News Reality

One Watch Collector's Story Of Turning Passion Into Profit

by www.huffingtonpost.com
As a curious child, Derek Dier had an unusual fascination with time. He would stare at his watch as the seconds ticked away, soaking in each moment feeling as if time was passing by at a perfectly slow pace. Growing up, Dier was also obsessed with collecting anything he could get his hands on including stamps, rocks and other items he found trawling through flea markets and garage sales while accompanied by his mother. Little did he realize that one day he would turn his passion for collecting things into an eCommerce business where he would supply rare items to discerning collectors. When Dier was 16 years old, he began building a personal watch collection. At the time he made a rare acquisition: "I found a Canadian Rolex Oyster in a shoebox at a flea market when I was about 16 and that started me collecting vintage watches." Dier adds, "I paid $2 for it." Some of his other early hauls included 1960's models by Gruen, Omega and Bulova in steel. "They were abundant at garage sales for $1 to $2. It was also common to find Hamilton military issue watches at flea markets for around $20. In the early 1980's, solid gold watches of any kind were considered the most valuable, as watch collecting was in its infancy. A clean Rolex Submariner 5512 or 5513 with box and papers was $350 when found used back then." Dier explains that very same model would easily fetch $10,000 now. Turning passion into profit From the ages of 16 to 24, Dier considered watch collecting a hobby, and an expensive one at that. "You would trade one watch for another -- didn't pay as much attention as to whether you made money, but rather wanted to acquire a more desirable or better condition watch than the one you had prior." However, he regularly made the mistake of overpaying for watches, selling pieces for well under market value, and breaking plenty as he learned more about the value and inner workings of timepieces. "I had a 1930's Rolex Prince once. I dropped it on the tile floor in my kitchen and it flew to pieces," Dier laments. "The movement was badly damaged and that was a real hit seeing as I paid $5,000 for it. Not to mention, the numerous watches I broke over the years trying to fix them." Nearly a decade after Dier first fell in love with watches, he began turning a profit on his vintage acquisitions. Though, the process of buying and selling watches was very much analog during those days. Finally, in 1998, Dier launched a website under the URL WatchesToBuy.com. Building a business in the early days of the Internet "In the early days," Dier recalls, "it was about setting up a website and learning how to navigate selling on the Internet." Online commerce was a completely new thing, yet plenty of people were open to it. "I was able to sell a watch within minutes [of posting it online.]" With web design at its infancy and thus best practices sparse, Dier had his own ideas for crafting a compelling user experience. "During the earliest days of the Internet, I really didn't model my website after any other. I tended to keep it very simple. I always looked at it like a menu at a restaurant; if you could glance at it get a couple of previews with photos and a brief description, I figured that's what people wanted. Most websites at the time seem to scroll down the page on and on and on I wanted a one-page easy menu-like appearance. I figured you had to [capture] their attention quickly and photos were the best way to do that." That said, Dier was also aware of the fact that in the "dial-up" days, too many pictures meant painfully slow load times which would theoretically cost him customers. But he chose to ignore that because he knew that online shopping was intimidating for buyers online. Customers who were willing to pay hundreds of dollars for a product they have not yet seen in person wanted to accurately view the different items they could purchase. "Most other sites had descriptions and [fewer] photos, as photos took time to load due to the low bandwidth 'dial-up' connection in the early days. People would complain my website took a long time to load, but in the end they bought the item.... and really, it's a detailed picture that sells the client." And Dier has continued to focus on ways to create a fully informed purchasing experience for shoppers and effectively help his products sell themselves. "To this day, I concentrate on photography above everything else. I think I was one of the first to do this... most watch pictures on the Internet were terrible. Photography was really also my passion at that time, so taking a great picture of a watch was part of the enjoyment. The better the photograph, the quicker the watch sold. I was also one of the first to stitch photos all together to create one collage, that way the client didn't have to look at 5 different pictures of a watch -- only one. I still do it that way to this day. Most other websites did not bother showing side angles or the movement inside. I always made a point of that. It reduced the amount of questions and limited the email chat -- people would just hit the 'Buy It Now' button." Prioritizing the customer experience to grow organically For the most part, Dier's business has grown without major PR coverage, a large advertising budget or strategic partnerships. His site has always ranked well for targeted search terms, and customers that purchased a watch from WatchesToBuy.com regularly returned and emailed their friends about it. Word-of-mouth was huge for the business. Dier credits much of his relative success to an enterprise sales-like approach which mandates providing customers with lightning fast service. Quick responses, he noticed, instill a lot of trust in even the most reluctant buyers. Research published in the Harvard Business Review in 2011 found that online leads have an incredibly short lifespan. According to sales experts and academics James B. Oldroyd, Kristina McElheran and David Elkington, "Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead (which we defined as having a meaningful conversation with a key decision maker) as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later--and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer." Of course, some of what he learned came from his experience throughout his 20-year career as a real estate agent in London, Ontario in Canada. Selling watches was almost like selling houses in that the rep who helped the buyer find exactly what they were looking for in a timely manner almost always closed the sale. A decade after launching WatchesToBuy.com though, Dier decided to quit his day job to manage his eCommerce shop. And now, the business employs Dier and his wife who manages operations. At 50 years young, Dier has nearly 35 years worth of experience studying timepieces, which has made him a bit of a celebrity among rare and vintage watch enthusiasts. Most months, WatchesToBuy.com generates nearly 105,000 visitors. During its peak period around Christmas, the site averages 5,000 visitors per day. All this with minimal advertising; his site's traffic fueled exclusively by search engine optimization and word-of-mouth. Dier's reputation has also helped him secure special opportunities to outfit actors in popular movies and TV shows. So far, Dier has supplied vintage watches for cast members of Mad Men in seasons 5, 6 and 7, to actors in the TV series Magic City, and to talent in the Jersey Boys movie. Dier remembers, "I was sitting at home in the backyard one day and the prop master from Mad Men[, Ellen Freund,] called me. They had been looking for Omega to supply watches but simply didn't get a call back from the company. I was next in line based on their Google search and the style of my inventory. She saw I had a passion for watches and thought I would work hard to provide what they need it quickly." Tips for future eCommerce store owners What has sustained Dier's business all these years though is his increasing knowledge of vintage watches and his disciplined focus on creating an aesthetic experience that buyers actually understand -- and not necessarily one that follows contemporary web design best practices. Dier says, "My advice to any emerging eCommerce entrepreneur is to pay special attention to the visual appearance of the website. Build the content around that. Be original in your design. Remember the first thing people see is the page they land on: how it's laid out, how easy it is to understand what you're selling and how 'inviting' it looks. These are the most important things in my opinion. The same way you look at someone's attire when you first meet them.... we often judge by appearance. If we don't like what we see, we move along."

Image credits: WatchesToBuy.com's Instagram and website

This post originally appeared on Receiptful's eCommerce Success Academy and is republished with permission. ***** Danny Wong is the co-founder of Blank Label, an award-winning luxury menswear company. He also leads marketing for Receiptful, a platform to supercharge all customer interactions for eCommerce stores, and Tenfold, a seamless click-to-dial solution for high-performance sales teams. To connect, tweet him @dannywong1190 or message him on LinkedIn. For more of his clips, visit his portfolio.

-- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.


Read Full Article On www.huffingtonpost.com
Latest
A bill that was amended in the Assembly late Friday could run Uber and Lyft out of business in Nevada, critics of the measure said Monday.
The head of the European Central Bank has given his backing to the Government's plans to sell part of its stake in AIB.
Former Hudson County conspiracy theorist and perennial political candidate Jeff Boss was charged with assault this weekend after harassing a woman on the subway, according to the New York Police Depar
President Trump urged spending more on health care, in a tweet Sunday night – to “make it the best anywhere” – even as his administration’s budget proposal last week call
New Jersey Democratic Sen. Cory Booker — a potential 2020 White House contender and recipient of major campaign contributions from Jared Kushner and others in the Kushner family — declined to endorse
The suspect, Willie Corey Godbolt, was related to or an acquaintance of each victim.              
Ukraine has said it is ready to hold consultations initiated by Russia as part of the trade dispute within the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Economic Development and Trade Ministry of Ukraine sa
Searches in “Yandex.Ukraine” offices have been completed, according to 112 Ukraine correspondent reporting on the events. “Searches ended, some documentation was seized, journalists
The Sarsawa Air Force Station in Saharanpur observed Martyrs' Day to pay tribute to its four air warriors who laid down their lives in the Kargil War. On May 29, 1999, one MI-17 helicopter of the bas
After holding administrative meetings in different districts across the state, the West Bengal government has decided to hold Cabinet meetings in the hills and Jangalmahal also. "We will hold our nex
The police department in Uttar Pradesh has become "rotten" over the last 15 years and the previous governments would make postings of officials "after taking bribe from them", BJP leader and union min
A delegation of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA) today demanded fresh medical test of the women who had alleged that they were raped by a gang of robbers on the Yamuna Expressway i
News broke Monday that President Donald Trump appears to have plagiarized his family coat of arms that appears outside of the Trump National Golf Club outside of Washington. This weekend the Senior PG
He also said Delhi's revenue will increase as it is servicing and producing state
Casino host Bobby DeFroda has been working at Sunset Station since September 1997 — three months after it opened — and at first he wasn’t sold on its prospects for success.
A 21-year-old man has been arrested for allegedly attacking his sister's brother-in-law and slitting his throat. The accused, Rohit, along with a juvenile, attacked Raju for taunting him over his sis
The State Vigilance Organisation today booked three persons in Udhampur, including the former executive officer of Udhampur Municipal Corporation, for raising illegal constructions. A case has been r
G Satheesh Reddy was today given one-year extension in service as the scientific adviser to the defence minister. The Appointments Committee of the Cabinet has approved extension of his tenure for on
Close to 1.25 lakh applications have been received so far for Delhi University's undergraduate programmes since its online registrations began on May 22, with most aspirants coming from the national c
President Donald Trump is famously proud of his reputation as a dealmaker, but his supporters are frustrated that his media critics won’t give him a fair shake. The Republican president has watc
POTENTIAL investors in Davao City are in “wait and see” mode due to the ongoing peace and order threats in Marawi City. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in a press conference on Monday, May 29, at
A P150-MILLION budget proposal for this year for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Davao Region Integrated Halal Program, which is in partnership with three state universities in Mind
AROUND 60 business enterprises last year benefited from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Davao Region's consultancy program, an official said. “Our consultancy program is actually a com
THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)in Davao Region reported that the inflation rate in April this year slowed down to 3.1 percent from 3.9 percent in March. The agency also said this is also low
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Burger King is in trouble with Belgium's monarchy over an advertising campaign asking Belgians to vote online to "crown" the global fast-food giant the true ruler of the country w
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But in the case of Tiger Woods' arrest on DUI, the incident and the sight of a very unflattering mugshot could cost him millions in lost endorsements.
Around 6.2 lakh students to take IGNOU's term-end exams, scheduled between June 1 and June 21. The examination will be held in various centres in Kendriya Vidyalayas, jails and abroad. "For the firs
Top Congress leaders from Karnataka today met Rahul Gandhi here to discuss the party's strategy ahead of next year's assembly election in the state. Sources said all senior party leaders from the sta
Animal rights body PETA has written to the Kerala police demanding strict action against the Youth Congress workers allegedly involved in public butchering of a calf in the state's Kannur district. P
Delhi Lt Governor Anil Baijal today pitched for developing children's parks on gram sabha land and asked civic bodies to consider installing water ATMs in areas under them. The directions were issued
The All Manipur Bar Association today rejected allegations that the lawyer fraternity in the state had steered clear of a case involving the son of Chief Minister N Biren Singh as its members "fear fo
AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - A Dutch court on Monday rejected a request by Akzo Nobel investors for it to take immediate action against the company over its rejection of a takeover bid by U.S. rival PPG In
Markets regulator Sebi on Monday proposed to levy a regulatory fee of USD 1,000 for each P- Note issued by foreign investors and bar issuance of such derivative-based instruments for speculative purp
The committee has recommended measures for faster recovery and could also consider a â??naming and shamingâ?? policy to reveal names of these companies, sources told CNBC-TV18.

Recent News

Meditalk: Diets that could endanger you from heart disease

DEAR Dr. Fritz,
Read Full Article

Dining on the brighter side

WHO wouldn’t want to step into the brighter side of life? Browsing through my Facebook timeline, I came across a page that garnered an interesting number of likes which prompted me to click and check
Read Full Article

Your hair, your crown

ALL my life, I had always had black hair except for some few strands with a streak of white that seemed to beg a lot of attention especially when they would pop near the forehead. I had grown up with
Read Full Article

Climate change may make cities 8 degrees Celsius hotter by year 2100, say researchers!

The projection is based on the worst-case-scenario assumption that emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases continue to rise throughout the 21st century.
Read Full Article

Davao Region inflation rate slows down to 3.1% in April

THE Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA)in Davao Region reported that the inflation rate in April this year slowed down to 3.1 percent from 3.9 percent in March. The agency also said this is also low
Read Full Article

DOST-Davao assists 60 businesses

AROUND 60 business enterprises last year benefited from the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Davao Region's consultancy program, an official said. “Our consultancy program is actually a com
Read Full Article

P150-M budget for DOST halal program in Davao Region

A P150-MILLION budget proposal for this year for the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) in Davao Region Integrated Halal Program, which is in partnership with three state universities in Mind
Read Full Article

Investors in Davao City in 'wait and see' mode

POTENTIAL investors in Davao City are in “wait and see” mode due to the ongoing peace and order threats in Marawi City. Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in a press conference on Monday, May 29, at
Read Full Article

3 bidders qualify for Sucat power plant

MANILA, Philippines - State-run Power Sector Assets and Liabilities Management Corp.
Read Full Article

Popular Finance

 

73% of Americans have financial regrets – don't be one of them

Here are the most common financial mistakes Americans make, and how to avoid them.        
Read Full Article

Huambo: Young entrepreneurs join PROJOVEM Scheme

Huambo - Seventy young entrepreneurs residents of central Huambo province have since February sent their projects to PROJOVEM for financing. ,   Speaking to Angop Monday, the head of the local
Read Full Article

Poultry farmers need 400.000 tons of corn and soybeans

Huambo - At least 400,000d tons of corn and soybeans are needed annually in the country to produce poultry feed said Monday in Central Huambo province the Angolan National Association of Poultry Pr
Read Full Article

Brush fire ignited by weed whacker in Brentwood 95% contained

Brush fire caused the evacuation of 5 homes in hillside neighborhood, but wind was blowing away from residences.
Read Full Article

‘Real Housewives’ alum Yolanda Foster checks out of Westwood with sale at the Carlyle

Yolanda Foster of “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” fame has sold her condominium at the Carlyle Residences in Westwood for the asking price of $4.995 million. Found on the 16fh floor, the th
Read Full Article

San Jose officer 'had no other choice' than to kill man charging with an ax, police say

A police officer fatally shot a man with a history of mental illness after he charged at him and other officers with an ax during a confrontation at a San Jose apartment complex, police said Sunda
Read Full Article

Dodgers place Alex Wood on disabled list with SC joint inflammation

A little more than 10 months removed from elbow surgery, Dodgers pitcher Alex Wood understands the value of caution. He regrets pushing himself through pain last season, and he applied that logic
Read Full Article

Music-focused British series 'People Just Do Nothing' celebrates the 'idiots everywhere'

Underground club culture gets the “Spinal Tap” treatment in “People Just Do Nothing,” a BBC mockumentary series that just landed in North America via Netflix. On this series, which is structured l
Read Full Article

Boxer Sergey Kovalev is ready to spar with buyers for Sherman Oaks home

Former light heavyweight champion Sergey Kovalev has put his home in Sherman Oaks in the real estate ring at $2.15 million. The two-story house, built in 1953 and recently remodeled, sits on a kno
Read Full Article