11th June, 2015
Twin Towns Resort, Tweed Heads

The latest SBIA Roundtable conference was held on the Gold Coast on June 11, prior to the Surf Industry Awards. There were 75 people in attendance, a good mix of brand representatives and retailers. The round table featured a presentation of the results of the service agreement survey, a panel discussion and a facilitated workshop on improving the customer experience.

Panel Discussion

Clint Fraser from Davidsons led the panel discussion. Customer service is the theme that continually raises its head in surveys and discussions, and most of the points made concerned the importance of knowledgeable and engaging staff. Below is the summary of the key points.

Mark Hudson – Dragon: The biggest challenge was pinpointing who their target market was. Have utilised online training and didn’t find it engaging or effective.

Paul Burdekin – Billabong: When customers are in the store what are they experiencing. Knowledgeable staff. How do we engage with consumers when they walk into the store.

Victor Tilley – Red Herring Surf: Obtaining & retaining key staff. It is critical to get staff that are in there for long term. Online platforms work well & staff are motivated to utilise this training. Victor has a manual in place for inductions for new staff & believes role play is vital.

Justin Bellwood – Aquatique: Basic retail concepts. Getting staff to understand that they are part of the bigger picture & getting them to care about the results.

Damien Cheney – Sense Advertising: Focussing on the customers wants by meeting face to face with customers one on one to get detail of what their exacts wants/needs are. The customer journey – from walking into the store, making a purchase and walking out & using social media to talk about it. Google places, mobile friendly and other basic digital footprints need to be in line.

Steve Key – Rip Curl: First impressions such as lighting, fit out & an exciting experience. Face to face training is the most effective form of training, however online training is vital to get product information across.


The attendees of the roundtable meeting were split into 7 groups with each group being allocated a focus topic on “Improving the Customer Experience”. Each group were asked to brainstorm their focus topic and the most important points on this topic.

The 7 focus topics were;

  1. Staff customer/relationship & sales skills
  2. Right product & brand mix
  3. Staff product knowledge
  4. Shop fit
  5. Digital & social media
  6. Creating engagement
  7. Customer loyalty & retention

The most important points for the 7 focus topics generated by each group were;

Staff customer/relationship & sales skills

  • Excellent product knowledge
  • Patience, empathy & the ability to listen
  • Staff having social awareness
  • Being active

Right product & brand mix

  • Defining customer
  • Go deeper for that customer
  • Sell through reports & telling a story
  • Bringing the brand to life

Staff product knowledge

  • Training night attendance
  • Joint training nights
  • Take ownership to the store manager, be at training & use the language right down

Shop fit

  • Need to develop a plan for design in store
  • The right ambience
  • Tapping into the customers senses
  • Merchandise – fresh & flexible

Digital & social media

  • “Google places”
  • Content that promotes store culture
  • Utilising b2b
  • Building a digital community

Creating engagement

  • Additional value to the customer – be comfortable for the customer to stay
  • Does the store have what they expect
  • Knowledge of the customer
  • Culture of the staff & selling it.

Customer loyalty & retention

  • Quality of product
  • Fix problems to exceed service standards
  • Unique repeat experience – such as coffee shops
  • Experience money can’t buy