From Bricks to Clicks: Former Wesley Owen/Living Oasis Liverpool Manager Anna Bunn takes on a new role as Eden’s Online Store Manager

MY THANKS to Gareth Mulholland, MD of Eden Interactive, for providing this interview with Anna Bunn, one of Eden’s newest team members; and, of course, congratulations and best wishes to Anna in her new role.

Gareth writes:

EDEN.CO.UK was launched in July 2004 when a number of our team began figuring out out how to use our design & software know-how to provide access to Christian books and other resources online.

Last week, we celebrated a milestone in our short history as five new friends joined the team taking the total number of people working in the business to over 30. They’ve filled key positions in our digital marketing team and bring experience from businesses including Bing and Waitrose which is already starting to positively impact how we compete with our biggest competitor, Amazon.

Anna Bunn in the Eden Office

Anna in the Eden Office

I’m delighted that one of these roles has been taken on by Anna Bunn, former Branch Manager at Wesley Owen in Liverpool. As she makes the leap from ‘bricks to clicks’ we thought it might be good to share her story and some observations after her first week at Eden. So, over to Anna…

Introductions

Well before anyone asks yes, I am Steve Bunn’s daughter and no, you aren’t the first person to make that connection. Having grown up in the Christian trade from a young age – beginning my working career in the STL warehouse picking and packing books after school – I am aware that my surname normally precedes me!

But I also have my own experience of the trade. My story begins with a move to Liverpool to start my degree in 2004 in English Language and Literature. Ever since then I have grown more and more attached to Liverpool, its people and subsequently the Church. So when I returned from my world trip I moved back to Liverpool in 2008 to start working at my local Christian bookshop Wesley Owen. I got to experience the highs of connecting Christians with quality resources. Not only was the purpose of the store to sell product but also to be there to speak to people and engage with them. This came with its own challenges but more often than not real encouragement to see God working in the Church of Liverpool. Throughout this time I was gaining a broad knowledge of product and trying to find ways in which to promote it in store. In the summer of 2009 I was appointed Branch Manager and from there took the helm and tried to find ways to really connect with the customers and give them a personal experience they couldn’t get anywhere else.

But as many of you will know later in the year Wesley Owen went into administration. Our store closed at the end of 2009 and reopened as Living Oasis in March 2010. The plans were big and the vision was huge. But after many months of planning, the store never reopened.

After a few months of other jobs – from selling £500 watches to opening a new charity shop, I am excited to join the team at Eden.co.uk to begin this new chapter.

What is your role at Eden.co.uk?

My official job title is Online Store Manager – this effectively means ‘Branch Manager’ of the site. I’ve joined the marketing team run by Jo Pountney, and I can’t wait to get my teeth into this new role. I’ll be spending time managing the stock, meeting with suppliers, focusing on product and making sure Eden has the best deals, promotions and information to give customers a unique online experience.

It’s great to get up to speed on new products, up and coming authors/bands and to learn the ways in which having a much larger customer base allows the opportunity to promote product in ways I was never able to do before.

Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot to learn but I’m looking forward to taking my stock knowledge and understanding customer needs to apply to a new skill set as part of Eden. It’s great to get up to speed on new products, up and coming authors/bands and to learn the ways in which having a much larger customer base allows the opportunity to promote product in ways I was never able to do before.

Rather than being given the promotions or having little input into stock choice the chance to plan and prepare promotions is going to be a challenge but with the team support and stock knowledge I’m looking forward seeing it through from start to finish.

How will Eden be a better place?

I bring to the table my experience of selling Christian resources, identifying customer needs and working with suppliers. The need and want for Christian product is thriving, to be involved with fulfilling this need to give the customer exactly what they want, in the way that they want to buy it, is one of the main reasons I wanted to be a part of this team.

Having worked with different reps for a diverse range of suppliers, choosing new product and hearing about their offers and promotions was always a highlight. Now I look forward to developing relationships on a wider and larger scale to promote and get people excited by Christian resources from all areas of the Church.

Week One nearly over – how have you found it, what are your highlights?

I have loved being in an office environment – completely different to what I have done before but it is so refreshing to be working in a team with so many skilled and friendly people.

So far I’ve enjoyed getting my head around the product range combined with learning the different ways in which product and information can be used to give the customer what they want. It’s exciting to be part of such an innovative and supportive team of people who really know their stuff!

What impresses me most about Eden is their desire to help the customer to find the exact product that they are looking for…

What impresses me most about Eden is their desire to help the customer to find the exact product that they are looking for – which is something I thought would be a struggle for an online store. But I was wrong; Eden is about giving the customer what they want with a unique and personal service. It’s a real team effort from the technical to the content to the delivery, each works together to make sure the site is one people want to return to. This is not just about a click and go experience – Eden is so much more.

A box of fresh fruit delivered into the office each Monday morning and the lunchtime game of Uno has been a welcoming atmosphere to join – and I’ve even managed to win a game!

So tell us, what’s your favourite Bible translation?

For personal reading I prefer the NLT but if I were doing more in-depth study I would use the ESV.

Do you have a favourite Bible?

My small and trusty NIV pocket Bible has been round the world with me, most used when I had the most amazing experience teaching in a school in Thailand – on my own, facing complete sensory overload, I was down on my knees seeking wisdom and help for what was to become one of most memorable times of my life. From being read on Thai beaches to opening the Word up in an Australian church, this Bible is a lasting memory of God’s journey with me around the world – one I will never forget.

Least favourite worship song?

It has to be ‘Shine Jesus Shine’ – no question; some things should have been left in the 80s!

Musical tastes?

My mood normally dictates my choice so sometimes it’s just about turning it up really loud to lose yourself in the music.

My music taste is pretty eclectic, acoustic to hip hop, Brooke Fraser to Mumford and Sons, Damien Rice to Lauren Hill – my mood normally dictates my choice so sometimes it’s just about turning it up really loud to lose yourself in the music.

Favourite biscuit?

Definitely milk chocolate caramel digestives – have to be straight out the fridge with a cup of tea, solves many a problem – that coupled with love of staged reality TV – yes I am unashamed to admit I ♥ Made in Chelsea!


Disclosure Notice
The links to eden.co.uk in this post are affiliate links: any purchases made via these links will generate a commission that supports the development and maintenance of UKCBD, the UK Christian Bookshops Directory.
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17 thoughts on “From Bricks to Clicks: Former Wesley Owen/Living Oasis Liverpool Manager Anna Bunn takes on a new role as Eden’s Online Store Manager

  1. Well done to Anna.
    I subscribe to Eden.co.uk and love their site, especially their sales!
    Great interview.
    Nice to see that Anna does not just use one version of the Bible, but uses at least three, and I loved her answer to the least favourite worship song.

  2. Phil, It’s great to hear about Anna, as I know her father well, and I would add my congratulations. However, I would ask why you are promoting a company which is one of the biggest competitors to Christian bookshops. It is not a Christian bookshop, and it’s description at Company House is “Retail sale via mail order houses or via Internet”. This is another reason for it not to qualify to appear on a Christian bookshops blog, and I hope it does not occur again.

    • Sorry, Paul, you may not like it but online booksellers have just as much a right to exist as any other: they are as much a part of the UK’s retail landscape as physical shops. For many people today the internet is the high street and Eden, ChristianBits, Wesley Owen and the other online sellers are their local Christian bookshop.

      And in simple practical terms, it’s largely thanks to Eden’s affilate links that UKCBD and this blog exist: it only brings in a few pence per day, typically working out at around £5 per month, but alongside a trickle of income from Google adsense advertising, it’s enough to cover my running costs; and it’s more than I receive from all the bricks & mortar bookshops put together…

  3. I’m afraid we really have to wake up to reality as unpalatable as that may be. As much as I love and support the future of the Bookshop, I also accept that the future involves lots more digital and an ever present Internet. We have to face the fact that many consumers have migrated online due to (1) lack of time and (2) often inadequate stock availability instore. Here’s why I support the development of Eden – I believe a strong Eden is actually an ally of High Street retail in a way that is the exact opposite of Amazon.

    Amazon is out to eat everyone’s lunch – Eden has already demonstrated its heart for the wider trade. In my view, we all have to decide just how long we can continue to support such a predatory monopoly – Amazon – which uses books purely as loss-leaders. Surely better to point potential customers to Eden than to Amazon, I think. Better still if they will use the our shops!

  4. I do have to agree that online shops are as much a fact as B&M, I’ve often advocated that there is potential for both to serve in diverse and inclusive ways, and so long as it’s a real retailer as opposed to the publisher etailer I’ll always be more supportive 😉

    I do have to admit that I would prefer that etailers didn’t keep loss leading and undervaluing product, though I can understand it has now become the ‘culture’ and so little likely to change.

    I can emote with Paul though on one level, competing with the price undercutting so prevalent with etailing is hard work and disheartening, and my only concern with Eddie’s proposition is that it’s very easy for local customers to justify using what they often wrongly perceive as the cheaper option of buying online instead of contacting their local shop by using the reasoning that it’s ok because they are using a christian business so it’s all to the good.

    Also can I just say it’s a misnomer to say that online shops like eden etc are necessarily ‘better stocked’ than the B&M shop. In many cases they hold no more stock than a ‘real’ shop and simply have agreements with various wholesalers/distributors/publishers to get the goods sent on swiftly either to them or directly to the customer – something pretty much any shop can arrange to have done/do these days, and most shops have as much choice available for our customers as they do – there’s not really a book in print I can’t get for a customer and I do a rip-roaring trade in getting out of print books for them too – and yes often they have it within 24/48 hours and I can even have it sent direct to them if they don’t want to come back into town to get it!

    The truth is it’s an education thing on both sides of the fence – we need to educate people that going local is always best for local communities and that the presupposition of online being cheaper is often incorrect and many times we can price match.
    We also need to realise and educate ourselves that online is not the enemy, (and if it is then again we need to educate it away and make it an ally or tool we use).

    No one makes folk buy online, it’s a choice they make so we have to either educate them to make other choices or get on board with the action in some way.

    Amazon are a monopoly, yes, but Eddie the truth also is, I’m afraid to say, that they are also a marketplace for other sellers too (including eden_co_uk_bookshop) and do offer many tools for an indie bookseller that sadly can’t always be ignored – especially when one considers all that they now own such as Bookdepository, Abebooks etc as well as Amazon’s offering itself.

    The one thing I am convinced of is that Gareth and all at Eden don’t intend to be the multiheaded beast that Amazon has become
    – but to be fair there’s always the possibility, Amazon wasn’t always what it is now after all! ;D
    – However I’m hoping that in time Gareth and others might perhaps find ways to work more in tandem with local shops, perhaps through affilliate schemes, maybe an E-Shop offer at some level, or perhaps a holyhive at some point.

    Others like 10ofthose are already doing some such in limited ways and really demonstrating a strong commitment to B&M booksellers by making offers out to them directly.

    I do believe there is a place for all of us still and that it’s time we stopped seeing each other as enemies and started working together where we can, but to be fair it is a two way street and we need to have and show mutual respect and not start empire building (or warring) that in turn destroys real kingdom and community building.

    But thems just my thoughts, so take them for what they’re worth 😉

    • Eden do offer an affiliate scheme: http://www.christianbookshops.org, the UKCBD online shop, is one example of that scheme in action. I don’t tend to promote it other than a mention here and there on the main site because my primary aim is direct people to their nearest b&m shop; but it provides a valuable service for many who no longer have a local shop … and, as I’ve said above, helps generate the income that enables me to run the directory.

  5. Lol Steve – so that’s like father, like daughter then on another front ;D

    Phil, I acknowledge that Eden do offer affilliate schemes and store fronts as it were, sorry not my intent to infer they don’t rather I was trying to suggest that I hope more direct ties can be made perhaps. Let me be clear that I find no fault with this, them or you in relation to affilliate selling etc 😀

    However I would like to point out, and hope you don’t mind, that there are some of us B&M shops out here that do also contribute to the income for running the directory and consider it money well spent too 🙂
    (I would also encourage other B&M sites to consider if you can’t find a few pennies to throw at sites that work hard to support your work and advertise you and provide services such as Phil’s UKCBD & others like http://www.thegoodbookstall.org.uk).

    I would again though like to point out that 10ofthose also offer an affilliate scheme, I don’t know about WO or Christianbits or the others out there though as I haven’t gone and looked or had a leaflet from them at any point.

    Now, don’t get me wrong I’m not in any way knocking Eden, Gareth and gang do a fantastic job and rightly deserve praise and acknowledgement for their works and achievements, but just as there isn’t just one B&M shop out here, or wholesaler/distributor or publisher/producer come to that, we shouldn’t overlook that there are more than one commited Christian online retailers out here either too.
    Especially if we want to avoid the lessons of monopolies, large chains and growth, and putting all our eggs in one basket- wherever that basket may be and whatever shape it may take.

    Aren’t we called to be a community, supporting one another in all our rich diversity, and as equitably as we can?
    – but thems just my thoughts, so take from it what you will as it stands as good a chance of being wrong as right 😀

  6. Phil,
    10ofthose also offer the same storefront set up.
    Here’s their affilliates page: http://www.10ofthose.com/affiliates/

    Like I say I’m not dissing Eden, I’m a firm admirer of them.
    However lets be even handed here – I think it’s really important that we support all the UK Christian Bookshops as best we can and in the case of online ones which serve the whole country that we not put one before the other necessarily.

    Doesn’t matter to me if it’s an online bookshop or a B&M so long as they are genuine sole retailing based Christian Bookshops we should be supporting them, first locally and then nationally.

    • Agree wholeheartedly; and if 10ofthose or any other Christian retailer want to send me their news, I’ll gladly run those stories.

      Time to get proactive, people: don’t just leave it for me and others to stumble across your stories — shout ’em out! Don’t wait to be in the headlines: make them!

  7. Using Melanie’s link above it appears that 10ofthose is offering partnership to churches and organistions not shops. If I am correct this means that again customers are being diverted away from B & M.

    • John, 10ofthose just like Eden and Amazon are offering Partnership to anyone as want’s to take them up on it – that includes shops just like mine & yours.
      The truth is many B&M shops offer physical bookstalls to churches – often churches not in our actual towns but further afield etc, that’s not really any different than what these online shops are doing when they offer the facility of a partnershop or affilliate scheme.
      The choice is ours as to whether we in turn act pro-actively and make use of these schemes for our own benefit, and also as to whether we then offer something onto churches/organisations that can either also act in tandem with these online offerings or come up with something that makes our offering to them a better deal.
      We can be more pro-active and imaginative with our bookstalls and outreach but how many of us really are though?
      Aren’t we all a little guilty here of being like the workers that complained that the workers that came later to the job were paid the same wage as them?
      Better instead to light one candle than curse the darkness – let’s look at what we can do instead of moaning about what they are doing all the time – what’s really stopping us from doing the same sort of things that they are doing except in some cases ourselves?
      Yes when talking about Amazon or a publishershop/site we are talking about a different scale altogether, but when talking about 10ofthose or even Eden, then the field is a little different and not quite as uneven and there are options and opportunites we can use and take up and go forward with.

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