Looking at the online landscape, these panelists came to differing conclusions
We setup our e-store approximately five years ago. With the rapid shift toward shopping online, it was an absolute must. UPS does an annual survey where it interviews 5,000 consumers. In June 2016, 51 percent of those surveyed said they made more of their purchases online than in brick-and-mortar stores. This trend is up from 47 percent in 2015.
Last year, we saw sales growth from our online store double — and it now makes up approximately 25 percent of our overall chemical, filter and accessory sales. Customers have told us they find it a more convenient way to shop. They can instantly access exactly what they are looking for and complete the purchase within a minute or two. Not having stresses like traffic or crowds is a huge benefit. It saves time, and they can do it day or night.
More and more, people are using the internet to compare pricing and save money. If you don’t have a presence in this space, you are losing ground. A lot of people will spend more in order to get to the free shipping threshold. We send out monthly email blasts/offers to drive sales.
It does require attention to maintain the e-store, like when prices change and new products are added. The toughest part is getting all the products into the e-store program at the beginning. Overall, it’s not that difficult. There are lots of platforms to choose from, and we hired a web company to help us with it.
— CHRISTIAN RYAN, owner
Premium Wholesale Home & Leisure, Kitchener and Mississauga, Ontario
Should we add an e-store? Having watched several friends delve into that, we researched possibly doing the same. Years ago, our initial research showed that although the venture would be expensive and time consuming, it could be quite profitable. Our decision not to move into online sales at that time was made for two reasons: Our facility wasn’t able to handle the fulfillment demands of an e-store, and trying to keep the site current was going to be too cumbersome. We tabled the decision. Flash forward several years: We are in a facility large enough to handle it, with staff capable of the task, but the marketplace has changed drastically. Instead of the online competition being retailers you eat dinner with at trade shows, you are competing with Amazon. There is still much to be said for excellent customer service and brick-and-mortar growth. There will always be someone willing to beat your price. Our goal is to be current with our marketing, relevant with our product offerings and provide the best support we can to our local retail customer. Has the e-store ship sailed? Probably. Did we miss the boat? Maybe, but I don’t think so. We’re very pleased with the results of our campaign to grow locally, and feel it was a much better move for our business and our family.
— JENNIFER CLEMENTS, director of business development