Online shopping is the 21st century internet equivalent of the microwave meal: quick, convenient and fuss-free. Of course, it can never replace the real 'day out with the girls' shopping experience, but is there not also a new-found thrill in the suspense of hearing the mail drop through your letter box and hoping that your Amazon/eBay/Topshop order has arrived? But that's just the thing: you click a button on your computer screen at home, and then a few days later it drops through your mailbox... What happens in between?You might find you've never actually thought about it. Personally, no matter what I'm ordering I always envisage a huge factory-style warehouse; what with the automated 'dear customer' e-mails and the standardised invoice and packaging. However, in a discussion of this very topic in the Scaramanga office the other day, we all agreed that we really have no idea where our products are coming from - it might well be a huge warehouse; but it might equally be a smaller scale cosy office or even a one-man business run from the spare room of their house. So, in order to unveil some of the mystique of the Scaramanga office and online shopping, I sat down over lunch one day last week to interview Katiuscia Alfano, full time employee and office chameleon... Hannah: Let's start from the beginning - how did you come to get your job with Scaramanga? Katiuscia: I knew the owner of Scaramanga from our local village and had seen his family around; he asked me if I'd like some extra work and I've been here ever since! It's been the best decision I've ever made - it's a great job with great variety and it's brought me many opportunities. H: Carl
Tush modelling for Scaramanga.As for the video, this was a fairly recent development - I've only just finished making and editing a film about our bags for Scaramanga which will be going on YouTube shortly, so make sure you check it out. I gained an HNC in television at college and I was glad and surprised that I could use these skills here. I'm hoping to continue this further to make some more videos for the website to show our bags more clearly and bring some fun to the website. H: Back on the administration side of things in the office, I know you have also recently begun a Modern Apprenticeship with Scaramanga - what does this involve and how does it benefit you? K: The modern apprentice will be very useful in helping the business and improving my skills. I will achieve admin in a level similar to an HNC which is great for my CV and will help me loads in this job. It will help others as I can teach them what I've learnt; and it will also help the staff in the office as we can manage and change systems to make sure our products are perfect for our customers. Finally, it will ensure that everyone deals with customers correctly and politely so that they get the best customer care available and an enjoyable experience of online shopping. H: You evidently get to do a bit of everything within the job and try a wide variety of new things - do you enjoy working for Scaramanga and working in this way, rather than having a specific 'job title' in which you generally do one set job? K: I love working here, there has not been a day yet when I wake up and wish I didn't have to go to work. I love it because it is a relaxed friendly environment and everything I do is fun and different. The day to day jobs are so on-going there is always something to be done. I have a lot of responsibility in the office and I like the fact that I can be trusted so much. I also feel that I contribute to the business and I'm a valuable part of the company; like I'm needed here a bit. That's a nice feeling to have and it's great for employment satisfaction. I am always praised and rewarded for good work and I am very grateful for that. We all have a fantastic relationship with Carl and each other, and therefore everything runs smoothly. H: What is your favourite part of the job? K: I love it when it's really busy, for example when a rush of bags comes in and I have to prioritise everything. It can be stressful but that's how I know that I care about my job and the work that we do here. I like pleasing customers and dealing with them. It's lovely to hear from a happy customer. H: In light of the idea behind the interview that when we order online we can't really picture where or who it's coming from, what do you think of the Scaramanga office environment? While we are not a large scale factory warehouse, we are a gradually expanding office which has escalated somewhat rapidly over the past year. However, we are still one office and one group - does this make for a more flexible and more close-knit atmosphere than a bigger company? K: Yes I love that about Scaramanga. The atmosphere is lovely which makes it a really nice place to work. There are no set rules or times to do things, you just prioritise on the day. It makes everyday new and means you can do loads of different things on a day to day basis, for example one day I may be simply dealing with customer calls and e-mails; another I will be packing chests and sending them out to customers which means I've learnt more about the boxes like the wood they are made from. The next day I could be modelling outside in the sun. H: Finally, what is your favourite product at Scaramanga that you would recommend to people? K: The bags are so popular and I can see why, but I love the shaving boxes and the mirrors, and I love all the little retro purses and the new recycled purses we have at the moment. The blankets and stuff are also great for presents and you get so many nice colours. Most of our items have many different uses therefore anyone can use them. Some great items to look at while online shopping. ...And so, there you have it. A picture of a typical day in the life of a Scaramanga employee... well maybe there isn't a typical day. But rest assured, when your order arrives on your doorstep; it hasn't come from an automated, impersonal system in a large warehouse (although we may use the automated e-mails to make our lives a little easier!) but rather, it has come from a slightly smaller scale office in which we all work together, get along and put care and time into preparing orders. I only hope that as the Scaramanga business continues to grow, we can maintain this close-knit community we have created and go on having slightly different, fun days at work; and that we can continue passing this personal touch across to our customers.