Online retailer of outdoor furniture.
John Strahan saw an opportunity to provide quality outdoor furniture products at very competitive prices, in an online environment. The existing industry operated on low volume, and very high margins, and we saw an opening for the opposite approach – high volume, low margin sales.
This is what John shared about his business
Q. Describe your business and products/services you offer.
Outdoor Living Direct is Australia’s largest online retailer of outdoor furniture, specialising in lounge, dining, occasional and balcony furniture, and accessories.
Q. How long have you been in business?
Outdoor Living Direct has been operating since August 2010.
Q. How many hours a week do you work in your business?
Personally – around 50-60. We are open 7 days per week during business hours. In fact, we are only closed 4 days per year.
Q. What kind of online and offline marketing do you do and which is working for you?
We use various marketing tools. By far our biggest spend is Google Adwords, and the vast majority of customers come from this channel. We find it to be more cost effective than traditional advertising, and customers can be directed straight to our website. We also augment our digital marketing with traditional newspaper advertising, which works, but is less cost effective.
Q. What mistakes have you made in running your business and what lessons have you learnt from those?
Ha ha, we don’t have time to run through them all! Seriously, I think the easiest mistake to make in an importing business, whether you are selling online or not, is ineffective inventory management. Also, getting the balance right between running a lean operation, but having enough staff to effectively manage the day-to-day operations. You can try and do too much yourself, which can be a false economy.
Q. How has your website helped you run your business?
Virtually all of our business is driven by the website, even customers that visit our showroom have seen the website first. We’re now on our third website, and it’s important to have a website that’s highly functional, but easy to use.
Q. What obstacles or challenges are you facing at the moment?
There’s a number of them. With the ‘rise and rise’ of ecommerce, there’s been a huge increase in competition, in most markets, including ours. Some of the newer players see an opportunity for a quick profit, and sadly they start flooding the market with cheap quality imports, which damages the market for everyone. Accordingly, we’re finding the vast majority of customers are trying to barter for a relly cheap price, even on good quality products that are already on sale. We’re also finding the increasing costs of business compliance to be a challenge.
For more information visit Outdoor Living Direct website.