How to Achieve eCommerce Success Using PSS
The PSS Dealer Success Program is an initiative that aims to help Powersports Dealers achieve eCommerce Success and have year-over-year growth for online sales across all marketplaces.
As more and more consumers turn to the internet for their shopping needs, Powersports Support is committed to helping you either begin to grab your share of the online market or continue to grow your existing online business by opening you up to more marketplaces with more and more web-ready catalog data.
The PSS Dealer Success Program provides you with the "Keys to Success" listed below along with a Dealer Success Report Card which is delivered to you 1-2 times per year. The Report Card is a review of your account by members of our in-house team covering all points listed below. You may also request a Report Card at any time you wish.
Key to Success #1 - Dedicated Team Member(s)
First and foremost, your business needs people dedicated to working on both increasing and improving your online presence. PSS supports a range of dealers; from 1-man shows to large brick & mortar OEM outfits with 4-5 people dedicated to front-end listing creation and backend fulfillment. Whichever size you are or aspire to be, it starts with a dedicated individual or core key players.
Often times a dealership will spin up an account with PSS, rush through configuring the account, then hand it off to someone else in the building and say "here, get us selling stuff online". This almost always fails.
If you are the owner of a small dealership that just signed up with PSS we urge you to take one of these two approaches:
- First Approach - Run point on the launch of PSS and be the sole manager of the program for 6-12 months. Get to know all aspects of PSS and the nuances of how it interacts with marketplaces. Once you have a good handle on it and the project is cash flow positive you can then hire 1-2 people to come underneath you and begin learning listing creation and fulfillment. Hopefully one of them gets a good enough handle on it so that they can take over the management of it and hire more help.
- Second Approach - Take an existing team member and promote them or add the title of eCommerce Manager. Make sure that they are somewhat computer savvy and have a decent chance of success. They should be in charge of full account configuration, creating listings, fulfilling orders, etc. Make sure that the two of you have a standing meeting scheduled a minimum of once per week to make sure that expectations are being met.
Key to Success #2 - Getting Results on eBay
The points below represent everything that is required of a dealer to find success using the PSS system to list on eBay. Completely skipping or not giving any of the below topics the full consideration they deserve can reduce the chances of success and ultimately lead to a failed business venture.
Weekly Creation of New Listings
You must Create Listings on a weekly basis; if not daily! Do not stall out in the 5,000-15,000 listing range. This isn't the kind of marketplace where you can just put up a bunch of listings and let them carry you for a year. You must always be adding new offerings to the marketplace.
Go brand-by-brand to keep organized. Focus on a certain product line at a time, within a single brand. Gloves from Fly Racing. Slip-on exhausts from Yoshimura.
Template Organization / Utilization Based on Category and Shipping Cost & Method
Ideally, you would have one template for each category within eBay Motors with a few category variants for products that have drastic swings in shipping costs but exist in the same category.
Reduce the Risk of Overselling with a Conservative Marketplace Inventory Buffer
Whether it is online or in a store, there are tens of thousands of powersports enthusiasts shopping at any moment. Popular items will have major runs where 5-10 products are sold in a day. Furthermore, when items move to close-out or are about to move to close-out, the bigger dealers come in and buy all of the product at once. For many reasons including the above, you should not have low Marketplace Inventory Buffers. 1 or 2 is considered dangerous. 4 is average. 6 is safe.
Some people have a higher tolerance for overselling than others; if your store is below standard or in danger of going below standard then you should employ a buffer of 7. The same goes for sellers that are new to eBay.
Realistic Inventory Lead Times
If there is one component of PSS that you must have a firm understanding of it is Inventory Rules and Lead Times. Take the time to grasp it. If it is not making sense please reach out to your Account Manager for recommendations on how to set them up.
Variation Style Listings for Helmets & Apparel
You need to take advantage of the categories that are enabled for variation listings. When you have multiple MPNs on one listing they will accrue Sales Rank and Sales History much faster.
*You are NOT allowed to list hard parts as variation listings
Quality Listing Titles
Creating listings with custom titles is a lot of work. Creating titles with generic tags is easy. Most people take the easy option and achieve average results on eBay. We cannot stress enough how important it is to create custom, keyword-rich titles. Yes, it takes time. But the dealers that spend the time are rewarded for it when shoppers search these keywords. Not every shopper just puts the MPN into the search; in fact, data suggests just the opposite.
Example: FMF Racing 21019 PowerCore 2 Shorty Silencer should be FMF Racing 21019 Aluminum PowerCore 2 Shorty Silencer
Example: Fly Racing 2017 Kinetic Women's Over Boot Pants should be Fly Racing 2017 Kinetic Women's Over Boot Motorcycle Pants
Don't believe us? Here is what ebay has to say about it in Best Practices.
Unique Listing Descriptions
Do not be shy about using the Description Override feature in the PSS Catalog. Just as you do in your eBay Listing Titles, you want to get as many keywords and descriptors as you can into the description field.
The major marketplaces (Amazon & eBay) look at your shipping metrics very closely. It is of the utmost importance that you are placing your orders with the distributors at a quick pace and get your tracking information into the system ASAP. Any delays can have negative effects on your seller ratings and even lead to the temporary revoke of selling privileges by marketplaces.
Get the insights that you need to grow your business on eBay by checking the Seller Updates page on eBay.
Key to Success #3 - Pricing
Understanding what discounts can be applied when and where does seem to play a substantial role in dealer success. This is most evident with the dealers that simply do NOT discount their pricing. Often times new dealers will come on board, create listings, then email us 90 days later saying that the program doesn't work. The first things we ask are; Is the dealer applying Price Overrides? and is the dealer using Pricing Rules?
- Get with your distributor reps and see where you can apply the most discounts or get the best pricing
- Study the competition. When you create a batch of listings go out and see where the market is at.
- Use the tools that PSS provides to make sure that you are discounting where you can afford to.
Key to Success #4 - Understanding Websites
What websites do most people shop on?
The first thing to realize is that the largest volume of online sales for the Powersports Industry are happening on proven marketplaces that consumers trust; primarily eBay and Amazon. Shoppers really have to be enticed to leave these reliable channels to fulfill their needs and wants.
I have a website, what should I expect?
Not much, unless you are spending tons of money to drive people to it. A lot of people don't fully understand the internet and what goes into driving traffic to a website.
What is the ideal approach to take with a website?
This is a long-term play. Think about it like watering a tree. You need to market your website on your packing slips for orders that you ship for the marketplaces so the customer that you earned from the marketplace comes back to your website to make a purchase next time. Shipments coming from your store or warehouse should contain coupons with substantial and specific discounts. Since you are not paying a fee to eBay or Amazon you can likely get away with larger discounts, and the consumers will be thrilled.
Key to Success #5 - Provide Excellent Customer Service
When you are conducting business online, you are running a 24x7 global business. Your customers will often require pre-sale and post-sale customer service from you. A critical success factor is setting and managing the expectations of the availability and speed of your responses; and being prepared to track, manage, and respond to all inquiries in a timely fashion.
Make sure that all of your eCommerce Platforms and individual listings have your best contact information displayed in a very clear and concise format.
If a situation ever arises where a customer is unhappy for any reason, your response to the buyer should be:
Key to Success #6 - Growth
This is all on you! If you are happy with where your current eCommerce sales are at and/or you are completely maxed out then you can stop reading. For those of you that are interested in some ideas for growth, we recommend reviewing the below points and figure ways to address them.
Penetrate your existing market
When you think about how to grow your business, the first thing that probably comes to mind is getting new customers, but the customers you already have are your best bet for increasing your sales. It’s easier and more cost-effective to get people who are already buying from you to buy more than to find new customers and persuade them to buy from you. So focus on ways to get customers coming back, like earning customers on eBay & Amazon and then finding ways to drive them to your webstore in the future.
Email / Social Media / Mail campaigns with discounts to purchases on your webstore are all great starting points. The obvious advantage here is that you don't have to pay eBay/Amazon fees. Pass the savings onto your buyer and improve your margins over time.
Go after a niche market and diversify your online presence
It is remarkable how many PSS dealers have their own niche market carved out and how well some of them do by just focusing on one finite area of powersports. Slip-On Exhausts. Or Rebuild Kits. Or Tires. Whatever the vertical. At the same time, we are constantly asking dealers why they don't expand or try to duplicate their success with one area and try something new. Even just dedicating 10% of your time and resources per day into a new area of powersports parts & accessories can have huge results!
If you are a dealer that dominates the marketplaces on eyewear, then try shifting some effort over to footwear and see if you can achieve similar results. Or taking the success of selling dirt bike steering components and trying to focus on street/cruiser steering components. You are simply trying to increase the number of unique quality listings available online.
PSS has hundreds of thousands of unique products available at your fingertips, don't be the person that has 10,000 muffler listings and is satisfied with their mediocre results. Diversify. Get out of your comfort zone!
Hire the right people
People often ask us what kind of people they should hire for PSS. This is a tricky question because each owner or dealer has their own unique skill set, technical background, and expectations.
If you are a small 1-3 man show here are some things that you may want to include in your job postings:
- Strong understanding of buying and selling on eCommerce Marketplaces.
- Tech-savvy with a full understanding of the internet in general.
- Capable of typing 30-40 words per minute.
- Minimum 1 Year Experience Listing/Selling on eBay and/or Amazon.
- Average to an above average understanding of motorcycle/ATV/UTV Parts, Apparel, and Accessories.
What gets measured gets done
We will not overcomplicate here. You need to set goals and measure the Key Performance Indicators of your eCommerce business. Then compare them Month-Over-Month and Year-Over-Year.
Key Performance Indicators to consider could be:
- Raw sales
- Raw listing count
- Sell-through ratio (number of listings online to gross sales)
- Profit Margins (Net or Gross)
To calculate the Growth Rate you simply use the formula: (Present - Past) / Past
Example: If you had gross eBay sales of $400,000 in 2017 and gross eBay sales of $555,000 in 2018 you would have a growth rate of 38%. (555,000 - 400,000 = 155,000) Then take 155,000 and divide by 400,000