Technically, our little corner of the internet here qualifies as an e-commerce website. You can add our wheels to your shopping cart and check out online using a credit card, just like all those other sites whose URLs show up on your credit card statement every month. We don't have the fancy 1-click bell or the sophisticated live-chat whistle, but that's by design. Or rather, lack of design - the fancier our website is, the higher our infrastructure costs, and the more we'd have to charge you for wheels.
Instead, we pour extra energy into the blog and some of the other content on the site. Instead of cutting-edge online merchandising tools and a best-of-breed content management system, we write a lot of stuff that tells our story. Telling our story is free, and whenever we can spend nothing in order to keep our costs (and your prices) lower, then the story we're trying to tell becomes a little more interesting. Because really, what's more interesting than an $885 set of carbon clinchers? I love that story. I could listen to it every night. It's way better than the $1045 carbon clincher story we would be telling if we upgraded to some posh platform.
While we do what we can to give you as many reasons on the site to try our stuff out, and the rudimentary tools to actually complete the transaction here, the website doesn't sell a lot of wheelsets. It's Dave who sells the wheelsets. The website and the blog and the photos and everything else work pretty hard to keep our customers from ruling us out, but more often than not people still have some questions. So they ask us. And if the questions are about wheels Dave is normally the one to field them. He is the one who has developed the standard operating procedure for our builds, has hand-built and personally tested everything we sell, and has devoted a considerable chunk of his cycling career towards becoming one of the world's leading authorities on bicycle wheels and wheelbuilding. I'm not trying to over-inflate his credibility. After all, we've only been doing this for a year and we don't - like American Classic - start with rods of truded aluminum alloy that we engineer and manufacture ourselves into rims. Guys like Bill Shook are legends in this industry, and would be inaugural members of the bicycle wheel building hall of fame, were there one. We don't purport to even approach that level of expertise or credibility yet.
But Dave is one of those people who has a binary capacity for knowledge. Not content with a passing understanding, once Dave decides something is worth knowing he is a ravenous consumer of information. If a little of a topic is worth his attention, then every word written or spoken or debated on the topic must also be worth his attention. (Think I'm exaggerating?) For the past year, wheel building has had Dave's attention. If it holds his attention for another two or three years, then what I think of now as November's innovative business model will surely be eclipsed by November's innovative proprietary products.
Because we're new, it would be foolish for us to think of the website as a sales tool. I said that more often than not people still have some questions about our products, I meant "almost every single time people still have questions." I did an analysis today of all our wheel sales to see what percentage came through without some prior direct contact - either by email or at a demo event or on the phone. It's 6%. Only one out of every 17 sales goes to somebody we haven't already had a pretty substantial conversation with. The other 94% of buyers may have been qualified by the site, but it's Dave who sold those wheels.
Go ahead and "Add to Basket" and "Continue to Checkout" if you're convinced ours are the wheels for you. But we fully expect you to have some questions and we're happy to answer them until you're satisfied.
Or Dave is anyway.