Online Selling Success 1.0

Selling archery gear online is vital to existing in today’s digital world.

Online Selling Success 1.0

The days of relying on buyers to walk through your doors and make enough purchases to stay in business are long gone for many retailers. The internet has changed the way folks’ shop, and that includes outdoorsmen and women.

Anything you can imagine is just a click away. Sites such as Amazon and eBay have made it easy to find what you want and have it on your doorsteps in just a few days, sometimes even the next day. This is leaving many sporting goods store owners scratching their heads, trying to figure out how to compete, and in some cases even remain open for business.

To compete with big companies, smaller businesses have to figure out how to navigate the excessive cost of shipping, getting customers to their website and making a purchase, then keeping them coming back to make purchases.

This all sounds overwhelming to some, but to keep the lights on all of these obstacles must be figured out. The good news is there are ways to help lower your logistics costs, drive traffic to your site, and keep customers coming back for all their needs.

Be a One-Stop Shopping Experience

Not many people like to spend all day on their phones or computers searching for what they need to buy. Most people would prefer to visit one website and find what they need all in one place and be done.

In the past, you likely relied on just a select few items such as bows and accessories to keep the doors open on your brick-and-mortar store. Today, however, you must offer a wider variety on online platforms. Bowhunters are not just looking for bows, arrows and broadheads. They are also searching for knives, laser rangefinders, trail cameras, binos, camouflage and everything else that goes along with hunting.

As a retailer, you will have more business if a customer can get on your site and purchase a compound or crossbow that he had read reviews about after the last ATA Show along with the handwarmers needed for the winter ahead and a new knife after he left his old one on the ground after field-dressing the last deer he harvested. Make it easy for your customers to find what they want.

Offering popular items such as knives will attract all men and women who hunt, not just bowhunters.
Offering popular items such as knives will attract all men and women who hunt, not just bowhunters.

An Appealing Website

One part of making it easy for customers to find what they want is to have a website that can be navigated through easily. I have left many websites after just a few seconds because the font was hard to read, or the drop-down menus were not easy to find.

You want a site that is visually appealing yet still easy to use. Building a website has become easier over the years thanks to companies that walk you through the process once you buy a domain or a yearly plan from them. 

These types of websites are good and definitely better than nothing at all. But these are cookie cutter sites that are popping up all over the web. My advice is to invest in having a professional build your site for you. These professionals will also be there for you should any problems arise later down the road. Yes, there is more cost upfront, and there might even be a monthly or yearly fee for the site to be managed for you. However, it will eventually save you money and time, as it will be one less thing to worry about. An attractive site that is user-friendly will drive sales, easily making up for any marginal fees you might have to pay a manager.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Many bow shop owners want to know how to drive more traffic to their site. That is actually the million-dollar question. Everyone wants to be the first company to pop up when a person types in “hunting compound bow” in the search bar of their phone or laptop. The truth is, there can be only one company that ranks at the very top.

If you cannot be the first company that pops up, then your goal is to be as close to the top as possible. This is done by having a good SEO — search engine optimization.

SEO is important because it can help you get free targeted traffic from search engines. Search engines serve billions of users per day, and if you want to get a part of the traffic, your website should appear in the top positions for related searches. According to studies, more than 70% of search engine users are more likely to click on one of the top five suggestions in the search engine results pages (SERPS).

To get the most results from SEO, you have to understand how it works. When a user types a search query, search engine algorithms look into their index and find the best pages to satisfy the user’s intent. Pages most likely to satisfy the user appear in the first positions of the organic results.

Ranking algorithms use many factors, and no one knows exactly what these factors are. It is Google’s highly kept secret that has been kept private for years, and they are not about to share it now.

Let us face it, most sporting goods retailers are not computer geeks. Luckily, there are a lot of people out there that make their living helping people like us who are tech challenged. 

Hiring a company or individual that has a good grasp on how SEO works and being able to implement that within your website is the key to having a successful online business. Unless someone is specifically Googling your store, you might be next to impossible to find on the web without a professional in your corner making sure your site is the best it can be, and continues to rank high on search engine results.


Another good course of action to help potential buyers find your site is through digital marketing. Very simply, digital marketing works by creating campaigns that have a specific goal. This can be to increase brand awareness, get more traffic to your website, make more sales, get more followers on social media, get more likes, etc.

Social media marketing is everywhere. You cannot get on a social media platform such as Facebook or Instagram without seeing an ad of some sort. And oftentimes those ads are for something you just searched for the day prior. Digital marketing is the process of promoting your store and products on social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Social media marketing can be used in a digital marketing campaign to connect with your target audience, build a community around your brand, and drive website traffic.

Another good marketing route is email marketing. Even though social media marketing is great, email marketing is still king when it comes to generating online sales.

Do not confuse email marketing with all the spam emails you receive every day. They are two different things.

Email marketing and/or text marketing is a wonderful way to let your customers know of new products and sales you might be running without filling their inboxes with a lot of junk. The good thing about email marketing is recipients of the emails already want to hear from you. You might already have their email from them being past customers or providing their email from other forms of marketing you’ve done.

Let your customers know when you have new products in stock, running sales, giveaways, etc. There is no easier way to do this than by sending an email or text to potential buyers. Remember, this is not spam. They freely gave you their information. All you’re doing is reminding them every so often of the great deals you have going on.

Small items such as seasonings or even some clothing items can be shipped in poly bags to reduce shipping costs.
Small items such as seasonings or even some clothing items can be shipped in poly bags to reduce shipping costs.


Too many businesses stick with the first shipping carrier that they come across. Almost all shipping carriers change their pricing based on volume. The higher the volume, the lower the price.

Too many small businesses don’t realize they are able to negotiate shipping prices. Visit the offices of a few local carriers or talk to them over the phone to find the best deal possible. 

Heavier packages generally cost more to ship unless you have opted for flat-rate shipping. If you are printing the labels and shipping everything from your shop, you might want to consider buying a postage scale. This will allow you to know exactly what each package weighs and give you the best price. The dimension of your package also factors in the price of packages. Ship as small as possible.

USPS, UPS and FedEx often provide discounted or even free packaging supplies to small business owners. Packaging material such as bubble wrap, poly mailers, and other packing materials can be bought in bulk quantities, which will result in added cost savings for your business.

Most people don’t realize they might be able to save up to 16% on priority mail orders via USPS by simply paying for shipping online. This figure can go all the way to 60% for express shipping. This will involve setting up an account with these carriers, but it is worth it.

Prepaid shipping offers a discount of up to 20%. What this means is you buy a bunch of shipping labels and put them on packages when they are going to be shipped, instead of paying for each when you have to ship it. This is the ideal choice for people who know that same weight packages will be shipped out repeatedly from their company.

If you have to ship non-fragile goods such as clothing, consider using poly mailers instead of boxes. Poly mailers are cheap because they take up less space and reduce packaging costs. Conventional tape can be used for sealing the poly bags.

Maximize Impulse Buys

At some point or another, everyone has made an impulse purchase. Standing in line at the grocery store, only to pick up a Reese’s or ChapStick and set it on the counter. The same thing can be done online. It might not be a candy bar, but items such as bow wax, wind detectors or handwarmers are all good examples of items that can be used for impulse buying.

You might not have a checkout line on your online store, but you do have a checkout page. This page is the perfect opportunity to remind shoppers of things they might be missing in their cart but cannot live without. 

Incorporate pop-up ads for these items. Make these pop-ups stand out and make sure your customers know they are getting a good deal if they add the product to their cart. 

Another way to incorporate impulse buying is to advertise these accessories, which are often small and lightweight, as shipping for no additional cost. Buyers are more likely to make that purchase if it won’t cost them additional shipping. Also, buyers will continue to shop with your company because they know they are getting a good deal.

An accurate shipping scale is necessary to get precise shipping costs.
An accurate shipping scale is necessary to get precise shipping costs.

Sidebar: Better Postage Rates

If you’re an eCommerce business owner, shipping costs can be your biggest expense outside of the cost of goods sold. And guess what? As your business grows and scales, the cost of postage only increases. Paying full retail price for postage adds up FAST. It can even sink your small business if you’re not careful! Therefore, every small business owner should buy postage with shipping software from third-party postage providers that lets users access Commercial Plus Pricing rates. 

Sidebar: The Lure of Free Shipping

Who doesn’t love free shipping? A survey done by the company Return Customer found that 93% of customers preferred free shipping over other benefits. Free shipping allows customers to feel like they were getting something for nothing.

Offering free shipping costs you money, but as the Return Customer survey points out, you can use higher-priced items to offset the cost of free shipping. Another option is to figure out the value of your average order and then set the free shipping threshold $20 above that.

This is where impulse buying comes in. Have a minimum purchase amount in order for customers to qualify for free shipping. When they get to checkout, remind them of the offer, and encourage them to add items to their cart to access the special offer. You can even suggest low-priced items that will get them to the minimum requirement.

Quivers, releases and stabilizers are ideal items to sell online because the end user doesn’t need the assistance of a pro shop employee to set up the gear.
Quivers, releases and stabilizers are ideal items to sell online because the end user doesn’t need the assistance of a pro shop employee to set up the gear.

Sidebar: Selling More Quivers, Stabilizers and Releases

Of the many important accessories every online store must carry, three of the most popular are quivers, stabilizers and releases. They sell so well online because the products can be used or quickly installed without the aid or advice of a bow tech. Potential buyers will likely do their research beforehand in the form of reading reviews, watching videos, and talking with other bowhunters. So, make sure you have a wide assortment to choose from to accommodate anyone’s budget. Not every hunter is willing to spend $300 on a quiver. For that reason, it’s smart to offer products that fall into price points that I’ll call “good, better and best.”

Examples of stabilizers and their different price points include the Trophy Ridge Hitman Stabilizer Kit ($174.99), Doinker Carbon Flex Stabilizer ($88.99), and the Limbsaver Mini S-Coil Stabilizer ($16.99).

Quiver examples: TightSpot Airlock Quiver ($199.95) is near the top end, in the middle are quivers such as the Black Mountain Torment ($49.99), and on the low end you will find quivers like the TruGlo Tuff-Loc Quiver ($19.99).

Releases examples: T.R.U. Ball Ultimate Quicksilver 3 ($354.99) is definitely at the high end. You expect to find many releases in the mid-price range such as the Tru-Fire Edge FT ($84.99), and many that are in the same price range as the Trophy Ridge ArchX ($24.99).


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