It takes a man to play airsoft
The online retailer “Grey Shop” sells clothing, accessories and equipment for outdoor activities – airsoft, paintball, etc. The store is currently offering over 1,000 items. All the products are made in Russia and are widely popular across the globe with a particular high number of shoppers from the US, Great Britain, Canada, France and Spain.
Airsoft players as well as avid fishermen and hunters and anyone who is keen on outdoor activities (tourism, mountain climbing, etc.) are the target audience of the website. However, surprises also happen. Once a customer from Germany ordered an outfit and a cap for work – he works for a car service, often in open air, which means he used to get cold in the autumn and winter. Upon receiving his order from “Grey Shop” he could safely continue to work for hours in a row. His boss noticed that and placed a big order for all the car service employees.
The key to success on the international market, as Sergey Makarov, “Grey Shop” CEO, puts it, lies in this, “Products manufactured in Russia represent “the golden mean” as they are much cheaper than their European or American counterparts while they ensure good quality at a price slightly higher than similar goods from China”.
Another contributor to the company’s success is the team – most of them airsoft players. As Confucius said, “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life”. Employees of “Grey Shop” love what they do and understand what their customers need and how they can meet their needs. “We often hit on successful ideas in the smoking room after a phrase “It would be great to create a thing like that!” As a result, 2 or 3 months later a new item is posted on the website and sells like hot pies. The first batch is usually bought by the employees”, says Sergey Makarov, smiling.
As for Sergey, he took up airsoft when he was a student. “I played every weekend. It was such adrenaline and a true passion! I could spend playing 24 hours in a row. It is the process itself that is important – you feel that you are a real armed man”. In Sergey’s opinion most men are interested in arms on the subconscious level. “Throughout our history we have time and again defended our Motherland and families. It’s essential to understand male psychology if you want to know why grown-up men still like to play mock battles. No matter how much a man loves his family, he will always need some “me time” to unwind. There’s a wide range of such leisure activities, but airsoft, in my opinion, is the best choice”.
The online retailer “Grey Shop” focuses not only on those keen on outdoor activities, but they also cooperate with several international companies, including video game designers EA and Battle State Games and major players of film industry – Universal, Marvel and Walt Disney. In fact, “Grey Shop” has supplied outfits for such Hollywood blockbusters as “Red Sparrow”, “Star Wars” and “Fast and Furious 8”.
The partnership between “Grey Shop” and DHL Express started back in 2018. The website for the online retailer was ready and the customers were offered the option of international express delivery. As a result, the number of orders increased by 40%, and 70% of customers still choose express delivery. Sergey Makarov shares that “the key thing in cooperation with DHL Express is certainty. I am certain that the company takes interest in me and my shipments – not in word but in deed. I know that delivery of all the shipments will be fast and efficient. On top of that, DHL will take responsibility for all the issues and potential problems that might arise. I can tell from my experience that DHL Express provides the best value for money, both on domestic and international markets”.
Sergey Makarov, “Grey Shop” CEO, made an emotional and inspiring presentation on the recent conference for importers and exporters by Sberbank “Foreign trade – new level. Export” which got 226 thousand views online. He highlighted the opportunities for export of the Russian goods and challenges that startups might face on the way. “Launching a startup is just a little step into the future. Business is like a baby – it constantly requires your attention, whining and asking to be fed. But don’t be discouraged – if you treat your business as a hobby and not just as a means for earning money, it will be much easier and more exciting to solve all the issues that arise”.
Although the company has already achieved big success, it keeps on planning, searching for new approach to development and filling in gaps in the market, e.g. the company plans to launch their own production. “Our ambitious goal is to become sort of an Amazon in our industry, where a consumer can find anything. And certainly, we can’t do without delivery by DHL”, Sergey Makarov says.