Ballina hardware trader Scott Asbey-Palmer now makes 95% on his sales online since setting up his online company, Hardware2U.
Ballina hardware trader Scott Asbey-Palmer now makes 95% on his sales online since setting up his online company, Hardware2U. Jerad Williams

Online presence saves business

SCOTT ASBEY-PALMER’S Ballina hardware business hit dire straits when a large chain store competitor opened nearby.

He had just ordered a huge amount of stock in anticipation of the regular Christmas rush that never eventuated.

“I had to pay for it all by the end of February and we just didn’t have the cash,” he said.

In a moment of desperation he listed half a dozen items on eBay. When they were quickly snapped up he listed another 20, then the lot.

Today, his Hardware2U online sales represent about 95% of his revenue, with his “bricks and mortar” store contributing the remainder.

Mr Asbey-Palmer told this story at the launch of Driving Business Online in Canberra last week, a business education initiative sponsored by PayPal Australia, Australia Post, Optus, Norton by Symantec, MYOB, Powerfront, eBay and the Australian Retailers’ Association.

The road show, which comes to Lismoretomorrow and Casino on Thursday, is targeting rural and regional small businesses by providing them with the tools to achieve online success. According to Forrester Research, online retail is growing at 11% a year. In contrast, traditional “bricks and mortar” retail is only managing a 2% growth rate.

However, a staggering 65% of Australian businesses don’t have a web presence and 85% don’t offer online transactions, a survey by MYOB Business Monitor found.

With a surprisingly high number of Northern Rivers businesses not even having an email address, it is a clear indication many are not taking advantage of the opportunities a digital economy can provide.

Mr Asbey-Palmer said when he took Hardware2U online he didn’t so much as plunge into it, but allowed it to take him along with the flow.

After first selling items on eBay, he set up his own website to further drive sales and his main markets now are Sydney and Brisbane – not bad for a “small” Ballina-based retailer.

“Since going online Hardware2U sales have increased dramatically, with over 20,000 online transactions to date,” he said.

“We have been able to expand our customer base and open distribution channels both in Australia and globally that we could never have realised without expanding online.

“We sell Australia-wide and have also shipped to Fiji, New Caledonia, Vanuatu and New Zealand.”

The Driving Business Online seminar with be held at the Lismore Workers Club tomorrow at 5pm, followed by one-on-one consultations the next day; and the Casino RSM Club on Thursday night at 5pm, with consultations on Friday.

To register go to www.driving businessonline.com.au



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