Merchant Stories : Look Up Every Once in Awhile – Audio Den

What influenced your decision to start your e-commerce store?
Audio Den started in the 1970’s as a small brick and mortar company based in Long Island, New York. Since that time, the way consumers shop and interact with technology has evolved. We didn’t want to be left be behind so we decided to launch our e-commerce store in order to allow shoppers to purchase our products online. We still have our retail store and remain loyal to our local roots. However, our ability to make changes to our business model has been a big reason we have been around for 5 decades and counting.

Tell us about your business?
We sell audio, video, and smart home technology products. This includes anything from wireless audio systems, to media streamers, to HD televisions and everything in between. Our suppliers include industry leading brands such as Savant, Lutron, and Control4. What makes our business unique is we don’t just sell products – we also offer home automation services in New York. We are experts on how to integrate cutting edge technology into the design of a home. We install security systems, whole-home audio programs, and lighting control solutions that can be managed from a person’s phone.

Do you currently run your store full time or part time? Tell us about the experience
It’s a full time job. Audio Den has been a family business for many years. We take a lot of pride in the work we do.

Which e-commerce platform do you use?
Shopify

How did you get your first products stocked?
We partnered with another company that was importing a really unique product. The limited distribution with a desirable product meant we had our hands busy, but we learned a lot and it was invaluable exposure.

How do you interact with your customers?
We prefer email because it enables us to provide the best service. However, at our core we are a people business. It’s always great to speak to our customers directly. Customer support has become one of our biggest selling points and advantages.

What are some of the challenges you’re facing now or have faced, if any?
Pricing pressure from sellers willing to live on super slim margins. The problem is this means the merchant doesn’t make enough to provide meaningful support to customers, so in the end, the customers lose.

What apps/plugins are most useful to you?
We use the QuickBooks app to keep our accounting in-order. We also use an app called Spice Gallery that lets us make collages of images. It creates a great online user experience.

Are there any personal business strategies you’ve developed with time?
I wouldn’t say that I have any personal business strategies that I’ve developed, but it has become apparent over the last four decades that there’s no way around hard work and customer service. if you sell a product or service you will always own business by being the nicer and more helpful alternative.

If there was something you could change about your e-commerce journey so far, what will that be?
We would have started sooner. We had a significant mail order business before the internet, and should have seen the potential of e-commerce sooner. Now, we realize that an effective e-commerce strategy is going to be important to our future success. I think the lesson is it’s important to be focused on the business you’re working on, but it’s also important to look up every once in awhile and make sure that you don’t miss opportunities.

Any advice for upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs?
My recommendation for upcoming e-commerce entrepreneurs is to validate demand for your products before you invest the time and money into building an online store. You can do this with keyword research, which includes studying the search volume of of the product terms and types of questions prospective customers are asking. You also want to look at the competition and form a plan for how you could potentially differentiate your e-commerce store. A big part of success in e-commerce comes down to selecting the right market.

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