Driving Business Online at Bob the Welder

Online retailing is often associated with smaller items such as books, music and clothing, but it’s also possible to sell larger and even industrial items online.

Bob Moore is the proprietor of Bob the Welder, which sells welding equipment from Ballina, NSW. Moore has been selling on eBay and through his own website for around five years.

“Originally we were a bricks and mortar welding and fabrication business, but I identified an opportunity to start selling online welding equipment and accessories and I’ve now stopped fabricating and am a home-based, full time on-line seller,” he said.

Biggest challenge

Moore said running the eBay shop and website is one thing, but “the biggest challenge is getting your name out there and your website high up on search engine lists. My competition is selling the same product at about the same price, so it’s about convincing the customer my product and services are better.”

Despite this, the Bob the Welder site is now well established and Moore boasts many repeat customers who are happy with his service, product quality and prices. He has sold welding spare parts to many countries around the world and sells right across Australia.

“Customers deal with me direct, and get the benefit of my 40 years’ experience in the welding industry when I deal with them. I have built my business around being up to speed with new products and technical information.”

Moore sells to customers in the US, Canada, Brazil, UK, Ireland, France, Greece, Norway, India and Malaysia and said “the US seems to be my growth area.”

“Overseas customers are about 10 percent of my customer base, but my major customers are Australia-wide, in out-of-the way towns where there are no welding shop outlets. Both overseas and domestic sales are on the increase. All transactions are completed with the no fuss, as we use PayPal to provide our customers, whether they are Australia based or international, with a secure payments system. PayPal gives my consumers confidence that they never have to share their financial details online.”

Moore also buys products direct from manufacturers in China, Pakistan and Hong Kong and says that PayPal is the preferred payment method.

Technology

The web platform Bob uses is X-Cart, which he chose because the customer can see the welding products displayed alongside prices and the shopping cart and ‘buy now’ functionality is easy to use.

When it comes to payment and shipping, Moore said the biggest challenge is customers who want to pick up from his premises, but most customers are happy for their purchases to be delivered. After the customer makes a purchase, Moore is notified with an email and the system generates a purchase order. Items are dispatched either by Australia Post (for smaller items) or with Star Track Express, which is used to pick up larger items.

Future

Looking ahead, Moore’s goals for the future of the site are finding and keeping customers, increasing brand awareness and improving search engine rankings. Although the business is staffed just by Bob and his wife at the moment, he knows as the business grows he’ll need to hire additional staff.

This case study was produced to support the Driving Business Online program, an initiative developed by PayPal Australia in partnership with Australia Post, Optus, Symantec, MYOB, eBay, Powerfront and The Australian Retailers Association. Driving Business Online has been developed to help small businesses throughout Australia achieve greater success online. The Driving Business Online program consists of an educational roadshow educating businesses across rural and regional New South Wales in addition to the Driving Business Online website.

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