The Way We Work

In 2008, sales for tactical gear store Range Master were good, but not incredible. Located in a storefront in San Luis Obispo, CA, cash flow came almost exclusively from in-store customers—and Collin Perry wanted more.

For several years, e-commerce transactions had steadily become a bigger and bigger part of the retail industry’s overall sales. As the sales and marketing director, Perry recognized that Range Master, his father’s store, was missing out on that trend.

Although he’d just recently begun working with his dad, Perry wasn’t content to rely solely on local business. With a background in Internet marketing, his vision was to reach customers wherever they could be found.

“I sat down with my dad and told him, ‘Hey, we could change this,'” Perry explained. He told his dad that the store needed to tap into the online market so they could create an additional revenue stream. And while the existing site did have an e-commerce section, it was so poorly designed that it was generating next to nothing in sales.

As he set out to invigorate web sales, he ran into another problem: their web development and hosting company. The company that was hosting the site was awful, according to Perry. “It was very difficult to get them to make any changes and they would only give us limited administrative access to the site.”

After several months of frustration, he was fed up. He decided to “eliminate the middleman” and venture out on his own, building the site from scratch. The goal? For Range Master Tactical Gear to develop a thriving e-commerce division.

From store to screen

While Perry had some experience with website development, he knew he needed an expert to make his vision reality. At first he considered hiring a local company, but the cost was prohibitive. He began looking for other options and, when a friend told him about oDesk, Perry decided to check it out for himself.

For his first few hiring forays, he discovered there was a bit of a learning curve. “It took a while to put together a remote team,” Perry remarked. “I had to learn how to find people that could do what they said they could do.”

After some initial trial and error, he finally found the online talent he needed. “I hired a number of people who helped with the various pieces of the puzzle, including a server administrator, a web developer, a designer—even a project manager. I was able to assemble a very good core team.”

To jump-start the redesign, he first did his research. He investigated various site designs to find what worked for him and what didn’t. Perry then shared those ideas with the developer to give him an idea of what he wanted done. His online team helped contribute to the final design as well. Perry stated, “It was a collaborative effort.”

As the site’s framework and design took shape, Perry’s next task was to fill in the virtual aisles of the online store with products. “For some of the items, we had to take our own photos and write our own descriptions,” he said. “But many manufacturers provided descriptions and professional photos that we could use.”

Open for business

At the end of two months, the new and improved site was ready. It was time to drum up some traffic.

The store’s brick and mortar customers consistently visited the website already, so he focused on generating more awareness among potential new customers. He used search engine marketing techniques and pay per click (PPC) ads to get the word out. Perry says it took  a combination of all the different marketing channels to achieve success.

Since that time, Internet sales have grown tremendously for the tactical gear store. “Once the new site was in place, our e-commerce sales skyrocketed,” Perry said. He credits his online team for the excellent work done and says that hiring through oDesk provided a high return on investment.

“I’m very happy with how everything turned out,” stated Perry. And what did his boss think? “My dad is very happy as well.”

Julia Camenisch

Contributing Author

Julia Camenisch is a freelance technology and business journalist. She also works as an editor and copywriter for a wide range of clients, including national magazines, small businesses and nonprofit organizations. Julia brings to Upwork a passion for empowering small businesses through the innovative use of technology.