Sramana: Who was your third hire?
Dan Dillon: Someone to manage content. We realized how important search engine optimization was and how dirty the content was that we received from suppliers. The janitorial supply business is very old. We had to convert the information from fliers and info sheets that manufacturers had into content that we could put on our website. We basically developed our own database full of rich content.
The effect of all of that content work was that when somebody visited our website, they would see all of the information that could be found on a flier, only better. It also meant that we made all of that data available to search engines. If our competitors just scanned in images of the info sheets and flyers, then the customer could still read it but the search engines could not.
Sramana: What was the role of your fourth hire?
Dan Dillon: I hired a full-time IT person for my office. His job was to manage the data and update the data. He helped execute certain marketing tasks. He did things like implement software tracking codes and banner tracking campaigns. He handled all of those types of tasks.
Sramana: Today you have expanded your team to 14 members. What does that team comprise?
Dan Dillon: I have two full-time content writers, four customer service representatives, two shipping people, two technical team members, two accounting people, and a sales-oriented customer services rep in Michigan along with a delivery person to support him.
Sramana: How big is the market you are in? Specifically, how big is the cleaning supply market is in the United States?
Dan Dillon: There were 10,000 brick and mortar distributors in 1990. Today there are 3,000 in the U.S. A lot of them went away due to economic troubles or acquisitions by other companies. We felt that e-commerce was the best way to go. Nobody has a telephone book in their business because everybody goes to Google to search. I don’t know how much the market has shrunk or grown due to recent economic events. The industry itself is easily an $8 billion to $10 billion industry.
Sramana: That means you still have a very small share of this market. The market is fragmented. Who has the top market share in this business?
Dan Dillon: Your local Staples has started venturing into the cleaning space fast and furious. The challenge they face is shelf space and being able to hold enough offerings. Staples and its competitors are definitely trying to capture a portion of that marketplace.