For SMEs in the drums, trumpets and plectrums trade, Simon Cohen's name is music to their ears. A former session guitarist with Gene Pitney and founder of music equipment wholesaler DGC, Cohen expanded DGC into guvnor.com, an online shopping portal for Fender fans, keyboard exponents and the like. Individual dealers sign on to the portal, which allows consumers to search for products across all the members' stock lists.
'By designing and managing a site for them within guvnor, we give smaller dealers the exposure they need but can't normally afford,' says Cohen.
He has signed up nearly 60 dealers since the site launched 18 months ago.
The service is free to registered dealers, while others pay a service fee of pounds 25 per month. Guvnor hosts up to 20,000 different visitors a month and, although Cohen doesn't receive orders directly, he claims it is generating thousands of pounds in new business for dealers. 'We don't take a cut of the orders dealers take through guvnor because we benefit as a wholesaler by making dealers more successful.'
Guvnor.com has the potential for a membership list of 1,300. The general public can search for a product, find out who stocks it and consult a map online to check their location. More chat rooms are planned, and dealers' sites will be hosted through a retail management system. 'This is more than a portal,' insists Cohen. 'Portals are just a bunch of links. On guvnor, rival dealers are seen next to each other and customers can compare them more easily.'