Second to None

2nds World

Everyone knows that at 2nds World, a tiny ding means huge savings – but not every 2nds World product has a tiny ding. “I always say that the worst thing that can happen at 2nds World is that you buy a brand new fridge at the best possible price,” says Managing Director and owner Peter Hammerman.

Savings at 2nds World start at a minimum of 20 per cent and go up to 50 per cent – and sometimes higher – off the recommended retail price. How do customers know exactly what they are buying and why they are saving so much money? “It’s very simple. Every product that we sell has a particular colour-coded sticker on it.” These colour-coded stickers are part of a unique grading or “saving system” developed by 2nds World to make spotting a bargain easy for customers.

The retail industry, and in particular the way that consumers shop, may have changed dramatically since Mr Hammerman bought the first 2nds World store, but the company’s success proves that friendly customer service and bargain prices never go out of style.

It may surprise some to know that Mr Hammerman has a background in fashion and furs, previously working as a patternmaker and designer. “I studied in Denmark, London and New York,” he recalls. “I had my own family business and we were in business for a long time. We also had an exclusive licence to sell Christian Dior furs in Australia at that time. Of course, I didn’t design those; they came from France. I used to work with Carla Zampatti, Trent Nathan, Brian Rochford and other well known Australian labels.” Although the multi-award winning business had a ten page spread in Vogue at one stage, Mr Hammerman had to shut the doors in 1989 due to mounting pressure from the anti-fur movement and changing consumer attitudes. “I thought that I needed to look for a business that was not seasonal and emotional. After a long search and doing other various little things in 1994, I bought a small business called 2nds World.”

The 200 square metre shop in Cremorne was part of an office building which Mr Hammerman now owns and mainly sold second hand fridges and factory second appliances. “It was the concept that I liked,” he says. “It was the idea of saving money on household appliances that had a nice little ring to it. I saw that it was a niche in the marketplace.”

Today, the first 2nds World store is still open for business along with four more stores in Auburn, Caringbah, Castle Hill and Penrith, plus a thriving online presence. 2nds World stocks a wide range of household appliances from ovens, fridges, and freezers to televisions, air conditioners, and vacuum cleaners from famous brands including Samsung, Fisher & Paykel, ILVE, Bosch, Electrolux, Westinghouse, Chef, Simpson, Dishlex, Whirlpool and Panasonic.

The latest product features like voice, eye, and fingerprint recognition that were previously space age technologies are gradually becoming integrated with everyday household appliances. “I think that keeping up with the technological advances that are occurring is probably the most challenging part for the brands we carry because the development across the board is amazing,” comments Mr Hammerman. In a crowded marketplace where customer loyalty is largely a thing of the past, 2nds World is rarely beaten on the price of factory seconds. “With our fridges, washing machines, and dishwashers, if it’s a factory second or a run out model, we cannot be beaten on price.”

Shopping at 2nds World in-store or online is a fuss-free experience – just look for the coloured stickers and get ready to save. “If it’s got a yellow sticker, the product has a little scratch or dent on it, “Mr Hammerman explains. “If it has a pink sticker, it’s a carton damaged product so the box has got water damage or it’s torn. A blue sticker means that it’s a superseded product, or a new run out.” In fact, blue stickers are frequently put on new TVs at 2nds World. “All the manufacturers try to outdo each other and bring out a newer, greater, smarter TV and so after three or four months there’s always a certain number of TV’s that haven’t been sold and we get those.” Usually all that has been updated with the newer models is one minor feature or the stand. Next are the orange stickers that identify factory refurbished stock. “This sticker identifies that the product has been delivered to somebody, it has had a minor fault and been sent back to the manufacturer to be repaired. We don’t take it from the manufacturer unless it comes with their full warranty; that’s very important.” Demonstration models also carry orange stickers. “Last but not least there’s the green sticker identifying our premium or brand new products.”

Along with fantastic savings, 2nds World prioritises friendly, efficient customer service. While some people like the convenience of shopping online for appliances in the comfort of their own home, some still prefer chatting to a salesperson and opening the door of an oven or fridge to look inside. “We’ve got fantastic staff, there’s no question,” comments Mr Hammerman. “I would say that 50 per cent of my staff have been with me for over eight or nine years and some of them have been with me for 15 years. You’ve got to treat people as you want to be treated yourself and I know every staff member that works for me by name. I know what they do and where they come from.” 2nds World has 140 employees plus subcontractors for installation and deliveries from 32 different nationalities. “We’re a united nations here and everybody gets along well. They are the face of the business; it’s a lovely work atmosphere and we mix socially. I respect them and they respect me which I appreciate very much.”

While the advent of big-box retailers may have been a game changer in the past, online retail and smartphones have also had a huge impact on the way that people shop for appliances. In the past, if customers wanted to compare prices they had to either find a pay phone or wait until they returned home to make a few calls. Today, customers can compare prices and make calls without even walking out of the store. “I think that the advent of online shopping has been the biggest change to have occurred with retail during my lifetime and I find it very exciting,” remarks Mr Hammerman. “I love shopping online and I think the whole process is so interesting.” 2nds World was one of the first appliance retailers to develop a mobile friendly website. “It’s now, I would say without question, the heart of our business. Unless your company website is up to date and easy to navigate, you’ll struggle.” 2nds World has also developed an online community via Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and YouTube to create an open dialogue with customers and keep them up to date with the latest deals, promotions and competitions.

Along with an online store, 2nd’s World has a commercial division called Appliance Solutions Direct, a one-stop shop for real estate agents and small developers. If an oven fails on a tenant for instance, all the agent has to do is order a factory second, carton damaged, or brand new oven from Appliance Solutions Direct. Depending on the property owner’s wishes, the whole job from delivery to installation, will be taken care of that same day or as soon as possible. The fully licensed installers will even remove the old appliance. Appliance Solutions Direct is a “hassle-free service” that can equip 30 to 40 unit apartment blocks with ovens, cooktops, rangehoods and dishwashers making it perfect for small developers.

2nd’s World has stayed true to its founding concept of offering bargain prices on factory second appliances but the business has grown and diversified in a multitude of ways. Mr Hammerman has plans to open more 2nds World stores further down the track. “From a strategic point of view the Central Coast is somewhere we need to be along with Campbelltown. While there is plenty of room for expansion, opening a store is an expensive operation. “Each store carries about $1.5 million worth of stock and then it costs another million on top of that to fit out and advertise so it’s an investment of $2.5 million every time you open a store. You can imagine that I don’t take these things lightly.” Gosford, Erina, and Newcastle are all likely locations for future stores but since 2013 was a tough year for retail, these plans have been put on hold. Instead, the focus will be on renovating the Auburn 2nds World store being one of the older stores.

On the 2nd of August this year, 2nd’s World will be celebrating 20 years in business with a massive party. It has been a long journey for Mr Hammerman since he put away the sewing machine and bought his first 2nd’s World store. He has already started writing a book aptly titled ‘From Furs to Fridges’. From market research, Mr Hammerman can see that a number of consumers refuse to shop at 2nd’s World because they don’t want to buy anything with a tiny ding on it which is unfortunate. But he says simply, “Put us on your shopping list. Most of our products are brand new and everything comes with a supplier warranty… we won’t buy anything from any manufacturer that won’t offer a full warranty with their product.” At 2nds World, a shopping trip means a positive experience in getting the best possible price on a quality product.

For more information about 2nds World, please visit http://www.2ndsworld.com.au.

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