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How to build a solid multichannel business

Jetty Dive Centre began as a pursuit of passion for owner and PayPal customer, Mike Davey. As an avid scuba diver, he saw the opportunity to explore his hobby alongside selling high quality products to fellow scuba divers.

Jetty Dive Centre began as a small traditional store selling dive equipment and apparel in the 1970s. In 1996, Davey bought the business and has since been expanding its range and reach locally and internationally. As the market became more competitive, he searched for non-traditional ways to grow his business, culminating in the launch of his online store in 2009. With the help of a Texas-based friend who had recently expanded his business online, Davey was able to set up his own website, leverage search engine optimisation and integrate PayPal Express Checkout with little difficulty or expense. After trying a few different online shopping cart systems, Davey settled on VP-ASP software because of its easy functionality and user-friendly interface.

Since his website launch, he has experienced year-on-year growth through reaching new customers across Australia and through this growth, has had the scope to diversify his business.

“Coffs Harbour has a small market for retail sales, particularly in scuba diving. Our online store has allowed us to expand our market across Australia and overseas and engage with customers we’ve met during their one-stop visit to our Coffs Harbour store. The combination of our traditional and our online stores has generated a lot of repeat business. We’ve found that customers have experienced the great service in store and we’re able to deliver that same high quality service online.”

Making it simple

Before setting up online, Davey said he looked to other stores to see how they were doing it.

“I realised that to stand out, we needed to make our website as simple and easy as possible for our customers to browse and buy, which is why we integrated PayPal Express Checkout. As divers usually want to spend more time in the water than online, I focused on providing easy navigation and a quick checkout process to ensure a user-friendly experience.”

He also realised the need to serve customers in a multichannel environment. Research shows that consumers are defining their own shopping experience by using technology to browse and research products before going in store. According to Deloitte research, multichannel shopping will grow to more than 50 percent of total retail sales by 2013 in the US and this trend is also apparent in Australia.

“Some dive products aren’t suitable for selling online because they need to be fitted in store or because they are difficult to deliver across the country. In these situations, our customers will browse and check the product price on our website and then go in store to complete the purchase. Our online and traditional stores complement each other – we wouldn’t be able to operate one without the other.”

Davey’s multichannel offer allows him to continue to engage with customers beyond his store’s physical footprint.

“Customers who purchase in store provide their email address details so we can continue engagement, providing updates on special online and in-store promotions. While we retain a database of our customers’ details, we have a targeted approach to seeding offers and steer clear of inundating our customers with email newsletters.”

Following consistent and high-quality service at his Coffs Harbour store, customers continue to purchase products online, allowing Davey to generate repeat customers across Australia.

Security is key

“We began using PayPal to provide our customers with peace of mind while shopping at our online store. There’s value for the customer and for our business, particularly for our international orders. When we receive product requests from overseas residents, we only accept PayPal payments – it’s the only secure way to ensure we get paid and a clear trust indicator for our website.”

Davey is looking into opportunities to leverage social media, using the visual nature of scuba diving to engage with new and old customers. Jetty Dive’s Facebook page is continuing to grow its fan base since it launched in August last year, driving conversation and excitement around scuba diving to build brand loyalty.

This year, Davey also began to roll out mobile-friendly webpages for the online store, understanding the need to continue to evolve as technology advances.

As more consumers browse and shop for products on mobile devices it is becoming increasingly important for businesses to ensure their website is mobile optimised. In 2010 PayPal processed around $800 million dollars of mobile transactions globally. This year the company is on track to process in excess of $10 billion dollars of mobile payment volume, highlighting how prolific shopping on mobile devices is becoming.

Davey’s tips for leveraging a multichannel business:

  • Take a chance and explore what online has to offer – You don’t need to be a tech expert to set up a store online. Solutions like Magento are quick and easy to set up and do most of the leg-work for you.
  • Not all stock from your traditional store needs to be online – Some products are easy to sell online while other, bulky items are much harder to ship. Not all diving equipment is suitable to sell online so we made the decision to only sell products and services that made sense, online. When you’re starting out, make it easy for yourself and think about the range you can provide, the shipping costs and what items consumers are willing to buy online.
  • Don’t let service stop at the door – Your online and offline stores are meant to complement each other. When customers visit your physical store, make sure you capture their email address so you can continue engagement and provide them with relevant online and in-store deals. While we retain a database of our customers’ details, we have a targeted approach to seeding offers and steer clear of inundating our customers with email newsletters.  

This case study was produced to support the Driving Business Online program, a national educational initiative founded by PayPal Australia with support from its industry partners. The Driving Business Online program consists of an educational roadshow educating businesses to launch or grow their business online in addition to the Driving Business Online website.

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Lorna Brett

Lorna Brett

Lorna was Dynamic Business’ Social Web Editor in 2011/12. She’s a social media obsessed journalist, who has a passion for small business. Outside the 9 to 5, you’re likely to find her trawling the web for online bargains, perfecting her amateur photography skills or enjoying one too many cappucinos. You can follow her on <a href="https://twitter.com/#!/dynamicbusiness">Twitter @DynamicBusiness</a>

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