Langford residents may not even realize a thriving e-commerce company lives on Leigh Road.
Robert McDonald moved the company there in spring 2020, packing a truck in Sidney and traversing quiet early-pandemic roads to Skookum Tools Inc.’s new home on the West Shore.
Three years later, Skookum has grown an offshoot business and is up for a provincial award for work in e-commerce.
They started dabbling and investing in online about eight years ago and it was slowly becoming apparent that was the future, McDonald said.
“We were in the process of slowly transitioning … when COVID landed. We hit the ground running and went all in,” he said.
The overwhelming positive in the company’s more than 300 unique Google reviews suggests it’s going well.
Part of the reason is the attention to detail when crafting the website.
“I’ve really studied our user interface,” McDonald said.
He went so far as to enlist his 82-year-old dad to walk through every transaction on the website – noting details that needed clarity for the first-time user.
While every demographic needs for tools at some point – and their clientele runs the gamut – their peak is men aged 55 to 60. Skookum seems to serve a lot of people embarking in online shopping for the first time.
That’s why the website offers a lot of outs, McDonald said, such as at the end when some who become hesitant about sharing credit card or banking information online can pick up the phone to pay.
It’s all about looking at the website from a fresh perspective, likely a reason Skookum Tools is a finalist in the annual Small Business BC Awards for the E-commerce Experience Award honouring their exemplary customer service.
Winning the top prize comes with $10,000, but just making the short list is affirming, McDonald said.
“It just adds credibility to what we’re doing, some of the choices we’ve made.”
Skookum is now an international online supplier of band saw blades, abrasives, end mills and other shop consumables.
“We’re three people in Langford who sell $1 million in product across Canada,” McDonald said.
In 2020, the company launched another online store selling board games and trading cards at Elite 4 Games. Created and run by staffer Ryan O’Keefe, the business targets yet another demographic
“It’s his passion project and it’s growing,” McDonald said.
Now the first Saturday of each month Elite 4 Games hosts trade day with primarily a Pokemon focus. Find the online game store at elite4games.com.
Other nominees in the e-commerce category include Copper Pony Poles + Equestrian Sporting Equipment in Courtenay; Mint Cleaning in Ucluelet; Timber + Gray in Nanaimo; and Two Brothers Toffee in Vancouver.
Winners will be announced at an awards gala June 2 and winners of each category receive a $10,000 prize.