Trade Secrets: Sportsman Gun Centre

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REVAMP: Aboo Cattran told us why getting online was top priority for Sportsman Gun Centre

The new Sportsman Gun Centre website is more than just a revamp – it’s an example of why the ‘online age’ is really worth bothering with. We interview Aboo Cattran to find out why.

What’s designing a new website like? Hellish, right? An endless succession of glitches, undetectable programming errors and functional problems you didn’t even realise existed. Seeing a new website go live on time is a rarity – and Aboo Cattran’s not denying any of this. But he knows it’s worth it.

The process of creating the new Sportsman Gun Centre website took around 12 months – but the thought processes went on far longer than that. “The previous website had been around for eight years – we knew probably three years ago we knew probably three years ago we needed to revamp it, but it takes time to get on top of it all. With the EPOS (Electronic Point of Sale) going in two years ago, we always knew this would go on top of it – it was just a matter of building EPOS into three stores and the trade side of the business, then bolting this on top.

The new website updates its stock listings instantly based on the EPOS Link data from Sportsman’s three retail premises, also making promotions live at the same time they go live in store. Other major functions include deeply customisable search function, mobile optimisation and a new design. But what Aboo is most keen to talk about is the new customisable delivery, which he says gives customers “complete control” over their orders. “First, to give them a lead, they’re emailed or texted. Then, they have control over where it’s left, and the company takes a photograph of exactly where the product was left for proof – and it’s all GPSed so it’s all trackable.

“The modern person is so, so busy and we’re trying to make it easy for them. Being able to control the delivery timeslot, specific location and so on takes the pressure off them. Generally most products are delivered to your home, you get left a card, you’ve got to take it to the post office – well, there’s your Saturday morning gone. Why not just have the ability to get it redirected to your work? With our service, you can do that. Or you can tell us to leave it in your shed, and we’ll take a photograph to show you where it’s been dropped.”

It’s a convenience-first model, which is set to be developed further with the addition of retail finance and click-and-collect, both coming soon. “It’s an expansion programme based around the way people shop,” says Aboo. “People have migrated. We have retail stores and now a website that equals them – a complete package. You can walk into our stores, touch and feel – and you can also buy remotely. So if we’ve got a promotion on and you’re not local, you can still take advantage of them.”

All this may sound irrelevant to a gun trade that – spurred on by a flagship product that can’t be bought and sold online – still has large sections that think of digitised registers and online sales as a bit of a faff. But now’s the time to rethink. It’s about adding to your business model rather than replacing it – those businesses that combine the physical and online channels are the ones that do best. And Aboo is confident that tying your sales ledger to your website isn’t just a box-ticking exercise – it has real benefits that save time for staff and can increase turnover, too. “It’s so much easier. The web process we have now is so efficient. It all ties in financially, so there’s no accounting process to it – it’s all done automatically.

“In terms of getting people into a retail premises, in a way, the guns are the honey in the back of that store that draws people in. The website is a second, equally powerful way of getting people in. It’s a massive statement about you as a business and what you stand for.”

View the Sportsman Gun Centre website for yourself at www.sportsmanguncentre.co.uk.

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