Audiovisual (AV) distributor Owl Visual Systems has launched into online sales with a new web site and overhauled tactics to attract IT VARs as well as specialists.
Shaun Marklew, general manager for the Midwich subsidiary, said the web site, which went live earlier this month, is a huge improvement on the old one.
“People can purchase online, which is quite a new thing for us,” he said. “We have been talking about doing this for a long, long time.”
Marklew said the distributor had previously hesitated to get its claws into online although increasingly customers were asking for such a facility. Owl was also attracting more IT resellers as customers, which were more used to having trade-only web sites to serve them than the AV specialists.
The web site is also expected to help smaller customers that often do not have a sophisticated back-office setup for purchasing and might lack faxes and the like, he said.
“Now they just have to make a phone call or use their mobile device and we can do it all for them.”
The new site has a carefully designed tiered system to help resellers find the products they want as quickly as possible, Marklew claimed.
“We tried to make it work like the way you would think,” he said.
Special offers are on the homepage, instead of having the usual company blurb, to make browsing faster for customers.
Also, the web site is set up to help resellers easily locate complementary products such as peripherals and accessories, Marklew claimed.
“It helps you find out about all the bits and pieces, what bracket goes with that, what input device you need, and so on,” he said. “We have introduced a data feed of information too, which the IT resellers were used to having.”
Web site development was done in-house by a team from Midwich and Owl, but the administration will now all be done from Owl’s premises in Lewes, allowing for fast and timely updating of inventory and prices, he said.
Security has also been improved, he said, which was necessary because the old web site had been a little too easy to sign up for. The new trade-only pages require more confirmation to prove that a user is actually a trade buyer.
“It is difficult to say exactly what it cost, but it took about two months worth of man hours, using four different people in conjunction with the marketing department, business managers, product managers and manufacturers,” said Marklew.
Since Owl’s Midwich rescue seven months ago, the acquired distributor has seen a return to growth, adding three new staff and seeing sales up by 20 per cent.
“We expect next year to be similar,” Marklew said.
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