Interview with a Successful E-commerce Site Owner
Today, I’m continuing our E-commerce Month series of articles. By the way, didn’t Mark do a great job with his first ever blog article last week “The Who and Why of E-commerce?“ Why not show him some love by posting a nice comment to that article?
This week I thought you all might benefit from the insight of someone who has recently added e-commerce to his website. Sean Steinbrueck owns and operates Hard Racing L.L.C., a successful high-performance motorcycle parts and accessories distributor which he started from scratch. Hard Racing has had a website for a number of years, but prior to adding e-commerce capability, nearly all their sales were done over the phone. Last year Sean called me and asked OurChurch.Com to develop an e-commerce shopping cart for Hard Racing, which we did.
As you might have guessed by his name, Sean also happens to be my cousin. Last week I interviewed him by email about his experience of going e-commerce and what he learned from it.
Paul: How long were you in business before you decided to add e-commerce capability to your website?
Sean: 6 years.
Paul: Can you describe the circumstances and your thinking that led to the decision to add e-commerce to your site?
Sean: Common sense, and competitors bragging on how many sales they had over the weekend, while they were closed.
Paul: How would you describe the process of adding e-commerce to your site? Quick and easy? Long and difficult? Challenging but worth it? Some other way? And why?
Sean: Challenging but worth, ALL the effort. It’s best to figure out, HOW you want your products displayed, options, colors, sizes…etc… BEFORE you start. as well as layout, and Categories. Otherwise, you do a lot of back tracking. Live and Learn.
Paul: What benefits have their been to your business as a result of adding e-commerce?
Sean: 20% increase in day to day sales Mon – Friday. And of course 100% increase over the weekend.
Paul: How long did it take before you started seeing these benefits?
Sean: Within days, of the Shopping Cart being up and running. Of course this had a LOT to do with the fact we get over 80 gig a month of traffic at our Primary site. So, it was just a matter of steering them over to the shopping cart.
Paul: What percentage of your sales now come through your e-commerce site? And is that percentage still increasing or has it leveled off?
Sean: 20% Leveled off. In our Line of business You will always get a majority of customers, who want to speak to a person, that will give them that warm and fuzzy feeling that spending $2500 on a set of Magnesium wheels, is a Good Investment.
Paul: What was the most surprising thing you’ve learned about having e-commerce on your site or about the process of adding it?
Sean: That there are a lot of customers, like myself, that have done the research, Know what they want, and would like to just log onto a web-site, at home, during the evening at their convenience .. and just buy the product, get a e-mail, invoice/confirmation notice… and be done with it.
It’s soo Much more convenient then waiting until the following business day, making a reminder to call the business during working hours, maybe wait on hold, maybe get a sales person that knows how to spell correctly, and properly takes down your name, address, phone number, CC#….etc…etc, and properly places your order for what you want, and not something else… ie (wrong size, color, etc…) Not to mention that time is money. And the phone order can take time, if you don’t have an intelligent salesperson.
Paul: If you could pass along one piece of advice to someone considering adding e-commerce to their site what would it be?
Sean: If you have a product, with a complete description, that DOES NOT leave room for interpretation… Start a Shopping cart immediately. For a Retailer, losing that phone call and Steering your customers over to e-Commerce means, you cannot correct a customer when they are trying to order a Square Peg, to go in their round hole. So, you have to make sure, you have ALL the information the customer needs to make an informed decision. Or, I promise you… if you leave the door opened, for assumptions the customer WILL Order the wrong part, and then call you to return it. Which takes time and money. That is about the ONLY Down side to e-Commerce.
Paul: Overall, how significant a step was adding e-commerce in the life of your business?
Sean: Hind site is 20/20. I look back, and can only imagine how much more business we would have done, had we started a shopping cart 4 or 5 years ago. Very foolish. But, as I said, Live and Learn…. and then Tell others.
Paul: Is there anything else you’d like to say about your experience with e-commerce?
Sean: I highly recommend Paul and his staff. A1 Professionals.
Paul: Thanks Sean. That’s very kind of you to say. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I’m sure our readers will appreciate your insight.