Increasing profits in a declining market. Sam Taylor of Digi Quick discusses camera batteries (episode 189)

Sam Taylor is the co-founder of Digi Quick an online only and marketplace retailer. The business launched in 2006 and they are now the UK sector leader in camera and camcorder accessories.

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About the business

  • Based in Cornwall
  • Launched in 2006
  • Ships worldwide
  • Platform: Magento

How Digi-Quick Got Started

Like a lot of companies, Digi-Quick got started largely by accident. Sam and her partner Paul were both busy professionals working in London–she in Marketing and Paul in Graphic Design. When Sam became pregnant with the couple’s first daughter Lauren, Sam managed to convince Paul to move the family to her childhood stomping grounds in Cornwall. At some point along the way, the couple tried to buy a battery on eBay–a process which ended up being a complete headache. Sam remembers it being nearly impossible to find and unnecessarily complicated to buy.

This poor experience is what caused a lightbulb to go off for the couple,who saw a tangible need and a way to fill it. Before long, they were in China shopping manufacturers and figuring out how to launch their own online retail business. By 2004, the couple had begun selling their wares on eBay and quickly narrowed down their core product offerings to camera and camcorder accessories.Within a year, steady successes had convinced them to transition into a direct to consumer business model and the early version of Digi-Quick was born.

Listen to learn how Digi-Quick grew from a single annoying online experience.

Growing with Keywords

To get started, the duo worked tirelessly for better visibility on Google. Paul’s graphic design background became essential in curating high-quality presentations that were more on par with big brands than their generic brand competitors. The team also spent time crafting well written and dynamic sales copy, which stood out among their mostly Chinese counterparts.

With the presentation buttoned up, Digi-Quick began focusing primarily on keywords and search optimization. Sam points out that because there are innumerable ways to look for a battery, for instance, keywords and search strategies were essential for success. The team also became experts at editing strategies. They did more of what was working and shed everything that didn’t serve them or their business.

Sam says that they left eBay behind eventually in favor of D2C and Amazon, mainly because the burden of eBay customer service–with queries topping out at 10 to 1 compared to other channels–was too extreme to be validated by their margins.

Listen to learn about Digi-Quick’s online evolution.

Finding the Right eCommerce Platform Fit

Like most businesses who have been in the game for a while, Digi-Quick has gone through several iterations of their website and has evolved along with the internet and eCommerce in general. The company has had both an entirely bespoke site and one built with a combination of online tools.

The last website they invested in was on the Magento platform and actually tanked sales by 40% upon its launch. The unexpected setback was due to site speed problems and page loading times among other things. Sam says that while it was shocking, the team rallied on Amazon and eventually resolved the site problems with Magento, which they still use today.

Pared Down Marketing

The challenge in a market like generic technology accessories is figuring out how consumers actually find products. Customers could be searching by the name of the battery, a serial number or the camera that they need the battery for. Add to this the fact that one battery can fit hundreds of different camera models and it’s easy to see how things get complicated. Sam emphasizes that if you’rerunning a business that has similar overlaps, understanding how customers search and understanding keyword searches is a make it or break it skill.

When it comes to marketing, the Digi-Quick team is also especially good at getting the most bang for their buck.

Just as Sam points out that she and Paul don’t work unnecessarily long hours, they also don’t invest in marketing that doesn’t really work for their company. The products Digi-Quick sells are transactional and don’t really need shiny new marketing strategies.  As Sam says,“Nobody wants to be followed around by a battery.”

Armed with this knowledge, Digi-Quick focuses on making their products easy to find and ensures they get sent out as quickly as possible. She points out that 95% of sales on their B2C side of the business are actually new customers and so focusing on building a customer relationship is less crucial to their success.

Thriving in a Declining Market

The digital camera and camcorder accessories industry has been dealt some serious setbacks.Besides the Royal Mail categorizing batteries as dangerous and causing serious problems with shipping–especially internationally–the advent of the iPhone was nearly a death blow and the market is considered to be a declining one. That fact alone would make a lot of entrepreneurs worry about their future, but Sam figured out how to make it work to the company’s advantage.

Digi-Quick has amped up their relationship with Amazon’s couriers who know how to handle hazmat products and they’ve worked out creative ways to make shipping less painful.But Digi-Quick’s biggest success by far is simply hanging on while their competitors dropped out of the business entirely. Sam says that while the sale of cameras and camcorders has dropped significantly, Digi-Quick’s market share has shot through the roof.

Sam’s ability to capitalize on what seems like disaster is indicative of her smarter-not-harder way of working. She says that understanding where you are in the product life cycle allows you to approach the market you’re in more intelligently. Since the market decline, Digi-Quick has actively stopped spending unnecessary money on new websites, fulfillments, plugins and more, and are ensuring that basic needs are met, like keeping everything up to date and making products easy to find.

The Digi-Quick Team and Finding Balance

Digi-Quick runs a lean in-house team and outsources a lot of work. Sam and Paul worked extremely hard up front in order to balance their lifestyle out later, and building a business with plenty of expert partners has allowed them to achieve that. In addition to outsourcing, the effect of not wasting resources on unnecessary or low return tools and marketing strategies makes Digi-Quick an extremely efficient business.

Ultimately, Sam says you do have to plan for the hard times, and that every business has specific challenges, but unlike a lot of business owners, she also recognizes the importance of leading a life you love outside of work.

Book Top Tip

Traffic Top Tip

Get independent reviews. If potential customers haven’t actively searched for your brand, but are looking for a product you sell, reviews are the best thing to convert them from browsing to sales.

Growth Top Tip

Google Merchant Feed. Getting this right is the easiest quick win for retail businesses.

White Board. As a former project manager and obsessive list maker, Sam subscribes to the minimum viable product idea.

Interview Links

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