Supplier of musical instruments on the internet Sweetwater Mike Clem will continue to sing the same tune as its new CEO. Instead, the company will be cranking up the volume to stay true to what it does best — meeting its customers’ needs.
Chief growth officer of the music technology and instruments retailer, Clem took up his new position on September 29. Clem succeeds John Hopkins after he retired from Sweetwater in 2009, having worked there for more than 30 year.
Clem was hired by the company in 2003. He held a number of key leadership positions in ecommerce and marketing during that time, which he orchestrated growth plans and innovation across the company. As chief digital office, he was responsible for the online shopping experience. driving Sweetwater’s growth.
Hopkins said that Mike was a “natural choice” to be the CEO and President of the company. He has been a major part of our growth and success over the last 20 years. “I’ve had the pleasure to work alongside Mike, and I am confident in his vision and leadership for the future. Sweetwater is in good hands.”
Chuck Surack, Sweetwater’s Chairman and founder of the board, said that Clem’s ability to guide the company forward was a key factor in his selection.
He said, “Not only is he a man of integrity, he also understands and values the principles which have guided Sweetwater and me for the last four decades. And he cares deeply about our customers, employees and their families as well as our vendor partners.”
Clem has more than 25 years’ experience in retailing e-commerce. He began his career in the early days of internet and worked with many prominent retail brands. He is known as an innovator and speaker. Graduate of Purdue University and lifelong musician, he has a passion for the music business.
Retailers adapted their strategies to keep business moving.
Clem, a musician as well as a retail expert, has witnessed many changes that have impacted the online music purchase process. The biggest change was the shift from in-store purchases to online.
“We strive to add more value and build trust with our customers, in order to support them through this transition.” This includes our free two-year guarantee, free tech support and free shipping as well as our 55-point guitar inspections.
Sweetwater’s journey was based on a roadmap of innovative ideas for serving customers. The company has seen a lot of growth in recent years, especially in the markets of content creators and K-12 education.
The new music mecca distribution centers will serve the majority of customers within one to three days.
Keeping the right notes in a market of challenges
Sweetwater is facing the same challenges as other online retailers. These include economic uncertainty and changing consumer behavior. Sweetwater has successfully navigated through its own unique set of challenges in the music business.
Clem said, “Customers are more interested in value and trust than ever before. We also see a greater interest in financing.”
Clem is also impressed by the level of demand and engagement that music producers show. He said that the music industry is one of high passion and remains strong, even in uncertain times.
This is an important goal. As CEO, his primary focus is to stay true to the roots of the company.
Since more than four decades, the core values of our company have been integrity, helping others, paying attention to details, innovating and treating customers like friends. He added, “It’s a winning combination.”
Playing up Customer Service
Sweetwater’s 650 sales engineers are known for their excellent customer service. Clem considers this reputation as one of the most successful ecommerce strategies he has implemented to grow his company.
He explained that “as a client, you will be paired with an expert who will get to know you personally. They can offer expertise and suggestions along your musical journey.”
In this way, the company is able to get a much deeper understanding of its customers. Sweetwater can now offer some of the most sophisticated personalization and one to one marketing available in retail.
I often tell people where to find new products and where to research. This is where retailers can gain an edge. Sweetwater focuses its energy on this, he said.