August 8, 2013, 11:58 AM

Web sales climb for a mountaineering products retailer

DicksClimbing.com turns sluggish e-commerce sales into 20% growth.

Lead Photo

Dick Hall

After launching an online business five years ago to complement his single climbing products store, Dick Hall looked at e-commerce mostly as an afterthought as web sales grew slowly the first four years. But since deploying a new e-commerce platform last year backed by an inventory and order management system, web sales have climbed by more than 20%, he says.

Hall operates two e-commerce sites—DicksClimbing.com for consumer climbing enthusiasts and RopeAccessEquip.com for companies in businesses like bridge maintenance and office tower window-washing—that complement his Dick’s Climbing retail store in Bristol, a city west of London in the United Kingdom.

Hall launched his online business on technology provided by Brightpearl, which hosts a basic e-commerce site supported by software for managing orders, inventory, accounting and other business operations. After getting his physical store more established, however, he decided a year ago to focus more on e-commerce. He switched his e-commerce front end to a platform from Shopify, which now hosts both of his e-commerce sites, while still using Brightpearl to manage inventory and order fulfillment.

The Shopify platform helped grow web sales by offering more tools to customize his sites and better optimize his sites for natural search results, Hall says. Among the features on his sites are a series of large home page images featuring product users in panoramic vistas, such as climbing steep cliffs or dangling from skyscrapers, and links to blogs and Twitter messages featuring communications between Hall and customers.

The combination with Brightpearl, meanwhile, enables the retailer to easily manage online orders and route them to either a drop-shipper or in-house staff who ship orders from store inventory, Hall says. Because the online and store orders are compiled through Brighpearl in the same database, Hall is able to keep aware of his available inventory for managing orders, he adds.

“My orders from over-the-counter and the web go to the same Brightpearl system, so it automatically updates the inventory system within 45 seconds,” he says. “If a customer buys the last item of product in the store, it automatically comes off the web site. We need to have orders compiled all in one place to control our stock.”

By attracting more traffic by moving up in search engine results pages, while also quickly routing orders and updating available inventory online, the retailer’s web sales have grown significantly over the past year. “It’s way more than 20% growth,” Hall says, declining to more specific.

The cost to deploy an e-commerce site with Shopify is $29 per month for 100 products, plus a per-transaction fee of 2% of order value; $79 per month for 2,500 products, plus a 1% transaction fee; and $179 per month for an unlimited number of products with no transaction fees.

Brightpearl’s pricing starts at $99 per month for each employee at a client using the system.

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