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Jake117

Problems with airsofting retailers?

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As i have said some time ago I wish to start an airsoft store. I was just wondering if anyone could share stories/ advice on how current retailers are lacking and thus, how a new business could potentially get an edge on the competition to stay alive long enough to get established and start turning a profit.

 

Heres and example : My friend ordered his first gun from Landwarrior and paid considerably more for next day delivery in preparation for an airsoft skirmish a few days after. The gun didn't arrive until a week after he had ordered it and so he missed his skirmish.

 

Another example is when I ordered my sniper scope from (i believe) eHobbyasia. The thing didn't arrive for 2 months (a month longer than expected) and when I inquired about it they had sold the last one to someone else and hadn't informed me.

 

Anyways, at the moment I think the biggest problems with airsofting retailers are customer support and inconsistent shipping times and plan to open with a doctrine something along the lines of "always happy to help" or a "guaranteed quality experience", something cheesy but effective like that :)

 

Thanks for any help/ advise/ interesting stories :)

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My friend ordered his first gun from Landwarrior and paid considerably more for next day delivery in preparation for an airsoft skirmish a few days after. The gun didn't arrive until a week after he had ordered it and so he missed his skirmish.

The "next day" is once the courier has receieved it. You'll find out once you're running a shop, that you cannot always ship every order the day the order is placed. Especially a larger company like firesupport which would have larger orders.

 

Another example is when I ordered my sniper scope from (i believe) eHobbyasia. The thing didn't arrive for 2 months (a month longer than expected) and when I inquired about it they had sold the last one to someone else and hadn't informed me.

Ehobby are just horrible with customer service. The quoted month for postage won't include custom times which can take forever. I ordered a G36 drum mag, they sent me a M4 one. After a lot of hassle they offered me credit if i were to send it back AT MY EXPENSE!!! Ended up selling it on eBay for 100% profit but Ehobby were a pain.

 

Anyways, at the moment I think the biggest problems with airsofting retailers are customer support and inconsistent shipping times and plan to open with a doctrine something along the lines of "always happy to help" or a "guaranteed quality experience", something cheesy but effective like that :)

Your motto if trying to be realistic could be "I try and do by best, but things may come up and ruin your plans". Doesn't work does it. You want to bigging your self up (cheesy), how cheesy is up to you :)

 

Main problem with stores is suppliers. Most struggle to run multiple deals with different suppliers so generally stick to a few. Hence why most stores can stock loads of brand A, but have to do small orders or special orders for brand B.

 

Where are you gonna base the store? Online, physical shop?

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very often (in fact most cases) of you not receiveing goods on time is this:

Supply chain

 

as the retailer, the customer is important, but you only have what information on the delivery dates your supplier gives you.and you may not give the whole story because your customers may get pissed off with the reasons/you divulge information you can't (suppliers names, prices etc)

 

as teh supplier/distributor you only really have what information the worldwide distributor gives you, and you may not give the whole story because your retailers may get pissed off - delayed items/item recalls etc.

 

as the worldwide distributor you only have what info the manufacturer gives you, and you may not give the whole story because you might give away new up coming products info to only 1 market (EU, USA, Asia)

 

As the manufacturer FUCK THE POLICE! or some shite like that. no, really. you just make whatever you want when you feel like it. why? whatever you make will get sold, the airsoft market will gobble up all new products with excitement, but it's not like you want to actually make anything for more than a week at a time. Plus, I mean, those chinese kids are really expensive to pay what with having to give the greedy feckers actual rooms to work in.

 

 

and that is the reason airsoft doesn't make you money.

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Tariq: Definitely an online store as I don't think the benefits of a physical store (local customer base & 'test' the guns) will out way the huge capital it would consume, at least not at the start of the business. I think the idea of one of two "main" companies and then less stock of loads of minor ones is a good idea, mainly because its the only practical one, and I'm sure this is what landwarriors does. I was thinking of SRC and maybe a higher end company as the mains as SRC are generally a good low end company but do do good higher end products too. Only problem is I think wolf armories sells a lot of SRC and it may be a better option to sell a brand that competitors don't focus on.

 

Dave: Interesting take on the supply chain of the airsoft world but sounds accurate from what ive heard :P To combat this I'm thinking of things like a "restock" button (customers press it to say they are interested in the product and want it restocked) and holding a decently sized stock but supplying the demand will be the main problem for the business. As for profit I'm hoping to try offer a few services like paint jobs, as im quite a capable spray painter, and things as such. If steady profits are made then I would like to expand into new markets , eg: mainland europe, usa but more likely than not will open and airsoft field to compliment the business.

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Thing is SRC will have a set distributor in the UK, so you'll have to do it through the middle man. And will get stuck with what ever other guns you can get from them.

Biggest company to distribute to the UK is RedWolf (same company, but not the store). They mainly get most of the asian gear in like KA, WE, ICS etc.

 

restock button won't work, as someone could just click them all, you order all that stuff and they just by 1 gun or none at all. If you want to aim at profits from painting, have a look at Nylon Worx. They actually just do all the custom jobs and work closely with Airsoft World.

 

My local store is quite a small one, but they have at least 3-4 members of staff for the shop. will you be able to do all the paperwork (alot of paperwork), run the store, shipping, sales, website management, etc all by yourself and still make money? They work well as they have 2 game sites around the store so they process a lot of sales from their local members. Would you be able to grab people to your shop if you have no draw into the store?

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It seems that apart from one or two big companies, most shops have a site attatched. This gives them a customer base and a regular income from skirmishers. I would be looking at setting up a site first and a store second. the store would service the site kit and then try to get anything else in that a customer wants. With todays worldwide economy there is nothing stopping someone ordering from abroad and waiting. Yes they may have to wait a while or the wrong bit may turn up, however most of the time its flawless and you can see what you get. If you set up something like that in the Uk the amount of stock you will need to have is enormous. Either that or you take the order and order from the far east and are then subject to the same issues as someone who orders direct, but your rep then suffers as you cannot supply the widget for the obscure gun that you promised on your site you could within a time frame.

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Hmmm, what you both are saying seems very sensible. I did start a business plan last year for an airsoft field but my laptop with all the data on it died a month ago and its still in need of fixing :'( Thing is starting an airsoft site is heavily capitol intensive as the buildings aren't cheap. Think I'll have to complete both cash flow forecasts and see which is better but im starting to think the field first dose make more sense :P

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A lot of this will depend on your start-up capital. Will you rent premises or try to operate from home/garage initially?

 

Maybe a start point would be to see which manufacturers will supply you and what their prices will be for various quantities.

 

One possibility would then be to advertise your new online store on the various forums to get your name known. If you start from home on a part-time basis then you could afford to have lower profit margins as you USP. possibly even offer a `buy it for you' type of service where I tell you what I want and then you quote a price and expected delivery time.

 

My buying process would be to try a gun - at least hold it etc. This could be one belonging to a fellow skirmisher rather than in a shop. Then I would google the make/model to see what prices are like. Unless i could make a very large saving by buying from overseas then i would choose to buy from a UK supplier but ideally one as close to me as possible (in case I need after sales service).

 

A lot of airsofters will already have their favourite supplier so you need to see what extra you can offer. Best price is the most obvious as the buyer can check that out for themselves. Best delivery/service/after-care sounds good but maybe needs some history to establish as fact.

 

Have you looked at the posts in the `places to buy' section - that may give a better insight into what people like/dislike about current suppliers.

 

Good luck if you go ahead with this.

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You could start with a physical shop, piggybacking onto an existing skirmish site you'd have to draw up contracts with- many skirmish sites don't have their own shop or a shop at all, so you could have a few offers. If successful this could evolve into a chain of shops on skirmish sites, ie Spar's contract with the MoD where virtually all armed forces bases have a Spar on-site.

But most airsoft trade is done over the 'net so that'd be a starting point.

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