Aussie Disposals has a long heritage in outdoor and military surplus retailing, with its first store opening in Moe, Victoria, in 1962. In fact, the company’s history goes back even further, having started in 1910 as Purvis Stores. Now, with a century of retail experience behind it, Aussie Disposals is moving with the times by focusing on online sales and expanding into mobile offerings.
Aussie Disposals’ e-commerce journey
Aussie Disposals set up its first website 10 years ago, says Marcus Walford, Aussie Disposals’ Marketing Manager. The original website was designed purely as an information resource for customers to research products that were available in stores. After a few years, it was developed to offer online sales and has continued to evolve. Today, it is powered by a Magento platform that provides a secure, fully integrated e-commerce experience.
“There are many challenges to online retail,” says Walford. “It’s not easy, but we seem to be getting better at it every year and we are learning from our experiences.”
Having a strong website pays off in more ways than one, particularly for a sector like outdoors, camping and adventure, where customers are seeking advice and information.
“For us, it [the website] is first and foremost an information tool that supports our bricks-and-mortar stores,” says Walford. “We get data that shows about 30 per cent of people who make a purchase in our stores have also bought online, and we get a lot of customers who have called a store because they’ve been on the website.”
When it comes to future growth, Walford acknowledges that mobile is something all retailers involved in selling online need to consider. “Everyone’s talking about mobile and we’re looking at becoming part of that,” he says. “We want to make it easy when people are on their smartphones, and we want to offer more information to our customers so that they’re educated on the correct products for them.”
Creating a secure online experience
As a trusted local brand with a long heritage, Aussie Disposals made online security a major priority.
“Our business has been around for over 100 years, so we’re quite traditional in a lot of our processes, and security is a big thing for us,” says Walford. “Before we were with SecurePay, we had an incident where we did lose some money and stock through a fraudulent transaction. It was important when the website evolved that it was secure and protected both our own money and our customers’. We’ve recently upgraded to the latest FraudGuard model so there’s that extra layer of security.”
Walford explains that Aussie Disposals also strives to recreate the customer service its offers in its bricks-and-mortar outlets in the online environment.
He notes that some of Aussie Disposals’ customers require more help and reassurance with making an online purchase than others. “For some customers, there’s still a bit of uncertainty with online shopping – they place an order and they’re not sure if they’re really going to receive it,” says Walford. “For those customers who maybe haven’t purchased online before, we do take the time to talk them through the sale process and help them feel comfortable with it. We’ll pick up the phone and ring them if there’s a problem with their order or if they’ve missed a step.”
THREE TIPS FOR ONLINE SUCCESS
Aussie Disposals’ Marcus Walford shares three of the retailer’s key lessons on running a successful e-commerce website.
1. Be smart with your marketing budget. “It’s a jungle out there. There are a lot of companies saying they can do everything for you, but you need to be calculated in your decisions. Do your research and don’t just go with the first offer [from digital companies] – and definitely don’t just go with the cheapest offer, because it will end up costing you more in the long run. Get reference checks and a commitment, and make sure you know exactly what they can deliver.”
2. Make security a priority. “Over the years, we’ve had to evolve to make sure the site is secure to protect our customers and ourselves, and SecurePay has played a big role in that.
3. Customer service matters online, too. “Providing great service is something that’s important to Aussie Disposals, and it sets us apart. We try to go above and beyond. Having customer service online should be no different to customer service in stores.”