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‘Dip your toes’ into e-commerce, then watch online sales thrive

By Chris Peters

Business has been strong at New Haven Powersports in 2011, and Chris Green is expecting more of the same in 2012 out of his dealership. With sales up almost across the board, the Connecticut-based dealership is poised for growth, and much of that growth will have its origins in e-commerce.

“How we’ve dipped our toes into [e-commerce], which is probably like what a lot of dealers do — we were getting rid of old parts,” Green said. “For being in business as long as we’ve been, we’ve used eBay as a way to get rid of used bike parts or whatever. Now we use it for a lot more than just used parts. We’re putting brand new stuff online. We also opened up an Amazon store and our PSN site continues to grow with e-commerce.”

With the dealership’s e-commerce sales up by nearly 50 percent from last year, Green believes it’s a profit center that can continue to grow.

When Green first spoke to Powersports Business for this story, he mentioned that there were 200 packages ready to go out for delivery that day.

“Everyone talks about door swings and things like that. Two hundred packages going out is equivalent of 200 door swings,” Green said.

By remaining aggressive in e-commerce, New Haven Powersports has opened its virtual doors to a worldwide customer base.

New Haven Powersports has seen such success in its e-commerce sales that it expanded its staff by two employees to meet the demand of online orders.

“What’s the difference of a click of the mouse in Ohio and someone who walks into my store in New Haven? I’m capturing customers I would have never captured,” he said. “We would have never captured anybody in Australia or Singapore. We ship all over the world. Those are people you would have never gotten no matter how big or how fancy your store is.”

The success of e-commerce has allowed Green to expand his staff as well.

“Now we have two people in here that are basically full-time committed to the e-commerce side of it. We’re just continuing to see a huge increase, and that’s just becoming a bigger part of our business,” he said.

“Normally, if I was adjusting the staff to the amount of people walking in my store, then it would be half the size it is right now. The e-commerce thing churns 24-7, so it keeps everybody gainfully employed.”

The e-commerce portion of New Haven Powersports has especially helped pre-owned sales blossom. That is a trend Green sees continuing into 2012.

“We’ve seen growth every year in pre-owned, which has a lot to do with price point,” he said. “A lot of young guys want to be riding, but they can’t drop 11 grand. But you can sell them a two-year-old bike for $7,500. We’ve always been very aggressive. We sell probably 300 pre-owned bikes a year.”

E-commerce and pre-owned sales aren’t the only segments growing for New Haven Powersports. Both the parts and service departments have increased sales by 23 percent or more. Green believes those increases will remain in the coming year.

“As dealers unfortunately drop out, we target our advertising campaigns in those areas to get those people to come back and purchase, and to let them know that there’s a dealer still servicing in that area,” he said.

Green mentioned he has plans to add at least one full-time tech to his service staff to help meet the growing demand.

With a lot of positive momentum heading into the New Year, Green has a very positive outlook.

“For a small shop that’s been in business since 1972, we’re doing a lot of different things. I think we’ll have a better year [in 2012] than we did this year,” he said.

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