9 Comments.

This is part two of our first installment of Ask The Readers (click here for part one), contributed by Matt Ruggieri of The Motley. I thought it’d be interesting to hear thoughts regarding this discussion from the perspective of a small business owner, and Matt is a perfect candidate. The Motley takes the customer’s online experience to heart, and I’m sure he’ll have some other thought-provoking questions to ask as well.

Can’t see The Motley Ships a Package? Click here to view.

Enter Matt

Like Barron, I’m an avid online shopper and that is one of the very reasons that I started up The Motley a year ago.  My goals were to provide the best customer service possible (there is no reason that a company shouldn’t be able to), product understanding and a no-hassle return policy.

Let’s face it – it is impossible to compete with a giant like Amazon or Walgreens.com, but providing a better experience for the same price is likely to shift the customers in our direction. We provide responsive customer service and fast order fulfillment – something that these giants are losing touch with.  Another thing that we pride ourselves on is our highly-curated selection with a growing knowledgebase.  It’s important that we carry the best products that we can get our hands on and offer the most information we can about them. Researching, finding revolutionary brands and establishing relationships stands for half of what we do.  It is impossible for the mass retailers to do what we do.

The most difficult part of e-commerce for us to compete with is shipping.  Shipping costs are increasing and those that ship out large quantities have much lower rates.  It is not feasible for a company of our size to offer entirely free shipping (we currently offer complimentary shipping on orders over $25).  However, when we do have to charge for shipping, we believe that it is reasonable to split the costs with the consumer.

Barron has some fantastic questions and I’d like to add a few for debate.

  1. How does shipping costs (versus convenience, which Barron pays for in Amazon Prime) play into purchasing from an online retailer?
  2. How does product and brand knowledge play into this process?
  3. When do you prefer to order from a mass outlet verses an independent retailer?
  4. Any products or brands that would be a killer add to The Motley?
  5. Lastly, feel free to share anything that you found extremely cool about a particular experience at an online retailer.

What say you?

We’d love to hear what you have to think. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and Matt and I will be sure to respond. Cmon now, don’t be shy.

(Don’t forget to follow The Motley and Effortless Gent on Twitter.)

PUBLISHED February 24, 2011


Barron is the Founding Editor of Effortless Gent and the Cladright Association. He's from San Francisco but currently living in New York. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr.



  • Albert

    It would be really cool if The Motley carried clothing and shoe care items, as well. I can see them selling some high-end Saphir shoe creams.

    • http://twitter.com/themotley The Motley

      Albert, shoe creams could be a fantastic idea for when we expand! We’re huge on fashion – as we believe that fashion and grooming go hand in hand, but the big guys might beat us out. Any other small items that you might find around one’s house that would be good on The Motley?

  • Man

    hey there

  • http://twitter.com/JohnBFair John Fair

    I really wish this comment would stick around.

  • John Fair

    I don’t expect free shipping from retailers, but certainly appreciate it. I tend to go big box stores (like Amazon) when I’m buying something expensive that I want to save a good amount of money on (such as electronics). If we’re talking smaller online retailer I fully understand paying for shipping. Profit margins are tiny, especially over the internet, and free shipping can kill any hope of profit for retailers.

    The one thing I am most appreciative for is free shipping on returns. I can get down with paying for shipping on the front side, but not the back. One of the hardest things to do is purchase clothing of any time sight unseen. Being an irregular size myself it means a lot to me for a retailer to cover the return shipping if I’m unsatisfied.

    I also tend to order more from brands that I know fit (Brooks Brothers, JCrew, Banana Republic, etc) when it comes to items like Pants/Jackets/Shirts. Since I own enough articles from each of the major retailers I know what does and doesn’t fit. However I still try new companies (such as Saboteur Man) that have a product I’m interested in. It’s at that point though that I look for a solid return policy just in case their articles don’t fit (which in the case of Saboteur they do not).

  • http://expressionsrealia.com Expressions Realia

    First off, this is a great article. I really like watching small businesses grow which is why I follow The Motley and a few others (like Fifth & Brannan). Here are my humble observations:

    How does shipping costs (versus convenience, which Barron pays for in Amazon Prime) play into purchasing from an online retailer?
    -As a huge online shopper myself, I’ve dealt with many types of shipping (even international) and I feel the better the shipping incentive (package deals or even FREE shipping on smaller items) the more likely I will make a purchase. I also work with shipping items and understand the various costs. If it’s something like $15 for an item that costs double that, I will pass. I think shipping costs should be relative to the item that is being purchased, or at least a reasonable flat rate..

    How does product and brand knowledge play into this process?
    -Brand knowledge? As in quality or rapport? I guess I can say simply that the brands I order from online have great shipping prices. That’s really a deal breaker for me no matter how great of an item. Perhaps people just love an item that they are willing to pay anything for it, and that may be true for larger brands with the hype built around them. But for smaller brands these incentives really pull you in in my opinion.

    When do you prefer to order from a mass outlet verses an independent retailer?
    -I’ll most likely order from either one, but I think the mentality of ordering from a mass outlet is the feeling guarantee. Of course everything goes by personal experiences, but the mindset that my item is readily available comes from the fact the company is massive and has a large following. It’s just the appearance of a large vs. small company I think. To me personally it doesn’t matter. If I see something and the price is right, and the brand looks promising, I will make the purchase regardless.

    Any products or brands that would be a killer add to The Motley?
    -I’ve wanted to make my first purchase with The Motley after seeing it’s debut post a while back on this site. I really love the idea of a shoe cream. Speaking as a younger guy the grooming products are important, but I do agree making a small break into the realm of fashion-care might really broaden the horizon.

    Lastly, feel free to share anything that you found extremely cool about a particular experience at an online retailer.
    -Although an overseas (UK) company, my first purchase with ASOS went fairly well. They have some nice, affordable clothing and they offer FREE shipping WORLDWIDE, with no minimum spend and that is quite commendable.

    All the best.
    Unyime

  • http://twitter.com/_uj Unyime Akpanudosen

    First off, this is a great article. I really like watching small businesses grow which is why I follow The Motley and a few others (like Fifth & Brannan). Here are my humble observations:

    How does shipping costs (versus convenience, which Barron pays for in Amazon Prime) play into purchasing from an online retailer?
    -As a huge online shopper myself, I’ve dealt with many types of shipping (even international) and I feel the better the shipping incentive (package deals or even FREE shipping on smaller items) the more likely I will make a purchase. I also work with shipping items and understand the various costs. If it’s something like $15 for an item that costs double that, I will pass. I think shipping costs should be relative to the item that is being purchased, or at least a reasonable flat rate..

    How does product and brand knowledge play into this process?
    -Brand knowledge? As in quality or rapport? I guess I can say simply that the brands I order from online have great shipping prices. That’s really a deal breaker for me no matter how great of an item. Perhaps people just love an item that they are willing to pay anything for it, and that may be true for larger brands with the hype built around them. But for smaller brands these incentives really pull you in in my opinion.

    When do you prefer to order from a mass outlet verses an independent retailer?
    -I’ll most likely order from either one, but I think the mentality of ordering from a mass outlet is the feeling guarantee. Of course everything goes by personal experiences, but the mindset that my item is readily available comes from the fact the company is massive and has a large following. It’s just the appearance of a large vs. small company I think. To me personally it doesn’t matter. If I see something and the price is right, and the brand looks promising, I will make the purchase regardless.

    Any products or brands that would be a killer add to The Motley?
    -I’ve wanted to make my first purchase with The Motley after seeing it’s debut post a while back on this site. I really love the idea of a shoe cream. Speaking as a younger guy the grooming products are important, but I do agree making a small break into the realm of fashion-care might really broaden the horizon.

    Lastly, feel free to share anything that you found extremely cool about a particular experience at an online retailer.
    -Although an overseas (UK) company, my first purchase with ASOS went fairly well. They have some nice, affordable clothing and they offer FREE shipping WORLDWIDE, with no minimum spend and that is quite commendable.

    All the best.
    Unyime
    expressionsrealia.com

  • http://twitter.com/_uj Unyime Akpanudosen

    First off, this is a great article. I really like watching small businesses grow which is why I follow The Motley and a few others (like Fifth & Brannan). Here are my humble observations:How does shipping costs (versus convenience, which Barron pays for in Amazon Prime) play into purchasing from an online retailer?-As a huge online shopper myself, I’ve dealt with many types of shipping (even international) and I feel the better the shipping incentive (package deals or even FREE shipping on smaller items) the more likely I will make a purchase. I also work with shipping items and understand the various costs. If it’s something like $15 for an item that costs double that, I will pass. I think shipping costs should be relative to the item that is being purchased, or at least a reasonable flat rate..How does product and brand knowledge play into this process?-Brand knowledge? As in quality or rapport? I guess I can say simply that the brands I order from online have great shipping prices. That’s really a deal breaker for me no matter how great of an item. Perhaps people just love an item that they are willing to pay anything for it, and that may be true for larger brands with the hype built around them. But for smaller brands these incentives really pull you in in my opinion.When do you prefer to order from a mass outlet verses an independent retailer?-I’ll most likely order from either one, but I think the mentality of ordering from a mass outlet is the feeling guarantee. Of course everything goes by personal experiences, but the mindset that my item is readily available comes from the fact the company is massive and has a large following. It’s just the appearance of a large vs. small company I think. To me personally it doesn’t matter. If I see something and the price is right, and the brand looks promising, I will make the purchase regardless.Any products or brands that would be a killer add to The Motley?-I’ve wanted to make my first purchase with The Motley after seeing it’s debut post a while back on this site. I really love the idea of a shoe cream. Speaking as a younger guy the grooming products are important, but I do agree making a small break into the realm of fashion-care might really broaden the horizon.Lastly, feel free to share anything that you found extremely cool about a particular experience at an online retailer.-Although an overseas (UK) company, my first purchase with ASOS went fairly well. They have some nice, affordable clothing and they offer FREE shipping WORLDWIDE, with no minimum spend and that is quite commendable.P.S. I agree with Mr. Fair about the return courtesy, although I do see the issue with small business profit margins. However, I don’t think the average consumer is thinking about that when purchasing. They just want the best deal they can find.All the best.Unyimeexpressionsrealia.com

  • http://twitter.com/themotley The Motley

    John, it is interesting that you bring up that you are willing to pay for shipping to you, but are really appreciative if they offer free return shipping. That is something that we have been considering because shopping for grooming products could be very similar to getting the wrong size (i.e. wrong skin type/hair styling product…). That is something that I’m interested in toying with in the future.

    Your input is fantastic.

    Regards,
    Matt