The main reason that CATF still continues to distribute exclusively thru printed media since 1984? Our readers – a clientele that an online store could not reach otherwise. But other than that and our innate stubbornness, there are a lot of other key factors to consider, and in no particular order here are quite a few:
Target Audience: Quality VS Quantity
There’s no doubt that advertising online allows you to broadcast to a much larger audience, BUT with the growing difficulties with legalities of gun transactions and transport, many Canadian firearm owners do not need or even want to reach buyers outside Canada. With the nature of firearms buy and sell – what is an enormous advantage for some businesses is counterproductive for what we do. At Canadian access, we keep you in-touch with the active, committed core of the Canadian firearms community. A huge portion of our distribution is at gun shows, gun trades and gun clubs – increasing your exposure to the right people!
A whole different generation
Unlike the younger millennial whose face is always glued to their device’s screens, keep in mind that a large portion of the firearm community enjoy outdoor activities that leave them with minimal to no internet access! These are people who enjoy hunting, fishing, camping and etc., with no access to the Internet. A clientele that an online store could not reach otherwise. Back to top
Internet or not?
Why is Canadian Access NOT going to the net? Stupidity? Stubbornness? Both? Or does it actually make some sense? First let me say that this is NOT an indictment of the net which works exceedingly well for some people for some purposes, without a shadow of a doubt!
As we expected, we have seen some of our business disappear in the past few years and leaving us to go to the net . And we have been asked often why we were no going in that direction ourselves.
There are quite a few reasons for this, some that affect us, some that would affect our readers and our advertisers. We also have seen many businesses going the internet way of late, many of them, to disappear rapidly or going stale – We all have come across these business web sites that have not been updated for months, sometimes years. Often, some of our own advertisers ask us not to use the data from their web site because it is so “out of date”!
In no rational order, here are a few reasons that will keep us from following the trend, at least for some time to come.
1) While we had a wave of enthusiastic young people joining us lately and their number among our readers is growing steadily, the bulk of our readership is composed of middle age to older gentlemen and gentleladies, many of them not at ease with the technology involved, especially when it comes to broadcasting payment information, and it would be most unfair to these thousands of faithful readers who have supported and encouraged us for decades to stop providing them with what we think is still a hell of a great tool. Our readers are also , by the simple fact of actually going to the bother and expense of financially supporting us, on the average more committed to the hobby and with more disposable income to indulge in it.
2) We had a survey done amongst our readers a couple years back and the result was astounding. Less than .05% of the responders were in favour of going the internet way. 99% wanted to keep the paper just as it was. Many respondent specifically asking us NOT to go the internet way ! Our paper is read and re-read many times – People circle ads or underline them – then our paper is passed on to friends or dropped at the club house, etc.. And after all the use is squeezed out of it, it still makes a pretty good fire starter (-:
Keep in mind that a large portion of the firearm community does not have access to lightning fast web connection and downloading large files can be both very time consuming and costly to them.
3) The internet is open to a whole scale of cons, frauds, viruses and other inconveniences that simply do not happen with the way we are doing business – No spam for us ! NO lookee-do, no trolls, no tire kickers, no serial browsers! No possibility of someone stealing your identity and raising havoc in your life!
One does not have to be paranoid to fully comprehend that there is no such a thing as a “secure” or “private” transaction” on the net – When you buy anything on the net, your information becomes immediately open to all sort of hacking and distribution, including from Government agencies, knowingly or not ! We believe that there will always be people who will opt for a bit less convenience in exchange for a lot more privacy and security.
One Canadian Auction site honestly warn its clients at the bottom of their home page by stating the following :”All information submitted can be used as evidence – By using our site you agree to allow any data collected to be submitted to law enforcement” No kidding!
4) With the growing difficulties of the legalities of gun transactions, many Canadian firearms owners do not need, or even want, to reach buyers in Zimbabwe or Outer Mongolia – What is an enormous advantages for some businesses is counterproductive for what we do. It is nice to browse some great offerings from a dealer in South Africa but try to buy a gun from him, or sell him one or, perish the thought, engage in some horse trading (-: Even buying or selling anything from or to anyone in the States has become a kafkaesque nightmare of late.
5) Because of our alphabetical classification, one can at a glance find a given item or check the availability and market value of a given firearm without having to read the whole bloody material or browse 50 different web sites.
6) While we could produce Access on the web and sell subscriptions through passwords, such a system is wide open to abuse and not easily controllable. Witness all the trouble and huge expense the big software company have to incur in order to insure their products are not pirated or used without a licence. With a simple security system as we could afford, one could simply broadcast his password to all his friends, by e-mail or through any of the social networks and give our information away, not only depriving us of income but opening our site to abuse, access customer lists, profiles etc .
You will appreciate that the minute this business does not make some sort of a profit, even a minuscule one, it will have to go ! No income : no Canadian Access (-: Paul and his family love to eat once a day, some times even more (-:
7) While some people have switched their interest and buying habits to the net, many never did and many more have second thoughts . This is certainly true for the people we serve. How else to explain our readership is still growing from month to month !.
8) Canadian Access content is updated each month and what you see in our pages not only IS available , but is available in Canada.
9) Running a web based business successfully demands every little bit as much time , work and financial commitment as a regular business. We do not have the staff or the financing to do both and we have chosen to devote our time to the one we know best as well as we can rather than struggle to run two half ass businesses at the same time. Some other reasons come to mind but this is the gist of it.
To the advertisers, there are also some advantages, the primary one being that a large portion of our readers is a different clientele than the people they reach through their web site or coming through the door, a clientèle committed to the trade, they would not reach otherwise.
We have proved this again and again through our surveys and by asking some of our clients to advertise their products at a slightly different price in their web site and in Canadian Access. To the surprise of some, but not ours, some found that they were selling at least as much, and in some specific cases more, from us, old fashion printed rag as we are, than from their sites, depending on the goods advertised and the time of the year.
We have been told the same from people who regularly do the gun shows circuit! It would be wonderful is all web sites were updated regularly but we all know that only a few are – Our monthly format forces one to upgrade information and inventory on a regular basis.
Running an On-Line store takes as much commitment, energy, focus and time as running a “Brick and Mortar” store does. The main flaw people have with the on-line world is that just because you have a site and offer products on your site, doesn’t mean that:
A) The right people will actually find your site and
B) That once people have found your site they will automatically buy your products.
We are perhaps not reaching a HUGE LOT of people but we are reaching the RIGHT people ! For the gun guy, Canadian Access is PAYDIRT!
We might not have the width but we have the depth
More results for less cost equal better return
Ask those website business the ratio of their sale compared to their hit! Many manufacturers offer Co-op advertising programs and one can have them cover most of the cost of advertising on a printed medium
While running display ads, our advertisers have the choice of running their used firearms in our classified which generates also great sale, and this at no extra cost!
While some of them hate us for what they see as a competition to their business, we also access the great majority of dealers in Canada who use our paper as a reference and for checking market prices at any given time or to study the trends from month to month ! Canadian Access reflects the Canadian market and not the U.S. markets like most web sites, with prices and availability that are NOT relevant to Canadians.
One remembers the Shotguns News, a huge US paper with a similar format to ours, that closed his printed paper and went totally to the net a few years back. Less than a year later, they had shut down their web site and returned to their printed version. Makes one wonder!
Will the internet take over all printed papers? In time, perhaps, but if so, it will not be for quite some time and even then, some people will still appreciate and demand the option, convenience, exclusivity, pleasure and especially privacy of holding and using printed material.
As I write this, I just received a copy of a study from NDA bank, an organization that keeps daily statistics on readership of books and newspapers. Their figures show that, while readership for big urban newspaper is dwindling, hard papers readership, especially readership of small volume, niche focused papers like ours, is growing steadily with a Canadian readership of 73% plus.
Am I advising anyone to shut their web site down – NO way! I love my internet ! but if you wish to reach and focus more on the active firearm community and cover the whole field, I know we still have a lot to offer
Thanks to you, I believe we shall be doing this for a while yet (-: