Small business owners are using the internet as their weapon of choice against large established retailers, with small start-up businesses to compete on an even playing field with the larger retailers who dominate the bricks and mortar market.
It’s a classic David and Goliath story for the Lim brothers, who are competing with large toy retailers, showing the Internet can work in favour of the little guy.
In 2004, they began operating from their garage in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, offering toys at discounted prices online through their own virtual shop, Yogee Toys.
The last two years have seen sales skyrocket, with a 475% increase in traffic to their website. Yogee now operates from a warehouse.
Paul Sprokkreeff, Managing Director at online marketing agency Web Profits, said in the three months leading up to Christmas last year there was a combined total of 26,400 Australian searches on Google for ‘toys’ and 13,400 for ‘toys online’.
The Co-founder and Director of Yogee Toys, Chew Lim said “Companies like Toys “R” Us might be physically bigger than us, but because we’re online we’ve been able to keep our costs low and can offer the type of service which customers normally don’t get from larger retailers.”
“We can stock a big range of products for our customers and don’t have to be limited to shelves. Our store is also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week – we don’t have to shut our business when we go on holiday and can still operate if we are overseas,” Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim said they decided to open an online store in 2004 when he was studying at University and his brother was working as a computer technician.
“The reason we went online was we didn’t have to rent an expensive shop. We had a limited budget and we thought it might be easier to start the website, which cost three thousand dollars compared to thirty to fifty thousand dollars to set up a physical shop,” Mr Lim said.
Mr Lim said 99% of his client base are Australians who are happy to do their online shopping with a company based in Australia.
“People enjoy doing online shopping; it’s just easier and more convenient. Our customers like the way they can sit at home and shop without having to take their kids to the store,” Mr Lim said.
“The problem with shopping at a ‘bricks and mortar’ store is you have to find parking and if you want a specific product you normally have to visit two or more shops and sometimes find they don’t even stock the product.”
Mr Lim said he was positive for the year ahead and encouraged more Australians to move online.
“I think as more and more people come online to do their shopping they will realise that it’s not just the price but the convenience of the shopping itself.”