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by | Jan 13, 2022 | Business, Featured Article

Bi-Rite Underwood standing tall despite the pandemic

Bi-Rite Home Appliances Underwood is a local retail store selling White Goods, TVs, Audio and Kitchen appliances for the family home.

They pride themselves on making sure their customers right appliances for a great price.

The below is an interview, conducted by email with owner Larry Waldron about how his team has adapted to recent global events.

  1. How has Bi-Rite Underwood been impacted by the pandemic?

This pandemic has brought us severe stock shortages. It’s completely changed the way we handle our day to day operations, affecting every facet of our work with the most obvious being cleaning, but we’ve also had to ensure we’re thinking as far ahead as possible in order to secure the stock our local community needs.

       2.  Have you experienced staffing shortages or loss of supply due to the pandemic?

When the pandemic started the demand on items we sold such as fridges, freezers, washing machines etc increased to an unprecedented level. This surge of sales created issues as our manufactures struggled to keep up with their orders, creating extensive delays. Manufacturers were pressured to increase their production despite their capacities being reduced as a result of the pandemic sweeping through every other country.  All this increased stock being produced and moved around the country has then created shipping delays. Traditionally we would be looking at delays of up to 4-6 weeks as a worst case and now we are finding delays up to 4+ months.

With the global switch to working-from-home, we found an increase of customers wanting to fix/update their appliances in the kitchen as they were now having to cook at home more as they were unable to dine out as much as our pre-pandemic lifestyles afforded. All of this added more pressure on manufacturers and shipping companies, creating a snowball effect of product shortages and delays.

On the bright side, though, my staff have been fantastic through this whole ordeal – we have focused on ensuring everyone in the store is safe and healthy as well as doing our best to do the same for our customers. With the risk of sickness being so much more than just a simple sniffle, we have had days where we have had to work short staffed. However, we all prefer to work a little short staffed somedays in order to ensure our co-workers have the chance to rest up, get better and be cleared of any sickness.

     3.How did you adapt to those changes?

With Stock being such a pressing issue here in the country – we increased our warehouse capacity and have been focusing on ordering forward ordering 4-6 months in advance.

With the increased warehouse space, it’s brought its own challenges, such as requiring more people on the team to ensure we can maintain our level of service to our customers

We have developed a website focusing on our local area. www.saveonappliances.com.au offers customers an opportunity to shop safely online, while supporting a local business, and they still receive the same quality service that we offer in store.

     4. Are you satisfied with where you are at as a business after the first two years of the pandemic?

We are very satisfied with where the business is. Frankly, having healthy staff and still being here after these two years is enough to be satisfied as far as I’m concerned. It’s been a huge bonus to us that we’ve been able to still provide exceptional customer service to our local community, and it’s brought us immensely closer to our community too. 

We are currently in a position that we have stock available for our customers through our forward planning to take the stress off our customers.

     5. What can your customers look forward to in 2022?

We will always be growing the online store as well as looking to bring in a varied range of products to give customers more options. 

We are hoping if things lighten up a little with the Covid pandemic that we can offer VIP sale nights to our customers with over and above deals. We’ve got loads of ideas to stay involved with our communities through event days carpark sales, sausage sizzles and product demonstrations. We want to empower our customers to fall in love with their kitchens. The possibilities are endless and this is because of the great support of all our customers, our local communities, and the fantastic staff we have.

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