Learn from the pros. Pick someone who is successful in your industry, whether you know them personally or not, and study their strategies and achievements.

 

Richard Birnbaum is a master of long experience in the retail world who knows where the sources lie, what folks want to buy, and where the deals are to be made. His latest venture, ShopWorn.com is an ecommerce site that proffers top-line luxury watches, jewelry, and accessories for a mere fraction of their retail costs. As Richard explains, “Our designer, brand-name items are designer display models that are not pre-owned, but have been gently handled within the store…they are shopworn.” Exactly how, and from whom, his company is able to acquire such ultimate brand name accessories for the discerning buyer is an innovative tale of resale and retail.

Previous enterprises in Richard’s colorful career include setting up trade deals with Soviet-nation-based clothing manufacturers which entailed transporting himself and goods through the iron curtain. With Eastman Kodak, he established a counter-trade, currency exchange system involving a trade triangle that sold camera film in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay, in exchange for clothing made within those nations. “It’s all a matter of finding the reliable source and a place of sale,” Birnbaum says modestly.

Where did the idea for ShopWorn come from?

It has been apparent for a while that there is a shift in the retail space and retailers are struggling as consumers buying habits move online. The luxury industry has faced particularly hard times amongst the digital age. In 2015, we identified the challenge in the luxury market as designer brands were having their reputations compromised by gray market websites selling their products as “new” at deeply discounted prices. There was a growing market for pre-owned and consignment luxury items with these websites raising a lot of capital.

The current challenges in the luxury retail industry led us to develop a niche of selling strictly “shopworn” items which resourcefully satisfied the brands, the struggling authorized retailers, and the consumer. ShopWorn was able to turn the concept into a brand by offering transparency in the sourcing strategy, and therefore, building trust among both brands and customers.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I like to get to the office early and start the day reading industry news and analyzing the previous days sales. As we add new inventory to the website daily, a big part of my day consists of corresponding with various vendors on purchasing opportunities. I also make a point to discuss with the marketing team which items and categories we should push in upcoming campaigns, whether it be through email, social media or third-party channels.

How do you bring ideas to life?

By being a good listener and thinking in solutions. It has to be a good deal for both sides or it will just be a one-time business deal.

What’s one trend that excites you?

Review-based customer purchasing. The Internet consumer is getting savvier and understands how to research a seller before completing an online transaction. Customer service is an integral and important part of our brand, and our excellent online reputation allows us to build trust with customers who are looking for comfort making their first purchase at ShopWorn.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

I’ll be dating myself if I say this, but I keep Post-Its of all my open tasks hanging above my desk. When I have a task to complete whether it be write an email or build a report, I write it down and stick it to the wall over my desk. When the task is completed, I throw out the note. Always knowing your open tasks is an essential part of ensuring productivity and efficiency.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Learn from the pros. Pick someone who is successful in your industry, whether you know them personally or not, and study their strategies and achievements.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

The best hobby in the world is going to work and loving your job. Every weekend, I can’t wait for Monday morning to come around to go back into the office.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Manage your aged inventory religiously. Your first loss is your best loss.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Customer satisfaction is everything. Seeing our reviews on websites like Trustpilot thrills us and pushes us to strive to be the best. If a negative review does come up, do everything in your power to rectify the situation and turn the negative into a positive.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

I’ve been an entrepreneur for over 30 years and have had many bumps along the way. Two of the biggest were:
1) Being too dependent on one supplier. It’s critical to have multiple vendors who can source inventory. At ShopWorn, we work with dozens of brands & authorized dealers.
2) Not having proper quality control of inventory. We’re now able to ensure most quality control through our sourcing strategy of buying high-end items (made in Switzerland, Germany, France, and Italy) direct from brands and authorized dealers. However, we also have a thorough inspection process of each item before we upload it to our website.

What is one idea for business that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

If you have a product or service you are in a position to source, and you have a customer ready to buy, then you have a business.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Economy Plus on United Airlines. Extra leg room goes a long way.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

JMAWEB allows us to auto sync orders and inventory across multiple platforms and freedom from data entry.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

The Source” by James Michener. After thousands of years, people are still just people.

What is your favorite quote?

You can’t be everything to everybody.

Key Learnings:

• If it’s not a good deal for both sides, it will just be a one-time business deal.
• Customer satisfaction is critical to building brand trust. If you receive negative feedback, do everything to turn the negative experience into a positive experience.
• Manage your aged inventory religiously. Your first loss is your best loss.
• If you have a product or service you are in a position to source, and you have a customer ready to buy, then you have a business.

Connect:

The ShopWorn on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TheShopWorn
The ShopWorn on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/TheShopWorn/
The ShopWorn on Twitter: https://twitter.com/TheShopWorn

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