CAST Launches Online Store

Discussion in 'Landscape Lighting' started by steveparrott, Apr 2, 2012.

  1. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,171

    I thought I'd give everyone a heads-up on our online store that launched this morning.

    Why we launched the store.

    For years we resisted online sales because of the following reasons:
    • We didn't want to undermine our work with distributors.
    • We didn't want to compete with contractors.
    • We didn't want homeowners doing poor installations.
    We finally decided that an online store was needed because:
    • Although we have hundreds of distributors, there are large regions that are not served.
    • There are many determined DIY'ers who will not hire a contractor and want an easy way to get our products.
    • Many homeowners are frustrated by having no convenient place to purchase replacement lamps.
    • Some of our distributors have their own online stores, so it's no secret what our products cost to the homeowner.
    Our online solution addresses most of the objections contractors and distributors might have.
    • All online orders go to an order exhange that makes these orders available to all our distributors. Distributors in the near vicinity automatically get the order if they have the product in stock.
    • Visitors to the store are strongly encouraged to hire a professional to design and install their projects. They are given this message on every page, and reminded again just before they check out. We expect many will browse the store and decide not to buy, instead they'll look for a designer.
    • Prices are set at our MAP (minimimum advertised price) which is 20% below retail. We are also enforcing the MAP on everyone who sells our products online.
    • Contractors who live in regions unserved by our distributors may qualify for preferred pricing through the store. Contact Bruce if you're in this category.
    Since our products are not cheap, we don't expect a lot of online sales (except maybe for lamps). We do expect, however, that the existance of the store will increase our online visibility and lead to more referrals to CAST-trained designers.

    Your comments and feedback are welcome.
     
  2. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    Steve, how is the shipping going to be handled for the homeowners? I am not surprised that this is happening. This is the reality of this or any other industry. Naturally, I am not tickled about this but I do understand the companies reasoning. Kudos to you for announcing it instead of having someone tear into you first.
     
  3. S&MLL

    S&MLL LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 751

  4. INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting

    INTEGRA Bespoke Lighting LawnSite Platinum Member
    Posts: 4,102

    Hi Steve. I have always shied away from using any product that is sold direct to customers at anything less than full MSRP pricing. By listing your discounted prices online, you simply strip away any lattitude the contractor has to sell the product for a price that they determine is fair.

    It is not uncommon for lighting pros to sell the components they use to their clients at full MSRP. Now, you have effectively lowered the price they can charge by 20%.

    I would expect that the amount of retail sales you gain will be dramatically offset by the amount of contractor sales you lose due to your online pricing policy.

    Just my $.02 (or is that now $0.016?)
     
  5. RLI Electric

    RLI Electric LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 381

    I agree with James. I rarely try to promote the product that I use. I will tell the client I use what is necessary to get the job done and one of the reasons I am a good choice is because I am familiar with so many of the products that help that end result. This is one more reason that I will not ever promote companies products over the results that I can deliver. It does not matter if it is Cast or any other manufacturer. Free door hangers, magnets, cut sheets for my proposals, flashlights or any other marketing material the manufacturer supplies to "help" my marketing, it is not going to happen for me. I have to market my business because one day they will be selling directly against me and even worse as some other manufacturers that I have heard of, offering demo's or installs.
    Again, this is not a hit against Cast. I think they have some great stuff and I have said before that the wash light fixture is one of the best things that has ever come out in my opinion. However, as the manufacturers have to adjust to the changing business client they will have to expect the installers to do the same.
    A savvy dude once said, "sell systems, not stuff"
     
  6. starry night

    starry night LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,544

    Why would you have ANY retail discount and then (apparently) have a trade discount available to contractors? Or what is the purpose of the " Contractors, Distributors, and Specifiers, Click Here." ?
     
  7. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,171

    The best way for a mfg. to control online discounting (that undermines distributors and contractors) is to establish a MAP (minimum advertised price). Kichler spearheaded this effort and defended it in court. The MAP is never MSRP - there must be some discount - 20% is a conservative one. We post the discount because we want to capture the sales that will be fulfilled by our local distributors.

    As I mentioned before, the trades link is to provide product access to contractors not currently served by our distributors.
     
  8. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,171

    The customer pays for shipping through their shopping cart, although they can pick up the product locally (if it's available) and avoid shipping charges.

    We knew there would be some objections to the store, but, as you say, the industry is changing (as are consumers). We hope that our loyal designers appreciate that (compared to some other lighting companies) our way of doing business is still centered around our support for professionals.
     
  9. Classic Lighting

    Classic Lighting LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 481

    I have mixed feelings about this store. It's good for Cast and the distributor because they are moving more product. It's bad for the contractor because now the end user can cut the contractor out of the chain.

    Part of the reason I have been loyal to Cast is because I knew that consumers had to contact me to get these products. I frequently get referrals from my distributor for a consumer who asks for Cast. Now that advantage is gone.

    I realize that Cast is looking to increase sales. However, it's coming at the expense of the contractor. So much for a business relationship:confused:.
     
  10. steveparrott

    steveparrott Sponsor
    Posts: 1,171

    I understand the concern, but consumers have always been able to buy CAST direct from the distributor - just like they can buy anyone's products. Rest assured, the referrals will still come - only a tiny percentage of DIY'ers are willing to invest the money, time and energy to install a profssional-quality system. And those DIY'ers would never hire a contractor anyway.
     

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