SpyGuy.com sells security systems – hidden cameras, surveillance detectors, audio recorders. The company is located in Richardson, Texas, near Dallas.
Allen Walton's eCommerce site brings in about $ 1 million a year. It offers free ground shipping and lifetime technical support.
The 30-year-old man began working for a security products company, selling closed-circuit systems to homes, businesses, and law enforcement agencies. When a customer who wanted to enter the security industry asked Walton to help him set up his online store, he jumped on the occasion. Then, in May 2014, Walton launches alone, by launching SpyGuy.com.
"Spying equipment can be confusing for people, like you, who have never used it before," reads Spy Guy's home page . "We are here to help you get the answers you need."
Launch of SpyGuy.com on Shopify. The Spy Guy warehouse stores and ships nearly 100 self-made security items, most of which are purchased by international distributors. Orders are packed on a "giant table" in the middle of the room, with daily deliveries in a "picking cart".
"Many people who buy from us do not know what they want or what they need – they just have a problem.Our real value is to help our customers find the right product so that they can make this problem disappear. "
From an office 30 feet from the warehouse, Walton works in the hallway of his director of shipments. Nearby are offices for in-house customer support, and a 600-square-foot video studio.
This video studio is Walton's pride and joy. "Half of the office is the studio – it's built for the website, so we'll have good videos."
"Most of the videos that are on the site, with the exception of the video of the home page, which I filmed a year ago. redo our old videos, after redoing the homepage video – as a test to make sure everything has been properly set up.All category pages will have a video, blog posts with videos, practical videos, that kind of thing. "
The studio started with a $ 600 camera, a $ 200 hands-free microphone, and three $ 500 studio lights. "[The lights] are good, portable and LED, so they do not heat in. Since we are going to shoot videos all the time, we just decided to go ahead and spend some money on it. money for the lights. "
Walton has expanded the studio since then – adding a second camera for the same price, and a green screen to personalize the background.
"When I started, the traditional method was to make a video of less than 2 minutes, but now most of my videos are longer than 5 minutes, and we do not see any drop in buyers watching our videos."
Walton also uses space to photograph every product he sells. A lightbox, purchased from Amazon for $ 450, diffuses light and provides a white catalog-style background with limited shading.
Viewers can be created for much less than $ 450. But Walton says, "Our studio was a bit more expensive than necessary, just for convenience." No interest in photo editing, he pays Pixc, a photo editing service, about $ 3 per image to remove any visible background.
Electronic Commerce Platform
Four years after the launch of Shopify, Walton is happy.
"With Shopify, I can do it all on my own – it's really simple," says Walton, "he likes it works" right out of the box "and uses his app store for all his online services and record keeping.
"Until two months ago, I was using a $ 150 Shopify theme, bought four years ago."
Walton recently worked with a developer-designer to redesign the site, building it from scratch. To do this, he exploited the resources of eCommerceFuel, an online community of online merchants.
"This is a private forum of about 700 people, most of whom own six- or seven-digit stores.And I found the developer there, he is the owner of 39, a shop. "
"I only did the redesign because I wanted a website I was proud of – that I wanted to represent our brand.I did not do it to increase revenues." [increased revenue] I am a professional ecommerce store now, which has had the added benefit of allowing us to earn more money.We seem significantly more reliable.We have looked at all aspects of site: the layout, the navigation elements, our value propositions, a new logo, a new face, a refined way of talking to our customers and positioning ourselves. "
All SpyGuy.com back-end management software integrates with Shopify.
"We use the ShippingEasy Inventory Management Software, which automates all of our shipments.Once an order arrives on our website, a label is automatically printed, for shipping. sender correct.All can be processed in less than one hour.All orders before 4pm be sent the same day. "
Walton's next move was Inventory Planner, a Shopify plugin, for $ 100 a month. "Not only does it keep track of our inventory, but it also does predictive analytics, it tells you when you're going to run out of a product, and it can rearrange manually or automatically."
For research, Walton uses Searchandise, a "fantastic application that makes finding your site so easy.It's better than the default search because it automatically complements with the frequently searched items, as well as the photos and details of your products.It also shows, from the search bar, star reviews for all our products – without even having to press the Enter button. "
Plus, Searchandise is customizable, so Walton can direct search results "to any page we want." If, for example, someone tap into hidden cameras, "rather than giving them a list of directly to the hidden camera landing page .It's really worth it .It's awesome . "
Walton's five employees work primarily from home. Their tasks include search engine optimization, running and responding to customer requests. They are on call weekdays from 9:00 to 19:00. Eastern Time – sometimes arriving at the office, on peak days, to help with shipments.
The idea of a distributed team came from the book "Remote: Office Not Required", by the founders of the project management software Basecamp. Walton read it and was hooked.
"I said," There is no reason why I can not have a remote team. There is no reason for them to come to work in an office. "
"As long as their location does not interfere with their work, they can be in the place they want.This allows me to hire the best candidate for the job. rather than the best candidate nearby. "
SpyGuy.com has an internal call feature that all employees use. "I've gone through all the call center software and really like Dialpad," Walton said
The Dialpad platform replaces its small business telephone system by powering voice, video, messages, and meetings through existing employee devices.
From there, Help Scout makes managing customer communications very easy. With Help Scout, every customer has a self-fulfilling and editable profile [of] in all its history with your business and every employee of the iOS or Android integrated support service to the CRM to send an e -mail, call via Dialpad, and a message via Facebook and LiveChat (a chat provider) "no matter when, no matter where."
The biggest mistakes
Walton says that his biggest mistake was to take a niche where people are "one and done."
"They buy one thing and do not need us anymore, it's expensive to keep having new customers."
Moreover, the nature of the secret espionage equipment makes sure that "we are not a sharable brand. It's a really frustrating thing. We are putting all this effort into having a big business, and that is [not something our customers tend to share]. The conversations about why people need these items are declines. "
Clients may be families of people with Alzheimer's disease, families who suspect elder abuse or mistreatment, business owners who think their employees are stealing, and the list keep on going.
If Walton were to start doing e-commerce again, "I would like something that is valuable and that people are passionate about. I did not know it at that time, but I would have liked it to be consumable, or have cross selling options, or [be] a subscription company. Something like that would have been smart. "
Finally, Walton cites this error: "Do not hire someone [right away] who really knew the design, and who could really help with the direction of the site and the brand." I should have done that's years ago, but I've finally done it, and I'm glad I did it.Now I have a new website where everything makes sense in terms of design. " is intentionally structured and our brand is excellent in all areas. "
"We had a lot of little ones added over time, I got a big commercial name [Spy Guy] and bought the estate [SpyGuy.com] for $ 15,000." It was expensive But it looks like a Silicon Valley startup – it's catchy, memorable, and explains exactly what we're doing … and it's paying off .. None of our products are sold at Walmart Nobody provides technical support, it's our competitive advantage. "