Mick Dawson runs, MSG Bike Gear, selling motorbike parts and accessories on eBay, Amazon and his Shopify website.
When did you start selling online and why?
I started selling on eBay in 2003 - once I heard about it I decided to try and sell just about everything that I didn’t want in my own house. When I ran out of things to sell I started looking at what I could sell as a business, what interests I had, and decided to start selling bike equipment.
To begin with I was running the business in my spare time from my own house, storing stock in my garage, and working full time as well. Since then we’ve had to move into a larger space, and about 18 months ago we opened a shop as well.
We sell on eBay, Amazon and our own Shopify website. Amazon is our biggest sales channel - we now offer Prime and are starting to do a lot of international orders through Amazon - they’ve given us a lot of support and it fits our way of thinking.
What have been your biggest challenges selling online and how have you overcome them?
Keeping up with the pressures of what eBay and Amazon expect from you can be difficult. They expect answers to any questions within 24 hours, and they’re pushing you to improve all the time, which sometimes is unachievable. Coping with the increase in size of the business has also been difficult, which is why we were looking for shipping software like Zenstores, something that brings in all the orders to one place.
What are your top recommendations for people starting out selling online?
Firstly, you need to pick something you like and have an interest in to sell. And then you need to be prepared to prioritise your business at certain times - if it’s a choice between going out or getting a product ready to be dispatched then you need to do that first. If you’re not willing to put your business first sometimes it’ll never work.
What advice do you have for handling customer service?
Tell the customer everything that they need to hear - the customer should always get what they want, even when there’s a problem. Whether it’s a problem with your brand, product or delivery just make sure that you fix it and the customer is happy and then you can look at how to improve so that the issue doesn’t happen again.
These days everything’s out there, review websites such as Trustpilot are important - you need to be very customer focused and able to cope with any issues.
How do you promote your shop?
We’re on Facebook and Twitter, promoting the business. And any time we get a customer's email address we can add them to our mailing list to send out promotions. We’ve also printed leaflets with discount codes that are doing really well, and we’ve built relationships with local bike clubs.
Why do you use Zenstores?
It works really well for us - when an order comes in it goes straight to the dispatch area downstairs. I don’t have to go and tell them about each order or print anything out.
It’s also really useful when a customer rings up and I can just search their name and find out when the order was dispatched, it’s tracking number and any notes that are attached. It saves us a lot of time, and it also prevents a lot of mistakes that would be really time consuming.
Find out how you can use Zenstores to improve your shipping and order management process here.