Peoria, Ariz.-based S&S Tire Co. (AZ) knows specialty tires. The three-outlet dealership is the largest supplier of golf course tires in Arizona. The company has long been a major force when it comes to ATV, lawn and garden and other niche tires. And it’s now selling products online via its four-month-old e-commerce Web site, www.specialtytiresusa.com.
The site — which sells golf course, lawn and garden and ATV tires, as well as related accessories like wheels and golf cart lift kits — is moving a lot of product, according to S&S Tire President Bob Slagle. While he declined to discuss units sold so far, he says sales are trending upward each month. “March was (the site’s) best month ever.”
Slagle and his son, S&S Tire co-owner Rob Slagle, began developing the Web site last summer. “We felt like we had a price advantage in certain niches because of the volume of business we do,” says Bob.
They mapped out the site’s content and after interviewing several vendors, hired a third party to build it. “We interviewed several companies. The one we chose was not the least expensive.”
The Slagles wanted a clean-looking, easy-to-navigate, user-friendly site that would give browsers as much product data as possible.
They wanted each product listing to be accompanied by a photo, a description of features and benefits, and an up-front price.
Most importantly, the site had to offer secure ordering for customers using credit cards. (“There are software platforms you can buy that have ordering processes built into them,” says Bob.)
All told, the Slagles put more than $16,000 into the site before it launched in December.
“We have three target markets for the site. One is golf cart tires and lift kits, the second is ATV tires and the other is lawn and garden tires. But the site certainly encompasses other things, such as solid tires, wheelbarrow tires and non-marking tires.”
Lawn and garden tires — including mower tires — have emerged as the Web site’s top sellers. One reason is that they are easy to ship, according to Bob.
“Some tires do not lend themselves to shipping across the country,” he says. “I would sell a heavy forklift tire through the site if I had the opportunity, but in reality, the freight would be so much that it would be prohibitive.”
S&S Tire has created a dedicated phone line for customers who don’t want to submit their credit card information. The line is manned by an employee who spends most of his time taking online orders. “We try to have one specific person” dedicated to the site.
The site also contains a frequently asked questions feature, which addresses common inquiries about shipping, as well as tire applications and maintenance.
Orders are coming in from all over the country, including Florida and Hawaii. “Weight and shipping charges are already computed” by the site’s order processing system.
The site’s search engine positioning has played a big role in getting the word out, says Bob. Google the words “specialty tires” and a link to www.specialtytiresusa.com pops up on Google’s first results page.
This is absolutely critical to marketing the site, he explains. “You can have the best site in the world, but if it doesn’t come up in the first (links) that show up, or at least on the first page, you’re not going to accomplish much.”
Bob is considering other strategies to boost awareness of the Web site, including reaching out to ATV enthusiast clubs. “Maybe we can run an ad on a club’s Web site or in a club newsletter?”
The goal is continuous improvement. “We’re constantly tweaking the site.” Imminent upgrades include more detailed product information, new graphics and improving the efficiency of the site’s search engine.
“I can’t emphasize enough that this is a work in progress. We want to see our business grow and we think it will.” ■
Self-promotion: Duro uses Web site to educate
Specialty tire manufacturer Duro Tire & Wheel doesn’t sell tires through its Web site, www.durotire.com, but it does use the site to promote its products and highlight related information, including features and sizing.
The goals of the Web site are to create awareness and build the Duro brand, reports Steve Richardson, director of sales and marketing for Duro.
Richardson says selling specialty tires has always been a person-to-person business. He believes that dealers who wish to sell those products online need to include as much detail as possible within their Web sites.
As for Duro’s future business, he says the company is in the process of building its passenger and light truck line-up.
“It’s all part of the goal we set five years ago. That’s where we wanted to be — in the passenger and light truck radial market. This is the next big thing for us.”