E-commerce: A growth accelerator for this Quebec camera manufacturer
Nearly 17 years ago, Yan Gagnon entered the world of business when he decided to market a surveillance camera he designed and manufactured while he was working toward his bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. He quickly realized that the most lucrative market was in hunting cameras— cameras used to monitor game in a given area. It became Gagnon’s first target after he started his Spypoint brand.
The company, now called Vosker, grew quietly during a decade. Things took a turn upwards in 2016, after it developed cameras that could send images via cellular network. Consumers raved about this innovation, and business took off. In 2019, the company decided to develop a second market by creating the Vosker brand, under which it manufactured security cameras.
The Victoriaville, Quebec-based company faced one remaining challenge: how can it reach consumers around the world? It found its answer in e-commerce, which has since enabled the company to record annual sales growth of nearly 3,000% for some of its products.
New brand, new approach
“We decided to focus fully on e-commerce when it targeted the security camera niche”, says Jean-François Boyer, Vice President of Corporate Development at Vosker.
The company began selling Vosker products on Amazon and on its own website in the spring of 2019. The results were instantaneous... and spectacular. That year, sales increased by 200%.
Encouraged by its success with security cameras, the company decided to apply an adapted version of its approach to hunting cameras. It began selling on Amazon through preferred sellers, a handful of sellers identified as official Spypoint brand retailers.
It was another resounding success. "Our sales exploded. If we look at our most popular and affordable product, the Spypoint Link Micro cameras, we see that online sales increased by 3,000% in one year."
The company's overall revenues are expected to increase by 30-40% in 2020, compared with 2019. The portion of sales generated online is expected to reach about 20% at Spypoint and 70% at Vosker.
This rapid growth, while impressive, is not as unusual as one might think. In fact, a BDC study conducted in 2020 shows that 20% of companies generating more than half of their sales online had experienced sales growth of 10% or more in the 12 months preceding the start of the COVID-19 crisis.
The challenge of shipping
The company's online sales are accelerating, but shipping challenges mean that they are not growing as quickly Boyer would like.
The challenge lies not in shipping to consumers, but in shipping to Amazon warehouses. As a result of COVID-19 measures, Amazon has limited restocking, cutting Vosker off from reaching its full sales potential.
"We are constantly negotiating with our contact at Amazon to increase our limits," says Boyer. "We emphasize the fact, quite rightly, that they will quickly sell all the merchandise they stock."
His approach has worked. On several occasions, after Vosker succeeded in its negotiations, sales rose along with its stocking limits.