Planet Action Figures has been making collectors dreams come true since 2015. Owned and operated by Aaron Russell, the story behind this highly successful special interest ecommerce website is typical of entrepreneurship in the online world.
Once upon a time… Aaron was an elevator service engineer and pretty unhappy with the daily grind of operating in one of the world’s busiest capital cities and a daily commute taking 3 plus hours, depending on traffic.
Aaron has a passion for all things sci-fi and had the idea of turning his special interest into a business. He started in 2015 and shipped just one order in the first three months. However, through mastering Google Ads and SEO, and leveraging Facebook, he established critical mass that supported much stronger sales performance to set his business on the road to success.
Growing sales is tough. The action figure market is very niche. At the lower end of the spectrum, the perceptions and prices share a lot in common with children’s toys. However, in the main, the market is characterized as one where we see relatively low volumes of sales of big price ticket items to serious collectors, something it shares with the market for luxury goods and other nice-to-have, non-essential items.
Planet Action Figures has established a strong web presence, maximizing awareness amongst the target market. For example, it has a strong Facebook Group with 850 members. This is vital to success, because it is competing for the customer of the small minority of internet shoppers that have the disposable income to support their hobby.
Even though sales are emotionally driven, the relatively high cost of items may be prohibitive. The desire for a visitor to add a piece to a collection is often not strong enough to overcome decisions to abandon the cart.
Aaron noticed another online retailer was using Partial.ly and after further research decided it was a good way forward. Although he is competent at using Shopify to configure and manage Planet Action Figures’ ecommerce store, he is not technical, so he needed assistance from the Partial.ly team.
Once he set the wheels in motion by signing up, it took just 24 hours for the technical support team to integrate Partial.ly into the checkout process. Shoppers simply click into an item they wish to purchase and click the payment plan button on the product page to see any available options to customise and initiate the set-up of a plan.
Aaron has the option to fix or allow down payment, installment or the schedule to be tailored by the customer, within the limits that suit him. He is able to let shoppers enjoy much more payment flexibility. Customer options include pre-order and paying only when an item is shipped; paying over 6 months; and changing payment schedule. Being able to buy things that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford supports a much more pleasurable shopping experience.
With Partial.ly added to its Shopify store, Planet Action Figures now ships in excess of 200 orders on average per month. 95 percent of sales are in the UK with the remainder in the EU. Aaron Russell says: “Partial.ly increased turnover by 100 percent. Currently there are about 2,000 open payment plans. Many of these purchases probably would not have been made if I didn’t offer a Partial.ly Payment Plan option.”
The increase in turnover is impressive, and there’s a couple of things to keep in mind. “Cash flow needs to be closely watched, because you’re shipping goods before you have been paid in full. Overall, I see about 3 percent of payments declined because funds were not available in the buyer’s bank account to meet the Direct Debit automated payment, but that doesn’t necessarily mean payment won’t be made in full,” says Aaron Russell.
It’s a really great piece of software. It lets me offer expensive products and drives sales by making them more affordable to customers. I know it really works because my customers talk on Facebook about how Partial.ly payment Plans helps them to pursue their passion.”