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E-commerce Shopping Site Success: A Case Study

Jay Moore is the Founder of, an online store that sells - you guessed it - GPS units. Here we talk about how he got started, the early days of constant tweaking to see what worked, why he doesn't use paid search and why he is obsessive about monitoring the conversion from visits to purchases. Jay uses, an eBay company, to run his e-commerce site.

Small Business Podcast: Hello everybody and welcome back to at Small Business Expo. We appreciate taking your time and your day to listen to one of our interviews as we do each week. We're going to be trying to get good information out there for you entrepreneurs and small business owners about how, maybe, you can improve your own businesses, become more efficient, and basically have a better time running your own business as well. So our guest today is Jay Moore. He is the owner, president, founder of We're going to talk to him about how he started his business, why he decided to get into this particular business and this industry, and maybe some things we can learn from him about the things he's done in the past, maybe some stories from him as well. So, Jay thanks very much for joining us on the show today.

Jay Moore: Tim thanks for having me.

Small Business Podcast: Well, talk about the beginnings of this business. What gave you the idea to get into selling GPS systems?

Jay Moore: Well, I got into this GPS business about five years ago. I spend a lot of time outdoors, a lot of time out on my boat, and I'm familiar with the product. I've used them intermittently here and there and I was actually, my full time job, so to speak, before I started the, is I was a business consultant and at that time, I had a lot of calls. People saying, "Hey, I want to get on the internet, I wanna sell this, I wanna get my product here." And, you know, I've been giving some advice, help them, but I didn't have anything hands on. So, the best way for me to do something is put my own money into it, and so I was familiar with the product, buy it. You know, I want to go ahead and take GPS units, start building a store from the ground up. See what it takes to build a store. See what it takes to make it successful. You know, here we are five years later.

Small Business Podcast: Wow. So did you think your test case would bring you to where you are today?

Jay Moore: Nope. No. Not at all. I have been called sometimes on experiments. Sometimes the experiment that may have gone awry because when I started I actually thought, you know, this is something that I'll make an investment of it, some time, you know, a couple of thousand bucks, probably, you know, three months, six months a year. Kind of get the feel where I never had any intention at that time to really take off and grow a business. I was doing it strictly to learn about the internet so I can help the client that I work for better understand it and a better job, but you know, as soon as we got online things really took off.

Small Business Podcast: So, much would you have to invest from the time you had the idea till you sold your first unit?

Jay Moore: Well, dollar wise I mean just, I'm bringing money just minimal, a couple maybe $5000. Hour-wise, usually have 15 hundred man hours on it from the time we started. So most of the time it was mine and my wife, but it wasn't paid time it was basically unpaid time. But that was part of the reason, you know, for us to get into it. To learn about it and we of course recruit that as we move on.

Small Business Podcast: So, how are people buying GPS units before your site was out?

Jay Moore: Well, I mean, there were some internet sites. There's a lot more and I don't know where, I think about all internet sites. There are a lot of people trying it. Five years ago, you know, you could go buy them at Best Buy or Staples or any mass merchandiser, but they weren't nearly as common as they are today. I mean five years ago, Garmin did not advertise on television or ESPN. I mean you did not hear the products or very rarely they are very specialized outdoor magazines or National Geographic or Sportsman Magazine. The big difference now is the big players Magellan and Garmin are putting dollars out in the marketplace to try and draw people out to buy their products.

Small Business Podcast: Now, they are probably pretty expensive back then too, more so than today?

Jay Moore: Oh, yeah. I've older friends that have units that are maybe several hundred dollars that we sell the same technology today for $150.

Small Business Podcast: So that's interesting back when you started. That was a pretty high price for it especially to be selling on the internet, did you worry about that?

Jay Moore: I did a lot. My initial take that I thought the lower price unit would sell a lot faster than I thought the high price unit and even today there are a lot of car units that run a thousand dollars. I'm surprised that a number of people that very easily invest six, seven hundred a thousand dollars on all these units.

Small Business Podcast: Yeah and so did you have the idea that you're going to have to compete on price or how did you decide you were going to set yourself apart from the beginning?

Jay Moore: Well, that's a good question. That's something that I work with clients on almost on a daily basis and one of the things that helped with stores when we started the idea was with the traffic with the product out there, but still I get people to the store and we've experimented endlessly with our pricing structure. But you know, low price, make a low price by increasing shipping. Free shipping with a moderately increased price and yeah, but when we started it was.let's see if we can push them out the doors as cheap as possible and see what happens.

Small Business Podcast: But what was the combination that you finally ended up on that you think works fast?

Jay Moore: Well five years later, I'm not sure I have the perfect combination. You know, I've got a lot of ideas, but our favorite idea right now is we try to be less expensive than the mass retailers. Figuring in the cost of unit and shipping that we try to be, you know, 10 to 20% less than a national retailer. That's usually much more than internet retailer that sells the same unit. But what we're trying to do is retrying to establish the name as a brand and we're working on that and having a fair amount of success.

Small Business Podcast: Now, when you went out to these manufacturers to try and get supply initially, was that a tough time because you had no track record?

Jay Moore: Not as difficult as you would think. There are a couple of different.the manufacturers themselves will sell to you direct, but there are a couple of national distributors that we use that will move the product for us. We don't have to go right to the manufacturer, and even, you know, when we're some couple hundred units a month, but still better for us to buy from a distributor and have them move the product in a warehouse and us take physical control of it. It was actually, we were set up and it took about three months from the original concept, from the time we're online and I was, you know, that was including selling up our distributors.

Small Business Podcast: How long did it take before you were kind of on the radar of something, I mean, does Garmin know you're out there now and it helped you sell more Garmin I guess.

Jay Moore: Well, they know we're here. We work with every national brand Lowrance, Magellan, Garmin, they know we're here. We're authorized to sell every product they sell. They do not say, "Hey, Mr. Gpsdude what can we do to help you sell more product." They will support us by information and by, "Here's what we're gonna do. Here's the direction we're gonna go. Here's the product that we're gonna introduce next quarter." They give us the heads up, give us the guidance so we know where we want to be pushing or these particular products are going away, you know, "Don't stuff a bunch of money on the market on these things." Which is very helpful, you know, there are hundreds of GPS retailers and there might even be thousands, but hundreds for sure. And it has taken a lot to even get to the point where we can talk to them, which is very helpful. But I can't say that they're.they get to call me up and say, "Hey, say what can we do for you today?"

Small Business Podcast: Okay. Well, so what's your best way that you found that most cost effective way to get business online because we got a lot of online folks that are probably using paid search and things like, what have you found that works best for you?

Jay Moore: Well, we are the.and since this is the paid search which means we almost never use it. We work and I preach as a consultant everyday that the key to our success is getting people to our site, yes, but taking money out of pocket once I get there. Because if I. and I use an example, if I have a thousand people coming that store and none of them buy, I haven't done my job. I've got, maybe I got good search results, may be I'm paying a lot of money on my pay per click. But if I get 10 people into that store in a day, most people say that's a failure. But if I sell all 10 of them, I probably succeeded. And we strive to target our advertising to people that want it. And that's people that are outdoors, people doing geocaching. So, we advertise on like, Outdoor Magazine, Monitoring Times Magazine, magazines and newspapers that target our viewers and seniors.

Small Business Podcast: Okay.

Jay Moore: And we try to get those very specific people and say, "Hey, you know, we have this product." And then on top of that we have an email service, could Ask the Dude and that allows people, you know, email us, and like sometimes over a complicated form. That gives us a little personal contact and we find that that personal contact when we're able to communicate with it through email or some that would prefer email because we're still a small company that we have a tremendous amount of success. I mean, well over 70% of those people that inquire on those units we sell.

Small Business Podcast: Wow.

Jay Moore: Yeah.

Small Business Podcast: Now, I know that you use ProStores which is an eBay company, why did you choose them to run your site?

Jay Moore: Well, we switch the ProStores about two and a half years ago. The primary reason that we did it, I look at the service, it was very economical. It was unlike eBay and at that time, two and a half years ago, there were a lot of hosting companies, but a lot of hosting companies we're they're run by Jay or Tom or Tim or Bob. It was a world corporation owns this company and you've got to scratch your head and like, "Wow, they've got a great product but I wonder if they'll be here in two years."

Small Business Podcast: Right.

Jay Moore: And I was very concerned about having a platform that was going to stay with us. We invest by that time, literally, thousands of hours into our system. We went to ProStores, look out, "Hey, you know, eBay is not going anywhere. They're gonna pour a lot of money into this because this is a big-revenue generator for them." You know long term is a good bit. So we switched and make us a direct front calls in their systems. It really, really works well.

Small Business Podcast: Do you also sell then on eBay as well or just through your store?

Jay Moore: We just sell through our store. A number of products that we sell are.we have contractual agreement not to sell them on any auction sites. A number of the products we sell have minimum price, probably that we're not allowed to sell products less than the price they tell us to or advertise it for a price less than their minimum.

Small Business Podcast: Okay. Is that what happens when I see them, you know, add this to your shopping cart or something like that when I see those in stores?

Jay Moore: Yup. Yeah that's exactly what you're seeing Tim. When someone says, add it to your cart to say at lowest price that produce has a.and may see price and the minimum advertised price and there's a policy that you sign and you agree that if they tell me and do not advertise this for less than $200, you do not advertise it less than $200. Across the board in GPS land, they take that very, very seriously. If you're advertising a unit for hundred bucks and they tell you do not advertise less than 200, they will ban you from selling their product. And if you continued, they'll cut you out forever or will turn down your warranty support.

Small Business Podcast: Now, one of the things I noticed of course is that you are GPSDudes so you sell just GPS stuff, did you ever.have you intended to kind of expand out from that, why so narrow?

Jay Moore: Well, part of the theory I have is that when I come to a store one of my segment is I'm looking for one thing. And so, if I'm an outdoor guy, I want to come and I want somebody tell me everything I know about GPS units because there's, you know, there's a couple hundred different unit. And I figure out, if a guy comes next door and is looking for GPS, I don't want to try in some pair of binoculars or a fish finder or a bike or a tent or anything else. I'm not big enough to do that. I don't have a big enough warehouse. I don't have enough money to stock all this stuff, but as a GPS, a guy comes there specialize we can know a lot of about the product that we sell and we can serve them very well. Now, we do have with GPSDude the actual Dude part, we're working that into a number of other stores and we have a plan to have about 20 stores of different Dudes. So you pick your Dude say, and the idea with every one of them is inter focused. When you come to that Dude, that Dude knows everything there is to know about that product or and only that product. So we're not telling you, "Hey, you're here to buy a GPS unit, but take a look at this bike."

Small Business Podcast: Yeah.

Jay Moore: And that's not our thing.

Small Business Podcast: So the name. It just comes to you one day, just at the top of your head or what it was it.

Jay Moore: You know what and you know and a probably a lot of guys do the internet and they did the same thing I did so it's not that unheard of. You know, I set on my little domain registering thing, to see if what names were taken and I spent days typing the GPS, the GPS dot and I just had, you know, "What I'm gonna do, what I'm gonna do." and then a fellow that worked for me and he's a bit old wry, and he grew up in the 70s. He was "dude" everything. I mean it's, "Dude chill." And he said that to me one day, and I was like, "Holy cow that's it. GPSDude." And I stuck it and I work on a couple other names, but it's just and people, I called people up, I'm, and say, gpsdude, oh yeah. And people remember that.

Small Business Podcast: Yeah, it's certainly is, and it's easy to spell and it's to remember.

Jay Moore: Yeah, it's easy to spell. You know that's stupid, once again but you remember don't you? Oh yeah.

Small Business Podcast: So, and do you know anything with the existing customers, do you market to them again, do you find that they are a good base of business or do you always have to go out and try to find new pools of customers.

Jay Moore: I do not market to our old customers. That's one of two things, one I don't have the technology and place to do it well. And secondly, what I'm selling there again is a pretty much a single item. I mean I could go back to them and try and sell them a, you know, a holster or an additional battery or a DC charger and that's something that, you know, as we move on, if I can get the right technology to make it automated, I could do that, but right now I don't have the time, the money or the technology to invest in that.

Small Business Podcast: How important is search engine optimization for your store?

Jay Moore: For us probably, the number one most important thing we do, number two, I would say number two. And I have to close number two, number one being once they come to my store conversion I want them to buy, but the only way to get there is they find them in a search engine. So it is very important that we rank high because it's.our market is very competitive. There is not a tremendous amount of market than the units. We need to make every dollar count. The search engine optimization, it's free, you know. I mean to me, I use analogy as a lot of people do, if you're driving out a business street in your hometown, you know, you're driving around and you're looking, and there are stores in both sides of the road and that is fine. And you know, they are right there on the right, when you see that sign you pulled in the parking lot, you know, buy whatever you need to buy. And you know, the same with when we're doing search engine stuff, the guys are out there are searching and if we don't pop up early, you know, if we're not close to the road, people aren't going to pull into our parking lot and they're not going to, you know, click over to our site. I said, one-two, two-one that and being able to convert them into a sell once they get to our site.

Small Business Podcast: Is that engine optimization stuff do you do that in-house or do you outsource that to somebody?

Jay Moore: We do it in-house.

Small Business Podcast: Okay.

Jay Moore: And that's something that would ProStores has been, it's been a big help to us. In their program, there is some built-in search optimization part that integrates with the site really well and they're not, they're not perfect. I mean if they are perfect everybody who would use it, then thereby be number one and there would be no number two so, you know, what good would that do. can kind of tweak their site. It's very easy to change another tag. It's very easy to get your keywords worked in. We've had a lot of new products that will be top 30 easily within the first months of new products. We put new products on our site. And it's really not unheard of to be top 10 on the Google or Yahoo search on a new product, on a new being.or a brand new product. It's not unheard of course to get top 10 easily in less than a quarter than three months.

Small Business Podcast: Yeah. Doing a good job there, well talk about, kind of jumping around here, we're talking back about that conversation again. Are you just comparing number of business to my homepage versus number of sales or do you get a little more scientific with it?

Jay Moore: Well, I don't know scientific. I break it down by how many people come to the site and then what pages they go to and how many sales we get out of this people. To be honest, I read a lot of different internet news writers just, I mean I do constant reading about, you know, different theories, people have this or they have that and I read them and a lot of the times the jargon is just like, "What in the heck are they talking about." So, I try and break it down and say, "Okay. I got, you know, today or this week, you know, we had 20% of our visitors were repeat visitors. They've been here. Eighty percent are new visitors and I kind of try to take a feel for where they're coming from geographically and I said, "Okay, well here's where they're coming from." And then I look at how many people I get, how many people put stuff in their shopping cart and then how many of those shopping carts are again converted to sales. I don't have any names for it. I just kind of write it, I just write it down in a spreadsheet and look at it and track it, and try to put some sense to it.

Small Business Podcast: Does ProStores help you with those visitors' stats?

Jay Moore: Yes. ProStores has a couple of built-in functions that shows us the statistics, shows us carts, abandoned carts, traffic, if we have problems in our checkout, shows what pages they're going to, then we also use Google Analytics. It tells us a lot of the same information. So, yeah, I mean first of all this is very helpful in that regards. And what I want to get back to the search engine thing to what ProStores is we found that the algorithm, people's algorithm, Yahoo's algorithm, they're slightly different. And we figured it out that depending on what we do with some of our text on the pages, we get ranked differently and some of the engine that ProStores use is we get to tweak those so that the past we found that we did really good in Google, we kind of faltered in Yahoo and some of those functions that ProStores let us get on in kind of tweaked and finagle, we can hit real strong in both of those and a lot of that, you know, a lot of the other monitor search sites too.

Small Business Podcast: Okay. Well, we'll finish off with this question, knowing now if you had to start this all over again today what.anything you do differently? Maybe we should probably go to the top one or two I guess because I know from my own business there are a lot I do differently so.

Jay Moore: Yeah. I mean, I'm a.I've been accused of being kind of a nonfocused person because I will attack our website from every angle everyday and I constantly or I am changing things constantly to see what reaction it has and might just because we're just talking about that conversion. You know, I watch when I change a price what happens to that product. I watch my change shipping. I mean I will go in there. I may just go in there over the weekends, say look, "I'm going free shipping, and I won't advertise it. I'm just going to do it." And then I'll track conversions and then I'll say, "I'm doing $5 shipping." And ProStores let me do that very easily. I mean I can do the whole site and I can have that done probably 10 minutes. Now, what would I do differently being that I keep changing things? When I first started my site, I spent, oh my goodness, hundreds of hours tweaking the site. I mean I changed everything. I change the font 50 times, background colors, font colors, picture and I found when I went live that I was going to have 10,000 visitors the first day. And that site better be perfect at everyway or I'm going to be in it or I'm going to go out of business. I've only been in business for going on 20 years now. I should have known better. And I wasted just a phenomenal amount of time and what I should have done differently is that, "Hey, oh I get to do and see and open and start getting products on there and start getting ranked in the search engine." Because until we got a lot of rankings in search engines of course we're paying a ton of money to get any of those there's, I mean nobody just came to the store and now I look back, I'm probably, you know, I was stupid. I mean probably the first, at least the first year, I spent thousands of dollars on pay.probably thousands of dollars on pay per click advertising that was totally 100% useless because I hadn't set my store up to convert. I made it, you know, I've seen some feature over there, "Oh, I've got to have that." So then I, you know, we program that in there. And then I found out, you know, that didn't matter. That doesn't matter at all, but we can do this or we have that or this is cool. That doesn't matter at all. So that's a long answer to what would I do, I would just simplify it. I would get it online and I would start working on my search engine optimization.

Small Business Podcast: Yeah. It's interesting that you mentioned that that the pay per clicks, so a lot of people talk about the fraud and that how that might be going which that maybe a little true, but also it may just mean that their traffic that they're bringing to their site isn't converting for reasons because of their site, it sounds like one of what you found out.

Jay Moore: Well, I start you know, like I said the first thing, I'm a consultant. I mean that's what I do day-in, day-out and I started to as this experiment to see what I would learn so I could tell other people and I use it and there's a lot of site that's growing, I mean it's just phenomenal, beyond my dreams what it's doing and I see a lot of other thing that I want to do build on that. But I tell clients still, if someone comes to your store, you have to be ready to sell them a product. And if you got a thousand people walk into the door of your store and you're not selling any of them, you're doing something wrong. And it's not a little wrong, it's a lot wrong. And don't tell me that your site is pretty or it's cool and that didn't matter at all.

Small Business Podcast: Yeah you're saying it's pretty simple, but I guess the job done.

Jay Moore: Our site is very simple. I mean this's been a... I keep trying to fix that out a little bit, but it's just you know, if people, they have to have a level of confidence in that store and you talk about the pay per click fraud, I mean who in the world knows, you know. I mean, yeah, I mean it's amazing that you could get so many clicks a day, but you just don't know, but you do know that all of the clicks are not fraudulent. And if you get that many, you know, if you're getting 99% abandoned carts and you know, or you're only selling 1% or half a percent thereby visit your store, something is wrong, it's not fraud, you got the pricings wrong, you got the pictures wrong, you got the descriptions wrong, you check out is filed up I mean that's and a lot of people I talk to, that's one of the things I like about ProStores, is they've got a bunch of templates. And a guy can pay those templates, plug these products in there, get online, and for the most part their templates and a lot of others too are, they're well done. They're not great, but they're very good and they're really a good starting point to get it opened and start working at conversion. And it's, as you can tell sometimes I get a little fired up because I hear this people tell me, "Oh, my store is so pretty." "Well, that' great, but it's not making any money."

Small Business Podcast: Right.

Jay Moore: And that's what we're in business to do is make money.

Small Business Podcast: No question. Well, Jay it's been good. I really appreciate your sharing some of these tips with us today and I think our listeners have learned a lot from it. So, thanks for your time. Well link to Jay's site at Jay thanks again.

Jay Moore: All right Tim thanks a lot for having me.