Here’s a successful story about a slot car business that rapidly grows his business with the help of internet thru Online Shopping.
Online shopping is an ever-increasing force in the retail industry. But will there be a day when stores are completely replaced by websites? Sarah O’Connor reports.
When Peter Van Horssen set up a website for his slot car business almost 10 years ago, he sold two or three items a month. Now, he sells two or three items a day.
It’s a clear reflection of how the demand for online shopping has grown and how important it is for retailers to have, at least, a basic online presence.
Mr Van Horssen, who owns Mobile Raceways in Dandenong, decided to create a website when he noticed his main competitor already had — and was taking some of his business.
‘‘I could see my competitor using it as a tool to gain more sales,’’ he said. ‘‘People would mention his name when they came into the store, even though he was in NSW. I thought wow, obviously they’re purchasing from him as well.’’
When Mr Van Horssen created the website in 2002, it was mostly a page with contact details and a few online shopping opportunities.
With the help of an IT expert, the site has expanded to sell about 3500 products, with photo galleries, event information, party booking details and a slot car and hobby forum.
The site has no boundaries and reaches international customers.
‘‘We’ve recently had a very good customer in the Philippines and he has spent thousands of dollars,’’ Mr Van Horssen said.
‘‘He’s sent us photos. He’s purpose built this huge shed out the back with a huge track, fully decorated — he’s got 1100 figurines and 11 double-storey grandstands down the main straight, trees and grass and fencing, it looks amazing. It’s good when you collect customers like that.’’
Dr Sean Sands of the Australian Centre for Retail Study said 50 to 70 per cent of people conducted online research before visiting a store.
He said that it could be something as basic as checking the store’s location which proved it was ‘‘crucial’’ for businesses to be online. But he said websites would never end the physical shopping experience — ‘‘people still enjoy shopping, that’s not going to change’’.