Paul Vlasic started selling accounting packages online not only to sell more software, but to bring in more clients for his consultancy practice.
He started the Accounting Software Discount Superstore (ASDS) a few months ago "as ... an add-on to my consulting work".
As a business consultant he came across a number of clients seeking advice on what accounting packages to buy. He was sourcing software for his clients by traditional methods as a one-on-one exercise.
"I saw [online purchase] as firstly a way of selling more software, but secondly as a way to bring in more clients [for the consultancy practice]."
The venture is proving successful on both counts, though the business is still a fairly new startup and he expects volumes to grow substantially.
ASDS deals in a variety of accounting packages, all in New Zealand versions, including locally specific features like GST support. This limits the possibility of international sales, but Vlasic is understandably looking forward to Australia's adoption of GST. That could significantly extend the market, he says.
A Web store is very low-cost to operate, Vlasic says, and it gets the company national and potentially international coverage.
The site includes advice about selecting an accounting package, so it is by no means an instant sale. After going through the recommended course, including summoning the short-listed vendors for a demonstration, is the impulse still there to buy online?
"Our product is slightly discounted to retail," he says, "but I find if you've given a customer free advice there's a loyalty there and they tend to come back."
In the mid-stage, of course, a number of the clients seek consultancy services from Vlasic himself. He has not given much attention to other routes for selling the software to a mass market. "I'm involved in too much other work," he says.
The site is promoted to businesses throught their PO boxes, which gives him broad exposure, being directed to every business box number in the country; but he has also ensured a presence on search engines. And the Web site is in the Yellow Pages.
As much as 90% of ASDS sales are by direct download, Vlasic says; there appears to be little nervousness about this, or about paying by credit card online.