Three years after launching Satellite Radio Superstore, Matt and Aimee Moffett’s online business is pushing $3 million in sales and their company was recently named one of the top 10 independent retailers by XM Radio.
Satellite Radio Superstore is an authorized XM satellite radio dealer offering products, accessories and service. The store offers customers a large selection of products, including XM satellite radio accessories, a variety of satellite radio and MP3 player choices and XM satellite radio receivers.
Matt spent four months building his first site in his spare time in 2003, but now works with his staff of 12 to help operate the XM Radio store while developing a Sirius (another leading satellite radio provider) website that is scheduled launch soon.
PeC: Why was this particular business started?
Matt Moffett: My wife and I started our business in our home in early 2003. I had worked for her father in the satellite TV business for a number of years. I was turned on to XM Radio at a dealer training and realized the potential of the product right away. We incorporated the business in May 2003 and launched out first website in August 2003.
PeC: Do you sell products through other channels?
Matt Moffett: We just started selling through eBay a few months ago. I have been very hesitant to get on eBay, but my staff encouraged me to do it. It has been a success since day one.
PeC: How do you market your store?
Matt Moffett: We do our SEO (search engine optimization) in-house and some pay-per-click. We do not do any email marketing or spam marketing. We have recently looked at doing shopping sites such as PriceGrabber and others.
PeC: What challenges have you faced launching your business and how have you addressed those?
Matt Moffett: First, gaining credibility with the financial community and banks to obtain the credit-card volume and resources you need to grow a business. Trying to start an Internet business from your home poses problems for many banks and creditcard processors. They think you are a criminal before you even sign your name on the application. We had funds held for six months at a time just because we experienced larger-than-expected growth.We felt we were being punished for being successful.We went through a couple of credit card processors before we found one that was willing to help us grow. In the end we found a processor who was willing to take a risk with us.
Second, finding quality software that can actually help you grow a business without putting you in the poor house. When we started the business we did everything by hand. We double, triple and, even in some cases, entered things five different times into different systems. Things where not very efficient and we struggled to keep above water during the busy season. When we started looking for software to get us to the level we needed to be at, we found the market for small businesses with our type of issues had very little solutions to choose from. So it was a breath of fresh air when we found StoneEdge Order Manager. The program has brought us from being overloaded to having the ability to scale with demand. We currently use the following systems, and all are integrated with StoneEdge: QuickBooks, MonsterCommerce and Salesforce.com. We also use programs such as Intellicontact for email newsletters and ProSite Business Tools, which manages all of our national installations and installers for the commercial business.
Third, staffing and training of good people was a problem that we had to deal with right away.We needed people who could do specific things, but we did not have the resources to pay a lot of money. So I decided to hire guys who did not have a lot of skills and then train them or allow them to gain the skills while on the job. I was able to hire dedicated people who had the desire to learn more and help grow the business. Now I have a welltrained and consistent staff that has been with us since the beginning.
PeC: How do you find products to sell?
Matt Moffett: We buy from both manufacturers and also from distributors.We buy in bulk for some items and drop ship with others. StoneEdge enables us to do both drop shipping and in-house shipping from one convenient interface.
PeC: Why have you been successful?
Matt Moffett: A few things come to mind:
- We have a goal. This is corny, but true, especially if you have employees. Cast the vision and then get to work.
- We aren’t afraid to take risks. If you don’t, your competitor will.
- We haven’t built a business off of price alone. Anyone can sell a product for less than the other guy. The question is will the other guy answer the phone when you need support? Will he post the latest manual to his site? And most importantly, will he be there when you need to return the product? We have built our business around great service and support. This includes how we inform our customers about products and information on our site. It includes how we treat the customer through the buying process and it also includes how we take care of the customer when we have made a mistake. All of this is core to our company.
- Probably the most important is our staff. My wife and I have come to realize that the business could never grow if we never let go. Our staff loves what they do, and they are good at it.We have people doing all of the aspects of business for us, and it has freed me up to grow the business and create new ones.
PeC: How did you decide on using MonsterCommerce and what carts did you use prior to that?
Matt Moffett: I found MonsterCommerce on the Internet back in 2002 and liked the tools they had to offer. Before we used Monster, we had an in-house cart that was less than functional.
PeC: What advice would you give to an ecommerce novice trying to decide which direction to take?
Matt Moffett: I would say to find what people are looking for and what products are new and exciting and build a business around those products. In today’s market, there are too many retailers that sell every product under the sun. Not many say they focus on one thing and do it well. If you want to sell cameras, then be the camera super-seller. Whatever products you want to sell, focus on them and then support it with all your efforts. You will be surprised how effective that strategy will be. When we tell people that we only sell XM and Sirius satellite radio, they are amazed that we can be successful just selling satellite radio. I tell them it is because we are focused on being the best. Sounds corny, but it really is how we feel.