E-retailers must focus on their specific goals and examine a vendor’s reputation and market expertise, not referrals.
At BMI Gaming, via e-mail. However, the company is frustrated by what it sees as a lack of objective information to help it evolve.
It’s difficult for many e-retailers to imagine racking up $5.5 million in sales in one year without their web site having one of the most basic of e-commerce tools: a shopping cart. But that’s just what BMI Gaming Inc. did last year.
When customers at BMIGaming.com are ready to purchase the company’s pinball machines, arcade games, pool tables or other games, rather than place an item in a shopping cart they enter all their purchase information in an e-mail and hit send.
However, while BMI Gaming, No. 468 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide to Retail Web Sites, has been successful with web sales, it hasn’t been successful in finding objective resources and consultants to help the company upgrade technology and move its e-commerce efforts to the next level.
“It’s hard to find a consultant or an objective source of information to really help a small e-retailer evolve and grow,” says founder and CEO David Young. “It’s virtually impossible to find a technology vendor that doesn’t just say to a small business, ‘Here’s our system. Bye.’ I’ve spoken with many vendors as well as consultants who tell me, ‘If you’re not doing $50 million to $75 million in sales, call me when you are.”
BMI Gaming sales reached $5.5 million last year, an increase of 37.5% over 2004 sales of $4 million. Company executives anticipate $10 million in sales this year.
Young, who has been performing technology work in house, says he has spoken with other small e-retailers in the industry who’ve experienced the same difficulties, and all are at a loss as to how to proceed. “Small and medium-sized businesses represent the next wave of growth in e-retailing,” he contends. “I would easily pay $150 an hour for a consultant to come in and take a critical look at my business as opposed to trusting vendors, who have agendas.”
There is a dearth of objective information to guide small Internet retailers on plans for growth, Young adds, and small businesses really need the help.