Update: Consumers warned against doing business with Premium Collectables
The Queensland Office of Fair Trading has warned consumers against doing business with online retailer Scott Dwyer and his collectable toy business, Premium Collectables.
Dwyer is alleged to have received $47,097 by way of deposits or full payment, for products he has not supplied.
The OFT is urging any consumers who have had similar dealings with Premium Collectables to contact them at www.qld.gov.au/fairtrading or call 13 QGOV (13 74 68).
Updated: 12:28 AEST, 27/06/2018
Internet Retailing founder, Mark Freidin, chats with Scott Dwyer, owner of online retailer Premium Collectables.
Mark Freidin: Scott, have you always been in the collectables business, and how have you translated this to the web. How did you start out?
Scott Dwyer: Premium Collectables originally started in 2013 under the name Premium Collect.
I decided to leave the car fleet industry after five years in customer service roles. I saw it as an opportunity to onsell some of my own private collectables as well as onsell collectable items picked up at markets and auctions. I found this was only moderately successful with one major hurdle to selling this product type online — because most items on offer were either second hand or preserved for many years it did appear somewhat of a challenge to get commitments from online buyers to purchase high end items unsighted and by photos only. The one exception to this seemed to be toys, which I took more interest in over the course of trading as Premium Collect.
Following six months of intensive research and networking in Asia and North America new opportunities arose to look at a new direction. Due to extensive gaps for toy collectors in the Australian marketplace we identified products we now had means to import that were not presently being sold domestically.
In 2014 we rebranded and relaunched the business as Premiumcollectables.com.au, with a new focus on purely modern day toy collectors. Almost immediately we noticed a lot of attention being given to our website and almost disbelief that we were based in Australia.
We made our presence known in many fan forums, collector groups and social media, and on many occasions we asked our customers and potential consumers what they wanted to see in the toy industry for the ‘adult’ collector. We have ran fan polls and took feedback throughout the journey and pride ourselves on being able to offer a more complete suite of product for a collector than just the odd one or two pieces that may present elsewhere.
The other real part of our growth is what I think is a real appreciation from customers that we offer a proper loyalty program. One that almost immediately yields results the more the customer commitments to your brand. Late last year we also introduced a VIP program for very large buyers or what we see at Premium as the High End Collector Base, who essentially are buying 100 percent of merchandise through premium collectables.
MF: What web platform are you using and how do you manage your inventory and accounting?
SD: We tested a few platforms upon inception, but the final decision was Shopify, based on its very inclusive features that go beyond just a web shop and cart software. It has very solid inventory control for the plan we are on, which is a special plan for use only with high volume turnover business.
Our accounting software also integrates with our Shopify platform, by using quick books, seamless transfer from both platforms maintains time and money that can be dedicated to other tasks within the company.
I would also mention for our online payments, eWay Australia, who form the bridge between the customer buying in the cart and having funds drawn from the account from the bank. They have been a great partner over the three years we have been with them. They are prepeared to offer a professional industry leading secure product to small business start up and provide competitive priced services the larger you grow. Our incidents of online fraud and loss have been exceptionally low, accounting for only 1 per cent of total turnover over a three year period. The product they offer is industry leading and I would recommend any online business concerned about fraud and security to speak to eWay about the product they offer.
MF: How do you promote yourself to get traffic, signups, and conversions to your site?
SD: How we attract and continue to attract customers is where the real foundation of the success is for Premium Collectables. Maintaining a good standing in the Collectors Realm, embedding digital advertising in fan forums, groups and toy news websites are key ways to attract traffic our site that are looking to buy the products we sell.
We also have run many Facebook ad campaigns, maintain a heavy presence of Twitter and recently opened our Instagram account. We also have formed alliances with several toy reviewers with online video presence who feature our products and feature our store.
We have stayed well clear of traditional media, such as news print and radio, because we do not see that as the future or where we would see much growth with our core demographic of customers.
We do have some web video promotions due to start very soon which an exciting new direction for us that we still are keeping under wraps for now. We plan to announce in August what this new venture entails.
MF: What role does social media play in your business?
SD: I mentioned it already but it cannot be understated just how relevant or how big a part social media plays a part in the growth and direction the business takes. We owe so much to our foundation customers who first noticed us on social media and took the chance on a new player in the market and gave us the chance to win there business, the amount of positive feedback through the page and social media we get. I think plays a big part in how fast we moving up in this competitive market.
I think the fact we always pay close attention to what people say about our brand on social media, and really anytime we feel a customer has not had a positive experience we seek them out to obtain clarification as to why there experience was not as premium as it should be.
It is a very customer focused brand because social media is one of our largest pillars in where we stand and how we operate. I don’t think we would even still be in the market , if not for our social media presence and support.
MF: What metrics do you look at on a regular basis?
SD: The basic metrics I look at are, where does our business do well, who is buying from us and where are they from?
We do look at what success rate we have when we receive a visitor to our page, and find one out of two either buy something or have intended to buy something. We find one out of five who leave without buying either come back to us again or after we send a reminder they left the store before the order was completed, come back and finalise it. So we do catch quite a few window shoppers as well with that feature.
Currently our demographic is 18-38 year old males — 80 per cent of our trade is from that group.
I am very passionate about seeing more female customers as I know there is a marketplace for those customers as well. You only need to visit Supanova etc to see there are many females who also find collectable toys a cool hobby, and that is one metric we want to change and are paying close attention too presently.
We also want to pursue our NZ market more. We have distribution licenses to sell into that market and are researching the best ways to promote our brand into the NZ market. We currently sell to only 15 per cent of our customers who are from NZ and with our very low shipping rates we offer this should really be much higher and we aim to make it so.
MF: What are Energon points, do they help build loyalty and return customers?
SD: Aside from social media, this does appear to be one of our biggest drawcards to bring people into the business. It is a rewards program that gives you discounts on orders in the future based on the amount you spend over time. The beauty of our program though is you do not just earn points by buying toys, we give points to customers who refer a new customer who places an order. We give points to customers who share our Facebook page via Facebook, our Twitter page via Twitter. We give points to customers on a adhoc basis who we see mention Premium Collectables in a positive way on a variety of forums on the internet.
So it really is a loyalty program that stays very true to the meaning of loyalty.
It may seem very generous as a program, but we are looking to build long term relationships with our base. Over time this equates to some very large sums of money being offloaded by our collectors solely with Premium. So it is very much here to stay as it has contributed a lot to our growth and customer appreciation.
MF: How has Zippay helped grow the business? Is there a difference in cart size for Zippay customers compared to normal checkouts?
SD: Whereas our bank (NAB) has been of no help at all to us over the last 12 months, Zippay has proven to be an amazing new partnership. I feel the fit between Premium and Zippay is ideal as it combines two premium products together to give consumers more choice.
I am very appreciative to the Zippay team for reaching out to partner with Premium Collectables, as it is still a new relationship but has grown our sales
by 15 per cent in its first two months. I was very sceptical initially after being approached by other so called buy now pay later schemes. But because we had to be very protective of our loyal customer base, we could not endorse a product with anything that would not be beneficial to them. I held many discussions with Zippay before moving ahead, but found there product to be an excellent option to our customers who worry about missing out on the items we sell due to our demand always being unable to keep up with supply.
MF: Are you using any backend smarts such as cart abandonment, Facebook pixel etc?
SD: We do have a Cart Abandon integrated with our store and as such it does have some success in bringing the customer back. This is another space we may work implementing custom discounts , deals etc in order to convert those type of sales.
Facebook Pixel is something we plan to start using more of in August 2016 once our current Facebook marketing campaign ends.