Sales Vs Service
Face it the industry has changed with the introduction eCommerce sales and online shopping and we have all see a dive shop offering a $199 dive certification. So how do you adapt and be profitable?
We have seen many strategies in this transition. Some have worked and some have not. Historically the shop was the place to get certified and buy gear. Many shop owners do not know how to capitalize on the value of having a store.
There are many reasons divers still walk into dive shops. First and most important is service. Some shops will try to scare people into buying gear from them by suggesting they will not be able to get online purchases serviced or will void the warranty. If a shop wants to retain the online shopper they need to be able to capitalize on the service. You can make sure you can service multiple lines even if you do not stock them. Capitalize on service of gear people will likely not ship out for service because of freight costs like Visual inspections of tanks etc. Service will keep people coming in and has little overhead and capital in holding a large inventory.
Another reason people will buy at a shop is convenience. Yes most online retailer will take returns or exchanges if it does not fit but it is a hassle. It is great to be able to walk into a store and try it on. For things like wetsuits, BCD, gloves etc. fit is important. Not to mention they can have it today. With an online store there is no way they can have it today. Why not be known as the shop that guarantees they have your size in stock.
One area I think many shops miss out is in accessories. One reason divers will go online is they are looking for an accessory and they cannot find it at a shop or want to make sure it will meet their needs. However everyone hates paying $6 in shipping on a $9 item. Accessories often have larger margins, have low holding cost and do not take up much space. If you could add a $10 sale to almost every diver that walks through your doors it would drastically increase profits.