Michael is a Northern Irish trade man that runs Kenco Spares and been operating since 1960 and since then started an eCommerce business in 2002 selling on multi-channel platforms such as eBay and Amazon. As well as having an online eCommerce store Michael also has a bricks and mortar store also called “Kenco Spares” in Belfast that has everything to do with domestic spare parts for most appliances such as Kenco and Dyson, dish washing machines, dryers etc.
Some thoughts from the interview
“As a business we have been operating since 1960. We have had a bricks and mortar store since then.”
“We sell domestic spare parts for most appliances, like your household appliances with your washing machines and dishwashers etc. We have moved into the small household goods like vacuum cleaners and food processors and that kind of thing. We try to do spare parts for everything.”
“We started selling online in about 2002. We started pretty early and I wish we knew what we know now back then. We have learned a good few things along the way but if I had that back in the beginning it would be a lot easier.”
“It was never as big as part of the business as it is now. It was a sort of side project, that if it sold a few things every other day it’s no problem but it grew and grew and grew over time until it is a large portion of the business now.”
“I think in 1997 or something we made a website, now you couldn’t buy anything on it because that wasn’t a real thing back then. We had just a little splash page saying who we are and where we were and I think we were one of the first ones to have a website like that just because it was something that interested me.”
“Originally we went on the eBay in early 2003/2004. We started selling on there. An extension of that was like eBay charges fees which makes prices difficult to manage sometimes but we were like if we have our own website we wouldn’t have any fees.”
“Around 2005 we built our first website. There are all sort of fun and games surrounding that. You go into it blind thinking that it will be easy enough but there are all sorts of problems that pop up here and there that are no longer issues any more as there are all sorts of software you can download but back then if you couldn’t do it, it didn’t get done.”
“Every 6 months you have got to do something different. You have got to keep adding on as new technologies come. There are all sorts of different ad on’s. A recent introduction was the introduction of PayPal as a payment gateway.”
“When you are going to a set website as opposed to the big third part retailers like eBay or Amazon, there is a bit of confidence there as they are such a big part of the market, especially with eBay purchases because they are protected by PayPal. PayPal look after the buyer of course. By adding PayPal as a payment option to your website we found that customers were a bit more relaxed.”
“It’s all about convenience. I mean, price is one thing but you have to look after the customer. If a customer goes on to the website and it is difficult to purchase something they’re just not going to do it.”
“I know all the details about the products we sell, third party business don’t so you end up doing a lot of the work for them”
“We tried a few automated systems but they didn’t work because we sell on a bunch of different avenues. There are pieces of software out there for that. We sell on Amazon, eBay, our own website, we sell on a few third party websites and we dispatch items for a few companies. That in itself means that there are about 5 or 6 avenues where the product can be sold so if you have 10 in stock and each of those avenues sell 2 you have over sold by 2. Luckily with our particular product line there isn’t anything that we sell that shouldn’t be available in a few days. As long as you’re up front with the customer saying we have over sold this item. It is a big mistake and we try not to do it but it happens so we find that if you phone the customer and say we have oversold this item and it is going to be an extra day or two to get it out to you usually they are ok.”
“We find that over email people sometimes get very frustrated very quickly. You never get a context about the person is feeling. If it’s an abrupt email, even if you try to be as verbose as possible and try to get your point across that I understand these problems and I’m really sorry that you have them, they don’t believe you. When you’re on the phone sometimes it’s a little easier.”
“You can help out a customer using a little bit of technology in your hand”
“Communication with the customer is always key.”
“We have conversed back and forth with customers through the Facebook page, through direct message and that has been the most use we have got out of it but in terms of advertising and getting actual sales in it hasn’t been the most helpful for us.”
“I think the big thing that helps with us is the volume, as we have quite a high volume. The way most of these carriers, like Royal Mail and Parcel Force you tend to have a kind of sliding scale. You have the quality of service in terms of the postage, if you send something with Parcel Force it is going to get there 99.99% of time when they say it will and they have a high level of fidelity of when it arrives, they are very good at communicating with customers and there are very few problems with them in terms of customer service but it is dear. You really on use them with premium products and those that need to arrive on time. Then you there are cheaper couriers that you are sending a lot of volume through them but the quality of service is maybe not just as good but it is at a reasonable price. Price is key. If we are sending across the water if it is over £10 to ship it you are already at a massive disadvantage to someone in the UK who is shipping it at £5.”
“The easiest way to get sales is to be the cheapest. If you are the cheapest by £20 you are more likely to get the hits from people, they are more likely to buy of you. There is a statistic with Amazon that 85% click the buy it box and 10% of people don’t even look at the third party seller. Only 5% actually go on to the third party seller and check it out because sometimes you can be the buy it box and not be the cheapest.”
“There is always the temptation to cut the price but you always have to mindful of the fees which are quite considerable. EBay works out at about 13% and Amazon works out at 7% or 15% depending on what the particular item you are selling is. That is a big portion and the thing people don’t realise that it scales so the more expensive it is the bigger that fee is.”
“There is a fine line between being competitive and being foolish and at the end of the day it is a business and you need to make some money.”
“If you do it well it works out, but if you do it poorly it effects your business, they will leave a bad review and never come back.”
Best Advice: “You are only going get out what you put in, so if don’t put in the maximum amount of effort you not going to get anything out of it. You can put up 500 items with the worst detail possible and you won’t get a single sale because the customer is going to think it is dodgy and leave it.”
What do they offer?
As Ireland’s largest distributor, Kenco Spares has an extensive stock of domestic and commercial appliance spare parts. We also have a comprehensive stock of finished goods at unbeatable prices such as washing machines, tumble dryers, dishwashers, vacuum cleaners, fridges, cookers, microwaves & built in appliances.
How to contact Kenco Spares!
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