of our shops got to take the bed home. That was run electronically, with no paper advertising. It worked as it got people talking," said Moloney.
Established in Limerick in 1988, InStore has since grown to include seven outlets; two each in Limerick and Cork and three more in Dublin, Galway and Waterford.
The company introduced in-store cafe/s in 2000 to sell refreshments and light snacks.
"People can come in and read the newspaper and then it is up to us to tempt them into purchasing a candle or maybe a sofa. Some companies with cafes outsource the service, but 80 per cent of our baking is done in-house," said Moloney.
DownsizingInStore has 106 staff, down from more than 150 in 2008.
"After downsizing, we had a lot of additional warehouse space so we set up a new company called InStorage. That is bringing in revenue without additional cost," said Moloney.
"We are now looking at retraining, refocusing and re-motivating the staff we have. We brought in motivational speaker Bo Baemer to talk to everyone in the company last month. We regularly organise after work events such as quad biking or social nights in a public house," said Moloney.
In a difficult market, Moloney believes that loyal customers are an invaluable asset. He expects the company to turn over in the region of E10 million this year.
Electronic Loyalty Points"We were the first electronic loyalty points system in the furniture sector in Ireland. We are not into having 'was' and 'now' prices, or sales that must end on Sunday and a new sale starts on Monday," he said.
Moloney also plans to set up standalone InStore cafes in Dublin and Cork.
"We believe we can replicate the food offering without the shop to back it up. The cafe walls will have interactive TVs showcasing our furniture and accessories," he said.