Below is an article that may interest you that appeared in the Green Money Journal on the founding principles of Zuma — Enjoy today! Greg
By Dan Verakis
Due to the severity and lingering effects of the economic recession, many charities across the country continue to struggle through the reality of a significant reduction in contributions and the impact that makes on their ability to serve their cause. However, amid the economic storm, one company is wading into the rough waters and serving as a leading example in the growing trend of conscious capitalism – that is, the idea that profit and prosperity can go hand in hand with social responsibility and environmental stewardship.
Launched in late 2009, Zuma Office Supply is a different kind of company – an online office products store that shares at least 50% of its profits with charities their customers help select. The company’s website (www.zumaoffice.com) touts great prices, fast free delivery and personal service, on top of their charitable stewardship. In addition, Zuma features thousands of recycled and earth-friendly office products that are gentler on our environment.
After working more than 20 years in senior leadership roles for some of the world’s largest office supply manufacturers, Zuma Founder and President Greg Pierce wanted out of the corporate grind. He aspired to form a company that makes a difference in people’s lives, and created Zuma as the means to that end – where the purchase of everyday office items could also contribute back to the community.
“Buying and selling office supplies is important as far as providing the right tools for business, but it’s not really making a difference in people’s lives like being a heart surgeon if you know what I mean,” Pierce says. He was looking for a way to take the industry knowledge he possessed, and turn it into a business that helped people and could possibly be an example to others.
“First and foremost, we wanted to help others, and donating half our profits to charity puts a lot more meaning in our work life than bottom line profits. There’s more to running a company than quarterly earnings reports, corporate red tape, and cutting budgets.”
Pierce hopes to serve as an example for other business owners wanting to run successful companies and also give back to the community. He believes contributing and working in the community is not only good for people and the charities they support, it’s also good for business and employee morale.
Zuma’s customers are a community of shoppers who understand and see the world differently. They shop with their hearts, but also their heads. Being an industry veteran, Pierce knew that without great pricing, the company would struggle to attract customers. “Our unique business model makes Zuma attractive to many people, but regardless of our charitable intentions few customers would shop with us if we didn’t first offer great prices.”
To that end, Zuma guarantees to meet, and usually beats online pricing of the office superstores, Staples, Office Depot and OfficeMax. Many items are actually 10 – 30% less than the mega-stores, and if customers find everyday pricing that is lower than Zuma’s they will match that price. “We hope to provide business shoppers with the ultimate no brainer…save money while also helping the planet.”
When placing an order, Zuma’s customers tell the company how to direct charitable contributions by choosing from a pre-approved list of great organizations like Save the Children, The Conservation Fund, The V Foundation for Cancer Research and The Fisher House Foundation. To view all the charities that Zuma supports, go to the Zuma Charity area at www.zumaoffice.com/charities.aspx.
While Zuma’s mission is admirable, its success relies on truly being profitable and competitive within an industry of well-known 800-pound gorillas.
“The big box superstores, like most large public corporations, have relatively high overhead and aren’t known for great customer service or helping people find what they want,” Pierce says. “Our approach is a streamlined, low-cost business model that leads to better prices compared to the office superstores. While our low prices attract customers, our personal service and free next day delivery cultivates their loyalty. And as customers realize they can also support their favorite charities or causes when buying file folders, staplers or paper towels, that’s the icing on the cake.”
Fast service and dependable deliveries are a focal point for the company. Zuma’s shipping is free for most orders over $75, and orders under $75 ship for only $8.00. Not only is shipping free, it’s incredibly fast. Zuma ships most orders to arrive the next business day to over 90% of the United States. Orders for large items like furniture typically take 2-5 days to arrive, and can have additional shipping charges.
The technology behind the business allows Zuma to cater to customers as small as a home office, to medium sized businesses that require billing by department, multiple ship to locations and special services. The company provides caring customer service people who answer the phone, truly listen, and work hard to solve your needs. Zuma’s unique website makes finding what you need quick and easy. They have developed many features to make ordering easy, like a dynamic Favorites List, Express Ordering and an easy to use search that helps customers find what they need.
Since Zuma is fast and flexible (more like a cheetah than a gorilla) Pierce knew he also had to offer a wide variety of products to truly outrun his competition. While the average big box superstore has about 8000 items, Zuma offers over 40,000 products, including everyday office supplies, the “green products” mentioned above, break room and maintenance supplies, economical office furniture, office technology items, and great prices on ink and toner.
Buying office supplies online is much more efficient for businesses than driving to the office products retail store, and knowing there is a company that embraces giving back and helping others in the very competitive office products space is good news during this time of economic uncertainty.
Still in its infancy, every new customer is incredibly important for Zuma to grow and help charities along the way. Accordingly, Pierce hopes people will spread the good news about Zuma to their friends and family.
“My timing wasn’t the best in launching our company during a recession,” Pierce says. “Many businesses are hurting and cutting back their purchases, but there’s a right way to do business and we believe the more people hear about us the more they will embrace our vision. As our tagline says, Zuma makes it easy to “Do Good Work” in your office and in the community.”
To learn more, visit www.ZumaOffice.com, or call 877-473-4097. You can reach Greg Pierce directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.