What I want to know is, why do so many retailers act as if they are in a witness protection program when it comes to showing their face on their store’s web site? We know that successful independent retailing is all about forming personal relationships, so it stands to reason that you need to let customers know who you are. 

 This is as true on the Internet as it is in “real store” retailing.  Customers like to buy from someone they know, which is why our Buy Local campaign here in Madison, Wisconsin uses the slogan Friendly Faces, Neighborhood Places on its posters.   It is also the reason that many corporate businesses create an imaginary friendly face, such as Betty Crocker.


Although Bill Snyder’s portrait on the William Glen web site is every bit as artistic as the Betty Crocker image on a box of cake mix, he is very much a real person. Shoppers for some 40 years have been greeted by his friendly face at the renowned gift, tabletop and gourmet shop called William Glen in Sacramento, California.


The store has recently revamped its web presence, and the new site features Bill’s World on almost every page.  For those who can’t come into the store to be greeted by Bill, these vignettes feature his recommendations for new products and other bits of information presented in a very personal manner.  Retailing is all about the personal touch, after all.


Incidentally, for many years William Glen produced a wonderful gourmet catalogue for a group of stores that included our shop, Orange Tree Imports.  Every year we were able to customize our inside front cover with a portrait of our growing family.  This picture was the most popular part of the catalogue for many of our customers, and it gave them the feeling that they really knew us.  We owe Bill, and his retired partner Glen, many thanks for showing us early on that customers like to shop at a store — or web site — where they know the people who own it. 


Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder