5 Minute Read
SHEFFIELD TRANSPORT MODELS (STM) is a conventional high street retail business that has been established for more than 30 years. STM is not a toyshop, it’s hobbyist and caters to enthusiasts – sometimes jokily characterised as ‘boys of all ages’. Its stock range covers all aspects of the model industry, including Model Railway, Die cast Vehicles, Slot Cars including Scalextric, the best in scenery and a very comprehensive range of Transport Books. Like many smaller businesses which retail specialist niche products from a high street unit, it has seen significant changes in the habits of shoppers as the internet has changed the way we all live, work and run our businesses.
In 2008, the trend for online shopping was well established and STM needed to adapt to the eCommerce revolution as the business was at risk of getting left behind. Like many long established, owner operated businesses, it had not really embraced the digital economy.
The owner is not technology-savvy and Phil Wilson was brought into the business as a partner to create an online presence, market the business and implement eCommerce. For a time, online operations centred on the domain http://pufferwillies.co.uk, however, Phil Wilson recognised the need to leverage the high levels of traffic attracted by marketplace stores and established an eBay Shop.
As the look and feel of web design and technical standards evolved, there was also a need to develop a more up-to-date site. Subsequently, the EKM eCommerce platform was selected for implementing the online shopping for the new website, http://pufferwillies-stm.co.uk. This created the problem of managing listings and transactions for 14,000 products across the three eCommerce outlets. “Things didn’t work very well at all,” says Phil Wilson. “Doing it manually made it slow, inefficient and prone to errors. Customer service wasn’t all that it could be…”
In 2013, Pufferwillies selected ChannelGrabber as the technology for solving some of the problems of managing its multiple channels (online and instore) and multiple online stores. Phil Wilson says:“For the bits that ChannelGrabber does well, it makes it easier to manage listings.”
ChannelGrabber is designed to bring together listings, inventory, billing, shipping and messaging across online outlets, on both eCommerce platforms and marketplaces.
ChannelGrabber is intended to be a single source of information to help simplify management. It is designed to accommodate eBay Shops, Amazon Storefronts and eCommerce stores built on platforms including, EKM, Shopify and WooCommerce.
For Pufferwillies, ChannelGrabber is central to managing listings, order processing, invoicing and carrier and postal labelling. Currently, with ChannelGrabber helping to run things, the business is fulfilling around 1,500 orders per month.
Under the Pufferwillies brand, STM has created a strong online presence, competitively retailing a comprehensive range of products from leading manufacturers in three online and one physical location. With help from ChannelGrabber, it has become a trusted and recognisable brand among the transport model community with a reputation for delivering a high degree of customer satisfaction.
By contrast, many transport model shops that failed to embrace eCommerce face problems or have disappeared. However, despite stiff competition from the gravitational pull of immersive and compulsive digital gaming, the transport model hobbyist scene remains buoyant.
For the future, Phil Wilson says: “With ChannelGrabber’s help, we may even be able to stand back and perhaps even retire!”