Personal Computer Supplies has launched what it calls Australia's largest on-line retail ordering service. Located on the Internet, PCS's 60-page Web site offers more than 2,000 computer products including hardware, software, magnetic media and printer consumables, according to PCS Managing Director Stefan Geisler.
What led PCS to forgo the traditional shopfront for its cyberspace equivalent? "The computer industry is highly competitive and in order to stay one step ahead you can't be afraid to try something new," Geisler says. "The Internet is the future as far as selling goes. We're still in the very early days, but once everything is in place, the Internet is where most people will do business."
Not surprisingly, cost was also a factor. Depending on the product, Geisler says he can sell his goods for between 5 and 50 per cent less than many competitors. "The Internet makes everything simple," he says. "I don't need a large retail space, a large staff, or a huge advertising budget." So far, Geisler says his best promotion has come from search engines. "When someone types in Canon or Hewlett-Packard, they're going to see that we sell this equipment."
Geisler says more than 7,500 people visited PCS's Web site in the first month after it went on-line in December. "People who are after something unusual or obscure are approaching us to find out if we've got it," he says. PCS accepts payment via COD courier delivery, bank cheque, or credit card. Has Geisler encountered any consumer wariness of credit card fraud on the Internet? "None. I think fraud of that type on the Internet is greatly exaggerated. It hasn't been a problem," he says.
Establishing a Web site is generally simple and inexpensive. How-ever, the programming nec-essary to create the often sophisticated Web site graphics is not - unless you do it yourself. "I set up our Web site myself," Geisler says. "If I'd hired someone else to do it, it would've cost between $6,000 and $8,000."
But, according to Geisler, there's more to cyberselling than simply setting up a Web site and watching the dollars roll in. You've got to make it fun.
Although he is quick to admit PCS is far from the first computer vendor to sell via the Internet, Geisler thinks other on-line operators are missing the boat. "It's not enough to just set up a Web site," he says. "For instance, in the case of games, you've got to show people what they're getting. We have shareware at our site, where people can download game samples. Every few weeks, I try to update it with a few new games. If the Web site is boring, you're going to lose a lot of customers."