Why E-Commerce Sites Are Essential For Retail Dive Shops
More and more dive shops are figuring out that they need to join the competition and offer their equipment and courses online. I hate to say it, but more of your customers are using the internet to shop around and make their buying decisions than ever before. If the products you offer aren’t available to be seen online, then chances are your customer is going to find a company who does list their products online. Whether that is Amazon, Ebay, or one of the bigger dive stores, it will happen. The customer then sees a the product they want at a good price and makes an impulse and convenient purchase. Now, a great customer has just become the customer of another dive shop or business and you are left wondering why.
Just Having An Online Shop Is The First Step
The first and most important step is having an online shop. In most cases, when all things are equal, your customer will support you the local dive center. If the customer goes on your website and sees that you carry the equipment that they are looking to purchase, they will likely make the trip to the your shop and try on the equipment and get a feel for it before purchasing. If they go on your website and see nothing, they will be far less inclined to make the trip to your dive center in hopes of you having that piece of equipment they are after. For this reason, you can’t judge the full value of having an online store solely off of the sales you make online.
Added Value You May Not Consider
If you have ever gone through your websites Google Analytics reports and looked at the pages viewed or if you have adwords campaigns going and you have access to the keywords which were used to find your website, it is truly amazing what some people search for.
Every page on your website which gets indexed by search engines gives you a new opportunity to get found for more searches. For instance, without a lot of optimization or paid ads, it is going to be quite hard for you to rank in the first few search results for “ScubaPro Regulator” or “ScubaPro MK25” (Impossible if you don’t have an Ecommerce Store). You will likely see, however, some of the longer tailed search terms leading to traffic. When you add all of your equipment will likely be adding several hundred if not thousands of additional pages on your site which can be indexed and found.
Why Aren’t People Buying Online
Are your prices competitive with the big players in the industry. What is quite interesting about the dive industry is that most manufacturers have MAP Pricing which levels the playing field for retailers. Some manufacturers enforce their MAP Pricing much better than others, but this MAP Pricing can be good and bad for you online. Its good in that you can’t get bullied out of the industry by people selling products for next to no profit. It’s bad in that it can make it difficult to stand out from others if you wanted to give your customers a better price. What also hurts many retailers in the US is the tax system. If people buy their scuba gear from out of state they can avoid state taxes, which depending on your state and the price of the equipment the person is purchasing can be a significant amount of money.
You can’t really blame customers for not wanting to pay up to about 10% in sales tax on their order. And you can’t discount the product due to manufacturer MAP Policies. So it becomes a situation where you may actually have more out of state sales for gear on your website than in state. How can you combat this?
Give Your Local Customers An Incentive To Buy From You
Trust and loyalty from customers is certainly not what it used to be. You need to give your customers no reason to buy from anyone else. If they are your existing customers and are in state, maybe that means you have to bite the bullet and pay the sales tax for them out of MAP Pricing. Most scuba gear has enough margin to do this and still be quite profitable. Offer your customers a coupon code which they can apply at checkout to save 10 or 15%. Offer price matching. Offer live chat on your website to answer any product related questions they may have. Most of all, when they do come in the store, make sure that you take care of them and show genuine appreciation for their business.
Become The Dive Shop Where People From Out Of State Go To Save Tax
When you started making an e-commerce shop your target market probably wasn’t from the next state over, but this may be exactly who comes to your website and actually makes purchases. It might make sense to plan your ad campaigns for this. If you have any experience using google adwords you will know that costs per click for certain categories can be very high. Did you know that the cost per click for the shopping ads which appear on the top and right sections of many google searches are for the most part MUCH more affordable on a cost per click basis? When you have a good Ecommerce store you can create a feed with google and get all of your products up and eligible to appear in these shopping ads. Now it becomes a matter of calculating the value of a sale of each product and tracking conversions and then adjusting your bids in your shopping campaigns. With shopping ads you can immediately get a ton of traffic to your online store.
If You Don’t Have An Online Store For Your Dive Shop?
Let’s talk. Email me directly at [email protected] and we will set up a time to go over your website and what it would take to get an online shop added to your website!