Breakfast of Champions (The 2017 NAMM Show): Mark Hebert, Cosmo Music

Cosmo Music embodies several forms of retail innovation: the in-store customer experience, retail events and e-commerce. A single-store operation north of Toronto, the company has a 56,000-square-foot location, more than 2,000 students in its lesson program and 10,000 instrument rentals. Mark Hebert, Cosmo Music’s second-generation leader, discussed his omnichannel model with NAMM President and CEO Joe Lamond during “Breakfast of Champions” at The 2017 NAMM Show.

Here are highlights. (Watch the video for the full interview.)

On consolidating to one location:
“Realizing that we had specialists in different instruments at different locations, we had customers coming to the store asking for things, and we knew the right salesperson or the right department head was located in a different store, so you had to send [the customers] somewhere else. That became not only a nightmare for us to manage but a nightmare for customers coming into the store, as well.

“So for us, it became a natural fit. And from a business-plan perspective, we always knew we wanted that one single-store destination location and to grow the roots of that, so we could start into the e-commerce business.”

On building the ultimate brick-and-mortar store:
“It was a 10-year process. It was a long, drawn-out process intentionally. Throughout that time, we traveled the world looking at music stores in Japan, Germany—all sorts of different countries. And the entire executive team was always noting features of every one of those stores that they liked. So we had this big master list of things that would make the dream MI retailer store. And I’m happy to say that 95 percent of those things on that list were actually incorporated into that new store.”

On managing a large omnichannel operation:
“We don’t roll any project out until it’s 100-percent perfect. So the store, we believe it was 100-percent perfect when we rolled it out. The website, we believed it was 100-percent perfect. And typically, we get our entire executive team and management team behind a project, all working on something to ensure that when we’re ready to go, it is the best-of-class. And that’s kind of the mantra we’ve had over the years: Let’s not roll anything out until we’re confident that customers will like it. And everything we do is focused around customer experience.”

On building a new website:
“We did go outside, and we actually partnered with somebody. The model, the fee structure, is close to a revenue-share kind of idea. That incentivizes our developer house to actually have some skin in the game, so they actually want to contribute to the betterment of the website—to A/B test features, to make sure things are better than they were before. It’s ongoing and it has been for about six years now.”

On growth plans:
“Growth for us currently is online. So we’re a long-tail online e-commerce business with tens of thousands of SKUs represented online. We’ve got, I think it’s over a quarter million SKUs that we actively pursue and are representing. And we have our eyes on over 1 million SKUs. So that’s represented both on our own website and over the multiple marketplace channels, as well.”