Introduce your business and tell us your story: How did you decide on what to sell, and how did you source your products?
Gray Tools has been in the business of selling industrial-quality hand tools to Canadian professionals since 1912. Up until 2013 the company sold their more than 5000 skus through only one channel: industrial distribution. In the past 5 years we noticed the following trends: the next-generation professionals currently in trade school made their tool purchases at big box stores (Canadian Tire, Home Depot) or online — both channels that Gray Tools did not service. We also received many requests from professionals in more remote parts of Canada with no industrial distribution presence. Starting an online store would allow Gray Tools to become more accessible, and gain brand exposure with a younger, more tech-savvy audience. Gray makes most of its products in Canada, in its own manufacturing facility. We also offer products outsourced from US, Germany, and Spain to name a few countries.
How did you earn your first sales? Which channels are now generating the most traffic and sales for you?
The first sales were generated by our existing email list. Gray is a well-known brand within the industrial mechanics, so the announcement that we opened an online store generated interest and first sales. Referrals from our corporate website GrayTools.com generate the most traffic and sales. Email marketing comes second, Google Adwords third.
Tell us about the back-end of your business. What tools and apps do you use to run your store? How do you handle shipping and fulfillment?
The apps we use are Mailchimp for Shopify, HubLogix (inventory management), Power Tools Suite, and Coupon Carrier. We handle shipment and fulfillment internally, through our warehouse.
What are your top recommendations for new store owners?
Make sure you offer a good quality product that solves a real need. Don't focus too much on social media at the beginning, if you need immediate sales. Provide outstanding customer service, especially if you are a new brand that needs to build trust with its audience.