Fighting Internet Sales

By Kenny Wheeler


The first thing I want everyone to understand is that you are never going to prevent some of your customers from buying some merchandise from the internet or a big box discount dive operator. It simply has become a very convenient way to shop, so you have to “get over it.” There are things you can do to combat these purchases.


You cannot ignore this competition, especially for students. It is just too widespread, so you must meet it head-on. It would be best if you acknowledged them to your students and then implant into their minds that they should not buy life support equipment off the internet. Yes, by doing this, some students will still buy from these folks, but those same students would have probably bought from the Internet anyway.


A great way to combat these big box discount stores and the internet is to discontinue any brand that allows internet sales. If you have a supplier that allows internet sales, unlike SCUBAPRO, which forbids it and discounting, then you do not need them. This will reduce the exposure of that particular brand to your students and clients.


The most important thing to combat this type of selling is to have your operation properly inventoried year-round. Today, you cannot expect your customers to wait while you order what they want. If that customer wanted to wait for it, they might as well order it off the internet even if they saved nothing except another trip to your shop. If you do this more than once to your customers, they will likely become regular internet shoppers for SCUBA equipment.


When you have a customer purchase something from the internet, grin and bear it; you do not want to chastise them. That customer will still need service, continuing education, and dive travel. All of these should be profitable areas of your business. The customer will not continue doing business with you if you make the customer feel uncomfortable coming to your shop. They will choose someone else to do future business with and know no one wants that.


Internet sales are here to stay because they are just too convenient. Big box discount stores are here to stay, and it is hard for any diver not to visit one if they are in the area. I can guarantee they are well stocked and merchandised as well. So, do not give your customers any excuse to purchase products you sell from either of these businesses.

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