Brian Gluck founded Next Projection in April of 2014 and currently manages two online stores www.4kprojectors.com and www.projectorscreen.com. “We’re an audio/visual reseller with a particular focus on the projection equipment niche,” Brian said. “When beginning the business I found that there were a ton of people out there trying to shop for projector screens that didn't have a good resource to shop online. There were people that tried to position themselves as specialists in the field but I didn’t think they were doing as good of a job as I thought I could do. So I decided to use the experience and expertise I had built over my career to solve that by becoming that specialist myself. I set out to build this brand dedicated to delivering projector screens directly to the consumer - and I never looked back.”
How it all began
With a mission to become the world's largest online resource for projector screens, Brian started his company with rolled up sleeves ready to take on the industry. As a bootstrapped start-up, Next Projection began its journey into ecommerce with channels such as Amazon, Ebay, and Google which was critical for raising revenue at the onset, but Brian found that things would quickly shift in a different direction. “When we launched the business and were waiting for the ramp-up of the actual e-commerce website to be developed, Amazon was probably our largest mechanism for income because there is a very low barrier for entry there. We used that Amazon revenue to help develop the real online store.” And now? “Our online store revenue blows away the Amazon revenue...and we have control over the messaging, we have control over the customer, and we have control over the experience” Brian said.
The largest challenge selling projector equipment
The largest challenge in selling projector equipment was managing the tremendous amount of data from manufacturers that relied on a heavy use of product attributes. “We started this website with 20,000 SKUs. Every SKU of every screen has several attributes assigned to it so we needed a platform that didn’t limit variants and attribute combinations like Shopify does. Just managing that data in itself was a challenge, not to mention finding a platform that would allow us the full control we were looking for.
...we needed a platform that didn’t limit variants and attribute combinations like Shopify does."
Where AmeriCommerce fit in
AmeriCommerce’s robust attribute system played a critical role in bringing Brian’s online store to life. “If AmeriCommerce didn’t have that robust, attribute-faceted navigation, there is no way my business would survive. It’s crucial because we have too many SKUs and we have to enable people to come in and narrow down the selection off of the criteria that is important to them."
How to decide “The Right Platform”
Self Hosted VS SaaS
“With a relatively small team - without full-time designers and full-time developers - a small business owner has to find resources to fill in the gaps where necessary,” Brian said. AmeriCommerce fills in those gaps for Next Projection. “You’re a great partner to work with. Your team supports the servers and all of the infrastructure for me so I don’t have to do any of that stuff that I would have to worry about if I had to host the site on my own. Companies that are using platforms like Magento or Woocommerce need an agency and sometimes even a full team of developers just to keep it running. Even then you’ll still hit limitations! Thanks to you guys I don’t have to worry about any of that so it frees me up to focus my time and money on other things in my business.”
AmeriCommerce didn’t just provide a competitive advantage, the platform also provided Brian with an affordable way to enter the marketplace. “[AmeriCommerce] is an unparalleled value for what you are getting. There is no other software out there with as low of a barrier to entry that is going to provide you the feature set and the flexibility for that price point. The investment in getting started in e-commerce with AmeriCommerce was negligible with what we would be paying for SEO, or Google AdWords, or those other types of things. I spend more on my phone system than I do AmeriCommerce.”
Business owners understand the reality that there’s usually not a one-size-fits-all software for everything a business would need to operate. That’s why AmeriCommerce has developed one of the industry’s most robust and extensive REST API’s available. Brian’s need to manipulate his large amount of data grew more and more as he introduced even more product catalogs . “We needed something with full API access so we could use our middle-ware for data-manipulation and automation. With your API access we can do a tremendous amount of things that we want and how we want. Without AmeriCommerce we would have wasted a lot of time, energy, and money trying out other applications only to discover where their shortcomings were, or having to adapt how we wanted to do business to fit what they offered. I don’t feel that way with AmeriCommerce. The AmeriCommerce developers have been extremely helpful in getting our third party application streamlined with the data presented through the online store.”
Ability To Scale
Many e-commerce platforms charge a percentage of the online store’s sales or will force the user to higher “enterprise” plan levels due to increased sales volume. Both are options Brian refuses to consider. “Why should I be penalized for being more successful? What do they do to deserve that percentage of my company other than provide me software? If you believe you are going to be successful, you don’t want to pay that commission trust me. It adds up fast.” AmeriCommerce’s flat-rate subscription model provides Next Projection with the cost consistency Brian desires without penalizing his success.
In addition, the AmeriCommerce experience increases productivity for Next Projection which is yet another avenue to help the business scale. “By being able to provide an awesome experience for our end-users, with lots of information and enabling them to find what they need with ease, we reduce our burden of having to have sales people...and my website operates 24/7 whereas my sales team only works eight hours a day,” Brian said.
Taking advantage of your tools
Business owners, especially start-ups, looking for an e-commerce platform need value and flexibility as they grow. Next Projection took advantage of AmeriCommerce's strengths in these areas. “Your platform provided me with a better value, with more functions and features than anything else out there. There is no way I could run a sophisticated e-commerce business with multiple SKUs and multiple stores with that T-shirt selling software everyone else keeps talking about,” Brian concluded.
Your platform provided me with a better value, with more functions and features than anything else out there.
Ending the interview we asked Brian if he had one piece of advice for others out there starting an online store. “Focus your energies on items that have less online competition,” he said. In following his passion for projection equipment and partnering with AmeriCommerce, Brian has found tremendous success. “1,000 percent I would recommend [AmeriCommerce]. It’s just an unparalleled value for what you are getting.”