CCTV Online Stores Dying Out?

Back when I started IPVM, there was lots and lots of online stores selling CCTV and video surveillance. It was a little ridiculous, especially with most sense low-quality stuff and using low-quality marketing tactics.

In the past year or two, I rarely see or hear from those companies. The obvious exceptions are the really big, generally broad, online retailers who seem to dominate now more than ever. Related, it is harder to even find those smaller stores on Google anymore, which may be one of the root causes of their decline.

Related: Online Video Surveillance Store For Sale where we discussed some of the specific challenges.

What are you seeing? Any thoughts?

Some still exist; you have to left swipe through a gazillion queried pages to find the ones that have survived through business domination and did not rank high for SEO. Maintaining an eCommerce site is NOT an easy task; most think once a website is up and running, people will search, and they will come! The SEO algorithms that exist are tightly controlled and are not open source for obvious reasons. It is highly recommended that eCommerce businesses diversify their digital marketing efforts. The goal is to generate traffic to generate revenue, and solely relying on Google PPC and SEO is not a smart business choice in my opinion; furthermore, SEO is not a onetime configuration and you are all set.

Maybe a bit off topic, but, the question is, how do you promote your brand, products and/or services? DO NOT WAIT FOR CUSTOMERS, GO GET THE CUSTOMERS. Generate a following using social media (Facebook and Twitter), provide fresh content on your website DAILY, Guest blogging is another way to generate traffic to your site (Just be very careful here), EDDM flyers, and believe it or not, good ol' door to door sales. I believe any business can survive from online domination if they have the right tools, resources, and knowledge.

A few years ago it was much easier to get found and for low cost on Google. Once Google started charged for google shopping placement, then many of the no frills companies died out. Also, do to the fact there were so many companies drop shipping items, a typical margin on an item was under 1%. I have seen $500 cost wholesale CCTV cameras selling for $520 which is roughly making $1-2 after credit card fees. Then customers complain there is no support, order tracking is minimal and it takes forever to get the items, items listed online that are not in stock, etc

Distribution wise, most drop ship sellers buy from Scansource, Tri-ed, Wynit, and some Ingram micro. I know scansource used to carry alot more security items before and have scaled back, so less companies to resell.

Overall running an ecommerce only business these days is tough if you want to scale it beyond a very lean operation. Margins are non existent unless you focus on a a few key brands and can provide a value add. I did it for 7 years now, and have seen a marked decline in volumes. I believe most are buying from BH photo, and Amazon as those big players now have access to products that up until a few years ago, that only a few websites could get access to. Addionally, many vendors and distributors are selling direct and to Amazon direct so resellers are getting pushed out.

We have scaled back our service and support and only offer direct sales. We still do around ~$1million a year in sales, but with the margins the way they are, is almost a side business now as you cant support infrastructure of a business on that. With little value in selling security items online for a small player, honestly I make 2x more money building out ecommerce platforms and systems for Enterprise customers.


Good feedback!

Do you roughly how much it costs to be included now in Google Product Search? Say for a $500 camera?

Product Search is a pay per click model, so the costs can be the same for a $10 item or a $500 one. Conversion rates are normally in the 1% range and depending on the item cost per click can be .08 to $3 per click. This depends on the bidding. Its really just a numbers game, you want to keep your conversion rates high and your average conversion cost low. For cctv we dropped everything except for Mobotix as everything else wasnt worth the efforts. Even for mobotix we have very low online sales, and all the volume comes from larger projects we get opportunities on from other online marketing efforts. That proves my assertation that only way to survive is to have a niche market and do it well. Try to compete against amazon and you will just be bashing your head against a wall.

The one last issue I have with Amazon is their search sucks. That, and they will have five listings for the exact same part. That part of Amazon is worse than eBay. At least eBay's search is pretty decent.